Bodh Gaya in the North Indian state of Bihar has long been recognized as the place where the Buddha achieved enlightenment. This book brings together the recent work of twelve scholars from a variety of disciplines - anthropology, art history, history, and religion – to highlight their various findings and perspectives on different facets of Bodh Gaya’s past and present.

Through an engaging and critical overview of the place of Buddha’s enlightenment, the book discusses the dynamic and contested nature of this site, and looks at the tensions with the on-going efforts to define the place according to particular histories or identities. It addresses many aspects of Bodh Gaya, from speculation about why the Buddha chose to sit beneath a tree in Bodh Gaya, to the contemporary struggles over tourism development, education and non-government organizations, to bring to the foreground the site's longevity, reinvention and current complexity as a UNESCO World Heritage monument. The book is a useful contribution for students and scholars of Buddhism and South Asian Studies.

chapter |9 pages

Introduction: The multiple lives of Bodh Gaya

Defining views and changing perspectives

part I|66 pages

Empowering the landscape of the Buddha

chapter 1|16 pages

Gaya–Bodh Gaya

The origins of a pilgrimage complex 1

chapter 2|14 pages

Sacred Bodh Gaya

The Buddhakṣetra of Gotama Buddha

part II|62 pages

Monumental conjectures

chapter 6|16 pages

Queen Victoria beneath the Bodhi Tree

Anagarika Dharmapala as anti-imperialist and Victorian

chapter 7|9 pages

Bodh Gaya in the 1950s

Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahant Giri, and Anagarika Munindra

chapter 8|20 pages

“Why cause unnecessary confusion?”

Re-inscribing the Mahabodhi Temple's holy places

part III|63 pages

Universal dreams and local departures