Three thousand years ago, Sakyamuni Buddha achieved enlightenment under pipal tree. Since then peepal tree becomes bodhi tree.
Bodhi means awareness. Bodhi tree means the tree under which Buddha becomes fully aware of the noble truth of the universe. In Buddhism, bodhi tree is considered as
sacred and clean tree, and is helpful for protecting the place.
Bodhi tree's academic name is Ficus Religiosa Linn. It is originated from tropical zone, and is widely planted in subtropical zones as well. It is in the same genus as Fig, and has strong life force. It can grow to be a huge tree and allow people to meditate under it.
- The Bodhi Tree at Bodhigaya
The location where Buddha achieved enlightenment is in Bodhigaya. There is the Mahabodhi temple complex today.
At that time, Buddha practiced extreme ascetic method for six years without reaching enlightenment. Therefore, he abandoned extreme ascentic practice, cleaned himself in the river, and walk to a big bodhi tree after he feels refreshed. He vowed "I won't get up before reaching enlightenment" and then started the meditation under the tree. Finally, at the 7th day, Boddha reached enlightenment at dawn.
The godess who guards the bodhi tree is one of the first witness of Buddha's enlightenment. Many sutras recorded the background of the goddess. Actually, back to many transmigrations ago, the goddess who guards the bodhi tree has been supporting Buddha.
Buddhists pay high respect to bodhi tree in memory of Buddha.
The original bodhi tree was destroyed during war. Luckily, in about 300BC, the bodhi tree was reproduced with cuttage and brought to Sri Lanka. In 1870 AD, it was planted back to Bodhigaya again. The tree is now a giant tree again, surrounding the Mahabodhi temple.
The bodhi tree was reproduced as Sri Maha Bodhi in Sri Lanka. It is 2500 years old and becomes the oldest documented tree in human history.
Many of the famous bodhi trees around the world today are reproduced from this bodhi tree.
Sri Maha Bodhi has been reproduced by Sri Lanka high government officials as gift to leaders of the world. The reproduced Bodhi trees are now in various countries such as Taiwan, China, Japan, Korea, Australia, Spain, UK, USA, France, Germany, etc.
After three thousand years, the Bodhi trees are still alive well and become a link between Buddhists and Buddha. People believe that Bodhi trees can dignify places and protect them from evils. Like Buddha's remains or statues, Bodhi trees become one of the ways Buddhists use to remember Buddha. Any bodhi tree can have the same value, not just the one Buddha sat under to reach enlightenment. The reason we are cultivating the one Buddha reached enlightenment under is for its historical value.
After three thousand years of changes, the DNA of the Bodhi tree still exists. The DNA of Buddha's teaching still exists and is entering the digital age. However, have we achieved enlightenment? It is up to us now.