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Reorganizations and restorations of the first Buddhist Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya

a. A. Barakhoyeva


Article is devoted to the history of centuries-old reorganizations and restorations of Mahabodhi Temple — the first Buddhist temple built on the place of the Enlightenment of Buddha Shakyamuni under a tree of Bodhi. More than two millennia of history of a complex are subdivided by the author into several main stages of the recovery work localized not only on time, but also on national identity of their donators (Burmese, British and so forth). The changes and reorganizations connected every separate period are in detail analyzed, merits and demerits of grandiose British restoration works of the end of the 19th century are noted, data of old and new archeological excavations are investigated.

A. Barahoeva


The article covers the centuries-old history of Mahabodhi temple&s reconstructions and restorations. This temple is the first Buddhist temple constructed on the place of Gautama Buddha&s Enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. The author subdivides more than two millennial history of the complex into several basic stages of the restoration works localized not only on the basis of time, but also on the national identity of their aid donors (Burmese, British and so forth). The author analyzes the changes and restorations connected with each separate period, describes the merits and demerits of the grandiose British nineteenth century restoration works, investigates the data of old and new archeological excavations.

The Indian Makhabodhi complex is the monument of religious architecture built on the place of achievement by Buddha Shakyamuni under a tree of Bodhi of a full Enlightenment (528 BC). In 2002 the Makhabodhi complex was included in the list of the cultural objects which are especially protected by UNESCO that updated a problem of preservation, restoration and the prospects of development of a monument of Makhabodhi in modern culture.

The Burmese recovery work in the temple. The rough and filled with drama events political life of Burma led to emergence at a new ruling dynasty of genuine interest in Buddhist texts and shrines, first of which 11th century, certainly, there was Mahabodhi Temple. The first serious attempts of Burma to carry out restoration works in Mahabodhi Temple concern XI

century also correspond to government of the king Kjyan-zitta, earlier holding the general's post, and subsequently occupied the Pagan throne and governing the kingdom from 1085 to 1113. Kjyanzitta's activity is mentioned in the Monsky inscription from Prom (Pyaya) [4, page 193-215]. In it it is said that after Sri Vadzhrasan's temple was destroyed, Kjyanzitta collected all jewelry and sent the children to restore Ma-habodhi temple. Recovery work progressed quite slowly and could not be completed during Kjyanzitta's reign. Kjyanzitta's follower in restoration of Makhabodhi became Alaung-sitkh, entered on a throne in 1113. With this undertaking Alaungsitkh was helped by the king of Le-timinnan to whom the first helped to ascend to a throne. According to the Burmese sources from Bodh Gaya, the management recovery

works it was entrusted to the son of the lord Seynya-ta — Pentagu.

Other Burmese sources found near a tree of Bodhi report that the king Arakana Mindi resumed restoration works in 1296-1298 Mindi at the same time was not limited only to restoration of Mahabodhi Temple, but participated also in restoration of nearby complexes. Other Burmese source found A. Cunningham in the Makhantov palace wall claims that a new attempt of restoration was made in 667-668 of the Burmese calendar that corresponds to 1305-1306. It is difficult to overestimate value of this source as here the attempt to describe the history of restorations Makha-bodhi, since Ashoka's reign for the first time becomes.

There are three translations of this source known to us: shrilankiysky paliolog of Ratn of Palla, Stake. Barney and Burman Hl Unga*. The Mokhantsky source which variants of translation differ in a transliteration of names and the description of details a little allows to reveal the following stages of construction and restoration works in Mahabodhi Temple: 1) laying of the temple with Ashoka; 2) reorganization of the temple Nayk Makhantoy; 3) restoration of the temple Raj-Sado-Mang; 4) the teacher's mission to Sri Dharmaradzhu Gong sent Sempyyu-Sakhken-tra-Mengi is glad-zhoy to head recovery work in the temple (the works are not completed); 5) the application Varadasi Nayk Tkhery to the king about protection of the restoration which lasted from 1305 to 1306. According to the archeologist A. Cunningham: "The Burmese recovery work represented full restoration of all building, including restoration of a tower. Such amount of works demanded several years of work" [1, page 74]. All kings mentioned in the Mokhantsky source are natives of the empire Pagan which made so many efforts in restoration of Mahabodhi Temple. One of kings of this great dynasty in the 13th century even erected the exact copy of this temple in the city of Pagan. The Burmese architectural twin was named by Pagodoy Makhabodhi and exists to this day. The empire Pagan broke up in the 13th century under the pressure of the Mongolian invasions. In this regard contacts of Burmans

with Mahabodhi Temple were interrupted and did not renew up to 1472 when the king of Pegu Dhammazendi ordered to send to Bodh Gaya a special royal mission for the purpose of removal of measurements and drawing up a detailed plan of Makhabodhi on which it was necessary to build the new temple remark in Pegu. Having received the name Shveguyu, this temple was complete in the 15th century, but, unfortunately, did not remain up to now. After completion of the Burmese royal mission the contacts between the royal family and the temple stopped for the whole 400 years and were resumed only at the king Mindona Mandalaysk in the 19th century

Being under oppression the Mongol, Burma got stronger only by the XVI century, however by 18th century again strongly weakened because of attacks on border territories. Crisis amplified especially when in 1752 the talayng took and burned the Burmese capital of Ava. In a critical situation the leader of the small small village by name the A-lung-paya brought together insurgent army and beat aggressors. Having approved in the capital, he declared himself the king, having overthrown thereby the royal house Pagan. The seven-year board A-lung-pai came to the end with his death in 1760. Within the next 22 years the throne belonged to three more kings then the younger son A-lung-pai — the Ba-dav-paya came to the power, successfully governing within 37 years (1782-1819). The new page of relationship of Bodh Gaya and Burma as during this period political and cultural contacts between Mahabodhi Temple and the new royal house were resumed again is connected with a name Ba-dav-pai. In 1810 the new mission which carried out insignificant recovery work in the temple which significantly decayed for the last 400 years was sent to Makhabodhi. In 1811 the king himself wished to arrive in Bodh Gaya as the pilgrim. The next Burmese mission was carried out in 1823 during government of the successor Ba-dav-pai — the king of Ba-gi-dava which occupied a throne in 1819. During the Bagi-davovsky mission to the temple various gifts were brought. The last attempt of Burma to carry out serious recovery work in the temple is connected with government of the king

Mingdong Ming, governing the empire Pagan within 25 years (1853-1878). Known for the deep belief in Buddhist doctrine, Mingdong Ming became famous as the founder of the new capital of the city of Mandalay and the chairman of the Fifth Buddhist council of Burma. By order of Mingdong Ming to Mandalay 2400 monks and Buddhist teachers were invited. For five months under the patronage of the new king there was a verification of all paliysky canon of Tripita-ka then it was ordered to them to cut it on about seven hundred twenty nine a line marble slabs. Impressive restoration of the Mahabodhi Temple which was at that time in very sad state became finishing brilliant, but, unfortunately, suddenly interrupted note in reign of the Burmese XIX century of a dharmaradzha. In 1874 the king of Burma sent a special mission to Embassy of India. It was offered to mission to give the valuable presents intended to a tree of Bodhi and the temple. Then the mission appealed to the government of India to render all assistance in the organization of a pilgrimage and restoration of the temple. The government of India sent inquiry of Burma to local management of Gayi as Makhant imposed requirements of the temple and considered it the property. In the special letter to Makhant the government of Gayi stated requests of the Burmese king so: "The king of Burma wishes that the decayed complex adjoining a tree of Bodhi was restored. Besides, he showed willingness to put to a tree of Bodhi of two people. In addition he wishes that his people had an opportunity one or two times a year to make gifts about a tree of Bodhi" [1, page 84]. In response to this letter of Makhant wrote so: "As for the complex adjoining a tree of Bodhi who the king of Burma showed willingness to restore its Majesty it is free to execute it if wishes. The king of Burma can send voluntarily people for commission of rituals beside the mentioned tree of Bodhi" [1, page 84-85].

Right after obtaining the favorable answer Mingdong Ming sent to the temple a new mission with magnificent gifts

and gifts among which, in addition, there were 511 diamonds, 311 emeralds, 3966 rubies and 623 pearls. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Burma in the letter to the governor general's representative of August 18, 1875 wrote the following about these events: "... Its Majesty [king of Burma Mingdong Ming] wishes to render honor [Victorious Buddha Shakyamuni] and to carry out the following: 1) to restore the destroyed fencing around a tree of Makhabodhi; 2) to restore constructed at a dharmaradzha to Ashoka chaytyyu over Aparadzhita's throne; 3) to thoroughly strengthen the right side of a tree of Makhabodhi by means of a stone laying; 4) to restore all half-ruined constructions and invaluable buildings adjoining a tree of Makhabodhi; 5) to build the monastery Makhabodhi which will be able to accomodate twenty royal attendants near a tree. The duty of the last will include commission of the services Bodhirandzhan including a vozzhiganiye of lamps, a gift of flowers and cold water; 6) to surround the above-mentioned monastery with a stone fencing; 7) to employ the person who will live and look after the monastery there, meeting its needs; 8) to erect Paribkhogu storage for preservation of royal gifts to a tree of Makhabodhi.

The order of an approval of plans and drawing up the estimate of the above-mentioned project was, after all, is transferred to the royal signature to Calcutta" [1, page 86-87]. The Makhant expressed the consent on all points. The only condition of Makhant was the fact that images of deities of brahmanism never have to be destroyed or damaged. After discussion of all conditions the Burmese mission went to Bodh Gaya again and started the restoration works begun in 1877. However in the heat of works in September, 1878 the king Mingdong Ming suddenly died. The unexpected death of Mingdong Ming strongly aggravated a situation. The tasks set by it were very considerable and demanded serious planning, financing, endurance and commitment in combination with deep knowledge of the field of archeology. The country lost the brilliant governor, itself Burmese

the mission, despite a remarkable plan of Mingdong Ming, in general was insufficiently competent of this area and, as a result, failed in the last attempt to restore the Makhabodhi complex with which close bonds of friendship and awe connected the Burmese Buddhists more than one thousand years. However the business begun with Burma was not forgotten, and soon after that the British government supported the idea of restoration of the temple and continued begun by Mingdong Ming.

British restoration works and excavation. The beginning of the first serious archeological excavations and restoration works in the Makhabodhi complex belongs to the XIX century, however prerequisites for this purpose were put earlier, in the 18th century when the temple strongly decayed and grew, the surrounded ring of the jungle which densely surrounded it. Some employees who are on regular service showed sincere interest in the past of India. Among the first British visitors of Bodh Gaya it is necessary to mention the officer of health service of Buchanan which visited here in 1811. According to Buchanan, the temple was in sad desolation and seemed left by Buddhists. Fifty years later in 1861 future talented archeologist A. Cunningham became the witness of various not Buddhist rituals to which Makhant indulged. After the visit to Makhabodhi in 1811 of Buchanan Makhant ordered to replace Buddha's image established in the center opposite to a throne lingamy Shiva. Arrival to Bodh Gaya of A. Cunningham became that a rotary point with which the modern history of restoration and studying the temple Makhabod-hi conceived, but not realized by the king Mingdong Ming began. Been born in 1814, A. Cunningham arrived in India in 1833 as the second lieutenant. On service he proved as the capable administrator, the topographer and the engineer. Carrying out official duties, he excitedly studied the archeology helping it to learn more about the past of India in which significant role was played by the Buddhism. In 1851 A. Cunningham opened mortars in Sanchi and dug out Shariputra and Maudgalyana's relics, two main

Buddha Shakyamuni's pupils. After resignation from army in 1861 the general A. Cunningham was appointed the first director of the department of archaeological examination, approved by the government of India. Carrying out archeological excavations with a research objective of the new materials lifting the veil of secrecy of the Indian ancient history became A. Cunningham's task. Nothing could stop A. Cunningham elderly already: neither bumpy roads, nor numerous robbers. A. Cunningham himself investigated all ancient ruins and prepared the map of antiquities of India. In the monograph "Ancient geography of India." (the first part) Cunningham generalized the Buddhist period and systematized ancient history of the Buddhist antiquities and monuments disseminated through the whole country. The archeologist was fascinated by great Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya and visited Bodh Gaya several times, and during the second visit in December, 1862 made the decision to begin archeological excavations near the temple. This daring idea was realized only in 1871 after he made one of the major finds — gold coins with a portrait of the ku-shansky tsar Huvishki ruling in the 2nd century AD and also the relic from a throne in the main hall put by builders of the temple in the 2nd century AD. The important role was played by A. Cunningham and in rescue of the main relic of the temple — a tree of Makhabodhi which died during the whole gale in 1876 and newly landed by the outstanding archeologist from sprouts previous.

In the 1870th Burma made a lot of efforts for implementation of the project of restoration of Mahabodhi Temple. The journalist who arrived from Calcutta in 1879 could make sure of successful advance of restoration works personally. Its article abounding with graphic sketches was published in the Calcutta newspaper "Englishman". The guest from Calcutta described the temple so: "The socle and the lower profiles were buried under garbage heaps. Floors of the temple and main hall were cleared away by Burmans from a layer of a rough stone on depth of four feet [apprx. 1 m — hereinafter — a bus comment], all garbage was in front put away. Roofs of the main hall and

galleries of the second floor are sorted. The front part of the temple over the third hall fell off, having formed a triangular breach of twenty steps to height and twelve in width at the basis. East facade represents the ruined hill. Youzhny — is also destroyed, however in places still stores carving traces. The western facade of the temple is buried under a garbage layer" [2, page 3]. This article became some kind of sensation and drew special attention of the government of India which, at last, was approved in opinion relatively not only religious, but also high archaeological and historical value of the temple. The government of India expressed desire to participate in restoration works. In 1880 one of A. Cunningham's assistants by the name of J. Beglar was appointed the manager of restoration works. New requirements to restoration ordered to recreate the initial image of the temple. All this demanded not only big temporary, but also material inputs. However thanks to efforts, sincere devotion and J. Beglar's persistence, business was finished. The temple was recreated on a sample of the small stone model which is very successfully found in ruins of the temple. On the basis of this model became possible to recover not only the main facade, but also four angular towers. J. Bie-glara decision, however, sparked strong criticism of contemporaries. A. Cunningham supported J. Beglar and openly protected him so: "The New system is much criticized. Everywhere reproaches to me and J. Begla-ra are heard while I have nothing to tell. Has to admit that since I saw him, I believe that this very successful end of an entrance corresponding to style and spirit of the construction represented on model. Certainly, it is the restoration based on double authority of the remained ruins and ancient model. I believe that it is permissible and admissible" [2, page 1].

More than hundred thousand rupees were spent for restoration works. In J. Beglar's plans there was a creation of a new extension on the right. S. Dhammika spoke of this idea so: "All these additions and extensions in their present look cannot precisely

to correspond to the image of the medieval temple. Some call into question the fact that the restoration which is carried out by J. Bie-glarom returned to the temple its greatness. J. Bie-glar understood that Mahabodhi Temple cannot be a dead relic, only to interesting students archeologists and architects in any way. On the contrary, this celebration of the Enlightenment of Buddha imprinted in a stone. It is the real temple where Buddhists can come and express the respect" [3, page 62].

In the 1880th the Mahabodhi Temple was most restored in that shape which was inherent in it in 637 and which was found by Xuan Zang. A. Cunningham wrote about it so: "The description of Mahabodhi Temple at the time of 637 AD very precisely corresponds to the Great temple of the present. In my opinion, there are no reasons to doubt it or to annoy concerning changes and alterations. We see before ourselves the same building that was described by the Chinese traveler. This fact is confirmed by the following comparisons. 1. Sizes of two towers exactly the same. The modern temple has the area of 48 square feet on the basis [apprx. 15 m] and about 160-170 square feet in height [apprx. 49-52 m]. In 1861 my measurements of the destroyed temple were such: 160 feet [apprx. 49 m] from the level of half of the hall to a top of a ruined tower. Now after restoration of a tower height is more than 170 feet [52 m]. 2. The temple is built of a bluish brick with facing by plaster. 3. Four facades have ranks of the niches located one over another, each of which, undoubtedly, contained a Buddhist statue. When I the last time saw the temple, only three such statues remained. 4. East entrance was obviously added to original construction later as the entrance laying strongly differs from the main laying of the temple" [2, page 18].

Result of the expensive and brilliant restoration works begun with Burma and completed by British A. Cunningham and J. Beglar with assistance of the Indian government was the fact that the government of India took Mahabodhi Temple under official supervision and founded the monthly auditor checking a condition of the temple.

Restoration of the Makhabodhi complex continues to this day, but already within the new project of UNESCO of 2002 providing restoration and excavation of the monuments adjoining Mahabodhi Temple. Excavation in the territory of a complex and

its further improvement pursue not only the esthetic aim, but also are designed to recreate the extensive Bodh Gaya center of world value which is widely taking part in cultural life of the people of many countries.

of the NOTE

* Ratn's translation of Palla: "It is one of 84 thousand shrines erected on an end of 218 after Buddha's leaving (326 BC) of Sri Dharm by Ashoka, the governor of the world Dzhambudvipy in the holy site where Bkhagavan tasted milk and honey. Eventually it was destroyed, and then restored by the monk by the name of Naik-Mokhanta. After it was ruined again, it was built up Raj Sado by Mang. Later many time it was again destroyed then the rajah of Sempjyu-sakhen-tra-Mengi appointed the teacher Sri Dhamm Raj Gunna to direct construction. It went together with the pupil Sri Kashyapoy there. However they could not finish begun, despite assistance of the rajah. After that Varadasi-naik-tkhera appealed to the rajah to take the responsibility [for recovery work], and that soon agreed, having entrusted works to prince Pyatasingu who entrusted it to young Pyasakhengu and his minister Ratkhe who had to make some changes to the building and restore a shrine. It was already the fourth recovery work which was completed on Friday the tenth day of Pyadola 667 with Sakkaradzha of [1305]. On Sunday, the eighth day of Tachkhaanmungl of 668 g [1306] there was a consecration of a shrine accompanied with magnificent ceremonies and gifts of food, aromas, banners and lamps and also carrying out pudzh [beside] the well-known decorated tree by the name of Kalpavriksha. [Two?] poor people were accepted graciously as if the own children of the rajah. So this virtuous action which bore fruits of awards and virtues came to the end. Let founders of all this will become famous and will enjoy rest of Nirvana and a condition of an arkhatstvo in the future Arya Maytrei!" [1, page 72-73].


1. Ahir D. C. Buddha Gaya Through the Ages. Delhi, 1994.
2. Cunningham A. Mahabodhi or the Great Buddhist Temple under the Bodhi Tree at Buddha Gaya. London, 1892.
3. Dhammika S. Middle Land Middle Way. Kandy (Sri Lanka), 1992.
4. Stadtner D. M. The Mon of Lower Burma \\Journal of the Siam Society. 2008. (Vol. 96).

A.B. Istileeva


The problem of formation of a complete image of marginal culture is considered. The marginality is understood as intermediate category of which the extra temporariness and extra degree of structure is characteristic. Medieval European culture is analyzed through opposition of elite and mass cultures. The marginality is detected on the outskirts elite and mass, forming new layer of subcultures. Marginal culture in the Middle Ages is a binding element of a dichotomizing system "elite-mass; the culture of the majority — the culture of minority". The marginal culture of the Western European Middle Ages is immanent to culture. Its internal structure merges with external characteristics of the Middle Ages. At the same time marginal culture is based on the outskirts, occupying a border area between elite and mass cultures.

Timothy Davis
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