Posted: Sep 21 2014
For six years Siddartha (the name of the Buddha before attaining enlightenment) dwelled on the banks of the Nairanajana river, the location of present day Bodh Gaya in Bihar India. On the banks of this shallow and meandering river he sat practicing extreme asceticism. Meditating for countless days at a time and eating almost nothing. His body grew thin and frail to the point were he was practically just skin and bones. As he sat there on the banks of the river the days turned into weeks, the weeks turned into months and the months turned into years yet he still failed to find the peace of mind he had set out to attain. Finally realizing that the extreme measures he had undertaken to achieve his goal of total enlightenment would not be successful he made the seemingly random decision to leave the bank of the river where he had been staying and moved to the near by village of Senani. It was here that he came across the path of Sujata, a young girl who offered him rice and milk, much needed nourishment, for by this time he was near death due to starvation after six years of such extreme practice. After receiving this first meal and regaining a bit of strength he went and sat under a nearby Banyan tree. In this spot he pondered the nature of enlightenment and the fact that his many long years of painstaking practice had not yielded the desired results. He considered the fact that for all of his personal and physical sacrifices, along with all the teachings he had studied and learned about in his travels, none of it had brought him closer to his ultimate goal of reaching Nirvana. He realized that neither extreme asceticism nor a worldly life would bring him closer to his goal of true freedom from the suffering that afflicts every living thing. The suffering that comes from the inevitably of loss and desire.
Upon taking his seat under the Banyan tree he vowed to not move from that very spot until he had discovered the truth that lies behind the nature of existence and suffering. It was there while meditating non stop for three days and three nights that the Buddha discovered the Middle Way and developed what would become the basis for one of the worlds most prominent religions. Today this location is known as Bodh Gaya and here one can find the Maha Bodhi Temple along with the great Bodhi Tree, the site where the Buddha sat and attained total enlightenment.