Gaya, second time

On Thursday, 24 December 2009, I accepted an invitation from Mr Jagbinder for a day-trip to Gaya to fly a kite from the roof of his home. He came to Bodhgaya around 9:30AM to pick me up on a motorcycle.  I sat pillion passenger without a helmet or glasses. It was still cool at that time in the morning but my jacket and two shirts under that were enough to keep me warm.

First we went to Gayasisa (Brahmayoni) once more. This was the first time Mr Jagbinder had been to Gayasisa despite Gaya being his home town. Unfortunately my camera batteries were flat so I was unable to take photos.

We climbed to the summit in about 20 minutes and had an excellent view. The fog that normally prevails at this time of year in northern India was mostly absent. I avoided the Hindu shrines and Brahmin priests/caretakers and sat on a wall outside the tallest and main Brahma shrine (maybe it was Vishnu?) to reflect on the significance of the site. I imagined that without the Hindu temple buildings, there was enough space to seat 1000 fire ascetics, the followers of the Kassapa brothers who listened to Lord Buddha’s third discourse after enlightenment – the Adittapariyaya Sutta. I imagined the young Lord Buddha sitting on the tallest boulder surrounded by 1000 fire ascetics calmly and mindfully listening to the discourse.

I also looked over the western balcony at the small, narrow cave called Brahmayoni and after which the hill is now named. Brahma is the one of the Hindu Gods in the senior trilogy of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Yoni is Sanskrit for divine passage or vulva. I didn’t wish to venture down to the cave itself. I guessed that it may be full of Hindu things and had no significance for celibate Buddhists.

Then we rode to Mr Jagbinder’s house. I met his parents and sat for 30 minutes chatting, drinking tea and eating snacks. I was honoured to be invited to an Indian home (in India) for the first time. We chatted about Sikh religion, Buddhism, Hinduism, employment and so on. They had a plan to drive cars to Patna that evening to attend a festival to commemorate the 10th guru. They invited me and I declined saying I like to avoid crowds and they understood since this festival would be extremely crowded. They were not intending to sleep either. The festival would begin around 10PM and finish around 3AM, when they would drive back to Gaya.

Mr Jagbinder’s father impressed me as an honourable and sincere man. He inspired trust right away. He seemed relatively calm and peaceful by comparison with many other Indian men I had encountered so far.  He spoke English reasonably well though he was modest about that.

Mr Jagbinder then took me to the top floor (3-4 floors) and he flew a small 20cm square kite. It was a gusty day so the kite was difficult to control. Even so it didn’t crash or get tangled. I declined to try it myself.

We talked more about employment and career options, Dhamma and travel etc. Then Mr Jagbinder offered me chapatis and dal for lunch and we rode back to Bodhgaya.

This visit to Gaya was quite different to my previous visits. The weather was bright and clear and I was more aclimitised than previously. I was relaxed and enjoyed it due to the warmth and hospitality of Mr Jagbinder and his family. 

Yesterday, I spent another 7 hours straight in this Internet cafe, updating my blogs and uploading photographs. They are all up to date now. It is a relief.

I am considering where to go now. I am tired of travel and want to settle somewhere to meditate. This makes me think of trying to go to Sri Lanka soon instead of visiting other Buddhist sites in northern India.  I shall probably go to Delhi for a couple of days and then Chennai for another day and then fly to Colombo, Sri Lanka. I just have to organise the means to do this. Maybe I will arrive in Colombo on 1 January 2010? 


5 thoughts on “Gaya, second time

  1. Dear Mr Michael Kalyaano

    Last year i did 2 x 10 Day Course as a student and a 10 Day Course as a dhamma
    server at the Dhamma Bodhi Vip Cen,
    Bodhgaya on 28th Oct.
    Please email to me how do you travel
    alone to Gaya, Rajgir, Patna, Lumbini by buses, auto richshaws and taxi.
    The email add:
    Your advice is much appreciated.
    With Metta

  2. Dear Mr Norman Choo

    I sometimes hired cars with drivers. I always travelled alone (except for the driver and maybe people on buses, trains and planes). It is more expensive to travel alone. Sharing travel costs can be good but I prefer to be alone. Travelling with others can also be safer in some places. I didn't have any security problems. You need to be tough, very careful and mindful of your bags etc. If you get sick you have to take care of your self. I didn't get sick though I had a cold for a couple of weeks. Northern India is very dusty, smoky and polluted. There are many germs with viruses around in the air due to lack of hygene, spitting and coughing etc. Take vitamins, wash your hands, wear dust masks to cover your face when walking around in dusty polluted areas.

    Book travel such as cars and trains through travel agents. I like Middle Way Travels in Bodhgaya. It doubles as a Buddhist book shop. Middle Path travels are not to be trusted and they have an office very close by – so don't get mixed up.

    You might like to travel with one or two others or even in a large group. There are many travel agents advertising on the Internet who can organise hotels, buses and so on for groups. I didn't do that. I bought travel guides such as Lonely Planet and also Ven. Dhammika's book Middle Land, Middle Way. There are other Buddhist pilgrimage books around as well. I recommend you prepare yourself many months ahead by reading these travel guides thoroughly, making maps and itineraries, changing them and thinking about each of the places you want to visit. You can also do research on the life of the Buddha and disciples so you know the significance of each place. This detailed knowledge gives you a richer experience as you can imagine what it may have been like. It is also good if you know which suttas were given at which location so you can read them out when you get there. Or you could chant them out or just read the translated sutta into an MP3 player so you can listen to the sutta on MP3 player when you are on location in India. That way you don't have to carry around heavy Tipitaka books. You might be able to borrow the books in a library or record your self chanting them or reading them while you are in the library (or nearby if it is too noisy).

    As to the specifics of how I travelled. You can read my blog. I wrote it there.

    Good luck.


  3. Now that e-books are becoming common, if I preparing to travel to Buddhist sacred sites again, I'd consider obtaining an e-book reader such as Kindle or Ipad with electronic versions of Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi's translations of the Sutta Pitaka and maybe an off-line version of the “Access To Insight” website. These are very convenient for travelling. You can research this online at Amazon or other e-book distributor websites.

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