Buddhists to throng Bodh Gaya Thursday for special rites

IANS, Dec 27, 2010

New Delhi, India -- The Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism will commemorate 900 years of its lineage Thursday with a special prayer and ritualistic offering at the Mahabodhi Stupa in Bodh Gaya.

The commemoration ceremony will mark the end of the month-long celebrations of 900 years of the Karma Kagyu sect which began in the capital Dec 2.

The prayer at the stupa, one of the holiest Buddhist relics in the world and the site of Gautama's enlightenment, will be led by the 17th Karmapa, Trinley Thaye Dorje, the spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism and the 14th Shamarpa, also known as the Red Hat Karmapa.

Thousands of Buddhist scholars, disciples and tourists from across the world will congregate at Bodh Gaya to take part in the rituals, sources said.

Dorje, the spiritual head of the Karma Kagya lineage, was born in Lhasa on May 6, 1983. He is the highest authority in all religious matters of the Karma Kagyu lineage.

This lineage believes in the reincarnation of the Karmapas, who trace their lineage Tilopa, a learned monk, who lived in northern India sometime in the 10th century.

According to the tradition of the Karma Kagyu lineage, successive incarnations of Karmapas and Shamarpas recognize each other. The present Karmapa was recognised by his teacher at the age of 11. Karmapa is considered as a great 'bodhisattva (enlightened being).

The Karma Kagyu Lineage is one of the biggest lineage of Tibetan Buddhism founded by the first Karmapa Dusum Khyenpa in 1139. This year marks the 900th year of his birth.

Sources in the sect said Bodh Gaya was chosen as the venue of the grand finale of the celebrations because of its direct association with Gautama Buddha.

Located in central Bihar, Bodh Gaya is home to the Mahabodhi Temple complex. It is one of the three places directly connected to the Buddha's life with Lumbini and Kushinagar.

The Bodhi or the enlightenment tree, under which Gautama or Sakya Muni as Buddha was known as, attained light, is located in the temple complex. Historically, the shrine was known as the Bodhimanda - or the site of the Bodhi tree. It was named Bodh Gaya in the 18th century. Bodh Gaya is an UNESCO heritage site. Gautama Buddha.