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Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Buddha's descendants

Over 2,500 years ago Siddhartha Gotama sat in meditation under a fig tree (ficus religiosa). He stayed sitting until he achieved enlightenment and became known as the Buddha. Cuttings from that tree were planted and cuttings from the progeny also. Since then cuttings from the descendants of the original tree under which the Buddha achieved enlightenment have spread around the world and are revered by Buddhists as Bodhi (enlightenment) trees.

Before Siddhartha left home to take up the path of searching for enlightenment he had one son named Rahula. At the age of seven Rahula joined his father as a novice monk, apparently the first. I assume Rahula remained a monk until his death and so there are no descendant of the Buddha himself.

Perhaps we can think of the Bodhi trees that have now been planted around the world as the closest thing to a living descendent of the Buddha. I photographed this one close to the bank of the Mekong River in Mukdahan which I visited yesterday for the first 90-day reporting of my current visa for staying in Thailand.

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