Bodhgaya, Bihar, India - Having arrived in Bodhgaya after dark yesterday, one of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s first wishes today was to visit the Mahabodhi Temple as a pilgrim to pay his respects. He rode in a car the short distance from the Tibetan Temple to the western gate of the Mahabodhi Temple complex. He was welcomed by members of the Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee, as well as the Sakya Gongma Trizin Rinpoche, who is here participating in the 26th Sakya Monlam.
His Holiness made his way down the steps and exchanged his shoes for a pair of white slippers. He then approached the western side of the Temple where the Bodhi Tree stands over the Vajra-asana. This is where Buddha Shakyamuni sat as he attained enlightenment more than 2500 years ago. His Holiness lit a lamp amongst an array of offerings set up as part of the Sakya Monlam. He then walked around the temple on the inner circuit, smiling and waving to people peeking through the stone railings.
At the door to the Mahabodhi Temple His Holiness stopped and made three prostrations to the Buddha before entering. He inspected the renowned statue of the Awakened One inside, made further salutations before it and sat down in the company of a number of monks. Together they recited prayers and praises including the ‘Sutra Remembering the Three Jewels ’, ‘In Praise of Dependent Arising’, the ‘Praise of the 17 Nalanda Masters’, the 'Supplication to the Buddha known as Drumbeat of Truth', the ‘Prayer for the Ecumenical Spread of the Buddha's Teachings’, the dharani of Dependent Arising, the ‘Words of Truth’ and verses of dedication.
As he emerged from the Temple, His Holiness smiled and waved to the crowds who filled the surrounding garden. He turned and paid tribute to the Buddha once more before continuing his circumambulation. Greeting fellow pilgrims on the way, he reached the western side, saluted the Seat of Enlightenment again, ascended the steps to the gate, waved to the crowd, and climbed into his car to return to the Ganden Phelgyey Ling—the Tibetan Temple.