The Bodhi Tree (बोधि वृक्ष), also known as Bo Tree (बो वृक्ष), "Peepal Tree" (पवित्र पीपल का पेड़), "Araḷi mara" (अराली मारा / ಅರಳಿ ಮರ) or "Arasa Maram" (अरासा मारम / அரசமரம்), is a large and ancient sacred Fig Tree (नंदी रेलिजिओसा, Ficus Religiosa) located in Bodh Gaya (बोधगया), Bihar (बिहार), India, under which Siddhartha Gautama (सिद्धार्थ गौतम), the spiritual teacher who became known as the Buddha (बुद्ध), is said to have attained Enlightenment or Bodhi (बोधि).
In religious iconography, the Bodhi Tree (बोधि वृक्ष) is recognizable by its heart-shaped leaves, which are usually prominently displayed.
The term "Bodhi Tree" (बोधि वृक्ष) is also widely applied to existing trees, particularly the Sacred Fig (पवित्र छवि / नंदी रेलिजिओसा, Ficus Religiosa) growing at the Mahabodhi Temple (महाबोधि विहार / "Great Awakening Temple") in Bodh Gaya (बोधगया), which is often cited as a direct descendant of the original specimen planted in 288 BCE.
This tree is a frequent destination for pilgrims, being the most important of the four main Buddhist pilgrimage sites.
The Bodhi Tree (बोधि वृक्ष) at the Mahabodhi Temple (महाबोधि विहार) is called the Sri Maha Bodhi (श्री महा बोधि).
Other Holy Bodhi Trees (बोधि वृक्ष) which have a great significance in the history of Buddhism (बौद्ध धर्म) are: the Anandabodhi Tree (आनंदबोधी वृक्ष) in Sravasti (श्रावस्ती) and the Bodhi Tree (बोधि वृक्ष) in Anuradhapura (अनुराधापुर /අනුරාධපුරය), Sri Lanka.
Both are believed to have been propagated from the original Bodhi Tree (बोधि वृक्ष).
Gautama Buddha (गौतम बुद्ध / सिद्धार्थ गौतम, Siddhārtha Gautama / शिद्धत्थ गोतम, Siddhattha Gotama / शाक्यमुनिबुद्ध,Shakyamuni Buddha / बुद्ध, Buddha) attained Enlightenment (बोधि, Bodhi) while meditating underneath a Ficus Religiosa (नंदी रिलिजिओसा).
According to Buddhist texts, the Buddha (बुद्ध) meditated without moving from his seat for seven weeks (49 days) under this tree.
A shrine called Animisalocana Cetiya (एनिमिसलोकाना सेतिया), was later erected on the spot where he sat.
The spot was used as a shrine even in the lifetime of the Buddha (बुद्ध).
King Ashoka (सम्राट अशोक / c. 268 - c. 232 BCE) was most diligent in paying homage to the Bodhi Tree (बोधि वृक्ष), and held a festival every year in its honour in the month of Kattika (कार्तिक / a month in Hindu Calendar, that typically overlaps October and November).
His Queen, Tissarakkhā (तिसराक्खा), was jealous of the Tree, and three years after she became queen (i.e., in the nineteenth year of Asoka's reign), she caused the Tree to be killed by means of mandu thorns.
The Tree, however, grew again, and a great monastery was attached to the Bodhimanda (बोधिमांडा) called the Bodhimanda Vihara (बोधिमांडा विहार).
Among those present at the foundation of the Mahā Thūpa (a stupa and a hemispherical structure containing relics, in Sri Lanka, considered sacred to many Buddhists all over the world / It was built by King Dutugemunu c. 140 B.C.) are mentioned thirty thousand monks from the Bodhimanda Vihara (बोधिमांडा विहार), led by Cittagutta (सिताग्त).
The Tree was again cut down by King Pushyamitra Shunga (पुष्यमित्र शुंगा /c. 185 - c. 149 BCE / the founder and first ruler of the Shunga Empire in East India / he was a follower of Brahmanism) in the 2nd century BC, and by King Shashanka (शशांका / a major figure in Bengali history) in 600 AD.
In the 7th century AD, Chinese traveler Xuanzang (玄奘 / c. 602 - 664 / he described the interaction between Chinese Buddhism and Indian Buddhism during the early Tang dynasty) wrote of the Tree in detail.
Every time the Tree was destroyed, a new Tree was planted in the same place.
However, the Tree decayed further and in 1876 the remaining Tree was destroyed in a storm.
In 1881, Cunningham (1814-1893 / British archaeologist, father of the Archaeological Survey of India) planted a new Bodhi Tree (बोधि वृक्ष) on the same site.
Buddhism (बौद्ध धर्म) recounts that while the Buddha (बुद्ध) was still alive, in order that people might make their offerings in the his name when he was away on pilgrimage, he sanctioned the planting of a seed from the Bodhi Tree (बोधि वृक्ष) in Bodh Gaya (बोधगया) in front of the gateway of Jetavana (जेटावना) Monastery near Sravasti (श्रावस्ती).
For this purpose Moggallana (मोगल्लाना / मौदगल्याना, Maudgalyāyana / महामौदगल्याना, Mahāmaudgalyāyana / one of the Buddha`s closest disciples) took a fruit from the Tree as it dropped from its stalk before it reached the ground.
It was planted in a golden jar by Anathapindika (अनाथापिंडीका / a wealthy merchant and banker) with great pomp and ceremony.
A sapling immediately sprouted forth, fifty cubits (an ancient unit of length) high, and in order to consecrate it, the Buddha (बुद्ध) spent one night under it, rapt in meditation.
This Tree, because it was planted under the direction of Ananda (आनंद / 5th - 4th Century BCE / the primary attendant of the Buddha and one of his Ten Principal Disciples), came to be known as the Ananda Bodhi (आनंद बोधि).
King Asoka's (सम्राट अशोक) daughter, Sanghamittra (संघमित्रा), brought a piece of the Tree with her to Sri Lanka, where it is continuously growing to this day in the island`s Ancient Capital, Anuradhapura (अनुराधापुरा).
This Bodhi Tree (बोधि वृक्ष) was originally named Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi (जया श्री महाबोधि / ජය ශ්රී මහා බොධිය), and was a piece of another Bodhi Tree (बोधि वृक्ष) planted in the year 245 B.C.
Although the original Bodhi Tree (बोधि वृक्ष) deteriorated and died of old age, the descendants of the branch that was brought by Emperor Ashoka's (सम्राट अशोक) son, Mahindra (महिन्द्रा), and his daughter, Sanghamittra (संघमित्रा), can still be found on the island.
According to the Mahavamsa (महावम्सा / "Great Chronicle" / 5th century CE / an epic poem written in the Pali language), the Sri Maha Bodhi (श्री महाबोधि) in Sri Lanka was planted in 288 BC, making it the oldest verified specimen of any Angiosperm (Angiospermae or Magnoliophyta).
In 1950, Curuppumullage Jinarajadasa (कर्पुमुल्लेज जिनाराजादासा / December 16, 1875 - June 18, 1953 / a Sri Lankan author, occultist, freemason and theosophist) took three saplings of the Sri Maha Bodhi (श्री महाबोधि) to plant two saplings in Chennai (चेन्नई / मद्रास, Madras / the Capital of the Indian State of Tamil Nadu), one was planted near the Buddha Temple at the Theosophical Society, another at the riverside of Adyar Estuary (अदीर एस्टूरी).
The third was planted near a Meditation Center in Sri Lanka.
The Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi (जया श्री महाबोधि / ජය ශ්රී මහා බොධිය) is also known to be the most sacred Bodhi Tree (बोधि वृक्ष).
This came upon the Buddhists who performed rites and rituals near the Bodhi Tree (बोधि वृक्ष).
The Bodhi Tree (बोधि वृक्ष) was known to cause rain and heal the ill.
When an individual became ill, one of his or her relatives would visit the Bodhi Tree (बोधि वृक्ष) to water it seven times for seven days and to vow on behalf of the sick for a speedy recovery.
Prayer beads (माला, mala) are made from the seeds of Ficus Religiosa (नंदी रेलिजिओसा), considered sacred because of the closeness to Buddha (बुद्ध) himself and his Enlightenment (बोधि).
The Bodhi Tree (बोधि वृक्ष) also shows significant medicinal capabilities.
It has been proven to significantly aid diarrhoea, constipation and dysentery, as well as various urinary diseases.
Farmers in North India also cultivate it for its fig fruit.
On December 8, Bodhi Day (बोधि दिवस) celebrates Buddha's Enlightenment (बुद्ध की बोधि) underneath the Bodhi Tree (बोधि वृक्ष).
Those who follow the Dharma (धर्म), greet each other by saying, "Budu saranai" ("बुडू सरनाई") which translates to "May the peace of the Buddha be yours".
It is also generally seen as a religious holiday, much like Christmas in the Christian West, in which special meals are served, especially cookies shaped like hearts (referencing the heart-shaped leaves of the Bodhi Tree) and a meal of rice and milk, the Buddha's (बुद्ध) first meal after Enlightenment (बोधि).