Why the peepal is wise
More than 2500 years ago, a baby boy was born to Queen Maya in the gardens of Lumbini in Nepal. King Suddhodhana and Queen Maya named him Siddhartha. It was predicted that the boy would become a great king or an ascetic. Fearing the prince would turn to the path of a sage, King Suddhodhana protected him from all the ugly truths of life. When Siddhartha grew to be a young man, he became curious. Everything could not be so wonderful, he thought. And so, he ventured out of the palace gates and saw the real world. He saw poverty, sickness, old age and death. All this disturbed him very much and he decided right then to go out into the wide world and find out what life is all about. Leaving his wife, child and kingdom behind, the young prince made his way down to this region we now called Bihar. He was drawn here like iron filings to a magnet, as if he secretly knew this place would give him answers.
Siddhartha was especially bothered by the question, “What is suffering?” In his search to find out what every human being’s purpose in life is, he went through many trials. He starved himself with such intensity that he became skin and bones. A young village girl called Sujata appeared right in time and offered him a bowl of milk and rice. On consuming the food, he got sustenance. It was then Siddhartha realized that taking extreme measures was not the answer.
He sat peacefully meditating under a peepal tree in Bodh Gaya for several days, when in a sudden flash of enlightenment, the truth of life appeared to Siddhartha. He realized how to transcend the worldly dissatisfaction we all experience. The sage meditated for seven days more after his awakening and formulated the Four Noble Truths. He eventually started to teach these principles through sermons. Called The Middle Way or Eight-fold path, this showed a meaningful way of life.
Bodhi means enlightened in Sanskrit and ever since his awakening to the truth, the prince who became a wise man was called The Buddha. The Buddha’s awakening happened under a peepal tree. This peepal tree in Bodh Gaya was henceforth called the Bodhi Tree. It is loved everywhere as the Tree of Wisdom. Visit the peepal at the Wildlife Sanctuary in the Children’s Gallery! Come closer to Buddha and his life’s teachings at the Bihar Museum!