Controversy gripped the Mahabodhi Mahavihara campus in the Buddhist heritage town of Bodh Gaya on Thursday, when the 110-year- old Mahabodhi tree was found damaged.
Local people discovered that someone had cut one of the branches of the tree. The branch is missing and the scars on the tree are fresh. The incident is likely to have international repercussions as Buddhists from all over the world travel to Bodh Gaya to worship this tree.
The Mahabodhi tree behind the Mahabodhi temple, which grew from an original banyan tree, is considered sacred by the Buddhists as it was under this tree that the Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment some 2,600 years ago.
District Magistrate-cum-Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee (BTMC) chairman Jitendra Shrivastava, who rushed to the Mahavihara at Bodh Gaya, told newspersons that it was a rumour. He showed the photographs of the tree taken at a function in 2004 in which the cuts on the tree looked fresh. The chief minister was also apprised on the matter, he added. He said that scientists of Rajendra Agriculture University would also arrive at Bodh Gaya to determine the date of the cuts.
Samples of the portion will be sent to Dehra Dun for dating.
BTMC secretary Dr Kalicharan Singh Yadav and member Dr Ramswaroop Singh alleged that such rumour was part of a conspiracy. Mahabodhi Mahavihara chief priest Bhante Bodhipal said that around two years back, scientists of Rajendra Agriculture University had applied lotion and removed the dead bark as the branch of the tree was afflicted with milibug disease. An inquiry, nonetheless, has been ordered to ascertain the truth.
According to reports from Patna, Home secretary Afzal Amanullah and DGP AR Sinha had rushed along with agriculture experts to examine the tree.