Ahead of Bihar Day celebrations staring Monday, the state is busy researching how the Bo tree (Bodhi Tree) has come to become its official emblem.
In the early 50s, the then chief minister had declared the lion head Ashokan pillar as Bihar’s emblem, after he received a letter objecting to the use of the Bo Tree. The emblem in use even now depicts a tree rising from a socle with a text in Urdu, in between two Swastika formations.
"In the early 1950s, the then chief minister, late Sri Krishna Sinha, received a letter in which the sender wanted to know why the lion emblem of Ashokan pillar was not being used in the State. The government immediately took cognizance of the objection and the lion head was declared the emblem of Bihar," State Archives director Vijay Kumar told Hindustan Times, quoting from a letter available with his office.
"We are trying to find out how this symbol (Bo tree) was retained. The State Archives is working on it," said Cabinet Co-ordination Principal Secretary Afzal Amanullah.
Sources in the Bihar Archives said, "we are yet to come across any letter that indicates that the government’s decision of the 1950s was ever reverted. In fact, we are still carrying on with the British legacy. The Bo tree symbol was adopted after a recommendation to this effect was sent to the Royal Society after the State Re-organisation Act was passed in 1935."
Despite the government’s decision, Bo tree remains the official emblem, the lion head never became the State symbol. The Bo tree symbolizes the Bodhi Tree. It is derived from the Sinhalese word Bo, used for Bodhi Tree.
This was a large and very old sacred fig tree (Ficus religiosa - Moraceae) located at Bodh Gaya (about 100 km south of Patna), under which Gautam Buddha, the spiritual teacher and founder of Buddhism, is supposed to have achieved enlightenment.
The two Swastikas represent Dharma, universal harmony, and the balance of opposites. The word comes from the Sanskrit word svastika, composed of su (meaning ‘good’), asti (meaning ‘to be’) and the suffix ka. As such, the emblem symbolises Bihar as the land, where people are good.