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Located in the eastern Indian state of Bihar about 96 kilometers from Patna, the town of Bodh Gaya is known as the place where Gautama Buddha, Prince Siddhartha, attained enlightenment. The second-century poet Aśvaghos.a in his Buddhacarita names this site the “Navel of the Earth” (Sanskrit prthivīnābhi), as it is the center of the Buddhist universe. Scriptures of various Buddhist traditions agree that all Buddhas—past, present, and future—attain enlightenment on this spot. It is believed that when the universe is finally destroyed, this will be the last place to disappear and the first place to emerge when the universe begins to form again.

The history of Bodh Gaya as the locus of Buddhist pilgrimage has been documented by epigraphic and literary sources from India, Sri ...

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