Why End the Retreats in Bodh Gaya after 38 years?

Every year, the noise pollution in Bodh Gaya, the village of the Buddha’s enlightenment, increases due to use of rock festival style loudspeakers for weddings and Mahayana pujas. Our 70 retreatants between the two retreats endured very loud music from the other side of the monastery wall for 19 nights out of 20 nights.

On the first 10 day retreat Radha from Australia had to give the Dharma talk in our large kitchen as the sounds of music from the loud speakers made it very hard for retreatants to hear her in the meditation hall.

Air pollution gets worse and worse as traffic increases at a dramatic rate in the times from November to end of February. More and more of us use face masks in the village. The pollution contributes to the blocking of sinuses, chest irritation and vulnerability to germs. We know more and more people declined to come to Bodh Gaya because of air and sound pollution. Monasteries in Bodh Gaya have increase from six in the 1970’s to around 40 monasteries at present. I spoke about the pollution in Bodh Gaya in The Buddha Wallah documentary about my travels.

It would only take five simple and affordable steps to resolve the severe land, water and air pollution problems of Bodh Gaya. 

  • Install a drainage system through the village to drain away to lakes of mosquito infected dead water so farmers could recover their land for rice paddies and lay pipes for sanitation.
  • Ban all motorised transport for a distance of one kilometre from the grounds of the Bodhi Tree with complete pedestrian and cycle rickshaw access to ensure clean air, silence and safety.
  • Provide a large vehicle for refuse collection daily to keep streets and markets clean.
  • Ban the use of all large loudspeakers throughout the village so there is a quiet presence in Bodh Gaya day and night.
  • Only allow large Mahayana pujas to last for three days not 10 to 14 days so that many pilgrims worldwide could experience quiet times in the grounds of the Bodhi Tree with easier access. Leaders of the large pujas would be responsible to clean up Bodh Gaya at tine end of their pujas.

If these simple steps were taken, Bodh Gaya would become a realm of peace, a meditative environment. Thousands more people would come from around the world to experience this zone of peace and appreciate the clean air, a calm abiding and the hospitality of a full range of beautiful monasteries.

The people of Bodh Gaya would appreciate immensely such steps.

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