September 30, 2020

No contingency plan yet to save sacred Bodhi tree

GAYA: The fear of sacred Bodhi tree’s fall on account of natural calamities like strong winds, earthquake and flood has been stirring Buddhist followers for long.

According to general secretary of the International Buddhist Council (IBC), Pragya Deep, the tree is very sacred for the Buddhist devotees and, it was for the shrine management committee to prepare a contingency plan to meet any eventuality. “The emotional attachment of the Buddhists with the tree that symbolises Buddha’s enlightenment is unfathomable,” said the monk.

The IBC represents about 50 foreign monasteries located in Bodh Gaya. The Bodhi tree is said to be a direct descendant of the original tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment, is now known as Mahabodhi Mahavihara. Sources claimed that it was brought from Sri Lanka where saplings were sent by King Ashoka.

Asked whether there is any ‘Plan- B’ for the sacred tree, Gaya DM Abhishek Singh, who is also the ex-officio chairman of the shrine management committee said Nangzey Dorjee, member secretary of Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee (BTMC) was the right person to take a call on this matter.

On account of the less than adequate availability of darkness during night hours and resultant photosynthesis deficiency, soil compaction and pollution caused by over zealous devotees, the tree has faced with health-related issues. A few years back, the tree suffered from mealybug, a plant disease caused mainly by photosynthesis deficiency.

Sources say that during one of the visits of plant scientist NSK Harsh, former professor, Forest Research Institute, Dehradun, Plan B came up for discussion.

Sources added that two options are available for replacement of the tree with its own DNA profile. The options are cloning of the tree and frozen preservation of its own seeds. Cloning, according to well placed sources, was a risky venture as the process may lead to mass reproduction of the sacred tree, thereby compromising with its unique status.

Plant scientists are reportedly in the favour of the safer option of preservation of the seeds in a frozen state. Sources, however claimed that the technique for the same is not available locally and for that specialist agency with good credentials is required. Experts claimed that Forest Research Institute (FRI), Dehradun, scientists may provide expert advice to the shrine committee in this respect.

Courtesy: TNN

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