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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell with accompanying insert

Diary entry containing inserted newspaper cutting relating to Buddhism and Hinduism.

Reference code
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 entry, paper

20.593684, 78.96288

Sat. 7. [7 February 1903] Up at 6.30, breakfasted at 7 and at 7.30 off to
Budd Gaya [Bodh Gaya]. An hours' drive, mostly through poppy
fields and palm trees. At first some little hills, then open cultivated
country. A broad dry river bed on the left. From far away you see the
great Budhist [sic] Sikra. It has been restored out of its mind, but is still
most interesting. It is below the level of the ground, having been dug
out by us. There is a small very old, brick sikra like it to the right and
masses of stupas round and a garden. Ashoka's rail has been
recovered in part and set up. You enter through his Tori. On the left
are a row of shrines - Buddha's feet, then a room with 6 or 7 old
statues of Buddha, then 2 shrines of Shiwa with the Linga. On the right
are some Burmese bells. Inside a huge statue of Buddha with a cloth
of gold robe all over it, leaving the head uncovered. By it are some
small statues presented by Burmese. You go up onto the first story
[sic]. There are stupas all round and small towers at the corners
containing images. In the central chamber a gold naked statue of
Maya, covered with cloth of gold. The carvings on Ashoka's rail are
curious - mermaids, tree nymphs, centaurs and tree worship. One
represents the Bo tree with Ashoka's rail round it. At the back is the
Bo tree, the present only only 20 years old, grown from a seed of the
former one - the 9th or 10th descendant of the original Bo tree. A
round stone with the Feet stands below it, within and under it, a gold
statue of Buddha. There was a Japanese pilgrim sitting on the
pavement in front of the Feet, in the Buddha attitude. He had been
doing penance for 6 months, for sins in a former birth. He had lost
Father mother and 2 brothers in a fortnight in punishment of these sins.
Behind is a little building presided over by a Ceylon Budhist in which
is the remarkably lovely statue of Budha [sic] made by [space left
blank] in the beginning of the 11th cent. and presented not long ago
by pious Japanese. The Sungassi priest who presides over the
temple (and makes an enormous income out of it) refused to admit it
and it has therefore been relegated to this side temple. There are big
Sikras which mark the tombs of these Sungassi high priests and near
them a little shrine in which is the round stone, some 6 inches high,
covered with inscriptions and carvings, on which Buddha sat. On the
right of the big Sikra is a long low platform with wheels of the Law on it,
on which Buddha walked up and down. On the right beyond the
garden is a tank with a broken column in it and a columned building
on one side - the usual Hindu columns. Many flesh robed pilgrims.
On the Ashoka rail and the statues inside the temple are inscriptions
in the Pali character. So we drove back, stopping to photograph a
typical well with long pullies. Got to the town at 11 and I walked off to
Vishnu Pad and photographed temple and street scenes. Watched
the worshippers coming out wreathed with marigolds and jasmine.
So back to an excellent lunch at 12. We had a most comic bill, "1
{bottle} bottul bear, 1 rupee, 4 o'clock teapot for 2 gentulmans dinner
for 2 man 3, Breakfast samall 1 do do large for 2 man 2 Lat water 2
annas Waterman 4 annas. Left at 1, our train at 2. There got into the
train with us Mr Tyndall, a friend of Hugo's, with a Hindu gentleman,
Shems ul Ulema who was going to shoot a leopard in some hills 2
stations off. Shems ul U. said there were Budhist caves in these hills.
Mr T. told us a Mr Fletcher was at Hong Kong. "Good old Fletcher!"
said H and determined to apprize him of our coming. I asked if he
liked him at Oxford. "No" said H "Not much. He's not at all an
attractive person." Got to Bankipur[?] at 5.15 and waited till 8 for the
train was late. Wrote letters and dined. I had a Miss Graham in my
compartment. [Attached to page: cutting from The Morning Post,
Tuesday January 20 1903 concerning the conflict between Hinduism
and Buddhism at the Budh Gaya temple.]

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