The Root Institute of Wisdom and Culture in Bodhgaya is an oasis of peace and calm amidst the chaos and crowds of Bodhgaya. Located 1.6 Kms away from the Mahabodhi temple, this institute offers a variety of Buddhist retreats and courses for Indians and foreign nationals. In addition, for travelers to Bodhgaya it opens up its peaceful rooms and dormitories affordable rates. The only caveat is that booking needs to be made well in advance especially during the festive season as the place is always full with students and travelers from different parts of the world.
On entering the Institute campus, and walking past the shaded trees one comes upon the massive statute of Buddha, Nagarjuna – the great Indian philosopher and a Prayer wheel. The positive vibes and feelings of peace that we encountered on our arrival stayed with us for the entire duration that we were in Bodhgaya. The manager at the Institute – Inder, with his silent, but friendly demeanor set the tone for the behavior expected at the institute.
The dining hall at the institute serves fixed menu breakfast, lunch and dinner at the specified times. The food is simple and caters well to the foreigners palate. Tea, coffee, and infusions are served throughout the day. On completing the meals one is expected to clean the dishes, and a 3-step process is defined for this.
- First, scrub off the stains on the plate and clean it with soap.
- Rinse with clear water
- Soak in a disinfectant for 20 seconds and rinse again before stashing them away on shelves
On the walls, the process is clearly spelt out and is easy to follow. Along with that are notes exhorting us to scrub the stains as diligently as one would want to clean the bad karmas of the world.
Mornings start early with meditation sessions. The time is marked with a gong that is struck in front of every room in the institute. My roommate, who is a student in a 3 day course here wakes up and silently walks towards the meditation hall. I watch him leave, and then tuck myself inside my cosy blankets. The silence that was softly broken by the gong is resumed, and the only thing I hear are the birds chirping in the garden.
Dinner, too, is served early at 6pm. We, being tourists, are out until late and by the time we come in by 9pm, majority of the students are making their way to the bed. The posters again exhort us to maintain silence as retreat is progress. We do our best, and talk in whispers as we sit outside in the gardens. Under the starry sky, the soft blue light of the meditation hall puts a glow on the smiling Buddha statue at the entrance. We watch and hope that one day we are back here to study and be in retreat.
Do check out their website and courses: http://www.rootinstitute.ngo/