An eight-foot-tall bronze statue of Maitreya has been gracing the Bodhi tree for the last year at the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya, India. A gift of  Ven. Tarthang Tulku, president of the Light of Buddhadharma Foundation International and the head lama of the Tibetan Nyingma Meditation Centre (TNMC), the statue was cast in the foundry at the Odiyan retreat center in Sonoma, California. It was then shipped to India and arrived on April 16, 2021, which happened to be the day of a full moon, and just in time for the sixteenth annual International Tipitaka Chanting Ceremony, in which thousands of monks chant the Tipitaka (Sanskrit: Tripitaka) under the Bodhi tree. 

The Maitreya statue

Tarthang Tulku’s daughter Wangmo Dixey—executive director of Dharma College, president of the International Buddhist Association of America, and executive director of the Light of Buddhadharma Foundation International—helped obtain permission to install Maitreya under the Bodhi tree. “It really was a miracle to know that Maitreya flew from California and arrived in Bodhgaya on a full moon day,” Dixey said. “During the Tipitaka chanting ceremony, thousands of people honored it by adorning it with flowers from around the world.”

Having been the centerpiece for ceremonies at the Vajrasana (the “diamond seat” where the Buddha was enlightened) since its arrival, the statue was blessed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in December 2022, before being moved to the meditation park on the southeast side of the Mahabodhi Temple complex. Part of the mission of the Light of Buddhadharma Foundation International-India is to beautify the sacred sites of the Buddha, which now includes a Maitreya House where this statue will reside. 

His Holiness the Dalai Lama paying his respects to the Maitreya statue in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 19, 2023. | Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Thousands of monks and laypeople visit the Mahabodhi every year, but this is the first time a Maitreya has graced the site in recorded history. 

Many Buddhist traditions agree that the Mahabodhi Temple marks the place where the Buddhas of this eon will come to attain enlightenment. It is therefore deeply auspicious that a statue of the Buddha Maitreya be located on the Mahabodhi Temple grounds.

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