This project entails a study of Indian sacred centers - Buddhist Bodhgaya and Hindu Gaya. Bodhgaya is directly linked to the life-event of the Buddha and hence the birth-place of Buddhism. It is considered as one of earliest (third century BCE) and important Buddhist sites. Gaya, in proximate distance to Bodhgaya, is a Hindu place of pilgrimage, which emerged as the most important sacred place for the performance of funerary rituals in the early centuries CE. Both of these sites have long multi-layered histories, which have been documented in the ancient and medieval texts and material culture.
Through a study of textual, archaeological and art-historical remains, this project will examine the emergence, multi-phase (re-) constructions and reformulations of both these important centers and their intertwined histories. I have extensively surveyed and documented both these sacred centers and their surrounding areas.
As noted, the project is inter-disciplinary in nature since it draws on historical (textual), archaeological and art-historical sources (material remains). Scholars in the discipline of history, historical archaeology and art-history will benefit from this project since it will examine the dialogical relationship between texts and material culture and their impact on the sacred landscape. This will also help students engage with a geographically distant culture in an interactive and meaningful way.
Abhishek Amar, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Hamilton College