Two and a half millennia ago, Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment under the bodhi tree in Magadha, at what is known today as Bodhgaya in India. For the next 45 years, the Buddha walked barefooted all over India sharing the methods to attain true peace and freedom from suffering.
On the evening of October 28, 2012, a large gathering assembled under the canopied branches of the bodhi tree, the very place of the Buddha’s awakening, to read his words aloud in English.
This is the first time a sūtra resounding in English has taken place at the world’s most sacred buddhist site. These sūtras are among the first 100 pages of translated texts published by 84000 in its online reading room earlier this year. Some 300 people, including the 84000 working committee members, volunteers, donors and supporters, flew in from all over the world to take part in this meaningful event. The international crowd drew the attention of curious onlookers and locals, some of whom remained to share in the excitement of the occasion.
Gold-covered bound texts* containing six newly translated sūtras of the Kangyur were distributed freely to the participants. Different sets of texts were prepared, each with the sūtras arranged in different sequences, so that several sūtras could be read aloud at the same time.
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, the chair of 84000, was met by an animated and expectant crowd. After settling into his seat, at about 5 p.m., Rinpoche gave an opening address on the significance of reading the words of the Buddha under the bodhi tree.
The resounding commenced with opening prayers led by Drubgyud Tenzin Rinpoche, followed by the actual reading of sūtras. Adopting the style of a traditional resounding, participants read the sūtras at their own pace, against a choral backdrop of other voices reading aloud. Just as an orchestra comprised of many instruments plays different notes in a score, all the distinct voices harmonized seamlessly into a resounding symphony.
The atmosphere was serene, yet filled with concentration and intent. As dusk fell, participants continued to read by the light of torches and cell phones. After an hour of sūtra reading, the event was formally brought to a close with dedication prayers led by Drubgyud Tenzin Rinpoche.
Photo slideshow of the resounding event:
Photos: Danny Lee, Frank Lee, Lieow Shao Wei, Tessa Goh
*We would like to offer our gratitude to the following people for making the texts for the 84000 Sūtra Resounding available to the participants of this event: