Worried over the health of the Bodhi tree, Bodh Gaya temple authorities have quietly prepared a plan to preserve the sacred tree, which grew from the banyan tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment more than 2,500 years ago.And why worry about the tree now?
The cloning will be done in a laboratory to preserve its origin. The Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee, which looks after the temple, a Unesco World Heritage site, fears that the tree may collapse because of diseases or natural causes.
The plan is part of an agreement signed between the temple committee and Forest Research Institute (FRI), Dehradun, three months ago. According to the agreement, FRI scientists will do a ‘virtual modelling’ using cells of the existing tree through a DNA finger printing exercise. The scientists have also been asked to conduct a health check-up of the tree every six months.
The tree is one of the most important icons of Buddhism. A large number of foreign tourists visit Bodh Gaya to get a glimpse of the tree.
In the last one year, the tree has been afflicted with several diseases. First, it was hit by milibug, a plant disease. Last year, there was an alarming fall of fresh leaves from the tree. During their investigation, FRI scientists found that the tree was suffering because of poor maintenance.Hmm..."poor maintenance"?? Most likely from over watering the tree. In any case, the cloning idea is a good one and this issue is a pleasant departure from the usual cloning debates.