Joined: 24 September 2010
The Buddha was born into a family of the kshatriya varna in what is Nepal in 562 BCE. His father was King Suddhodana, leader of the Shakya clan in what was the growing state of Kosala, and his mother was Queen Maya. He was raised by his mother's younger sister Maha Pajapati after his mother's death seven days after childbirth.
Much of the information on Suddhodana comes from Buddhist legend and scripture. He is believed to be a leader of the Shakya clan, who lived within the state of Kosala, on the northern border of Ancient India. Although in Buddhist literature he is said to be a hereditary monarch, he is now believed to have been an elected head of a tribal confederacy. Suddhodana's father was Sinahana.
Suddhodana was said to be greatly troubled by the departure of his son and is reported in Buddhist scriptures to have sent 10,000 messengers to plead with Gautama to return. After the Buddha preached the dharma to the messengers, they were all ordained into the sangha. Later a friend of Suddhodana named Kaludayi invited the Buddha to return, at the request of Suddhodana. The Buddha also preached the dharma to him and Kaludayi was later ordained as a monk.
After this request from his father Gautama returned to his father's kingdom where he preached dharma to him. Gautama later returned again to his father's kingdom to see his father's death. Suddhodana became an arahant.
In Buddhist texts she is said to have had an immaculate conception, with some similarities to Mary's conception of Jesus in biblical accounts. A white elephant was said to have entered her side during a dream. When she awoke she found that she was pregnant. As it was traditional to give birth in the homeland of the father, Queen Maya journeyed to Devadaha. However she was forced to give birth en route, in the Lumbini grove. It is said that the Devas presided over the birth and that two streams, one cool and one hot, flowed down from the heavens.
Maya died seven days after the birth of her son, whom she had named Siddhartha or "he who achieves his aim." She is said, in Buddhist scriptures, to have been reborn in Tusita, where her son later visited her, paid respects and taught the dharma to her.
Ananda later became the attendant of Buddha, almost twenty years after the Buddha's enlightenment, when the Buddha was around 55. The Buddha had many private discourses with, including one on the nature of bhikkhunis.
Ananda also helped to found the order of nuns or bhikkhunis. He pleaded with the Buddha to allow women to enter the sangha. The Buddha finally agreed to allow women to be ordained, after many refusals on condition they obey 8 rules governing respect for the monks (garudhamma).
Ananda was also present at the death of the Buddha. The Buddha is reputed to have told Ananda, that he could live for the remainder of the aeon and that Ananda could ask for this. However Ananda did not understand the Buddha's words and did not ask. The Buddha was then visited by Mara, who tried to persuade the Buddha to pass away. But the Buddha told him that the time was already right, as he had accomplished his task: to establish the fourfold community of bhikkhus, bhikkhunis, laymen, and laywomen. At the house of Cunda the Buddha asked for food to be served. Hard and soft food was served to the Buddha's disciples but the Buddha was served some poisoned food. He later died after many days of pain and sickness.
After the Buddha's death, at the 1st council convened by Mahakashyapa at Rajarha, Ananda was asked to recite all of the suttas he could remember. It is from this that he popularly is known as "Pre-eminent in remembering."
Ananda gave the responsibility of transmitting teaching to Sanakavasa. Sanakavasa had been trained by Ananda. Ananda then decided to row into the middle of the river Ganges to attain nirvana as the countries of Magadha and Vaisali, who occupied the banks were at war. Both countries called at Ananda to come to their bank but Ananda refused. After Ananda's death Vaisali and Magadha ceased their war. 
Devadatta was the maternal first cousin (or in some accounts paternal first cousin) of the Buddha. He was ordained into the sangha along with his brothers and friends and their barber, Upli, when the Buddha preached to the Shakyas in Kapilavastu.
For a time, Devadatta was highly respected among the sangha. Shariputra is said to have sung the praises of Devadatta in Rajagaha. After some time, Devadatta developed siddhis and his intention is said to have been corrupted. After gaining these siddhis, Devadatta attempted to kill the Buddha on several occasions, commonly thought to be motivated by jealousy of the Buddha's power. He is reported to have rolled a boulder toward the Buddha, piercing his flesh, and to have incited an elephant to charge at the Buddha.
Devadatta then attempted to split the sangha into two, with one faction led by himself and the other by the Buddha. However, this attempt failed as all of his converts returned to the Buddha's sangha.
Devadatta was reputedly remorseful toward the Buddha late in life. He is reported to have walked to the monastery where the Buddha was staying to apologize to him but, as a result of bad karma, he was swallowed up into the earth and reborn in Avici. 
Nanda was a half-brother of the Buddha; the son of King Suddhodana and Maha Prajapati Gautami. Nanda was to be married to a princess named Janapadakalyani but abandoned her to join the sangha. Nanda became deeply troubled by abandoning Janapadakalyani so the Buddha took him to Tavatimsa to meet the Apsaras and Sakra, King of the Gods. The Buddha promised Nanda an Aspara if he remained a bhikku. Nanda persevered and became an arhat. 
Maha Pajapati Gotami (Sanskrit: Maha Prajapati Gautami) was the youngest daughter of King Suppabuddha and Queen Amita. She was married to King Suddhodana with her elder sister Mahamaya (or Mayadevi). When her sister died after the birth of Siddartha Gautama she took Siddartha into her care. She also gave birth to a son, Nanda, to King Suddodhana.
After the death of King Suddhodana, Maha Prajapati journeyed to find the Buddha. When she found him, she petitioned the Buddha, through Ananda, to allow women to enter the sangha as bhikkhuni. After many refusals, the Buddha finally agreed to allow women to enter the sangha as long as they accepted eight additional vinaya. These were:
Maha Pajapati is said to have given the Buddha a robe made of fine cloth. The Buddha refused it, saying it was too elaborate and would cause the sangha to degenerate. Later Maha Pajapati became an arahant.
Joined: 24 September 2010
The Jtakas (Sanskrit ) (also known in other languages as: Burmese: , pronounced: [za" t"]; Khmer: [ciet'k]; Lao: " sadok; Thai: " chadok) refer to a voluminous body of literature native to India concerning the previous births (jti) of the Bodhisattva. These are the stories that tell about the previous lives of the Buddha, in both human and animal form. The future Buddha may appear in them as a king, an outcast, a god, an elephant"but, in whatever form, he exhibits some virtue that the tale thereby inculcates.
In Theravada Buddhism, the Jatakas are a textual division of the Pali Canon, included in the Khuddaka Nikaya of the Sutta Pitaka. The term Jataka may also refer to a traditional commentary on this book.
The Jatakas were originally amongst the earliest Buddhist literature, with metrical analysis methods dating their average contents to around the 4th century BCE. The Mahsghika Caitika sects from the ndhra region took the Jatakas as canonical literature, and are known to have rejected some of the Theravada Jatakas which dated past the time of King Ashoka. The Caitikas claimed that their own Jatakas represented the original collection before the Buddhist tradition split into various lineages.
According to A.K. Warder, the Jatakas are the precursors to the various legendary biographies of the Buddha, which were composed at later dates. Although many Jatakas were written from an early period, which describe previous lives of the Buddha, very little biographical material about Gautama's own life has been recorded.
The Jataka-Mala of Arya Shura in Sanskrit gives 34 Jataka stories. At Ajanta, Jataka scenes are inscribed with quotes from Arya Shura, with script datable to sixth century. It had already been translated into Chinese in 434 CE. Borobudur contains depictions of all 34 Jatakas from Jataka Mala.
The Theravada Jatakas comprise 547 poems, arranged roughly by increasing number of verses. According to Professor von Hinber, only the last 50 were intended to be intelligible by themselves, without commentary. The commentary gives stories in prose that it claims provide the context for the verses, and it is these stories that are of interest to folklorists. Alternative versions of some of the stories can be found in another book of the Pali Canon, the Cariyapitaka, and a number of individual stories can be found scattered around other books of the Canon. Many of the stories and motifs found in the Jataka such as the Rabbit in the Moon of the aajtaka (Jataka Tales: no.316), are found in numerous other languages and media. For example, The Monkey and the Crocodile, The Turtle Who Couldn't Stop Talking and The Crab and the Crane that are listed below also famously feature in the Hindu Panchatantra, the Sanskrit niti-shastra that ubiquitously influenced world literature. Many of the stories and motifs being translations from the Pali but others are instead derived from vernacular oral traditions prior to the Pali compositions.
Sanskrit (see for example the Jatakamala) and Tibetan Jataka stories tend to maintain the Buddhist morality of their Pali equivalents, but re-tellings of the stories in Persian and other languages sometimes contain significant amendments to suit their respective cultures.
Within the Pali tradition, there are also many apocryphal Jatakas of later composition (some dated even to the 19th century) but these are treated as a separate category of literature from the "Official" Jataka stories that have been more-or-less formally canonized from at least the 5th century " as attested to in ample epigraphic and archaeological evidence, such as extant illustrations in bas relief from ancient temple walls.
Apocryphal Jatakas of the Pali Buddhist canon, such as those belonging to the Pasajtaka collection, have been adapted to fit local culture in certain South East Asian countries and have been retold with amendments to the plots to better reflect Buddhist morals.
In Theravada countries several of the longer Jatakas such as Rathasena Jataka and Vessantara Jataka, are still performed in dance, theatre, and formal (quasi-ritual) recitation. Such celebrations are associated with particular holidays on the lunar calendar used by Cambodia, Thailand and Laos.
The standard Pali collection of jatakas, with canonical text embedded, has been translated by E. B. Cowell and others, originally published in six volumes by Cambridge University Press, 1895-1907; reprinted in three volumes, Pali Text Society, Bristol. There are also numerous translations of selections and individual stories from various languages.
This list includes stories based on or related to the Jatakas:
Joined: 24 September 2010
The Buddha in Hinduism is viewed as an Avatar of Vishnu. Many Hindu texts including Bhagavata Purana, Bhavishya Purana, Narasimha Purana etc. enlist the Buddha as an avatar of Vishnu. In the Puranic text Bhagavata Purana, he is the twenty-fourth of twenty-five avatars, prefiguring a forthcoming final incarnation. Similarly, a number of Hindu traditions portray Buddha as the most recent (ninth) of ten principal avatars, known as the Davatra (Ten Incarnations of Vishnu). The Buddhist Dasharatha Jataka (Jataka Atthakatha 461) represents Rama as a previous incarnation of the Buddha and as a Bodhisattva and supreme Dharma King of great wisdom.
Buddha's teachings deny the authority of the Vedas and consequently Buddhism is generally viewed as a nstika school (heterodox, literally "It is not so") from the perspective of orthodox Hinduism.
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The Buddha is described in important Hindu scriptures, including almost all the major Puranas. It is considered that not all of them refer to the same person: some of them refer to other persons, and some occurrences of "buddha" simply mean "a person possessing buddhi"; most of them, however, refer specifically to the founder of Buddhism. They portray him with two roles: preaching false views in order to delude demons, and criticizing animal sacrifice. A partial list of major Puranic references of the Buddha is as follows:
Another important scriptures that mentions him as an Avatar is Rishi Parashara's Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra (2:1-5/7).
He is often described as a yogi or yogcrya, and as a sannysi. His father is usually called uddhodhana, which is consistent with the Buddhist tradition, while in a few places the Buddha's father is named Ajana or Jina. He is described as beautiful (devasundara-rpa), of yellow skin, and wearing brown-red or red robes.
Only a few statements mention the worship of Buddha, e.g. the Varahapurana states that one desirous of beauty should worship him.
In some of the Puranas, he is described as having taken birth to "mislead the demons":
mohanrtha dnavn blarp pathi-sthita putra ta kalpaym sa mha-buddhir jina svayam tata samohaym sa jindyn asurakn bhagavn vgbhir ugrbhir ahis-vcibhir hari"Brahmanda Purana, Bhgavatattparya by Madhva, 1.3.28
In the Bhagavata Purana Buddha is said to have taken birth to restore the devas to power:
tata kalau sampravtte sammohya sura-dvim
- buddho nmnjana-suta kkaeu bhaviyati"srimad-bhagavatam , 1.3.24
In many Puranas, the Buddha is described as an incarnation of Vishnu who incarnated in order to delude either demons or mankind away from the Vedic dharma. The Bhavishya Purana contains the following:
At this time, reminded of the Kali Age, the god Vishnu became born as Gautama, the Shakyamuni, and taught the Buddhist dharma for ten years. Then Shuddodana ruled for twenty years, and Shakyasimha for twenty. At the first stage of the Kali Age, the path of the Vedas was destroyed and all men became Buddhists. Those who sought refuge with Vishnu were deluded.
In the Dasavatara stotra section of his Gita Govinda, the influential Vaishnava poet Jayadeva (13th century) includes the Buddha amongst the ten principal avatars of Vishnu and writes a prayer regarding him as follows:
O Keshava! O Lord of the universe! O Lord Hari, who have assumed the form of Buddha! All glories to You! O Buddha of compassionate heart, you decry the slaughtering of poor animals performed according to the rules of Vedic sacrifice."
Additionally, there is the Vaishnava sect of Maharashtra, known as Varkari, who worship Lord Vithoba (also known as Vitthal, Panduranga). Though Vithoba is mostly considered to be a form of the little Krishna, there has been a deep belief for many centuries that Vithoba is a form of Buddha. Many poets of the Maharashtra (including Eknath, Namdev, Tukaram etc.) have explicitly mentioned him as Buddha, though many neo-Buddhists (Ambedkaries) and some western scholars often tend to reject this opinion.[who?][clarification needed]
The concept of "Vishnu Tatva" & "Jeeva Tatva" can be explained in terms of incarnations. Lord Krishna as the 8th incarnation of Vishnu is a perfect "vishnu" tatva, who has the all pervading quality. Sri Krishna in Bhagavat Gita told, that all living &nonliving things are part and parcels of him. Krishna as an incarnation of Vishnu, he descended from Goloka(The permanent world of Krishna) through Vaikuntha-loka, the ream or abode of vishnu. When the incarnation from those higher worlds happening, they naturally possess all pervading quality in this world. On the other hand Lord Buddha as a jeeva tatava, or a living being in this material universe, practiced perfections known as Parami / paramita to get the qualification to become a Buddha. When the Bodhisatva getting the Buddha hood he should attend the all pervading Vishnu tatva first. Without this all pervading quality of Vishnu tatva, nobody can get Buddha hood, because Buddha hood surpasses Vishnu tatva. In that terms, Hinduism sees the Buddha is the 9th incarnation of Vishnu and that is more or less accepted. If somebody as a jeeva tatva approaches to a Vishnu tatva he also can become a "Universal Monarch / Chakravarti Raja" , a king of universe. That also you can explain, with the all pervading power of Vishnu tatva. This, explained correctly the ceremony of giving the name to prince Siddhartha, in the Shakya palace at Kimbulvat. Out of 8 brahmin scholars gathered in the Palace of King Suddhodhana, 7 indicated that, if the prince stayed at home, he would be a Universal Monarch (Sakviti Raja), if he left the home he would be a Lord Buddha. The youngest of the Brahmins, named Kondaa, mentioned that the prince would definitely become the Lord Buddha.
Vivekananda:- May he who is the Brahman of the Hindus, the Ahura Mazda of Zoroastrians, the Buddha of Buddhists, the Jehovah of the Jews, the Father in Heavens of Christians, give strength to you to carry out your noble ideas!
Radhakrishnan: If a Hindu chants the Vedas on the banks of the Ganges... if the Japanese worship the image of Buddha, if the European is convinced of Christ's mediatorship, if the Arab reads the Koran in the mosque... It is their deepest apprehension of God and God's fullest revelation to them.
Steven Collins sees such Hindu claims regarding Buddhism as part of an effort - itself a reaction to Christian proselytizing efforts in India - to show that "all religions are one", and that Hinduism is uniquely valuable because it alone recognizes this fact. This idea, however, is disputed by scholars.
Buddhism finds favor in contemporary Hindutva movement, with Lama Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama being honored at Hindu events, like the Vishva Hindu Parishad's second World Hindu Conference in Allahabad in 1979.
According to Wendy Doniger, the Buddha avatar which occurs in different versions in various Puranas may represent an attempt by orthodox Brahminism to slander the Buddhists by identifying them with the demons. Helmuth von Glasenapp attributed these developments to a Hindu desire to absorb Buddhism in a peaceful manner, both to win Buddhists to Vaishnavism and also to account for the fact that such a significant heresy could exist in India.
The times ascribed to one "Buddha" figure are contradictory and some put him in approximately 500 CE, with a lifetime of 64 years, describe him as having killed some persons, as following the Vedic religion, and having a father named Jina, which suggest that this particular figure might be a different person from Siddhrta Gautama.
B. R. Ambedkar, who revived Buddhism in India, denied that Buddha was an incarnation of Vishnu. Among the 22 vows he gave to the neo-Buddhists, the 5th vow is "I do not and shall not believe that Lord Buddha was the incarnation of Vishnu. I believe this to be sheer madness and false propaganda."
In 1999, at the Maha Bodhi Society in Sarnath, Jagadguru Sankaracharya, Jayendra Saraswati of Kanchi matha and Vipassana Acharya S. N. Goenka after having a mutual discussion, gave a joint communiqu agreeing on the following three points. The Maha Bodhi Society Office, Sarnath, Varanasi. 3:30 p.m., 11 November 1999
Joined: 24 September 2010
Yasodhara was the daughter of King Suppabuddha, and Pamit, sister of the Buddha's father, King Suddhodana. Her father was a Koliya  chief and her mother came from a Shakya family. The Shakya and the Koliya were branches of the dicca or Ikvku clan of the solar dynasty. There were no other families considered equal to them in the region and therefore members of these two royal families married only among themselves.
She was wedded to her cousin, the Shakya prince Siddhartha, in his 16th year when she was also 16 years of age. At the age of 29, she gave birth to their only child, a boy named Rhula. On the day of his birth, the Prince left the palace. Yasodhar was devastated and overcome with grief. Hearing that her husband was leading a holy life, she emulated him by removing her jewellery, wearing a plain yellow robe and eating only one meal a day. Although relatives sent her messages to say that they would maintain her, she did not take up those offers. Several princes sought her hand but she rejected the proposals. Throughout his six year absence, Princess Yasodhar followed the news of his actions closely.
When the Lord Buddha visited Kapilavatthu after enlightenment, Yasodhar did not go to see her former husband but ask Rahula to go to Buddha to seek inheritance. For herself, she thought: "Surely if I have gained any virtue at all the Lord will come to my presence."According to fulfill her wish Lord Buddha came to her presence and admired her patience and sacrifice will helped him to fulfill his wishes not in this birth but also in previous birth, by quoting Chandrakinnara Jathakaya.
Some time after her son Rhula became a novice monk, Yasodhar also entered the Order of Monks and Nuns and within time attained Arahantship. She was ordained as Bhikkhuni included among the five hundred ladies following the Prajapati Gotami to establish Bhikkhuni Order. She was declared as foremost in possessing the supernatural power among the nuns. Amongst female disciples, she was chief of those who attained great supernormal powers. She died at 78, two years before Buddha's Parinibbna.
In many legends of the Buddha's life, Yashodhar meets Siddhrtha Gautama for the first time in a previous life, when as the young brahmin Sumedha, he is formally identified as a future Buddha by the then current Buddha, Dipankara.
Waiting in the city of Paduma for Dipankara, he tries to buy flowers as an offering to the Enlightened One, but soon learns that the king already bought all the flowers for his own offering. Yet, as Dipankara is approaching, Sumedha spots a girl named Sumidha (or Bhadra) holding eight lotuses in her hands. He speaks to her with the intention of buying one of her flowers, but she recognises at once his potential and offers him five of the lotuses if he would promise that they would become husband and wife in all their next existences.
The meaning of the name Yasodhara (Sanskrit) [from yasas "glory, splendor" + dhara "bearing" from the verbal root dhri "to bear, support"] is Bearer of glory. The names she has been called besides Yashodhara are: Yashodhara Theri (doyenne Yashodhara), Bimbadevi, Bhaddakaccana and Rahulamata (mother of Rahula). In the Pali Canon, the name Yasodhar is not found; there are two references to Bhaddakaccn.
Joined: 24 September 2010
The Buddha with Rhula and his mother Yasodhara.
|Born||c. 534 BC
Accounts of his life differ in certain points. The following is that given in the Pli Canon.
Prince Siddhartha was preparing himself to leave the palace. One account claims that when he received the news of his son's birth he replied Rhu jto, bandhanam jtam " "A rhu is born, a fetter has arisen." Accordingly the child was named Rhula, meaning "fetter", or "impediment", recognizing that the child could be a tie that bound him to his wife Yashodhara, a binding that may impede a search for enlightenment. Others, however, feel rhu does not mean "fetter" in this sense. The second account, found in the Mlasarvstivda vinaya, is that Rhula received his name in accordance with an eclipse of the moon, caused by the snake Rahu. In Japanese he is called Ragora ().
Supporting the first account, in the Dhammapada, the pleasure and joy that a man receives in his wife and children is called a "soft fetter" that ties individuals to life and suffering, not just through eventual loss and separation of loved ones but more deeply and subtly may act as ties to cyclic existence (samsara).
Rhula was raised by his mother and grandfather, King Suddhodana. When he was seven years old, Rahula requested his father, missing him dearly; the Buddha returned to his home city of Kapilavatthu. On the seventh day of his return, Yasodhar took Rhula to see his father, the Buddha. She told Rhula that since his father had renounced the palace life and as he was the next royal prince in line, he should ask his father for his inheritance of crown and treasure for his future sake when his grandfather would no longer rule the kingdom.
After the meal, Rhula followed the Buddha, saying "Give me my inheritance." Nobody tried to stop him, nor did the Buddha prevent him from following him. He then looked at his father and said, "Lord, even your shadow is pleasing to me."
Reaching the Park of Nigrodha, where the Buddha was staying, the Buddha thought to himself: "He desires his father's inheritance, but it is wrought with troubles. I shall give him the benefit of my spiritual Enlightenment and make him an owner of a transcendental inheritance."
"The King, discovering that now his grandson and a number of young men in the royal family had requested ordination, asked the Buddha only to ordain a minor with the consent of his parents or guardian. The Buddha assented. This rule was expanded to include the spouses of those intending to join the Order of monks and nuns.
Shortly after Rhula's ordination the Buddha taught him the importance of telling the truth. This discourse is known as the Rahulovada Sutta. The Buddha placed truth as the highest of all virtues. The seekers of Truth, (those who have as their goal Nibbana) should not break the precept of Truth.
Rhula subsequently became one among the many arhants through following the Buddha's teachings.
Rhula died before the Buddha, Sariputta and Moggallana.
In the Mlasarvstivda-vinaya, used by Tibetan Buddhists, it is claimed that Rhula was conceived on the evening of the Renunciation, and born six years later, on the day that his father achieved Enlightenment (which is also said to coincide with a lunar eclipse). Also see "Rahu," a Hindu Asura and Dharmapala.
Mahayana Sources: in the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni predicts that Rahula will become a buddha named "Treader on Seven-Jeweled Lotuses Tathagata". In the following verse section he says, "In worlds to come, seeing infinite kotis of buddhas, to all he will be eldest son and with all his mind seek the Buddha-way. Of the hidden course of Rahula only I am able to know" (Chapter IX).
Joined: 24 September 2010
A stupa (from Sanskrit: m., , stpa, Sinhalese: , Pli: "thpa", literally meaning "heap") is a mound-like or semi-hemispherical structure containing Buddhist relics, typically the ashes of Buddhist monks, used by Buddhists as a place of meditation.
Stupas originated as pre-Buddhist earthen burial mounds, in which ascetics were buried in a seated position, called chaitya. After the parinirvana of the Buddha, his remains were cremated and the ashes divided and buried under eight mounds with two further mounds encasing the urn and the embers. Little is known about these early stupas, particularly since it has not been possible to identify the original ten monuments. However, some later stupas, such as at Sarnath and Sanchi, seem to be embellishments of earlier mounds.
The stupa was elaborated as Buddhism spread to other Asian countries becoming, for example, the chorten of Tibet and the pagoda in East Asia. The pagoda has varied forms that also include bell-shaped and pyramidal styles. In the Western context, there is no clear distinction between the stupa and the pagoda. In general, however, stupa is used for a Buddhist structure of India or south-east Asia, while pagoda refers to a building in East Asia which can be entered and which may be secular in purpose.
Stupas were built in Sri Lanka soon after King Devanampiyatissa converted to Buddhism, the first stupa to be built was the Thuparamaya. Later on Sri Lanka went on to build many stupas over the years, some like the Jetavanarama in Anuradhapura being one of the tallest ancient structures in the world.
A stupa was discovered at Sopara, an ancient port near Mumbai, and is believed to be one of the most ancient stupas in the world. The oldest known stupa is the Dhamek Stupa at Sarnath, India, while the tallest is the Phra Pathom Chedi in Nakhon Pathom, Thailand, at a height of 127 metres.
The most elaborate stupa is the 8th century Borobudur monument in Java, Indonesia. The upper rounded terrace with rows of bell shaped stupas contained buddha images symbolizing Arupadhatu, the sphere of formlessness. The main stupa itself is empty, symbolizing complete perfection of enlightenment. The main stupa is only the crown part of the monument, while the base is pyramidal structure elaborate with galleries adorned with bas relief of scenes derived from Buddhist text depicted the life of Siddharta Gautama. Borobudur unique and significant architecture has been acknowledge by UNESCO as the largest buddhist monument in the world.
Built for a variety of reasons, Buddhist stupas are classified based on form and function into five types:
"The shape of the stupa represents the Buddha, crowned and sitting in meditation posture on a lion throne. His crown is the top of the spire; his head is the square at the spire's base; his body is the vase shape; his legs are the four steps of the lower terrace; and the base is his throne."
Although not described in any Tibetan text on stupa symbolism, the stupa may represent the five purified elements:
To build a stupa, transmissions and ceremonies from a Buddhist teacher is necessary. Which kind of Stupa to be constructed in a certain area is decided together with the teacher assisting in the construction. Sometimes the type of stupa chosen is directly connected with events that have taken place in the area.
All stupas contain a treasury filled with various objects. Small offerings called Tsa-Tsas fill a major part of the treasury. Creation of various types of Tsa-Tsas is a ceremony itself. Mantras written on paper are rolled into thin rolls, and put into these small clay stupas. Filling the treasury, one layer of Tsa-Tsas are placed, and the empty space between is filled with dry sand. On the new surface appearing, another layer is made, until the entire space of a treasury is full.
The number of Tsa-Tsas are dependent on the size of both the treasury and Tsa-Tsa, since it should be completely filled. For example, the Kalachakra stupa in southern Spain has approximately 14 000 Tsa-Tsas within.
Jewellery and other "precious" objects are also placed in the treasury. It is not necessary that the jewellery be expensive, since it is the symbolic value that is important, not the market price. It is believed that the more objects placed into the stupa, the stronger the energy of the Stupa will be.
A very important element in every Stupa is the Tree of Life. It is a wooden pole covered with gems and thousands of mantras, and placed in the central channel of the stupa. It is placed here during a ceremony or initiation, where the participants hold colorful ribbons connected to the Tree of Life. Together the participants make their most positive and powerful wishes, which are stored in the Tree of Life. In this way the stupa is charged up, and will start to function.
Building a stupa is considered extremely beneficial, leaving very positive karmic imprints in the mind. Future benefits from this action will result in fortunate rebirths. Fortunate worldly benefits will be the result, such as being born into a rich family, having a beautiful body, a nice voice, and being attractive and bringing joy to others and having a long and happy life, in which one's wishes are fulfilled quickly. On the absolute level, one will also be able to reach enlightenment, the goal of Buddhism, quickly.
Destroying a stupa on the other hand, is considered an extremely negative deed, similar to killing. Such an action is explained to create massive negative karmic imprints, leading to massive future problems. It is said this action will leave the mind in a state of paranoia after death has occurred, leading to totally unfortunate rebirths.
Also known as Stupa of Heaped Lotuses or Birth of the Sugata Stupa, this stupa refers to the birth of the Buddha. "At birth Buddha took seven steps in each of the four directions" (East, South, West and North). In each direction lotuses sprang, symbolizing the Four Immeasurables: love, compassion, joy and equanimity. The four steps of the basis of this stupa is circular, and it is decorated with lotus-petal designs. Occasionally, seven heaped lotus steps are constructed. These refer to the seven first steps of the Buddha.
Also known as the Stupa of the Conquest of Mara. This stupa symbolizes the 35-year-old Buddha's attainment of enlightenment under the bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya, where he conquered worldly temptations and attacks manifesting in the form of Mara.
Also known as the Stupa of Many Gates. After reaching enlightenment, the Buddha taught his first students in a deer-park near Sarnath. The series of doors on each side of the steps represent the first teachings: the Four Noble Truths, the Six Perfections, the Noble Eightfold Path and the Twelve Links in the Chain of Dependent Origination.
At 42 years of age, Buddha spent a summer retreat in Tushita Heaven, where his mother had taken rebirth. In order to repay her kindness he taught the dharma to her reincarnation. Local inhabitants built a stupa like this in Sankasya in order to commemorate this event. This stupa is characterized by having a central projection at each side containing a triple ladder or steps.
Also known as Stupa of Conquest of the Tirthikas. This stupa refers to various miracles performed by the Buddha when he was 50 years old. Legend claims that he overpowered maras and heretics by engaging them in intellectual arguments and also by performing miracles. This stupa was raised by the Lichavi kingdom to commemorate the event.
This stupa commemorates the Buddha's resolution of a dispute among the sangha. A stupa in this design was built in the kingdom of Magadha, where the reconciliation occurred. It has four octagonal steps with equal sides.
This stupa commemorates Buddha's successful prolonging of his life by three months. It has only three steps, which are circular and unadorned.
A 9th kind of stupa exists; the Kalachakra stupa. Its symbolism is not connected to events in the Buddha's life, but instead to the symbolism of the Kalachakra Tantra, created to protect against negative energies.
Regional names for stupa include:
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Joined: 24 September 2010