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Boudhanath Temple

posted Aug 7, 2012, 11:09 AM by Weall Nepali   [ updated Jul 3, 2013, 7:22 PM ]

  • Boudhanatha Temple

Boudhanath Temple

Stupa is semicircle shaped structure (domed) memorial which contains the relics and remains of Buddha. Stupas are ancient form of mandala. Stupa in Sanskrit means heap or mound-like architectures.  Stupa is called Chorten in Tibetan and now adopted by English. 

Stupas are sacred places to worship. Stupa is also called Chaitya. However, Chaitya refers to close stupa inside a building. Sometimes, stupa is also referred as Pagoda.
Boudhanath is one of the largest Stupas in the world, located at heart of Kathmandu at Boudha near by ancient entrance from Tibet to Kathmandu. Sankhu is believed to be the old entrance from Tibet to Kathmandu, which is near to Boudhanath Temple. It is located at about 11 km (6.8 miles) from the center and northeastern within Kathmandu municipality. An ancient and smaller stupa of Chabahil Charumati bihar is located just in about the distance of 2.5 kilometers from Boudhanatha.  Charumati Bihar is known as Little Bouddha. 

The Stupa of Bauddhanath is believed to have the remains of Kassapa Buddha. It has different names in different languages. Newar community of Nepal calls it Khasti, Tamangs call it Jyarung Khasyor and in Nepali it is Bouddhanath. Boudhanath has been listed as world heritage site by UNESCO in the year 1979.  Boudhnath is very popular place for Buddhist holly rituals and popular sightseeing place to all tourists in Kathmandu.

Boudhanath Tour

Boudhanath Stupa looks like a giant mandala from the top view or diagram of the Buddhist cosmos. Four of the Dhyani Buddhas mark the cardinal points as in all Tibetan mandalas, with the fifth, Vairocana, enshrined in the center (in the white hemisphere of the stupa). 

The five Buddhas also represent the five elements (earth, water, fire, air and space/ether), which are represented in the stupa's architecture.

There are other symbolic numbers too. The nine levels of Boudhanath Stupa represent the mythical Mt. Meru, center of the cosmos; and the 13 rings from the base to the pinnacle symbolize the path to enlightenment, or "Bodhi" — hence the stupa's name.
At the bottom, the stupa is surrounded by an irregular 16-sided wall, with frescoes in the niches. In addition to the Five Dhyani Buddhas, Boudhanath Stupa is closely associated with the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (Padmapani), whose 108 forms are depicted in sculptures around the base. The mantra of Avalokiteshvara - Om Mani Padme Hum - is carved on the prayer wheels beside the images of Avalokiteshvara around the base of the stupa.

The base of the stupa consists of three large platforms, decreasing in size. These platforms symbolize Earth, and here you can look out at the mountains while listening to the chants of the devout doing kora, walking around the stupa praying.

Next come two circular plinths supporting the hemisphere of the stupa, symbolizing water. As at Swayabunath, Bodnath is topped with a square tower bearing the omnipresent Buddha eyes on all four sides.
Instead of a nose is a question-mark-type symbol that is actually the Nepali character for the number 1, symbolizing unity and the one way to reach enlightenment—through the Buddha's teachings. Above this is the third eye, symbolizing the wisdom of the Buddha.

The square tower is topped by a pyramid with 13 steps, representing the ladder to enlightenment. The triangular shape is the abstract form for the element of fire. At the top of the tower is a gilded canopy, the embodiment of air, with above it a gilded spire, symbolic of ether and the Buddha Vairocana. Prayer flags tied to the stupa flutter in the wind, carrying mantras and prayers heavenward.

The main entrance to the upper platform of Bodnath Stupa is on the north side. Here Amoghasiddhi, progenitor of the future Buddha, presides. Below Amoghasiddhi is the Buddha Maitreya, the future Buddha.

Surrounding Boudhanath Stupa are streets and narrow alleys lined with colorful homes, Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, and street vendors.

History and Legends of Boudhanath

According to the Gopalrajbamshavali, Boudhhanath was founded by Lichhivi King Shivadev (590-604 AD).  Though, other Nepalese records refer it to be built during the reign of King Mandev (464-505 AD). Tibetan sources claim a mound on the site was excavated in the late 15th or early 16th century and the bones of king Amshuverma (605- 621) were discovered there. 

The Stupa is one of the ancient trade route in between Tibet and Kathmandu. The village of Sankhu in the northeast corner is the gateway of entering Kathmandu through Bauddhanath. There are vrious stories about Bouddhanath stupa. Most famous among all those is from Tamang Mythology. Tamang call the stupa Jyarung Khasyor.
According to the mythology an Apsara of previous life, Jajima was born in a very ordinary family of the earth. She was married to four husbands. Her four husbands worked in four different areas. The first one was a horse dealer, second one was pig dealer, third one was dog trader and the forth one was a poultry dealer. She gave birth to for sons from each of the husband. She named them Tajebu, Phajebu, Khijebu, and Jyajebu. Tajebu was born from horse trader, Phajebu from pig trader, khijebu from dog trader and Jyajebu from poultry business man. Her sons were very religious persons. They decided to construct a largest chorten (stupa). The land, necessary for the construction of stupa was made available by Majyamija. The constructions of stupa started in a speed. The construction materials like soil, bricks and stones were carried on elephants, horses, donkeys etc. Majyamija died after the construction of almost four stories of stupa. The four sons Jajima took over and worked hard for three more years and constructed The Bauddhanath stupa. It is believed that thousands of Buddhist followers and heavenly Deities converted themselves into Lama (Buddha monks) in the Bauddhanath stupa. It is said that because of its Rabne, the rays of Bouddhisattwa entered in the vocal from the heaven and the holy sound was heard in the sky
As empowered by the Bodhisattva this stupa is addressed with a great respect as Sange, Yhange Duibe, Chhorten etc.

 After the completion of the construction of Bouddha stupa, Tajebu prayed to become the king of northern region. In his next life he was the king Thichen Devajan of Tibet. Phajebu wished to be a scholar. He became Bouddhisatwa, an enlightened teacher in Tibet. Khijebu was incarnated as the enlightened Guru, Rinpochhe. Jajebu prayed to be a minister for the protection of religion in the north so he became the minister Bhamitisi. Alomg with the people various animals had also worked to build the Stupa but nobody even remembered them. These animals became angry and prayed. The elephant prayed to be the demon in the next life to get rid of the religion. He became the king of Tibet in the form of Langdharm in the next life. In the same way, the Donkey prayed to become a minister in the next life to destroy the religion and he too became a minister 'Duilon Masyal Thoumbe" in Tibet. Crow hearing the prayers of these animals, wish to destroy the religion, prayed to be a minister to protect and conserve the holy religion. He was born as the brother of minister Lalan paldooc in the next life. The cowherds, shepherds, who prayed for the protection of religion, were born as ChhyolenGohi pemachaen in Tibet.

In the same way, chhodpurchan and sarse, these two Brahmins prayed to the stupa to give the birth in the holy country and to write the holy literature and they got the next life as Kavapalcheka and luigalchen and they translated thousands of holy teachings of Lord Buddha and wrote holy Kangyur. In addition to this two crown princess of Nepal prayed to be the helpers in spreading the religion and to write the holy books. They became Denama Chemang and Hegika Demoka in their next lives and wrote many holy books. One of the religious king of Tibet, Dechen Devachan asked the greatest teacher Rinpoche "what could be the factor and cultural back ground of our previous life that made us deeply devoted in religion and active in disseminating religious matters". He was answered and simply referred by the Guru as 'Jyarung Khasyor and its name, which is illustrated in Kambu Chhoi.

One of the other legend states that, s king in ancient time built a pond with stone water spouts near the present Royal Palace. But the water did not come out of the water spout. It worried the King. 

After meditating for a long time, he found out that water would not flow out of the spouts unless a person gifted with all the 32 qualities was sacrificed to it. The king could think of no one except himself to be sacrificed. Determined to make the water flow out of the water spouts, he asked his son to be where he had built the pond with the water spouts at mid-night and chop off the head of a person whoever would be present during the midnight. 

The Prince followed his dad’s ordered. As soon as the sacrifice was made, water started flowing out of the spouts. The scene was too horrifying. Unable to beer what he saw one of the stamped water spouts turned its face towards the sky. The pond and the water spouts is still near the Royal Palace. It is known as machha pokhari. The water spouts which looked towards they sky in now replaced.

When he saw the face of the dead body he was horrified with sock. The head which he had cut off was of his father. The Prince with depressed heart, went somewhere near the Bajrajogeni temple in Shankhu. He lived an sober life praying to Goddess Bajrajogeni for several years. 

The Goddess became pleased with his prayer. She asked the Prince to build a temple of the Buddha to wash away his sin. The Prince started building the Stupa. But as he started the 12 years drought started in Kathmandu valley. He collected dew drops from cloth kept in the open throughout the night and started building the Stupa. Since the dew drops could be collected only during the winter, the construction took a long time to finish. The Stupa being built by a Hindu king for the Bhuddhists is held in great adoration both by the Buddhists and the Hindus. The Stupa is regarded as holy as the Soyambhunath Stupa.

It is believed that this Bauddha stupa was built just after the demise of Lord Buddha and is largest stupa in the world. After every 12 years water is filled in the Gumba of chhorten. Many kilograms of gold have been used for plating the stupa.

More about Stupas

Stupa usually signifies a domed memorial that normally contains relics and offerings.  Its shape evokes the seated figure of the Buddha, and there are 8 traditional variations to the form, each commemorating an event in the life of the Teacher.  They are evocative of the eight chaityas that first held the Master's relics. 

The Eight Types

Each of the eight kinds of stupas commemorates an important event in Buddha's lifetime: 

  1. Stupa of Enlightenment (Skt. abhisambuddha bodhi mahacaitya) Tib. mngon par  sans rgyas byang chub mchod rten che, 
  2. Stupa of many auspicious doors, bkra shis sgo mang sku bltams mchod rten che
  3. Commemorating victory over Mara, byang chub snying por bdud btul mchod rten che
  4. Evoking the lotus heap, theg gsum chos 'khor pad spungs mchod rten che
  5. Reminder of the miracles gratifying gods and men, lha mi'i yid tshim cho 'phrul bstan mchod rten che
  6. Commemorating the Teacher's descent from Tushita, ston mchog dga' ldan lha las babs mchod rten che
  7. Marking the victory over all misadventures, nye zho kun las rnam rgyal mchod rten che
  8. Commemorating the appeasement of existence and nirvana, srid zhir mi gnas myang 'das mchod rten che

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Pictures of Boudhanath