Tibetan Buddhist Stupa are the very attractive towards travelers to Tibet. Many of our visitors are asking questions about the different shape and forms of Stupa we have in Tibet. Today i am willing share this information I have learned about the Stupa.
Stupa are originated in India during the pre Buddhist era as a burial mound. Traditionally Hinduism practice to burn the death to cremate. But for the higher priest they bury as the high priest would have already do the fire purification. Stupa was also built-in on the place where the kings and nobles were burned. After the death of high priest, his stupa become the pilgrimage place for his followers. As Buddhist has derive many of its culture from Hinduism. So it the culture in-built the Stupa.
The design of Stupa is said to have preach by Buddha himself during his life time. During the life time of Buddha different Stupa were built by devotees to mark the place of important event in his life time. After his Parinirvana, and cremation a dispute arose among the various Indian ethnic groups over the possession of his Ashes as relics. The relics are later divide equally among eight claimants tribes. thus eight Stupas are built in eight capital of their Kingdom, which is known as eight relic stupa of the eight cities.
Later the Buddhism spread into other eastern Asia and north Asia countries including China, Russia, Burma, Thailand and so on. As time pass these culture has develop their own version of the stupas design. The Original Stupa design as said by Buddha is still visible in south Indian state of Maharashtra in Sanchi.
Although the original purpose of Stupa was to enshrine the relics of great spiritual teachers, they are also constructed for many other auspicious reasons. At Sacred site they commemorate the major events; at cross-road, mountain pass, and on the pilgrimage routes they offer a focus for religious devotion. As stabilizer, removers of hindrance, illness and epidemics, they bring peace to strife-torn land. longevity of local inhabitants and a sense to harmony to environment.
In Tibet mummified bodies of highly realized Masters are some times enshrine in lavishly gilded and jeweled stupa. Three most popular tomb stupas in Tibet are; the tomb stupa of fifth Dalai Lama in Potala Palace, tomb stupa of Lama Tsongapa (the founder of Gelugpa sect) in Ganden monastery in Lhasa and the tomb stupa of tenth Penchen Lama in Tashi Lhunpo monastery in Shigatse. The Large reliquary stupa of great fifth Dalai Lama is glided with over three and half tons of gold leaf and embellished with thousands of large precious stone and pearls.
The stupas has three parts, Throne base, drone and harmika spire. Symbolize the body, speech and mind of Buddha. The unit of Stupa represent the greatest nature of enlighten mind.
Types of Tibetan Buddhist Stupa
1) Lotus Blossom Stupa
The stupa of heaped lotuses or Lotus blossom stupa, commemorate the Buddha birth in the royal Lumbini Garden on the seventh day of the fourth lunar month in year 563 BC. His father Shuddhodana, is said to have erected a stupa in this design to commemorate this event. At birth Buddha took seven steps in each directions from which lotus sprang, symbolizing his immediate resolve to embark on the path of four immeasurable. Four steps of this stupa are circular and decorated with lotus petal design. A tradition also exist of constructing seven heaped lotus steps to represent Buddha’s first action. This stupa is also known as birth of the Sugata Stupa.
2) Stupa of the Conquest of Mara.
This stupa is also known as the Enlightenment Stupa, commemorate the Buddha’s defeat of the Temptation and attack of the hosts of Mara under the Bodhi tree at Bodh Gaya, when he was thirty-five years old. King Bimbisara is said to have erected a stupa in this design.This stupa has traditional unadorned four square steps, often with slight over hang along the top of each other.
3) Stupa of many doors.
The stupa of many doors, commemorate the Buddha’s first turning wheel of Dharma at the deer park in Sarnath near Varanasi, when he was thirty-five years old. his first five mendicant disciples are said to have built a stupa in this design. Each four square step are decorate with many doors frames which express the many avenues or method of buddha’s teachings. A Series of four, six and twelve doors on each side of the steps symbolize the four noble truth, six perfections, the noble eightfold path and the twelve links in the chain of dependent origination.
4) Stupa of Great Miracle
great miracles stupaThe stupa of great miracle, commemorate the Buddha’s display of inconceivable miracles in the first half of a lunar month in Shravasti, when he was fifty years old. Here he over powered the Maras and heretic at the Jetavana Grove. The stupa of miracles or conquest of the tirthikas was built by the Lichvi tribe to commemorate this event. The stupa of Miracle has projecting central section on each of its four steps and side, which also project sightly by one-third of the height.
5) Stupa of descent from god realm.
The stupa of descendant from God realm is to commemorate Buddha’s descent from heaven of thirty-three gods, when he was forty-two years old. Here he spent the summer retreat in Tushita heaven teaching the Dharma to the reincarnation of his mother, to repay her kindness in having borne him just before she died. He descended at the city of Sankasya and the locals built a stupa in this design to commemorate the event. The descent from God realm stupa is characterized by a central projection in each of its four side containing triple ladder or projected steps. The central projections follow the plan miracle stupa with middle buttresses which project by one-third of their height. The projected step which form a triple receding ladder were said to have been constructed for the Buddha by the celestial architect Vishvakaram. They often have three rows of thirty-three steps symbolizing the god realms. Laddered stairways in this design are often built at the temple entrances; the central stairways is reserved exclusively for distinguish or incarnate Lamas. the right stairways is for the ordained monks, and the left is for the lay practitioner. triple flight of wooden stairs at the Potala Palace are very worn down in their right and left section, as this section is reserve only for Dalai Lama.
6) The Stupa of reconciliation.
The stupa of reconciliation, commemorate Buddha’s reconciliation of the disputing faction within Sangha which had been divided by the enmity of his cousin Devadatta. Buddha reunited the Sangha at the Velvuvana Bamboo grove at Rajagriha and the local inhabitants of the kingdom of Magadha constructed a stupa of this design. The reconciliation stupa is characterized by its four octagonal steps with equal sides. Various symbolic meaning are given for the four levels of eight sided steps. which totals thirty-two in number.
7) The stupa complete victory.
The stupa of complete victory, commemorate buddha prolongation of his life by three months. This event occurred at the city of Vaisali when Buddha was eighty years of age by supplication of the lay devotees Tsundra. The celestial beings are said to have built the stupa in this design. The complete victory stupa is characterized by having only three steps, which are circular and Unadorned.
8) The Stupa of Nirvana.
nirvana stupaThe Stupa of Nirvana, commemorate Buddha’s passing away beyond sorrow into his final Parinirvana at Kushinagara between two sal tree when he was eighty years old. The Malla tribe of Kushinagara erected the stupa in this design. The Nirvana Stupa is characterized by its circular bell-shaped dome which rest directly on the circular base of the ten virtues with no ascending steps. Usually this bell-shaped dome is not ornamented, except occasionally when the base or mouth of the dome is decorated with the ornate ring of inscribed circles. Its simplicity and the absence of the step symbolized Buddha’s complete absorption into Parinirvana, where all conceptual qualities merges into the unqualified state of pure emptiness as the Dharmakaya.
All the originals stupa built during the time of Buddha didn’t survive intacted today. Yet where every you go in buddhist world you will find the sets of eight stupa. here is the detials of Tibetan Buddhist stupa