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The Stupa of Boudhnath: A World Heritage Site
The Stupa of Boudhnath: A World Heritage Site
Evolution of Stupa Architecture

The development of this word Stupa is found Vedic period. For the proper understanding term of Stupa, we have to analyse the word Yupa, Stupa, Stambha and Skambha which frequently occur in the classical Sanskrit and Pali work of this continent1 .Of all these sub terms the word Yupa appears in the Rigveda itself. According to Divyavadan , Yupa was a religious sign and these have been called as Dharma-chihna2 . The original idea of raising the stupa was probably borrowed from the idea of the Vedic Yupa. It is clearly known from the Satapatha Brahmana the expand of Vedic literature which mentions that the portion of the Yupa, inside the ground the invisible foundation belong to Asuras ( the demons), that up to the rope to human being, the ring to the devas( Gods ) and above it is the Devasadana and to highest of all is sadhaya-devas. The four fold Anda and the harmika of the Stupa have been explained in the cannons of architecture3 .

The Sanskrit word Stupa occurs as early as Rigveda, Taittriya samhita and Pancavimsa-brahman. In this passages the word "stupa" is translated as a knot or tuft of hair , the upper part of the head, crest top , summit, etc. In Rigveda Stupa means tree's stem ( Griffith's translation )sayana as his commentary translates it as stupam Samghan. Grassmmann, a scholar, gives the meaning of Stupa as " Schopf Scheitel " Schopf is crown , top of the head , tuft hair , treetop. Scheithel means top, vertex a pick, summit, crown. Stupa occurs in Vajasaneya Samhita and Satapath-brahmana and scholar like Keith translates is as 'a tuft of hair ' . The word Stuka in Rigveda, Kathaka-Samhita, Atharva Veda, and Satapatha–brahmana also has the same meaning as " tuft of hair, lock of hair ( in Griffith's translation of the passage ). But Sayana translates Stukasabdo a patya vacnah ( Rig-veda 9.97.11 4) . The word is also attested in Greek Stupos5 ' stem, stump, block' (Liddells / Scott 1924: 1441 from Greek STUP . The word ' hiranya-stupah… ' ( Rigveda 1.24.7) also occurs in the Rigveda. These connote to the burring light of God Agni, the out spreading form of a tree and the mound of gold . these terms shows that the Stupa in the Vedic time was compared with the light of fire God , the tree with its widespread trenches and the lump of gold . The word hiranya-stupah has been used for the term agni-skandha6 also, these stood for the following rays of sun god. these facts demonstrate that the Vedic people had erected and worshipped the stupas. The third word Stambha mentioned above is further used in the Rigveda. The Stambha also served the purpose of the Yupas and the Stupas. Thus it was also a dharma –chihna ( sign of religion ) and sometime it has been described with the word Chakra also. According to the Divyavadana. this symbol was identical with the ancient Yuapa. The pillars of Lauria –Nandangarh7 , India and Lumbini. Nepal containing the inscription of King Ashok have their origins in the still past and it may be argued that they also belong to the category of the Vedic Stambas8 .

Scholar Karel Werner opines that the dome, container of the adored relics, can be seen to appear as a pot full of Dhamma, a Dhamma-Wheel, a lotus flower or the circle of the earth. The stupa axis, as a yupa, symbolised the dhamma (teaching, path and realisations) and all its 'sacrifices' and, as Inda-khila, the great stability of the dhamma and the unshakeable nature of the mind full of dhamma; it also represents Mount Meru, home of gods. On top of the stupa dome is a cool 'top enclosure' and a yasti complete with honorific parasol discs equivalent to a Bodhi tree, the symbol of a Buddha's enlightenment and his enlightened mind. While a stupa is admirable of devotion due to the relics it contains, it also serves to inspire, because the badge of its separate components unite together to make an overall divine spiritual statement. The whole symbolises the enlightened mind of a Buddha standing out above the world of gods and human beings. The symbolism shows that the enlightened mind arise from within the world by a process of spiritual growth on a firm basis of the practice of the dhamma which is also the path leading out of the world of humans and gods to enlightenment. A personality full of such dhamma is worthy of reverence and has an unshakeable mind. In brief, we can say that the stupa symbolises the dhamma and the alternation it brings in one who practises it, culminating in enlightenment. It is no amazing, then, that at an early date the various layers of the stupa's structure were explicitly seen as symbolising also specific aspects f the dhamma and of a Buddha's nature. G. Roth has translated two ancient Sanskrit texts (from their Tibetan versions). 'Caitya-vibhaga-vinayabhava Sutra' fragments of an unknown Vinaya (from the first cent. A.D.), and 'Stupa-laksana-karika-vivecana' of the Lokottaravada Vinaya (2nd cent. A.D.). They see the stupa as symbolising the 'Dharma-body' in the sense of the 37 'requisites of enlightenment' (bodhipaksiyadharmas) and certain other spiritual qualities. Each layer of the stupa's structure represents a group of spiritual qualities cultivated on the path, while the spire represents the abilities of a Tathagata9 .

The passage quoted by G. Roth is from 'Ksudraka-vastu' (of the first century A.D. Mulasarvastivada Vinaya). It also links the stupa with bodhipaksiyadharmas and deals with the death of Sariputra at which Ananda - who has Sariputra's relics - evinces dismay to the Budhha. The Buddha consoles him by asking him if Sariputra has taken with him the aggregates of virtue, meditation, wisdom, liberation or knowledge and vision of deliverance and whether he has taken away that which is the substance of the Buddha's enlightened perception, namely the four applications of mindfulness; whereupon the bodhipaksiyadharmas are enumerated. This means that, while in physical sense Sariputra is gone and only his relics remain, the dharmas cultivated by him, i.e. the Dharma-body, remain, too. With such passages in mind it would have been very natural for Buddhists to look on the stupa not only as a container of physical relics of Buddha or ascetic, but also as symbolising the essential dharma-qualities which such a person embodied and which still exist inviting others to embody them10 .

The Dhamma-Wheel and lotus badges incorporated within the stupa, but the other key badge, the Bodhi tree, can be seen to have found a place in this badge-system as well. Buddhist sacred tree is the Bodhi tree, so the yasti and parasols on a stupa must symbolically represent this, itself a potent, Buddhist badge. Additionally, as the base of the stupa is sometimes known as 'throne', and as the throne was used in aniconic 'bodies' of the Budha, the base, dome and superstructure of the stupa can be seen to represent the legs, body and head of the sitting Buddha. That such an idea was present in early Buddhist art is indicated by second century A.D. relief from Amarvati which shows the three key events of the Buddha's life. In it the Buddha is shown at his enlightenment by a throne, the Bodhi-trunk and a circle of branches and leaves of the Bodhi tree; at his firs sermon by a throne, a pillar and a Dhamma-Wheel; and at his parinirbana by a stupa with large base11 .

A. H. Longhurst have different opinion about the development of stupa. He gave a topic the umbrella as a symbol or religious sovereignty. As a symbol of authority and power, the umbrella first attends in the mural paintings of the Ancient Egyptians, and later in the bas-reliefs of the Assyrians. Many Egyptian pictures dating hundreds of year before the base-reliefs of the Assyrians, portray the umbrella as an appendage of a priest or prince; whilst some of the Assyrian icons show slaves holding a richly ornamented umbrella above the head of the monarch, not only in scenes of peace, but even in time of war. Some good examples of these Assyrian umbrellas dating back to the eighth century B.C., may be seen among the bas-reliefs in the Nineveh Gallery of the British Museum. They attend to have been of wood covered with cloth and usually fringed with tassels. Some are conical in shape, while others have round, wheel-like canopies like those depicted in the earliest Buddhist bas-reliefs. Similar scenes are reported to be represented in some of the ancient icons of Persepolis. We know that the Greeks used the umbrella as a mark of elevated rank, the custom being borrowed from the earlier empires, but after the rise of the Roman power the umbrella seems to have lost its royal significance in Europe. It is in Asia, however, that the umbrella plays such an important part in the life and history of the people. Here it is not only a symbol of sovereignty, but partakes of a religious character, and it is sometimes an object of veneration. This is particularly the case in Buddhist countries like Burma, Siam and China12 .

The scholar raise a question that we do not know how or when the umbrella first became the recognised badge of authority in India, but from the singular resemblance between the umbrellas portrayed in the earliest Buddhist icons and those portrayed in the still earlier Assyrian and Persian bas-reliefs, there seems good reason to assume that it was from Persia that the idea first came, which led to its adoption in India as the emblem of sovereignty. From the earliest times down to the present day two kinds of ritual umbrellas have been in use in India. One has a large domed canopy and the other is of the usual wheel-like type. Both are made of wood, covered with coloured cloth or silk, ornamented with a edge and surmounted by a brass or gilt-copper finial. They are usually very large and measure from 4 to 6 feet in diameter, and the staffs are about eight feet high; they are carried above the heads of the Jain and Hindu images when the latter are taken in procession during the big car-festivals. The elegant of these Indian state umbrellas was amazing. Some were of crimson velvet richly embroidered in gold, and the heavy golden handles, which were eight feet high, were encrusted with precious stones. That of the Queen of Lucknow, which is now treasured in the South Kensington Museum, is of blue satin embroidered with gold and seed pearls. In China, one of the main features of a coronation or royal wedding is a great procession of these state umbrellas. The number of these emblems, all carried by high officials, sometimes reaches the high figure of two hundred. According to the Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang, who visited India in the seventh century A.D., similar processions took place in the Panjab, as he tells of a admirable ceremonial which he saw in Peshawar at which "three hundred umbrellas of rich material were carried in the procession"; so in all probability, this custom was introduced into China along with the Buddhist religion from India. In all Buddhist countries, even at the present day, handsome state umbrellas hold a distinguished place in all important funeral ceremonies. In Siam, we find a unique feature in connection with the use of the umbrella at funerals13 .

Antecedents of Boudhnath Stupa

According to Nepal Vhasa Vamsavali king Mandeva of Nepal ( AD 464-305) killed his father unknowingly. In order to avoid that heinous crime of patricide he erected this stupa. Gopalaraja Vamsavali in which there is an account of king Shiva Deva ( A.D. 590-605) who raised this Great Stupa14 . On the contrary, there is no inscription as and other archaeological evidences to prove its Lichchhavi ( AD 200-879) origin in the vicinity of the Boudhnath Stupa. On the other hand, due to the presence of several ancient stones votive Chaityas and two Lichchhavi style Chaityas we are not in a position to refuse its Lichchhavi origin. In the biography of Yeshe Tshogyal by Nam-KhaI Nying Po ( 8th /9th century ), there is a reference that she visited Boudhanath Stupa in search of her Tantric partner Acharya Sa-le. Guru Padma Sambhava appeared to her in a vision on the top of the Boudhanath Stupa. A passage can be quoted : But Tsho-rgyal left to visit the great Stupa called Byarung Khasor which had been built in ancient time by three brothers ( Mother of knowledge , by Nam Khai Nyingpo , Trans. By Tarthang Tulku, Dharma Publishing Berkely 1983 p.58). In the 14th century there appears a term text called Padma Ka'thang Shel brag ma of Orgyen Lingpa in which Boudhanath Stupa is mentioned . The renowned Thangtong Gyalpo , The bridge builder is said to have been visited Boudhanath in early 15th century. He is said to have arrived at Swaymbhu in an instant. At the same time, Mahabodhi had a vision that a dark , Sweet smiling Yogi form Tibet was approaching and Thangtong Gyalpo received proper instruction and an initiation of the Cakrasamvara Tantra. He visited the local pilgrimage sites such as Boudhanath stupa. Concerning the restoration of the stupa Sakya Zanapo,while circumambulating the top most shrines room of the Samye Monastery in Tibet received and injunction from the Buddha to travel to the Kathmandu Valley to find and restore the Boudhnath Stupa. When the Sakya Zang Po arrived in the Kathmandu Valley, he had to face many difficulties locating the exact mound of the Boudhanath stupa. Due denudation, demolitions and losses, the sutpa was covered with dirt, sand, etc. to the point that it became invisible . In the vicinity of the Boudhnath he began digging and discovered the relic of Amshuvarma. He than constructed the stupa in the present architecture format 15. In the Thyasapu, a folded manuscript recording the main events of the state and of Royal family. King Nripendra Malla of Kagthmandu appears along with his brothers, one or the other at several place in between 798 and 803 , Nepal Sambat (AD 1678-1683); on Vaisakha krisna ekadasi uttarabhadra naksatre Somavara, the three brothers are noted to have visited khasa Chaitya (Buddha Sanctuary near Pashupati's shrine). Although Nripendra Malla is mentioned by name there, it is certain that Parthivendra and Manipatendra are included by implication . Nripendra Mall had offered a gold umbrella to the Chaitya16 . Although the Nepalese Buddhists originally built it, its in reparation is done by the Tibetan authorities from time to time. The gilding of the spire is occasionally renewed . The ordinary repairs of the masonry are annually made by some of the pilgrims during their stay at the spot . They also clean away the weeds and grass with which the mound and terraces become covered during the rains; they repaint the divine eyes on the four sides and daub with mortar and white wash various part of the Boudhanth Stupa has been associated which Tibetan from a very early time. We know that tin the 17th –19th centuries the Tibetan government had some jurisdiction over the sutpa and that it has been, and is still, worshipped primarily by Tamangs, Gurungs, and other ethnic groups. In the year 1968, there was sudden firebrokeout in the Boudhnath Stupa. Then a delegation went to Dharmashala and requested His Holiness for consecration . His Holiness the Dalai Lama appreciated the proposal and sent Ven. Rato Chuwar Rinpoche for consecration of the Bouddha Nath is a major destination for all ethnic Tibetans17 .

The name 'Boudhanath' is composed of two different words Boudha and Nath. Buddha means wisdom and the suffix Nath stands for Lord. Boudhanath, thus means the Lord of wisdom. That is Buddha himself . This is the largest stupa in dimension in the whole of Asian subcontinent. The circumference is about 900 meter18 . Above the three terraces stand majestically a magnificent dome about 341.66 feet in circumferences19 . The stupa in this part of the world and the pyramid in Egypt were designed at the same period and for the same purpose. The great pyramids of Egypt were designed to protect the dead bodies of great personalities similarly the stupa in this region was designed to preserve the dead body of the great personalities:- scholars and aristocrats . In the early Vedic period there were only two ways of disposing the dead body. One by cremating the dead to ash and the second by burying it. The dead bodies were buried and a semi-circular mound was raised to indicate the burial so that the other people would know about the burial and therefore not to disturb the spirit, from his/her the eternal sleep, a bamboo or wooden pole was to be fixed with a flag . Thus the practice of burial gave birth to the stupa architecture.

The Rig Veda literature has expression like "Hiranya Stupa"20 . Even today, there is a tradition among Brahman, Chhetri, Newars (Hindu community) family during the mourning period of ten days there is a tradition to invoke the dead and raising a small heap of clay or sand which is called "Dhikuro". Until the tenth day the dead spirit is worshipped by offering water. On the eleventh day the one on funeral rites has to break it with his own head. Thus, it seems that the Hindus have stupa culture but it is only for a temporary period. There is no Dhikuro from twelfth day onward. Hence it can be assumed the tradition of stupa was known from the ancient time.

Gautam Buddha while lying at the death bed was asked by his disciple (Ananda) to instruct him what to do after his death. Buddha, in response, instructed him to cremate and raise a stupa for him. Buddha, further went on saying "as per the tradition of raising stupa in memory of the royalties, saints, ascetic people, Tathagatas, likewise you make a stupa for me". Ananda was not at all confused about stupa. Buddha, born as a prince had right for that and was dying as the light of Asia. As per the command of Buddha his body was cremated. When the cremation was finished the kings of Astha Maha Jana Pada (the kings of eight great cities) came there and divided the relic in equal share and they made stupa with relic kept in a golden casket.

In third century B.C. when Emperor Ashok a devout Buddhist propagated this faith and his efforts made Buddhism flourished. The literature of the period describes that he constructed eighty-four thousand stupas.

The stupas can be divided into following categories:-.

1. Physical stupa (Body parts of Buddha or Buddhist dignitary relics, nail, hair, teeth, etc.) .
2. Paribhaugika stupa (the stupa containing some objects used Buddha and other Buddhist dignitaries).
3. Votive stupa ( constructed in memory of parents with the aim that they would have heavenly abode).
4. Dhamma stupa ( In memory of religion wherein they write mantra, invocation, text, etc. in capsule or tablet and place it in the stupa).
5. Videyaka Stupa (a stupa raised at the site of the death of a Lama and buried vertically).

The Mahayana school paved the way for the development of stupa making it more symbolic and elegant .On earliest school stupa was simple in the form a hump of clay. As time passed by, stupa were influenced by various school of Buddhism like Mahayana, Vajrayana and Lamaism. Their philosophy made the stupa more elegant and decorative as well as philosophically complicated.

There are two important legends regarding the origin of Boudhanath stupa. According to the Tibetan legends a king of Tibet went to his teacher and asked the shortest way to Nirvana. The teacher told him to visit "Khastic Chaitya" (Boudhanath) of Nepal and to circumbulate it thrice then he would achieve Nirvana. The teacher told him a story that once there was a heavenly nymph (Kanma) . One day she broke the rule of heaven and stole the flower by plucking it from the garden of heaven. As a punishment, she was sent to this world as a mortal lady. In course of time she was married to a man who ran a poultry firm. She was very prosperous and when she grew up she had four sons. One choose poultry firm business of his father, other started dairy firm and animal husbandry . One day, all of a sudden, a divine inspiration inspired her that she should do some thing good and decided to construct a stupa. She approached the king for the land and the permission to raise it, which was fulfilled. She started raising the stupa with the help of her husband and sons. During the construction period of stupa suddenly king ordered to stop the construction. But her son approached the king and requested to allow only that much of land that can be covered by the hide of a bull. The king thought that the area equal to the skin of a bull (ox) would not cover enough land and thus he granted it. But the agile (smart) son cut the skin of bull in thin size like thread, which covered the whole land, required for the construction. The king, who had being committed himself with words, had to provide the claimed land.. On the inauguration day of the stupa Buddha and Maitraya Buddha (future Buddha) both descended down from the heaven and they related the story of heavenly nymph. Buddha assured that any body who will circumambulate this stupa with full devotion three times would achieve Nirvana. So thousands of Tibetan as well as Nepal from northern parts are following the instructions of Buddha. by visiting this stupa with their religious sentiments.

According to Nepalese Vhasa Vamsavali king Mandev of Nepal (5th cent. A.D) killed his father unknowingly. He was very much terrified and started crying for patricide his father. So he went to goddess Bajrayogine. The goddess assured him saying that a bird would fly from her hand and where ever it stops, the king should raise a stupa to get rid of that heinous crime of patricide. Accordingly, the King followed the bird. The bird finally landed at the spot where we have the stupa now. The king made stupa in that place. When the stupa was under-construction gods in heaven thought that this stupa should not be completed as being constructed by father killer. So a calamity such as drought effected here for twelve years by god to incomplete the stupa. The determined king did not give-up the construction even when people were in trouble. Kings arranged to collect drops of dew in the night and he squeezed them in the morning and collected water and continued the construction and finally completed the stupa21 .

Niel Gutschow quotes in his book The Nepalese Caitya that assorted and conflicting traditions account for the establishment and recovery of the caitya at Boudhanath, which generally ranks as one of the Mahacaityas of the Valley. Franz-Karl Ehrhard has shed considerable light on the discrepancies. The following summary is based on his "preliminary analysis of the written sources" (1990). According to the 19th century vamsavali which was edited by Daniel Wright (1972:66-67), the Mahacaitya of Bodhnath was established by King Manadeva I (464-505). A Tibetan myth considers Manadeva as the incarnation of a Tibetan lama name Khasa. But such a myth, according to Ehrhard, seems secondary in nature, constructed to provide a popular explanation for the widely used term Khasacaitya. An almost a like term, Khasticaitya, is found in a myth concerning the foundation of the chitya common among the Newars of the Valley. This myth is also mentioned in the 19th century chronicle: there is said to have been a great drought when Mandeva built the caitya. Cloth was speread at night and the dew (New khasu = dew and ti = water) squeezed from it provided the necessary water for the construction process. A third myth explains the term as being derived from the name of the Manusi Buddha Kasyapa, whose relics are said to be enclosed by the caitya22 .

There are a number of prayer wheels and therein the wheel is printed OM MANI PADME HUM (Hail the Jewel in the lotus) invocation (mantra). One who invoked this mantra will be saved and would be protected from danger. So, this mantra is widely popular in Mahayana Buddhism. If one circumbulates this stupa turning all the prayer wheel reciting the mantra, in short time he will complete this mantra for thousands of time. It is believed that a man who recites this mantra for billions of time, he will be Buddha in his life. It is indeed a scientific way of praying. Every turning is believed to be multiplied by eleven thousand times. Within a small spare of time one can recite millions and millions of praying as the mantra protect from all dangers, people use it as pendant, ring etc. for protection against all sorts of evils.

From the early times of Divyavadana the Buddhist text had refereed to this as the Garbha, " Womb" " embryo", container, or alternately by the equivalent and interchangeable term, anda, " egg" . With this reference the Stupa as a whole is called the dhatu-garbha, the " womb of the elements " . Whence derives dagoba, the most usual designation of the stupa in Srilanka23 . The references to the womb and the egg are numerous in the early vedic Literature The Nasidiya-sukta hymn of the Rig veda, describing the primordial water of the Chaos, says " Darkness there was at first , enveloped in darkness; without distinctive marks, all this was water. That which was void and enclosed in a shell, that one by the power of the heart (tapas) come into being24 . The is identified with the navel of the universe: "There water contained the primordial Egg in which all the gods came together. In the navel of the unborn the one was implanted in which all being stood25 . Above the three tiered terraces stand majestically a magnificent dome about 341.66 ft in circumference that appears as a mandala of the Adi-Buddha ( dharmadhatu) when viewed from the top. These are series of samal recessed that consist of 108 chamber and each chamber have stone sculpture near the bottom of the dome26 . These are forty seven images represented in Yab-Yum and the rest are single icons representing the lamastic Buddhism of Tibetan icons of ten images depict the Siddhas of the Tibet such as Marpa, Milarepa and so forth. These are several images of Vajrasattwa, Kalacakra, Acala, Five transcendental Buddhas, Yoginis, Ushnishavijaya and sambars deities of Vajrayana Panthem.. Finally, the figure of Manjushree, Mahakala, Guru Padma Sambhava, and the illustrious lamas of Nyingmapa tradition are the general features of these stone sculptress. Categorically it depicts the images reprinting Gurus, Deva, Dakinis, Dhrmapalas, and other protector deities . It was commissioned by Sakya Zangpo, the restorer of this stupa in sixteenth century27 .

The stupa covered with white dome is solid from inside and has no way to get in . This is called garva or anda. In Hinduism also the hole world is called Brahmanda. Some physical remains of Buddha, or his disciple, or other dignitaries of Buddhist faith would be kept in a golden, silver or copper casket in the centre of the dome. On the lack of proper scientific exploration and excavation we are not in a position to say any thing definitely about whether this stupa contains any relics or not ? We have to wait until further research. According to L. Austine Waddle this stupa contains the physical remains of "kasayapa Buddha "28. He has not provided his source of information. His sources of information is from his porters. Until further research, we have to support the hypothesis of Waddle. Many people believe that inside the stupa there must be physical remains of "kasayapa Buddha".

The stupa has two eyes on each direction. As per the hear say, they represent a demarcation between the world and heavenly things. Anything the eyes below are worldly thing and above the eyes are heavenly things. According to the common Nepalese believe this four pears of eyes represent the kindness, affection, prosperity and love which Buddha is giving to the people of the whole world. They also believe that Buddha is watching the behaviour of the people with his half closed eyes. So, nobody can hide their evil from the gods likewise many other explanations are offered, but their authenticity has yet to be proved. Mahayan Buddhism believes that the union of Adhi Buddha Vajradhara and Prajana have gave birth to five Buddhas suppose to be their spiritual sons. Each son represent one direction as Akshobhya towards the east, Ratna Sambhava in south, Amitabha in west, and Amoghashiddhi in North. Vairochana the eldest one is believed to be the master of the stupa and its surrounding area, as such, he has to be represented in all direction. So the eyes actually represents Vairochana or Vailochana. In Newari Ra and La can be interchanged.

A Lama of Tibetan Buddhism has provided to the author a very interesting explanation about third eyes or question mark (?) (below the eyes). According to him explains it moral faculty of meditation. This Lama relate the third eyes as one that represent vertebrate or spaniel code. The idea is unless one strait his vertebra spinal's code and with eyes wide open or half closed looking whole things and watching what is happening in the world but still will be able to concentrate the mind on certain particular thing, then only the third eye of enlightenment would enlightens. The Mahayan school believe as Hindu people believe in "Para Brahma" (Supreme reality ).They also regard Buddha as the supreme reality. The sect mark Placed on the forehead (tika) represents here as a knowledge and also Urna . The symbolism of Buddha's urna is associations of spinning out of thread form centre are implicit in the usual designation of the spaded in the Brahmans and Upanisadas , namely Urna-nabhi in which nabhi is " hub" or " navel" and urna is "spider thread " ; but Urna also designates one of the thirty two characteristic marks ( Laksana ) of a Buddha, the hair tuft on his brow, which emits rays of brilliant light that illumine the world29 Urna emitting rays of light30 .

The Sinhalese Chronicle call the harmika a high alter ( muddha vedi). The ultimately refers to the vedic High Alter ( Uttara-vedi) one of the allures set up for the performance the vedic sacrifice31 . It s a square altar built at the Eastern side of the Altar Ground ( Vedi) : the altar ground ( vedi) is the Earth; the High Altar ( Uttara-vedi) is the Heaven world32. The Tibetan school belief, the harmika are the eight fold noble path like right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right endeavour, right mindfulness, right meditative concentration.

In stupa there are thirteen steps. One school believes that these thirteen steps represent thirteen different layers of the universe. They are Pramudita, Bimal, Prabhakari, Archisumati, Sudoorjaya, Abhimukhi, Durungama, Achala, Sadhumati, Dharma Mega, Nirupanea, Samantaprabha, Gyanabati Bajra Bhumi. This steps have some kind of philosophical explanations to some like killing ones' ignorance, lust, desire, anger, dishonesty, etc. Example:- If one killed his desire will go to next step and thus here represent dishonesty because out of that dishonesty lies when he killed dishonesty he will be promoted in third one. Secondly one represent here as an anger, when somebody controls his anger he would be promoted to the next steps or zone. Like wise one has to climb all these thirteen steps one after another to reach the top, which looks like umbrella ,pinnacle or parasol33. The symbolism of the parasol or pinnacle is commonly terminated by a vase ( kalas) or by a jewel ( mani) . In both cases the references is to the station of perfected enlightenment , the fulfilment of the ultimate goal of every Buddhist doctrine and practice34 .The parasol represent Nirvana. Nirvana here is not the Death, but the end of sorrow and realisation of truth, which Buddha had in his life. So the message of a stupa to all is that any body can be a Buddha after following the right paths. After many re-births one day every body will achieve Nirvana after climbing all the steps one after another.

Pema Dorje mention in his book 'Stupa and its Technology' that the Chitya Vibhanga Vinayoddhrta Sutra mention that the flight of four steps, vase-base, the vase (dome of the stupa), the harmika, asle-pole, thirteen wheels, and the rain-cloak comprise the physical structure of the stupa. The first step (symboliese) the four close mindfulnesses (catvari smrtyupasthana adhara vedi) viz.,

* An interview with the Lamas circumbulating the Stupa.
1) The close mindfulness of body (kayasmrtyupasthana)
2) The close mindfulness of feeling (vedana smrtyupasthana),
3) The close mindfulness of mind (citta smrtyupasthana), and
4) The close mindfulness of wisdom (dharma smrtyupasthana).

The second step (symbolises) the four perfect abandonments (catvari samyak-prahanani dvitiya vedi) viz.,

1) Effort to abandon the non-virtues that have arisen,
2) Effort to prevent the non-virtues that have not yet arisen,
3) Effort to produce the virtues that have not yet arisen, and
4) Effort to retain the virtues that have already arisen.

The third step (symbolises) the four stages of miraculous powers (catvari rddhipadas trtiya vedi) viz.,

1) A miraculous power possessed of compositional factor renouncing an aspiration of meditative concentration or meditative concentration of desire,
2) A miraculous power possessed of compositional factor renouncing a meditative concentration of mind,
3) A miraculous power possessed of compositional factor renouncing a meditative concentration of effort, and
4) A miraculous power possessed of compositional factor renouncing a meditative concentration of analysis.

The forth step (symbolises) the five (moral) faculties (sraddhadini pancendriyani cathurtha jamgha vedi) viz.,

1) Moral faculty of faith (sraddha indriya),
2) Moral faculty of effort (virya indriya),
3) Moral faculty of mindfulness (smrti indriya),
4) Moral faculty of meditative concentration (smadhi indriya), and
5) Moral faculty of wisdom (prajna indriya).

The vase-base (symbolises) the five (moral) powers (sraddhadini panca balani kanthakam) viz.,

1) The (moral) power of faith (sradha bala),

2) The (moral) power of effort (virya bala),
3) The (moral) power of mindfulness (smrti bala),
4) The (moral) power of meditative concentration (samadhi bala), and
5) The (moral) power of wisdom (prajna bala).

The vase (dome of the stupa) (symbolises) the seven factors of enlightenment (sapta bodhyangani kumbhah) viz.,

1) The factor of enlightenment to the perfect mindfulness (smrti samyak bodhanga),
2) The factor of enlightenment to the perfect dharma (dharma pravicaya samyak bodhanga),
3) The factor of enlightenment to the perfect joy (priti samyak bodhanga),
4) The factor of enlightenment to the perfect effort (virya samyak bodhanga),
5) The factor of enlightenment to the perfect suppleness (prasrabdhi samyak bodhanga),
6) The factor of enlightenment to the perfect meditative concentration (samadhi samyak bodhanga), and
7) The factor of enlightenment to the perfect equanimity( upeksa samyak bodhanga).

The harmika (symbolises) the Eightfold Noble paths (astanga margo harmika) viz.,

1) Right view (samyak drsti),
2) Right thought (samyak sankalpa),
3) Right speech (samyak vak),
4) Right action (samyak karmanta),
5) Right livelihood (samyak ajiva),
6) Right endeavour (samyak vyayama),
7) Right mindfulness ( samyak smrti),
8) Right meditative concentration (samyak samadhi).

The axle-pole (symbolises) the ten knowledges (dasa jnanani yastih) viz.,

1) Knowledge of conventional phenomena (samvrti jnana),
2) Knowledge of others' mind (paracitta jnana),
3) Knowledge of dharma (dharma jnana),
4) Knowledge of realization of subsequent (anvaya jnana),
5) Knowledge of sufferings (duhkha jnana),
6) Knowledge of cessation (nirodha jnana),
7) Knowledge of sources of origination (samudaya jnana),
8) Knowledge of paths (marga jnana),
9) Knowledge of exhaustion (ksaya jnana), and
10) Knowledge of non-productivity (anutpatta jnana)35 .

The same school of Buddhism mention that the first wheel symbolises the power of understanding what is appropriate and inappropriate. The second, wheel the power of understanding , the third concentration, liberation, meditative, stabilisation and meditative absorption. The fourth wheel the power of understanding the superior and inferior faculties. The fifth power of understanding the various mental; inclinations . Sixth the power of understanding various mental faculties. Seventh the power of understanding the path leading to all goals and eighth the recollection of former existence. Ninth death and birth .Tenth cessation of contamination. The eleventh first peculiar close mindfulness (Tathagata), that by which when Tathagata teaches the Dharma to his retinue, he does not get happiness when all his disciple listen with great respect. The twelfth the second peculiar close mindfulness, that by which when the Tathagata teacher the Dhamma to his retinue, he does not get angry when all his disciple do not listen with due respect and thirteenth the third peculiar close mindfulness, that by which when the Tathagata teacher the Dharma to his retinue, he neither becomes joyful nor angry when part of his disciples listen with respect and part do not listen with respect36.

In this stupa there are vimsaticone (twenty corners) and is planned after mandala style. At the centre of the mandala this stupa is raised. The Sanskrit word mandala means " circle", and by extension come to indicate a centred space used for ritual action. The characteristics of the mandala are those of the stupa plan : like the plan, the mandala is laid out by a ritual " squaring of the circle " , is centred , is square of the mandala is subdivided into smaller squares by a grillwork of lines, and within these squares Buddhas , Bodhisattvas and Gods are installed37 .

The symbolism of the wheel is implied within the plan of the stupa. The circle drawn about the gnomic post in the ritual of laying out the stupa plan is the cosmic wheel; the axes of orientation identify it as a wheel of the year, whose turning is the movement of the Sun on the circle of the ecliptic38 .

There are many versions about the Boudhanath Stupa. Until a proper scientific study and excavation are carried out, we are not in a position to say anything or draw any conclusion on the type of stupa. Nepal once was a centre of Himalayan trade route and continued up to the begining of last century the people started trade from Sankhu route, Boudhanath had flourished as a gate way to Tibet. One thing very significant the writer noticed that there are two popular stupas in Kathmandu valley Boudhanath and Swayambhunath . Most of the Newars of Kathmandu Valley are found worshipping Swayambhunath than Boudhanath Stupa where as Tibetan Buddhist or that Community peoples are more crowded in Boudhanath until recent. The stupa of Boudhanath and its surrounding is listed in World Heritage site.

1. V.S. Agrawal, Indian Art , pg. no. 45-55.
2. Ibid, pg. no. 52
3. Shyam Sundar Sherpa, A Study of the Stupas of the Kathmandu Valley, ( M.A. Dissertation ) pg. no. 1.
4. Giusppe Tucci, Stupa, pg. no. xii.
5. Ibid.
6. V.S.Agrawall, Indian Art, pg. no. 120.
7. Benjamin Rowland, The Art and Architecture of India, pg. no. 8.
8. David Wilson, Nepal Art Treasures from the Himalayas, pg. no. 12.
9. Peter Harvey, Symbols in Art and Religion, pg. no. 95-97.
10. Ibid, pg. no. 97.
11. Ibid, pg. 85 - 100.
12. A. H. Longhurst, The Story of the Stupa, pg. no. 1.
13. Ibid, pg. no. 1-3.
14. Dhanabajra Vajracarya / Kamal P. Malla , Gopal Raja Vamsavali, pg. no. 29.
15. Min Bahadur Sakya, Boudhanath, pg. no. 35.
16. D.R. Regmi, Medieval Nepal , Part II, pg. no. 109.
17. cMin Bahadur Sakya, Boudhanath, pg. no. 36.
18. Yajna Raj Satyal, Image Nepal, pg. no. 52.
19. Min Bahadur Sakya, Bauddhanath, pg. no. 19.
20. Rig . Ved, First Chapter (31), pg. no. 25.
21. Nayanath Paudyal, Vasha Vamsavali, pg. no. 77.
22. Niel Gutschow, The Nepalese Caitya, pg. no. 96.
23. Adrian Snodgrass, The Symbolism of The Stupa, pg # 189
24. Ibid, pg. no. 192.
25. Ibid, pg. no. 193.
26. Min Bahadur Sakya, Boudhanath, pg. no. 19.
27. Ibid, pg. no. 21.
28. D. R. Regmi, Medieval Nepal, part II, pg. no. 870.
29. Giusppe Tucci, Stupa, pg. no. 118.
30. Ibid, pg. no. 119.
31. S. Paranavitana, The Stupa in Ceylon, pg. no. 31.
32. Adrian Snodgrass, The Symbolism of The Stupa, pg. no. 250.
33. An Interview with the lamas circumbulating Stupa.
34. Adrian Snodgrass, The Symbolism of The Stupa, pg. no. 342.
35. Pema Dorjee, Stupa and its Technology, pg. no. 121 - 123.
36. Ibid, pg. no. 124.
37. Adrian Snodgrass, The Symbolism of The Stupa, pg. no. 104.
38. Ibid, pg. no. 78.

Agrawala, V.S. (1965). Indian Art. Varanashi.

Bharati, A. (1965). The Tantric Tradition. London.

Brown, Percy. (1956). Indian Architecture ( Buddhistt and Hindu Period ). Bombay: D.B.Taraporevala Sons & Co. Pvt. Ltd.

Dorje, Pema. (1996). Stupa and its Technology. New Delhi: Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts.

Gutschow, Niels. (1997). The Nepalese Caitya. Korea: Daehen Printing and Publishing Co. Ltd.
Harvey, Peter. (1991). Symbols in Art and Religion. Venerated Objects and Symbols of Early Buddhism, PP. 68 - 100. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.
Longhurst, A.H. (1972). The Story of the Stupa. New Delhi: Asian Education Service.

Paranavitana, S. (1996). The Stupa in Ceylon . Colombo: Memoir of the Archaeological Survey of Ceylon.

Poudyal, Naya Nath. (2020 B.S). Vhasa Vansavali. Nepal: Department of Archaeology (National Library).

Regmi, D.R. (1966). Medieval Nepal, Part II. Calcutta: K.L. Mukhopadhayay.

Rowland , Benjamin. (1956). The art Architecture of India (Buddhaist , Hindu, and Jain). Great Britain.

Sadhana Pocket Books. (1997). Rig Ved. Delhi: Sadhana Rocket Books.

Satyal, Yajna Raj. (1998). Image Nepal. A World Heritage Site Bouddha Nath - one of the world biggest stupa, vol 16, no. (3), PP. 51 -52. Kathmandu: K. Sansar Publication Ltd.

Sherpa, Shyam Sundar. (1971). A Study of the Stupas of the Kathmandu Valley, Unpublished M. A. Dissertation. Tribhuvan University.

Snodgrass, Adriah. (1985). The Symbolism of the Stupa. Delhi: Motilal Banarsi Dass.

The Little Talisman. (1997). Boudhanath. Germany: Talisman World Wide Germany.

Tucci , Giuseppe. (1988). Stupa. Delhi: Rakesh Goel for Aditya Prakashan.

Vajracharya Dhanavajra and Kamal P. Malla. (1985). The Gopala Raja Vanshavali. Kathmandu: Tribhuvan University Press.

  Untitled Document

Nepalese Culture, Society and Tourism
By: Diwas Dhakal

This book is a collection
of essays devoted to the
Nepalese Culture,Society and Tourism. A special
stress on Natural and
cultural Heritage of Nepal has been very carefully emphasised.
Diwas Dhakal, 2000 ISBN 99933-570-0-6,
First Edition 2000
Published by:
Mukta Dhakl
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