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The Lord Buddha famous Stupas of Sanchi and Bharhut in India

Updated on January 29, 2016

Buddha Archives

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Lord Buddha

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A Stupa is a hemispherical funeral mound, the resting place of the bones and ashes of a holy man.

The earliest stupas were earthen mounds surrounded by wooden railings. Later, the mounds were given a stone casing and stone – railings replaced wooden ones. Remains of many Buddhist stupas have been found. One of the best preserved early examples is the Sanchi Stupa. The Bharhut Stupa is another well known example. The essential features of a stupa are :-

It is a hemispherical dome – like solid structure (of mud, masonry or stone) into which one cannot enter. It is considered to be the spiritual body of the Buddha and contains relics, such as pieces of bones, teeth, etc., which are kept in a casket at the top of the dome. At the top of the dome is a cubical structure called Harmika, which contains the relics. From the harmika rises a stick (umbrella stick) which holds the triple umbrella, a sign of Royalty and dignity.

There is circumlocutory passage (pradakshina patha) around the stupa enclosed in a wooden or stone railing running around the base of the dome. There are four gateways toranas for entrances located at the four cardinal points. The toranas are exquisitely carved with the favourites symbols of Buddhism, such as the lotuses, elephants, bulls, lions, horses and scenes from the Jataka stories.

The great Buddha Sanchi stupa is in Bhopal. The distance of 60 kilometres from Bhopal. Bhopal is the capital city of the state of Madhya Pradesh. It was built in third century BC. The Buddha stupa of Bharhut built in 150 BC. It is between Allahabad and Jabalpur in of erstwhile Nagod, the state of Madhya Pradesh.

Another Great Buddha Stupa at Amaravati. It was built between the second century BC and the third century AD. A large Buddhist monument built in south-eastern India.

Sanchi Buddha stupa

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Goutama Buddha

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Life stories of the Buddha in his previous births

Lord Buddha Stupa at Sanchi

The Sanchi stupa, near Vidisha, 60 kilometres from Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh, was given a stone casing during the third century BC by Ashoka and was enlarged and given stone railing and gateways during the Shunga period. It is believed to have contained the relics of the Buddha himself. It is a solid hemispherical dome – like structure enclosed by a massive stone railing. The railing consist of pillars 2.74 m high connected by three horizontal bars. Over this were placed immense rounded stone bars to form the top of the railing.

It has for gateways. One in each cardinal direction. The great Buddha Sanchi stupa of the gateways consist of two square pillars connected by three horizontal slightly curved bars. Relief sculptures depicting the story of the Buddha cover every portion of the gateways. The Buddha is represented in the form of symbols such as a lotus, a wheel, a throne under a peepal tree etc. The technique of carving shows imitation of earlier wooden railings.

Great Buddha stupa at Bharhut

The Bharhut Stupa was discovered by Sir Alexander Cunningham in 1873, in the erstwhile Nagod State of Madhya Pradesh. It was in a damaged state although many of its heavier parts were still intact. The remains of the Bharhut Stupa were removed to the galleries of the India Museum, Kolkata. The human figures of Yakshas and yakshinis on the upright pillars of the railing have a charm of their own, there is also a similar railing at Bodh Gaya, of which numerous posts and cross bars have been preserved till today. The reliefs of the Bharhut Stupa depict the Jatakas (life stories of the Buddha in his previous births) and the significant events of his life as Shakyamuni.

The Buddha no faith in the performance of Yajnas or sacrifices. He described the practice of rituals like the Yajnas as of little consequence.

Great Buddha stupa at Bharhut

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