Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The Eight Buddhist Stupas at Kharbandi monastery.

At Kharbandi monastery we see five stupas installed in one row below the monastery. Usually there should be eight stupas so one really wonders where are the remaining three? Well, the other three are constructed on three sides of the monastery.

A stupa is an architectural rendering of enlightened mind and symbolizes the different qualities of Buddhahood. Its shape represents the Buddha crowned and seated in meditation posture on a lion throne. 
Late Royal Grand Mother Ashi Phuentsho Choden Wangchuck constructed the monastery and the eight Great Stupas in memory of those eight major events of Buddha’s life in 1967. They all look marvelous.

The eight stupas are as under:  
1. The Stupa of Heaped Lotuses (in dzongkha it is called Padpung Chorten) symbolizes Buddha’s birth and the seven steps he took in each of the four important directions. It was built during the Buddha’s lifetime at Lumbini in Nepal and is shaped like a lotus.

2. The Stupa of Enlightenment (Jangchub Chorten) represents Buddha’s achieving enlightenment at Bodhgaya. The King Bimbisara in Bodhgaya built this stupa in honor of Buddha attaining enlightenment. It expresses the elimination of the last thin veils of obscuration and obstacles in Buddha’s mind on the evening before he reached enlightenment. It symbolizes the goal of Buddhist practice – recognizing one’s own mind, complete enlightenment. It means freedom from all disturbing feelings and their roots as well as full development of the mind’s capabilities. At the same time, the stupa is a symbol for overcoming all obstacles and all obscurations.
3. The Dhamek Stupa of the Turning Wheel (Tashi Gomang Chorten) a Stupa of Wisdom or Stupa of Sixteen Gates symbolizes the Wheel of Dharma turning for the first time at Deer Park near Sarnath.
4. The Stupa of Miracles (Chothrul Chorten) built by a person named Lisabi in Shravasti where the Buddha performed miracles in order to convince people with wrongful views sometimes referred to as the “Miracle of the Pairs.”

5. The Stupa of Descent (Lhabab Chorten), this stupa at Samkasya has many steps, which symbolize the Buddha’s return to the earthly realm after teaching the Abhidharma to His mother in the Tushita Heaven.

6. The Stupa of Reconciliation or Unity (Yerndum Chorten) symbolizes reconciling a split in the Sangha at the Bamboo Grove at Rajgir (Rajagrha) after some struggles caused by Buddha’s cousin Devadatta. Also known as the site where the Buddha tamed the maddened elephant Nalagiri, which is considered as legend for the division that arose among the monks living there.

7. The Stupa of Complete Victory (Namgyal Chorten) symbolizes the Buddha voluntarily prolonging His life at Vaishali for three months at the request of his students. Sometimes this phase is represented as the stupa at Vaishali where monkeys offered the gift of honey.

8. The Stupa of Parinirvana (Nyangda Chorten) symbolizes Buddha’s parinirvana at Kushinagara. The main body of the stupa has the shape of a bell, the symbol of Buddha’s complete wisdom.
The common fundamentals of these eight types of stupas are the foundation up to the lion throne and the upper part from the rings upward. The middle sections are the different types that represent the events.
In many Buddhist traditions, stupas are a place of pilgrimage and provide support for the practice of prostrations, offerings and circumambulations. They contain precious relics and scriptures and, especially when they are properly placed in important geographical points, have intrinsic power that invokes peace. 

A stupa is consecrated, not as a structure, but as a living enlightened presence, and therefore brings blessings not only to its location, but also to the world.
So when you visit get blessing from all eight stupas. Try to identify them.