Boudhanath renowned as Bouddha, Baudhanath or Bouddhanath or the khasa chaitya is a stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal. It is located at 7km East/ Northeast of Kathmandu and home to one of the most important stupas outside of Tibet as well as one of the largest Buddhist stupas in the world, built during the 5th century AD. Bouddhanath is a jewel point in the center of a natural mandala, a store of scared energy. Bouddha is among the largest stupas in South Asia. It has become the focal point of Buddhism in Nepal. Baudhanath has been an important place for pilgrimage and meditation for Tibetan Buddhists and local Nepalese. It is a major trade route between Nepal & Tibet. In the past when the trade routes to central & western Tibet were fully open, traders, pilgrims and travelers sought bless at the stupa for safe passage over the Mountain passes. Boudhanath Stupa became a UNSECO World Heritage Site in 1979. It is known as Khasti in Nepal Bhasa, Jyarung Khasor in Tibetan language and as Bauddha by speakers of Nepali. Stupas are essential to Buddhism as the cross is to Christianity, a tangible symbol of the Buddha’s enlightened mind. It is likely that the first stupa was build some after 600AD, after the Tibetan King Songsten Gampo, was converted to Buddhism by his two wives. The current stupa structure was probably built after the plunder of the Mughal invaders in the 14th century. After the arrival of thousands of Tibetans followings the 1959 Chinese invasion, the temple has become one of the most important centers of Tibetan Buddhism. The influx of large populations of refugees from the Tibetans seen the construction of over 50 Tibetan Gompan (Monastries) around Baudhanath. It is also one of the largest and most significant Buddhist Monument in the world.
Boudhanath is the holiest Tibetan Buddhist temple outside Tibet. The splendid dome of Bouddha stupa is approximately 120ft in diameter, 1 hector in width and 43.25 meter in height. The area of the stupa is about 6,756 square meters. It is believed that this great stupa was built during Kashyapa Buddha’s end period and the beginning period of the Shakayamuni Buddha. Buddhist people believe that the relics of Kashyap Buddha, the third Buddha of Bhadrakalpa was enshrined in the dome of this Stupa. It is recognized as the mind nature of Buddhas of three time which are past, present and the future. This Stupa is identified as the Stupa of enlightenment, Bodhi Stupa or Jhyarung Khhhashyor. This stupa is one of the largest and most significant Buddhist monument in the world. These days, it is a major destination for pilgrims from the Himalayas, Tibet and South-East and Eastern Asia. It has become the center of a thriving town of monasteries, craftsmanship and business. This heritage site has an exceptional universal value which deserves protection and conservation for the benefit of all human beings around the globe. It is believed that those who resides around this great Stupa will never have to suffer from the hunger, famine and unfavorable conditions. The presence of Tibetans & Sherpas which can be evidenced by restaurants selling momos, thukpa and other Tibetan favorites. Many maroon clad Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns can be seen walking around Bouddha, especially at the Stupa. Many people walk as a daily ritual three or more times around the stupa while repeating the mantra ‘om Mani Padme Hum’ either quietly or loudly. Bouddha is a fascinating and very spiritual area .
History of the Great Bouddhanath Stupa:-
There are many stories and legends concerning the origin and history of the great stupa. According to “Hidden Treasure of the Guru Padmasambhya”, the stupa was a built by a mother (widow) named Ma Jhyazima, who looked after her chickens. They were an extremely poor family. She was eager to construct a stupa so, she approached the local King for permission and it was granted. Generally, the King wouldn’t give such a permission, due to her karma, the King said, “Okay, it can be done. This just slipped out of his mouth. That’s why Tibetans call it as a “Jarung Kashor Chorten”. Jarungis means “it can be done”, Kashor is “slipped out of the mouth”. That’s the name of the Bouddhanath Stupa. And Chorten means stupa. The mother passed away after she completed up to the vase, the dome like structure. This mere woman’s ambition to build such a magnificent monument offering to the Boudha caused much jealousy between the rich and the powerful at the time. The jealous lord petitioned the king to stop the construction, but the king who had allowed this happen, replied- “since permission to build has given, it shall not be rescinded”. Thus meaning of the stupa named Jhyarung Khashyor. The remaining of the construction of Bouddha stupa was completed by the four sons ((Trisong Deuchen, Shanta Rakshita, Guru Padmasambhava and Bami Thiser), of Jhyazima. After they finished it, they all stood up in front of it and made prayers. Everyone generated a wish. It has believed that four brother’s wishes had fulfilled. When they were praying, all Buddhas and bodhisattvas absorbed into the stupa. It is also well known as wish fulfilling & All Encompassing. It has believed that it is powerful that the wishes of anybody who makes prayers to the stupa are fulfilled. Especially when you see the stupa for the first time, whatever you pray. This legend is very much popular in Himalayan Buddhist society.
According to the earliest historical references, Boudha Stupa is found in the chronicles of the Newars. Firstly, Boudha is mentioned as one of the four stupas founded by the Licchavi King Vrisadeva (ca.AD 400) or Vikramjit. Secondly, the Newars legend of the stupa’s origin attributes it to king Dharmadeva’s son, Manadeva .Manadeva was the great Licchavi king, military conqueror and the patron of the arts who reigned ca.AD 464-505. Manadeva is also linked with the Swayambhu Chaitya of Gum Bahal. Thirdly, another great Licchavi king Shiva Deva (AD 590-604) is associated with Boudha by an inscription; he may have restored the Stupa. Finally in the archeological report of the 16th century Tibetan restorer, Sakya zangpo, there is an assertion that he discovered the Lichhavi king Amsuvarma’s relics in the Stupa. There is no Licchavi stone remains in the vicinity of Boudha, although in the eastern enclave of the Stupa there are several updatable but undoubtedly ancient stones inscribed with mantra, and in the south there are small Chaityas in the Lichhavi style, which could perhaps be dated as early as the 13th century. In conclusion, although there is no epigraphically or reliable archeological or literary evidence of the Stupa’s Lichhavi origins, its early history being based entirely upon legend. Some believe the name derives from Kasyapa, the Manusi Buddha of the Dwapara-yuga, whose relics are said to be enshrined within it .According to Newari etymology it is derived from the Newari word for dew, for the chronicles mention that when the Stupa was in process of construction a drought struck and the workmen were forced to lay out white cotton cloth to collect the morning dew, which was then wrung out to facilitate the day’s construction. Some say Khasa was the name of a Tibetan Lama whose relics were interred here, or that the Stupa’s origin was in some way associated with the town Khasa on the present border of Nepal and China.
It is based upon Gopal Raj Chronicles during the reign of the Licchavi king Dharmadeva (ca.AD 4th century), it is said that the king installed “Narayanhiti stone spouts” tap but the water did not come. So, the king consulted his astrologers and was told that for water, the sacrifice of the most virtuous man in the kingdom was required. After disappointing results, the king decided that it was only himself and his son who qualified as victims. The old king decided it was to be himself to die, and instructed his son to decapitate a shrouded from with one stroke he would find lying near the palace that night.
The son prince Manadeva obeyed his father’s command and was horrified to see the head of his father fly from the corpse. It landed at the temple of Vajra Yogini in Sankhu and he was told by the goddess that the only way he could undo his sins was to let a cock fly, and wherever the cock landed, build a Stupa for his father’s remains. The cock alighted at Boudha, and king Manadeva built magnificent Stupa there. Ngakchang Sakya Zangpo was discoverer of the revealed legend of the great Stupa who was a Nyingmapa Tantric master. He lived in the last half of the 15th century and first part of 16th. He constructed the stupa, probably in the same form that stands today. In 1818- 19 A.D. Jogchen Shyabkar Chokdrual Rangdol kept gold plated copper in the harmika of Stupa. In 1918-19 A.D. Shakya Tokden Shree contributed in restoration of this Stupa. He spent all the money collected in Tibet in the restoration of Boudha Stupa. Similarly, in 1919 his sons completed the work of restoration of the Stupa. The modern history of Boudha Stupa is related to the Chiniya Lama tradition. In 1859 A.D. Rana Prime Minister appointed Chiniya Tai Fo Sing as the priest of Boudha Stupa. He and his generation contributed in the restoration of Stupa. And different dharma masters had played a vital role for the restoration of this great stupa. Amongst the people who worship and play a vital role in preserving the Stupa, the Tamang community form the nuclear part .However, the Tibetan now form the numerical dominant and most active community of devotees. The Newars and Sherpas are also a part of many ethnic groups that keep this ancient site of worship alive and sacred today as it was centuries ago. The recent restorations are an effort to preserve this monument for the many more generation to come.
The symbolism of the Boudhanath Stupa:-
Boudhanath stupa is the most beautiful and holiest site for Buddhist pilgrims. A stupa in Nepal is said to represent the holy mind of Lord Buddha. Every part of this stupa and the architecture of Boudhanath stupa symbolizes the Buddha’s path to gain enlightenment. It has described the symbolism of different parts of the Boudhanath Stupa as below :
It is the symbol of Mt. Sumeru which is the King of Mountains.
Umbrella is considered to be the protector of three jewels; Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. It lies a glided canopy just above the umbrella said to represent the air.
It symbolizes self- development, enlightenment and purity because it is rooted in the mud, grows from dirty water and without getting dirty emerges as symbol of beauty. It represents enlightened beings such as Buddha himself and Bodhisattvas.
It represents the thirteen states of Bodhisattva’s ground for the enlightenment or “Bodhi” hence the name of the stupa. The triangular shape denotes fire.
5.Two big eyes:-
The eyes of Buddha in the stupa indicates the all-seeing ability of the Buddha. These are the Buddha eyes and wisdom eyes. There are giant pairs of eyes looking out from the four sides of the main tower in the stupa.
It symbolizes Nirvana. It is also to indicate the Nepali character for the number one, representing unity and one way to reach enlightenment.
Harmika epitomizes the eight noble path. Those are as follows:-
- Right view
- Right thought
- Right speech
- Right action
- Right livelihood
- Right endeavor
- Right mindfulness
- Right meditative concentration
Prayer flags tied to the stupa flutter in the wind, and is believed that they carry mantras and prayers heavenward. The prayer flags have 5 colors with significance of each.
- White color symbolizes purity, primordial being
- Green color symbolizes peace, protection from harm
- Yellow color symbolizes beauty, wealth
- Blue color symbolizes knowledge, awakening/enlightenment
- Red color symbolizes love, compassion
It is the symbol of universe or vase of the treasure Mandala. It contains of the jewels of enlightenment, the water of eternity and votive offerings to the deities.
The madala is represented as an external expression to help find the universe within. Often, the mandala incorporates symbols or physical representations of the Buddha to show the transition of the spiritual journey. Thus it is considered as the mansion of Lord Buddha.
11.Two circular plinths:-
The two circular plinths supporting the hemisphere of the stupa just below the dome above the platforms represents water.
12.Three decreasing platforms:-
The base of the stupa consists of three large platforms, decreasing in size. These platforms symbolize Earth, and from here you can look out at the mountains while listening to the chants of the devotees doing kora which is walking around the stupa praying.
13.The Dhyani Buddha:-
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.