Eight Great Buddhist Stupas མཆོད་རྟེན་ཆ་བརྒྱད་།
Eight Great Buddhist Stupas (Sanskrit) or Chorten (Tibetans) are the important Tibetan Buddhism and culture. Furthermore, it represents eight important events in the life and works of Buddha Shakyamuni. The Eight Great Buddhist Stupas are symbols of enlightened mind and the path to its realization. The Eight Great Buddhist Stupas represent the Buddha’s body, speech, and mind. Consequently, the eight stupas also the places of worship by Buddhist followers.
The Idea of Stupas
In ancient Indian art, the Buddha Shakyamuni was not represented as a person but as a stupa. Therefore, when Buddha Shakyamuni passed away, his followers built the eight great Buddhist stupas. The stupas built with relics and other holy objects that they collected from the Buddha’s cremation. Most noteworthy the Eight Great Buddhist Stupas represented eight important deeds of their great teacher. Since then, the Eight Great Buddhist Stupas contain some important relics of great masters. Furthermore, it also contains or other objects like scriptures that manifest the mind of enlightenment and peace.
The design of Buddhist stupas
First of all, the design of Buddhist stupas is very technical and each part symbolizes specific religious meanings and importance. The stupa has assumed the representation of the five purified elements and especially relevant to great religious teaching. The shape of the Stupa represents the Buddha and Crowned and sitting in meditation posture on a lion throne. His crown is the top of the spire and the head is the square at the spire’s base. Body is the vase shape and legs are the four steps of the lower terrace. The base is his throne and the square base represents earth. The hemispherical dome/vase represents water. The conical spire represents fire. The upper lotus parasol and the crescent moon represent air and the sun. And, the dissolving point represents the element of space.
Building a stupa is a very powerful way to purify negative karma and obscuration. Furthermore, it also powerful to accumulate extensive merit. In this way, you can have realizations of the path to Enlightenment. Moreover, you will be able to do perfect work to liberate suffering beings. Leading them to the peerless happiness of Enlightenment and which is the ultimate goal of our life.
Lotus Blossom Stupa (བདེ་གཤེགས་མཆོད་རྟེན། Dheshey Chorten)
First of all, the Stupa also known as Stupa of Heaped Lotuses or Birth of the Sugata Stupa and this stupa refers to the birth of the Buddha. “At birth Buddha took seven steps in each of the four directions” (East, South, West, and North). Most noteworthy, each direction lotuses sprang, symbolizing the Four Immeasurable: love, compassion, joy, and equanimity. The four steps of the basis of this stupa are circular, and it is decorated with lotus-petal designs. Occasionally, seven heaped lotus steps are constructed. These refer to the seven first steps of the Buddha.
Enlightenment Stupa (བྱང་ཆུབ་མཆོད་རྟེན། Shangchuk Chorten)
It familiar as the Stupa of the Conquest of Mara. This stupa also symbolizes the 35-year-old Buddha’s attainment of enlightenment under the bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya. Where he conquered worldly temptations and attacks manifesting in the form of Mara.
Stupa of Many Doors (ཆོས་འཁོར་མཆོད་རྟེན། Chokhor Chorten)
Also known as the Stupa of Many Gates. After reaching enlightenment, the Buddha taught his first students in a deer-park near Sarnath. The series of doors on each side of the steps also represent the first teachings. Moreover, the teachings are the Four Noble Truths, the Six Perfections, the Noble Eightfold Path and the Twelve Links in the Chain of Dependent Origination.
Stupa of Great Miracles (ཆོ་འཕྲུལ་མཆོད་རྟེན། Chotrul Chorten)
Also known as Stupa of Conquest of theTirthikas. This stupa refers to various miracles performed by the Buddha when he was 50 years old. Legend claims that he overpowered Mara sand heretics by engaging them in intellectual arguments and also by performing miracles. This stupa was raised by the Lichavi kingdom to commemorate the event.
Stupa of Descent from the God Realm (ལྷ་བབ་མཆོད་རྟེན། Lhaba Chorten)
At 42 years old, Buddha spent a summer retreat in Tushita Heaven, where his mother had taken rebirth. In order to repay her kindness, he taught the dharma to her reincarnation. Consequently, local inhabitants built a stupa like this in Sankasya in order to commemorate this event. This stupa isalso characterized by having a central projection at each side containing a triple ladder or steps.
Stupa of Reconciliation (དབྱེན་ཟླུམ་མཆོད་རྟེན། Yidum Chorten)
This stupa commemorates the Buddha’s reconciliation of the disputing factions within the Sangha which had been divided by the enmity of his cousin Devadatta. Buddha reunited the Sangha at the Veluvana bamboo grove at Rafagriha, and the local inhabitants of the kingdom of Magadha constructed a stupa in this design. The reconciliation stupa is characterized by its four octagonal steps with equal sides. Furthermore, various symbolic meanings are given for the four levels of eights-sided steps, which total thirty-two in number.
Stupa of Complete Victory (རྣམ་རྒྱལ་མཆོད་རྟེན། Namgyal Chorten)
This stupa commemorates the Buddha’s prolongation of his lifetime by three months. This event occurred at the city of Vaisali when Buddha was eight years of age by the supplication of the lay devotee Tsundra. The celestial beings are said to have erected a stupa of this design. Most noteworthy, the complete victory stupa is characterized by having only three steps, which are circular and unadorned.
Stupa of Nirvana (མྱང་འདས་མཆོད་རྟེན། Nyadek Chorten)
This stupa refers to the death of the Buddha when he was 80 years old. It symbolizes the Buddha’s complete absorption into the highest state of mind. The Nirvana stupa is characterized by its circular bell-shaped dome and usually not ornamented.
The benefits of building a Stupa:
- If you make 1,000 Stupas, you will become a great ‘Wheel-turning Holder of the Wisdom Teachings’ (Mahayana Secret Mantra) and have clairvoyance knowing all the Buddha dharma.
- After death, without being born in the lower realms, you will be born in the superior realms.
- You will be able to extensively listen to the Dharma without forgetfulness.
- The “Stainless Beam” sutra states – ‘All negative karma and obscuration, including the five uninterrupted negative karmas, are purified even by dreaming of a Stupa. Seeing a Stupa hearing the sound of the bell of a Stupa and even for birds and flies etc., by being touched by the shadow of a Stupa.
- The sentient beings will always be protected by the Buddha. Who always pay attention to guiding them to achieve complete pure Enlightenment. They abide in the irreversible stage.
- It is explained by Shakyamuni Buddha in the Sutras. Building a Stupa for those who have passed away is extremely powerful. It immediately changes a suffering rebirth into a fortunate rebirth with the opportunity to meet the Dharma.
- It can also heal those with serious diseases.
- There is no question that it accumulates extensive merit and brings success and happiness. Therefore, dedicate to your ancestors, family members and friends who have passed away or who are sick, and for the happiness of yourself and your family in this and future lives.