Sunday, October 20, 2019

4 famous relics of Buddhism

In Nepal and India, tourists can visit Lumbini, Bodhgaya, Sarnath, and Kushinagar.

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Lumbini, where Buddha was born


Lumbini or Lumbini, located in the Terai plains, southern Nepal is one of the four most important Buddhist relics. This place was forgotten until 1896, when archaeologists discovered the stone pillar of King Mauryan Asoka (King Asoka), originating from 249 BC. The decree was written on it, indicating that this was the place where Queen Maya Devi, gave birth crown prince of Siddhartha Gautama in 623 BC.

The ruins include the Shakya tank, the Maya Devi queen temple, the pillar of King Ashoka made of sandstone. There are also viharas monastery and the remains of Buddhist stupas dating from the 3rd century BC.

Today, Lumbini is one of the four pilgrimage centers of Buddhism, known as the four holy places. In 1997, UNESCO recognized this place as a world cultural heritage.
Next to the pillar of King Ashoka is the temple of Queen Maya Devi. The temple was rebuilt with 4 white walls, to preserve the excavated relic. Inside, visitors can admire the bas-relief depicting the event of empress giving birth to the crown prince or a stone slab imprinted with a small footprint, carved by King Ashoka, to mark the birthplace of Buddha. Photo: Shutterstock / Angela Meier.

Bodh Gaya, where Buddha attained enlightenment


Mahabodhi temple complex of 4.8 hectares, in the town of Bodh Gaya (Bodhgaya), Bihar state, India is where the Buddha attained enlightenment. The first temple was built by Ashoka in the 3rd century BC and the current temples date back to the 5th and 6th centuries. This is one of the first Buddhist buildings built entirely of bricks that is still preserved to this day.
The temple complex now also has a Vajra court, Bodhi tree where Buddha was enlightened. Above is the Bodhi Tree, located west of the main temple. This is where Prince Siddhartha meditates, practices asceticism, and attains enlightenment, becoming Shakyamuni Buddha. Bodhi tree today is not the original tree from the Buddha's enlightenment.

Next to the Bodhi tree is the diamond throne, surrounded by sandstone fences first built by King Ashoka, marking where Buddha sat and meditated. Today, only a few pillars of the fence remain. On it was carvings of human faces, animals and decorative details.

Sarnath Garden, where Buddha preached his first sermon


Sarnath about 10 km from the city of Varanasi, India, is where the Buddha preaches. Previously, the garden was called Mrigadava, meaning deer garden. According to the legend, after teaching the Zhuan Falun to five monks, the Buddha stayed in the monastery in Deer Park in the rainy season. It is also associated with the tale of 60 monks traveling everywhere to teach the Buddha Dharma and attain Arhatship.
Today, the old buildings and structures in the garden have been damaged. However, it remains Dhamek tower relic; Dharmarajika tower which erected by King Ashoka or Chaukhandi tower, where Buddha met his first disciples. In addition, visitors can also visit the monument of the Mulagandhakuti monastery, the pillar of King Ashoka and the Bodhi tree branched from Bodh Gaya.

Kushinagar where Buddha entered Nirvana


The holy relic of Kushinagar is located in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. This is where Buddha passed away under the Shorea robusta tree. Like the other 3 relics related to the life of the Buddha, Kushinagar was once a mecca for Buddhists to worship. There have existed thousands of monasteries and stupas dating from the 3rd to the fifth century. After excavation in the 19th century, archaeologists discovered fragments of Buddha statues, pillars and stelae. 

Pictured here is the Mahaparinirvana temple, rebuilt over the ancient ruins of the stupa with a reclining Buddha statue, which dates back to the 5th century. 
The monk is meditating under the Ramabhar stupa. According to legend, this is where Buddha was cremated.

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