Buddhism Stupa

Things You Would Not Know About Buddha & Stupa

A Stūpa is a mound-like or hemispherical structure containing relics like śarīra, typically the remains of Buddhist monks or nuns) that is used as a place of meditation.

In Sanskrit, “stupa” means heap. At its simplest, a stupa is a dirt burial mound faced with stone, a place of burial or a receptacle for religious objects. In Buddhism, the earliest stupas contained portions of the Buddha’s ashes, and as a result, the stupa began to be associated with the body of the Buddha.

Before Buddhism, great teachers were buried in mounds. Some were cremated, but sometimes they were buried in a seated, meditative position.

The domed shape of the stupa came to represent a person seated in meditation much as the Buddha was when he achieved Enlightenment and knowledge of the Four Noble Truths. The base of the stupa represents his crossed legs as he sat in a meditative pose (called padmasana orr the lotus position). The middle portion is the Buddha’s body and the top of the mound, where a pole rises from the apex surrounded by a small fence, represents his head. Before images of the human Buddha were created, reliefs often depicted practitioners demonstrating devotion to a stupa.

Difference Between Stupa & Pagoda

In the Western context, there is no clear distinction between a stupa and a pagoda. However, in general, “stupa” is the term used for a Buddhist structure in India or Southeast Asia while “Pagoda” refers to a building in East Asia that can be entered and which may be used for secular purposes.



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