Thursday, September 23, 2010

Day 89,The Great Stupa of Sanchi, Indian UNESCO site

Yippee, Sanjay and Bash are taking us to "Asoka's city", Sanchi, to see some of India's oldest Buddhist monuments ......we love UNESCO we are really looking forward to this visit.

Sanjay says that he wanted us to watch the movie "Asoka" first so that we would appreciate the significance of the site in Sanchi.

After a period of eight years of being a king, Asoka planned to seize the territory of Kalinga, the present day Orissa.

He led a huge army and fought a gruesome battle with the army of Kaling
a . The battle took place on the Dhauli hills that are located on the banks of River Daya.

Though Ashoka emerged victorious at the end, the sight of the battlefield made his heart break with shame, guilt and disgust.

It is said that the battle was so furious that the waters of River Daya turned red with the blood of the slain soldiers and civilians!!

The sight of numerous corpses lying strewn across the battlefield made his heart wren ch. He felt sick inside.

The battle ground looked like a graveyard with bodies of not just soldiers but men, women and children.

He saw young children crying over the bodies of their dead parents, women crying over the bodies of their dead husbands, mothers crying over the loss of a child.This made him heartbroke

He walked on to the battlefield and said

"What have I done? Is this a victory, what's a defeat then! This is a victory or a defeat!
This is justice or injustice! It's gallantry or a rout?
Is it a valor to kill innocent children and women?
I d
o it to widen the empire or for prosperity or to destroy the other's kingdom or splendor? Someone has lost her husband, someone a father, someone a child, someone an unborn infant.... What's this debris of the corpses?
Are these marks of victory or defeat?
Are these vultures, crows, eagles the messengers of death or evil?
What have I done! What have I done!"

So, in 262 BC, repentant of the horrors he had inflicted on Kalinga in present-day Orissa, the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka embraced Buddhism.

He was so inspired by the teachings of the Buddhist monks and Buddhist philosophies that he used his status to impart this knowledge all over the world.

As a penance he built the Great Stupa at Sanchi, the first Buddhist monument in the region and many other religious structures followed.

A renowned centre of Buddhism, Sanchi boasts a rich artistic culture and among them the stupas, which date back to the 3rd century BC, outshines all other structures in its elegant grace.

Wow, this place is so peaceful............

Okay, let's explore.....
Appealingly placed on the top of a hill, these stupas carry with them such a rich legacy of architectural grandeur.

We are now standing outside Stupa 1 ( ) and its exquisite toranas.....

Constructed in 35 BC, the four toranas (gateways) in Sanchi portray important incidents in the life of Lord Buddha.

Situated respectively at the north, east, south and west entrances to the shrine, they each consist of two pillars joined by three cross beams (called architraves) which are carved as if they actually pass through the uprights

We are trying to read the inscriptions on them......apparently they depict stories related to Lord Buddha.

The Eastern gateway explicate the scene from Buddha's life where, the young Gau
tama (Buddha) leaves his father's palace in search of enlightenment.

The seven incarnations of Buddhism is explained on the Western gateway.

Annotations of the miracles that have been betrothed with Lord Buddha in the Jatakas (text that concerns the previous birth of Buddha) are contained on the Northern gateway of the stupa

There is the wheel-of-law!! flash.html

Exceedingly embellished carvings of the Southern gateway try to illustrate the birth of Gautama ...and there is the Bodhi tree!.

These works of art were created in the pre-Gandhara period, before it became fashionable to depict the Lord Buddha's human form - so he is represented in these friezes by images like a bo tree, a wheel, a tree or a stupa.

And there it is .....Stupa No. 1, the Great Stupa, the oldest and the exalted of all, the one that was built by the Emperor Ashoka himself!

A colossal hemispherical dome on the top adds a heavenly charm to this centuries old monument.....which gives this stupa the dimension of 36.5 m and the height of 16.4 m.

Highly embellished walls and gateways stand in everlasting majesty, and the paved procession path around it worn smooth by centuries of pilgrims.....making it an impressive UNESCO site

Marti wanted to see a ringed stupas so she has gone to see Stupa No. 2 that stands at the edge of the hill.

Lying adjacent to the Great Stupa, Stupa no. 3 is also referred as the most striking edifice of Buddhist as well as Mauryan arts.

In design, stupa number one and three are akin to each other.

The innermost chamber of this stupa holds the remnants of Sariputta and Mahamogallena, two earliest disciples of Lord Buddha.
It is believed that its magnificent gate way was built in the first century.
The coffer also contains five precious jewels - garnet, pearl, crystal, lapis and amethyst.

The Lord Buddha himself never came to Sanchi; however in the tranquil stillness of the place he seems closer than in any of the other famous places of religious pilgrimage which still follow Hinayana Buddhism

Even if religion isn't your thing, Sanchi is good place to just unwind and relax........tranquil, serene,....peaceful...

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