Monday, June 6, 2011

Borobudur Temple

            Borobudur is a famous Buddhist temple, dating from the 8th and 9th centuries, located near Magelang, central Java Indonesia. Borobudur is one of the greatest Buddhist monuments in the world, founded by King Samaratungga, one of the kings of Old Mataram Kingdom, the descendant of Sailendra dynasty. It was built to honour the glory of Buddha. The name of Borobudur, as some people say, means a mountain having terraces (budhara), while other says that Borobudur means monastery on the high place. 

It was built in three tiers: a pyramidal base with five concentric squares terraces, the trunk of a cone with three circular platforms and is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. A main dome, located at the center of the top platform, is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues seated inside perforated stupa. Borobudur has no worship spaces like other temples. That there are long hallways which is a narrow road. The hallways surrounding the walled temple level by level. In the halls of this is expected to conduct Buddhist ceremonies walk around the temple to the right. 

The monument is both a shrine to the Lord Buddha and a place for Buddhist pilgrimage. The journey for pilgrims begins at the base of the monument and follows a path circumambulating monument while ascending to the top through the three levels of Buddhist cosmology, namely Kamadhatu, Rupadhatu, and Arupadhatu. 

The base of Borobudur, called Kamadhatu, symbolizes “realm of desire”, a state of mind with a lack of morality, previous to the teachings of the Buddha. The second level upper four stories are called Rupadhatu symbolizing “realm of forms”, which is the stage when humans get wiser about the meaning of life and are trying to get virtuous. On this terrace, Buddha effigies are placed in open space; while the other upper three terraces where Buddha effigies are confined in domes with wholes are called Arupadhatu, symbolizing “realm of formlessness”, where one understands already that the visible world is illusory and the real aim of life is in the inside of oneself: purification in order to escape from the circle of reincarnations, meaning sufferings.The top part that is called Arupa symbolizes nirvana, where Buddha is residing. 

Each terrace has beautiful relief panels showing how skillful the sculptors were. In order to understand the sequence of the stories on the relief panels, you have to walk clockwise from the entrance of the temple.This was done for the purpose of the Pradaksina, the ritual circumambulation which the pilgrims make moving on the clockwise and keeping the sanctuary to the right. The relief panels tell the legendary story of Buddha's teachings. For the reason, this temple functions as educating medium for those who want to learn Buddhism. Besides, there are relief panels describing the condition of the society by that time. 

In the period 600 AD to 800 AD there was a golden age of temple construction throughout India, Ceylon and South East Asia. It was a time when Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms flourished and men raised magnificent monuments to heaven in praise of their gods with a burst of frenetic activity of cultural expression and devotion. It was during this time that many Hindu and Buddhist monuments were built on the plains and mountain around the Kedu Plain. The Buddhist monuments, including Borobudur, were erected around the same time as the Hindu Shiva Prambanan temple compound. 

From the Kalasan and Ratu Boko inscriptions, there were stated that Panangkaran, the Hindu ruler (Sanjaya Dynasty) of Mataram Kingdom granted permission requested by the collective guru of the Sailendra king to build Buddhist sculptures, shrines and monasteries in honor to the goddess Tara. The construction was built under Panangkaran's supervision, but was supported by Sailendra's expenses. One of the construction results in the colossal Buddhist temple of Borobudur. In order to show his respect to the guru, Panangkaran consented the building of the shrine by giving the village of Kalasan to the Buddhist community. This has led some archaeologists to believe that there was never serious conflict concerning religion in Java as it was possible for a Hindu king to patronize the establishment of a Buddhist monument; or for a Buddhist king to act likewise. 

Evidence suggests Borobudur was abandoned following the 14th-century decline of Buddhist and Hindu kingdoms in Java, and the Javanese conversion to Islam. Borobudur lay hidden for centuries under layers of volcanic ash and jungle growth. Worldwide knowledge of its existence was sparked in 1814 by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, then the British ruler of Java, who was advised of its location by native Indonesians. The Borobudur site is now owned by the world heritage site by UNESCO and the government of the Indonesia. This is one of the most visited sites in the Indonesia. The main reason why a lot of visitors rushed to this place is to see the giant and the symmetric sculpture of the Buddha that is sitting on the small hill.

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