Wednesday, August 03, 2005

พระสถูปสาญจี เมืองโภปาล ประเทศอินเดีย

The Great Sanchi Stupa

The great Sanchi stupa looks like a huge bowl placed upside down. It has been well known since ancient times. Built between the years 200 B.C. to 200 A.D., it is the oldest stone structure from the era of Great King Asoka. The ancient hill of Sanchi was called Shikiri City of Jetiyakiri, jetiyakiri meaning the mountain with the pagoda on top. The Sanchi stupa is located in the Madhya Pradesh (state) in central India, about twenty-seven miles from the capital city of Bhopal. It is about 558 miles from New Delhi, about 124 miles from Bombay. It is situated atop a small mountain about 300 feet high. When viewed from a distance, it looks like a saddle on the back of a horse.

The ancient hill of Sanchi was in proximity to Ujayni, the capital city of Awanti. Awanti was the birthplace of Queen Devi, the first wife of Great King Asoka. When the king was traveling to Ujani to become a viceroy, he met the future queen on the way there at Vidisa and asked her to be his wife. The king was very fond of the hill near Vidisa and returned there to build a most beautiful stupa as an expression of gratitude to the Buddha. This Sanchi stupa was constructed to contain the Buddha’s relics.

The stupa is well preserved to this day. It is constructed of rectangular-shaped stones lined up in rows. It is about 120 feet in diameter and about 52.5 feet in height. The stupa is topped by a ceremonial umbrella (chatta). The area around the stupa is quite large and enclosed by stone balustrades. These balustrades are curved, designed to conform to the shape of the stupa. They are known as King Asoka Fence. All four entrances to the stupa have stone carvings of the Buddha depicting different periods of his life. There are carvings of the birth of the Buddha, Lumpini Grove where he was born, his reaching Enlightenment, his preaching the Dhamma, his leaving the palace to become a monk, and his passing into Nirvana. There are carvings of the Buddha converting the three ascetics. Another scene shows his relics being divided among the eight cities. There are even carvings which illustrate the lifestyles of the people of the time.

Two small stupas were subsequently constructed on either side of the larger one. The one on the right was built to enshrine the venerable Sariputta’s relics. The other small stupa on the left contains the venerable Maha Moggallana’s relics. The venerable Sariputta and the venerable Maha Moggallana were the Buddha’s chief disciples. There was also a sangkaram (temple, wat) at the rear. Another stupa at the temple holds the relics of Mokkalibutisa Thera, Great King Asoka’s teacher and the abbot of the temple, as well as the relics of arahants respected by the king.

Near the great stupa at the wat there was a Dhamma hall used for religious ceremonies. Only remnants of this building remain, including the bases of the stone columns. At the front of the great stupa there was a monolithic pillar, now broken. A long section of the pillar is now on the ground where the monks’ residence hall (vihara) used to be at the temple. The inscription on the piece of pillar states the following: “If anyone moves or destroys this stone pillar, that person will be punished.” The inscription warned that anyone tampering with the pillar was committing a sin.

By PhramahaThanat Inthisan Ph.D.

Edited by Duwayne

August 26, 2005

No comments: