The majestic temple of the Borobudur is situated on the island of Java. It is the largest Buddhist monument in the world. This timeless beauty is the grand heritage of Indonesia and is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Currently, Borobudur is an attraction for visitors, both local and foreign. Borobudur is a holy place in Indonesia for Buddhists. And also, a site of the Vesak Buddhist annual celebration.
History of Borobudur Temple
Borobudur Temple was founded by King Samaratungga who is one of the kings of the ancient Kingdom Mataram. The concept of Candi Borobudur was created by Gunadharma, a poet who was thought of by many as a man of great vision and dedication. The word “Borobudur” means a ‘mountain with terraces’ according to some sources. While some say that it is a monastery situated on the high ground.
The temple is located near two volcanos and two rivers. There was an influence of Indian Gupta and post- Gupta art on the style of Borobudur. In the 14th and 15th centuries, the Buddhists of Java made their pilgrimages and other rituals at Borobudur. Until they abandoned the temple as many Javanese people converted to Islam. When the British invaded Indonesia in 1814, the discovery of the massive archaeological artifacts in the village was told to Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles. And because of his great interest in history, he immediately ordered to investigate the place. On the discovery, they found a shrub-covered hill. It was later late cut, and the giant building was revealed.
Borobudur consists of 10 levels consisting of 6 square, 3 circular levels, and a peak main stupa. There are a lot of stupas at each stage. Besides the largest stupa, there are 72 stupas. There is a Buddha statue in every Stupa. Ten levels of Buddhist philosophy are the ten levels of Bodhisattva. It is a path to attain Buddha’s perfection in nirvana.
The walls and balustrades are paints that cover a total area of 2500 meters square with fine low reliefs. The base of the temple of Borobudur is approximately 118 m. The stones used around is 55,000 cubic meters. Each stone is at its place without cement or adhesive. Interlocking patterns are at use to stack and link these stones. The stones were all taken from the river around the temple of Borobudur. The framework is like a collection of huge, glue-free, Lego blocks.
While all these architecturally built features are distinguished by the temple, the overall plan is a three-dominance mandala. It is a diagram of the universe, commonly follow in meditation.
Depictions at Borobudur Temple
Each of the three main levels of the monument is a stage on a path towards the bodhisattva ideal of the light. A pilgrim starts on the eastern staircase. It then proceeds through every nine levels of the monument until reaching the top. Hundreds of reliefs of earthly desires are under partly cover on the lowest level, illustrating kama-dhatu, (the “realm of feeling”). At the next level, a series of statues illustrate the rupa-dhatu (the ‘realm of the form”). The scenes and events of Gautama Buddha’s life are striking to depict the same. The upper level illustrates arupa-dhatu (“the realm of formlessness,”) or detachment from the physical world.
There are over 500 statues of Buddha, most of them in Padmasana or the position of the lotus.
- Humi-Sparsha Mudra: touching the earth mudra that depicts the time of enlightenment achieved by Buddha.
- Varada Mudra: the position of giving, when Buddha blesses or gives something.
- The fearless role of Abhaya Mudra when he protects you or provides you with assurance.
- Dhyan Mudra: the position of meditation- as he meditates.
- When he set the wheel of Dharma in motion, Dharam Chakra Parivartan Mudra represents the moment he gave his first sermon in Sarnath.
- Vitarka Mudra: when making an argument-the obligation of a teacher to give a counter view.
Additionally, four key story sets in the form of graven illustrations and Sanskrit inscriptions depicted through 2760 reliefs.
- Karmavibhangga or The law of karma – The reliefs tell stories and illustrate the nature of karma, showing both praiseworthy and blameworthy actions. Praiseworthy activities such as co-operation, parenthood, etc., and blameworthy acts such as theft, rape, etc.
- Lalitavistara or The birth of Buddha – The story begins with the Lord Buddha’s descent from heaven. And ends up with his first earthly preaching as Prince Siddhartha. Before these reliefs, there are 27 panels that portray preparations for the final earthly incarnation.
- The Jatakas and Avadanas – Jatakas is the story of Buddha before he was born as Prince Siddhartha, while the principal figure in Avadanas is not himself the Buddha. These two are illustrated in the same sequence of reliefs.
- Gandavyuha or The journeys of Sudhana searching for ultimate truth – This is the tale of the Sudhana’s tireless quest in search of the highest perfect wisdom in the final Avatamsaka Sutra verse.
Even though a decade of neglect, the temple remained powerful. It was rediscovered in 1815 and covered in volcanic ash. The temple is adorned with bas-relief stone carvings depicting scenes from Buddha’s life. There is no equality in the architecture and stonework of this temple. The framework is uniquely coupled with the Buddhistic philosophy of reaching Nirvana with the very central concepts of an ancestral religion, which ties up the notion of a mountain on the terrace. Moreover, it is an excellent example from the early 8th to late 9th century of Indonesian art and architecture. Which had an important influence on an architectural renaissance in the mid-13th and early 16th centuries. Hence, the magnificent Borobudur Temple is a popular tourist destination because of its unique and marvelous design.