Buddhist Pilgrimage: Lumbini, Excerpt

After another day of visiting Lumbini we returned to our hotel. This part of this blog entry is not related to the Buddhist Pilgrimage but my dear friend Sanam, he is a calm and gentle sage who is wise beyond his years and actually signed up to go on this journey with me.

When we arrived in Lumbini, a few days ago, we found this sweet but sick little puppy. He was all alone, had mange, was cold and had no food. Sanam made him a little brick house with straw and newspaper. We then got some warm milk and bread and cared for him daily. This evening the puppy was no longer eating. At first he seemed to be doing better but sadly he did not make it.

This is one of my favorite pictures. Sanam cut his head scarf and wrapped part of it around the little puppy to keep him warm. He also made a small sign written in both English and Nepalese that read “feed me I’m a puppy and I’m homeless”. There are guesthouses all around so he did this in the hopes that others would care for him after we left.

It made me so very sad to say the least. Sanam said, “at least his departure will be a comfortable one”, and it was. He was warm, cared for and loved.

For free information regarding Buddhist Pilgrimage Tours and Nepal Trekking Tours please contact Sanam directly at: [email protected] | +9779849550120 or visit www.nepaladventureteam.com

Buddhist Pilgrimage: Lumbini, Birthplace of Lord Buddha

Images from left to right: 1) The grand and moated Sri Lankan Monastery contains statues and elaborate, colorful murals depicting the life of Buddha. 2) The Royal Thai Monastery was constructed in gleaming white marble and is designed in Thai style architecture. 3) A shrine inside the Myanmar Golden Monastery, a beautiful golden monastery that takes one on a journey to Myanmar. It stands as a symbol of peace and prosperity. 4) Wall mural of Buddha in dharmachakra mudra with disciples in the Mahabodhi Society Temple India, also located in the Lumbini Monastic Zone. 5) Lotus Flower Ceiling Mural, Mahabodhi Society Temple India, Lumbini Monastic Zone 6) World Peace Pagoda 7) Maya Devi Temple 8) Gate 5 Entrance, Lumbini Monastic Zone 9) Maya Devi Temple

Today we embarked on our Buddhist circuit tour from Kathmandu, Nepal. Our first stop is Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, which is said to be the foundation of world peace. Lumbini is located in the western Terai region of Nepal and it is a significant site for all Buddhists and peace lovers throughout the world. Our journey began by bus in Kathmandu at dawn. The bus ride from Kathmandu to Lumbini was quite comfortable although it was 8 hours long!! From early morning to early evening, pilgrims from various countries perform chanting and meditation throughout this expansive area.

The actual holy site of Lumbini is bordered by a large monastic zone in which only monasteries can be built. There are no shops or restaurants and only one hotel. The area is separated into an eastern and western monastic zone, the eastern having the Theravada monasteries and the western the Mahayana and Vajrayana monasteries. There is a long water filled canal which separates the western and eastern zones with a series of brick arch bridges along the way.

Lumbini is a UNESCO World Heritage site, which is known for its ancient values. The Mayadevi temple is the greatest attraction in Lumbini among all the holy sites of the Buddha.

Buddhism has a magical power to transform the lives of people forever. This power of transformation is beautifully illustrated in the life of Emperor Ashoka. After witnessing the bloody battle of Kalinga in Orissa, India, he dedicated his life to Buddhism. He didn’t only embrace Buddhism out of compassion but he spearheaded the mission of spreading the Buddha’s message of peace across his vast empire, reaching further to present day Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka albeit Buddha’s travels were confined within the boundary of Nepal and India.

The essence of Buddhism is embodied in the concept of the four-noble truths and the three-jewels (Buddha, Dharma and Sangha) via the eight-fold path to salvation and peace. Anticipating his death in his 80th year Buddha urged his followers, especially his chosen disciples, Sariputra and Ananda to continue his work after his imminent mahaparanirvana. Lord Buddha asked them to visit the four important places in his life, Lumbini, Bodhgaya, Sarnath, and Kushinagar as a reminder of his arduous journey in achieving its ultimate goal.

The Buddhas teachings, spiritual struggle, attainment of enlightenment, great meditations and message of peace and non-violence are as relevant to our life and times today as it was in his day.

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Dharma Sculpture’s Buddhist Pilgrimage

Buddhism is a philosophy followed by nearly 500 million people in the world. Though the concentration of Buddhist followers is high in south and southeast Asia, followers of Buddhism are scattered all over the world. They visit different Buddhist sites and learning centers, enhancing their knowledge of Buddhism and paying homage at places related with the life of Buddha. Buddhist followers treat sites associated with Buddha with great respect. Buddhist circuit tours that connect sites related to the life of Buddha scattered over Nepal and India are already popular among Buddhist travelers and tourists alike.

The Buddhist circuit is a route that follows the footsteps of the Buddha from Lumbini in Nepal where he was born, through Bodh Gaya (India) where he attained enlightenment, to Sarnath (India) where he gave his first sermon and Kushinagar (India) where he attained paranirvana after taking his last breath. The iconic route only includes places where the Buddha spent time and these places have important sites and monuments, all of which are over 2,500 years old and are revered by all Buddhist followers. The Buddhist circuit is an important pilgrimage destination for people practicing Buddhism, as well as other travelers interested in history, culture or spirituality.

Since we are currently in Nepal visiting our artists and procuring new statues we saw this as a good opportunity to visit all of these most holy Buddhist places. We will visit the main four mentioned above but not in that precise order. First we will visit Lumbini in Nepal, then Kushinagar, Bodhgaya and Sarnath (located in India). We will be posting updates on our blog daily as we reach and visit each destination.

Hand Painted Copper Shakyamuni Buddha Statue


This is lovely rendition of Shakyamuni Buddha! Lord Buddha has a serene expression and a hypnotizing gaze in his eyes.

The Buddha Shakyamuni, at the moment of enlightenment, invoked the earth as witness, as indicated by the fingers of his right hand, which spread downward in bhumisparsha mudra, “the earth touching gesture”. As the Buddhist sutras narrate, the sun and moon stood still, and all the creatures of the world came to offer respect to the Supreme One who had broken through the boundaries of egocentric existence. All Buddhist art celebrates this moment and leads the viewer toward the Buddha’s experience of selfless and unsurpassed enlightenment.

Buddhist art pictures the Buddha in numerous manifestations, but always as a model of human potential, never as a historically identifiable person. All forms of the Buddha, however, are commonly shown seated on a lotus throne (as seen here), a symbol of the mind’s transcendent nature.

“Be a light unto yourself,” Buddha Shakyamuni declared at the end of his life. Become a Buddha, an awakened being, he urged, but never a blind follower of tradition.

This Buddha statue has the distinguishing marks that designate his celestial status, such as the cranial bump (ushnisha) and the conspicuous mark in the middle of his forehead (urna). He wears a distinctive robe elaborately decorated with elegant flowing floral motifs. In the back of the base is the wheel and deer emblem. The Buddhist emblem of a golden eight-spoked wheel flanked by two deer represents the Buddha’s first discourse, which he gave in the Deer Park at Sarnath, near Varanasi. This discourse is known as the ‘first turning of the wheel of dharma’, when the Buddha taught the doctrines of the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Noble Path to five Indian mendicants.

As a symbol of the Buddha’s teachings a gilded three-dimensional wheel and deer emblem is traditionally placed at the front of monastery and temple roofs, from here it shines as a crowning symbol of the Buddhadharma. This emblem similarly appears over the four gateways of the divine mandala palace.

There are 2 separate pieces to this statue: the Buddha and its double lotus base. This copper statue is fully gold plated with 24k gold and then hand painted. The face of the Buddha is painted with a 24k gold mixture. The gold is crushed into a powder and then made into a paste. The gold paste is mixed with an organic paint mixture then used to paint the most important part of any Buddha statue; the face.

Burmese White Marble Buddha Statue

Carved from a single block of white marble and painted with gold leaf and other pigments, Lord Buddha is seated on a lotus throne in “adamantine position” (vajrasana) with his legs crossed and the soles of both feet turned up. His hands are in the gesture of Bhumisparsha mudra (earth touching gesture).

This beautiful white marble Buddha has a serene facial expression. After the Burmese capital was moved to Ava in 1636 during the Second Empire of the Toungoo dynasty (1551-1752), Buddha images were increasingly made of marble with a smooth finish on the surface and minimum decoration, rendering the image with a simple and pure appearance.
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Avalokiteshvara Amoghapasha Buddha Statue

This very rare and unique finely modeled Buddha is decorated with hundreds of small Buddhas and elephants throughout. Lord Buddha is depicted standing in a straight pose on a square base, dressed in a short dhoti secured with a pendant belt. His eight radiating arms holding a vajra, ax, sutra, monkey, chakra, rosary (malas), kundika (vase) and phurpa, his broad face surmounted by a tall crown with a diminutive Amitabha nestled in his chignon. Amoghapasa represents a tantric form of Avalokiteshvara and is particularly popular in Nepal, where he is regarded as the tutelary deity of the Kathmandu Valley. A special rite, performed on the eighth day of the moon’s brighter two weeks of each month was dedicated to him, and it is possible that this sculpture was the focus of such a ritual.

In this eight-armed form, Avalokiteshvara is known as Amoghapasha, “he whose noose is unfailing,” after the noose (pasha) he uses to remove impediments to enlightenment. The complexity of casting a multi-armed figure attests to the sophistication of the metal workers. A very unique style of Khmer art!
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Buddha Quotes

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” – Buddha

Bhumisparsha Mudra Buddha

“Just as treasures are uncovered from the earth, so virtue appears from good deeds, and wisdom appears from a pure and peaceful mind.” – Buddha

This hand carved Cambodian Buddha is seated in the ‘earth touching’ gesture or ‘earth witness’ also known as bhumisparsha mudra. This gesture is performed by extending the right hand downwards to touch the ground with its fingertips. It symbolizes the precise moment when the awakening Buddha, Shakyamuni, vanquished the army of Mara beneath the bodhi tree and summoned the goddess of the earth, Sthavara, to bear witness to his countless acts of sacrifice. Shakyamuni Buddha is commonly represented upon his enlightenment throne with his right hand touching the earth, and his left hand resting upon his lap in the gesture of meditation. This symbolizes the union of his method or skillful means in overcoming Mara (right hand), through the perfect wisdom of his deep meditation upon emptiness (left hand).
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Cambodian Soapstone Buddha

Soapstone also known as “steatite” or “soaprock” is a stone which is notable for its high degree of resistance to heat. In Cambodia, soapstone, which mostly comes from the province of Pursat (in the western part of the country) has been used to carve religious effigies since the 17th century. Any variation in the color of the stone is inherent to the very nature of the material, its array varies from yellow-green to gray and deep purple.

This Buddha has a distinct Cambodian style. Lord Buddha is in the the ‘earth touching’ gesture or ‘earth witness’ also known as bhumisparsha mudra. He is seated on a separately carved single lotus base. Lord Buddha is depicted with heavy eyelids that evoke a mood of introspection and detachment, enhanced by the hint of a smile on the full lips. The distended earlobes, a legacy of Prince Siddhartha’s discarding his heavy gold jewelry further indicates the Buddha’s enlightened status. A simple yet elegant carving. It is unpolished and thus has a matte finish.

This sculpture is a one of a kind statue, hand carved by the very talented artists of Cambodia. Every piece is truly unique!

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Buddha’s Disciple, Praying Orant of Angkor Wat Statue

This piece is inspired by the Adorned Orant of Angkor Wat, a XVth century piece found in the National Museum of Phnom Penh. Orants are compassionate beings, disciples of the Buddha. They are also symbols of good luck and are often placed in the entrance of homes welcoming guests. This Orant is kneeling, expressing humility. His hands are in anjali mudra, the universal greeting and gesture of respect throughout the Buddhist world. This mudra is formed by placing the palms together at the level of the heart, with the fingertips pointed upward.

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