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.

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).
CLICK HERE TO SEE NEW ARRIVALS IN DHARMA SCULPTURE’S GALLERY

CLICK HERE TO SEE NEW ARRIVALS IN DHARMA SCULPTURE’S GALLERY

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.

CLICK HERE TO SEE NEW ARRIVALS IN DHARMA SCULPTURE’S GALLERY

CLICK HERE TO SEE NEW ARRIVALS IN DHARMA SCULPTURE’S GALLERY