I love my country. I enjoy travel. I dream of visiting all the places I read about. There’s something about visiting new places and seeing its people that opens up a new perspective in our minds. The differences, the sameness, the variety – all fascinate me. India is so rich and multi-cultural – and will never cease to enchant me.
As promised, today, I am sharing some beautiful photos of sandstone sculptures that depict the story of the life of the Buddha. These sculptures span the surface of the Peace Pagoda in Darjeeling and are exquisitely done in fine detail. Enjoy! (Click the photos to see the original size)
In the 6th Century B.C., in the city of Kapilavastu, capital city of the Sakya clan who ruled over the Himalayan region in present day Nepal, there lived a king named Suddhodana and a queen named Mahamaya. One day, the queen was resting in her palace. She had a dream about a white elephant carrying a white lotus entering her womb.
|Buddha’s Mother Maya dreams about the White Elephant entering her womb|
Soon, a baby was born to the queen. He was named Siddhartha Gautama. A group of astrologers predicted that the young prince would grow up to be either a great emperor, or that he would turn his back on privilege and power to become a great spiritual leader.
The prince led a sheltered life within the palace walls and had no contact with the outside world. His was a luxurious life and he did what princes do – enjoyed life. Eventually, the prince married a beautiful princess named Yashodhara. They had a son and named him Rahula. They all lived happily together in a world of wealth and power.
Life went on, until one day, Prince Siddhartha coaxed his father to allow him to go see the city, outside the palace walls. His father, remembering what the astrologers had said, cleverly made sure that the city streets were free from old and sick people. So, when the prince set out on his tour, there were lots of young and happy people around.
|Prince Siddharta touring the city with his entourage|
- all men who are born eventually have to die
- sickness comes to all men, old age comes to all men, and
- renouncing worldly possessions is the way to attaining peace and salvation.
|Buddha meditating under the Bodhi Tree as demons of Mara disturb him|
Finally, he achieved enlightenment and came to be known as the Buddha (the awakened one). Serene. Calm. The Mahabodhi Temple at the site of Buddha’s enlightenment, is now a pilgrimage site.
|Gods paying tribute to Buddha|
|Gods – I tried the sepia effect on this|
|Buddha with disciples, teaching|
For the rest of his life, the Buddha travelled around sharing his teachings with many people. The teachings of the Buddha exist today as the Buddhist Faith.
|Buddha’s vision of a pure land|
The Buddha died in 483 B.C. at the age of 80. Upon his death he attained Nirvana, the ultimate state of spiritual enlightenment. In the Buddhist faith, attaining Nirvana means freedom from the cycle of birth and rebirth on earth.
After his body was cremated, his ashes were divided up and taken to eight different sites. At each of these sites, a mound-like structure called a stupa was built to contain the ashes. Over time, many stupas were built and rebuilt, serving as centres of worship for the Buddha’s followers.
For a detailed story of Buddha, considered the ninth avatar among the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu, please visit Vidur’s blog post – he wrote this when he was about 10 years old.
And now, let’s head over to Unknown Mami’s blog, where she hosts this wonderful meme and delight in traveling the world from there, together.