-As we all know Buddhism has lots of follwers all over the world . It emerged out of older traditions which include Hinduism and Jainism. Under Buddhist faith, there are many places, practices and structures which are considered sacred all over the world. Some examples are :Bodhi tree(tree under sitting which Buddha had attained enlightment), Ajanta caves( caves where Buddhist monks use to live and pray) and last but not the least is the sacred structure that is found all over the world :stupa.
What is a stupa?
- A stupa is a semi-circular mound which as mentioned above is popular structure all over the world . Initially it was a semi circular mound of earth which gradually evolved as a complex structure and started including the following structures with time:
1.Anda:Asemi-circular mound of earth.
2.Harmika:A balcony like structure considered to be an abode of gods.
3. Yashti:A mast in a stupa.
4.Toranas:Gateways of the stupa.
5. Vedika:Railways of a stupa.
6.Chatri:Umbrella of the stupa.
Why were stupas built?
Since it is believed that stupas consisted of the relics of Buddha that is his bodily remains or objects used by him in his everyday life that is why stupas were regarded as sacred structures. The tradiction of erecting stupa might have been present much before the evolution of Buddhsim, still stupa is regarded as sacred and an emblem of both the Buddha and Buddhism. According to a Buddhist text known as Ashokvadana , Ashoka distributed portions of Buddha's relics to every important town and ordered the construction of stupas over them .
How were stupas built?
- Almost all the people gave donations for the errection of stupas all over the world irrespective of their caste, class, occupations, gender etc. In some texts it is mentioned that Satvahana rulers had also given donations for the errection of stupa . Also Bhikkus and Bhikkunis (Male Buddhist monk and Female Buddhist monk) had also donated for the errection of the stupas all over the world. Several inscriptions tell us that names of donators have been mentioned on the ralings and gateways of all the stupas along with their family background and occupation.
Some of the most popular stupas are : The great stupa-Sanchi stupa, Bharhit stupa,Amravati stupa, Sarnath stupa etc.
CREDIT : The picture of the stupa is taken by a website on google.