The 8 Stupas in Buddhism
The 8 Stupas in Buddhism are different with each other and represents an important event in Buddha Shakyamuni’s life. In his Astamahasthanacaitya-stotras, Nagarjuna connects the eight Stupas to specific events and places in the Buddha’s life.
Chorten, Chaitya or Stupa (མཆོད་རྟེན་དཀར་པོ།) is an important religious monument in Buddhism, symbolizing Buddha’s presence. It also holds precious Buddhist relics and sometimes even preserved bodies of renowned lamas. Tibetans believe that performing Koras of the monument is an act of high merit.
Eight Great Stupas:
– Birth Stupa (sku bltams mchod rten)
– Enlightenment Stupa (byang chub mchod rten)
– Dharma Wheel Stupa (cho ‘khor mchod rten)
– Great Miracle Stupa (cho ‘phrul gyi mchod rten)
– Stupa of the Descent from [Tushita] Heaven (lha bab mchod rten)
– Reconciliation Stupa (dbyen bsdum mchod rten)
– All-Victorious Stupa (rnam rgyal mchod rten)
– Parinirvana Stupa (myang ‘das mchod rten)
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The Lotus Blossom Stupa
The birth of Siddhartha Gautama, afterwards known as the Buddha, is commemorated at the Lotus Blossom Stupa. In the sixth century BCE, he was born in the Lumbini Garden in Kapilavastu. The stupa’s stairs are circular and adorned with lotus petals.
The Enlightenment Stupa
Siddhartha acquired enlightenment and learned the true essence of all things after sitting in meditation for 49 days under a tree in Bodhgaya. He recognized that, like him, all beings had the same capacity for enlightenment, which he refers to as the ‘buddha nature.’ The stupa’s stairs are unadorned and rectangular.
The Stupa of Turning the Wheel of Dharma
This stupa marks the beginning of the Buddha’s ‘turning of the wheel of the Dharma,’ or teaching people the path to enlightenment. The steps, also known as the Stupa of Many Gateways, are ornamented with doorways that represent the opening of the Dharma’s doors.
The Buddha met up with the five ascetics who had been his meditation partners on the banks of the Nairanjara River in the Deer Park at Sarnath, near Banarase. They were his earliest disciples, and they were the first to receive his teachings.
The Great Miracle Stupa
This stupa represents the miracles performed by Buddha when he converted the “followers of wrong views” (non-Buddhist masters) through his power of miracles. A person named Lisabi built this stupa in the Jetavana Grove in Shravasti.
The Stupa of the Descent from Tushita Heaven
Mayadevi, the Buddha’s mother, was reincarnated in the Tushita Heaven, a celestial place. To show his gratitude, the Buddha stayed with her for three months and taught her the road to enlightenment.
The Buddha’s return from the celestial realms to continue instructing the people of northern India is symbolized by this stupa. In the middle of the four steps on each side of the stupa is a stairway.
The Stupa of Reconciliation
This stupa symbolizes the Buddha’s reuniting of his monastic followers after they had become divided by disagreement. The steps are octagonal with eight corners and eight sides.
The All-Victorious Stupa
This stupa symbolizes the Buddha’s agreement to extend his life by three months, after one of his followers had pleaded with him not to pass away. The steps of the stupa are round.
The Parinirvana Stupa
This stupa marks the Buddha’s passing into nirvana, a state of true peace which is beyond death.
With his final words, the Buddha urged his followers to be diligent in their efforts to attain enlightenment. Lying on his right side and in a state of profound meditation, he left the world and passed into nirvana. There are no steps in this stupa, the vase rests directly on the throne.