Origin of Stupas

The Origin of Stupas

The Sanskrit word stupa has been translated in Tibetan as chö-ten (written, mchod rten), which means the sacred support (ten) worthy of receiving offerings (chö). The highest sacred support for offerings is the Buddha’s enlightenment. Ultimate enlightenment’s essence is not subject to any aspect of dualistic formulation, yet its nature has an inherent, luminous wisdom that unfolds in an unimpeded creative display of responsive compassion—its forms that produce spontaneous and effortless help for beings. When a connection is made between the buddhas’ compassion and disciples’ pure karma and aspirations, the innate forms of the “three sacred supports” that nurture embodied beings’ merit appear of themselves, thus they are known as “ultimate enlightenment’s sacred supports.”

When such stupas hold transcendent buddhas’ sacred relics, they become sublime supports, the highest field for embodied beings’ cultivation of merit. Moreover, in general, each Buddhist way, great and small, has its own path’s belief system and characteristic manner of identifying stupas; this specific instance concerns one of the series that is commonly known as “the eight stupas of the Joyous Buddha”:

1. When our teacher Powerful Sage attained perfect, manifest enlightenment under the tree of awakening, it is said that King Bimbasara and others constructed the Stupa to Subdue Negative Forces or the Stupa of Awakening.

2. When the Buddha was born in Lumbhi Gardens, it is said that King Shuddhodana and others constructed the Source of Joyous Buddhas Stupa or the Lotus Mound Stupa.

3. When the Buddha turned the Wheel of the Teachings in Varanasi, it is said that the Five Excellent Individuals constructed the Wheel of the Teachings Stupa or the Auspicious Many-Gated Stupa.

4. When the Buddha defeated non-Buddhist teachers in Sravasti’s Jéta Gardens, it is said that the Lichavis constructed the Miracle Stupa.

5. After the Buddha taught in the heavens, he returned to humans’ land in Kashi. It is said that the people of Kashi then constructed the Descent from the Heavens Stupa.

6. When the sublime pair of Buddha’s disciples repaired the schism caused by Devadatta in the Spiritual Community, it is said that the people of Maghadha constructed the Reparation of the Schism Stupa.

7. When the Buddha extended his life three months after the layman Chunda in Vaishali asked him to do so, it is said that the people of that town (or, according to some, the gods) constructed the Blessed Longevity Stupa or the Stupa of Total Victory.

8. When the Buddha transcended suffering in the town of Kushinagar, it is said that the Mallas constructed the Stupa of Transcendence.

Further, it is said that in this world, the first among the Victor’s stupas is the Lotus Mound Stupa. Among this series of eight, this account centers upons the special support mentioned above as the Stupa to Subdue Negative Forces.


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