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Taking hint from Traditional Buddhist Architecture, Architect builds Buddhist Learning Centre in Maharashtra

Designed by ‘sP+a’ – Sameep Padora & Associates, this half-acre holistic Jetavan has been constructed by employing authentic and local artisans, villagers and naturally acquired materials

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Inside Jetavana Learning Centre, Maharashtra Source: Wikimedia Commons
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Mumbai, August 19, 2016: A Mumbai-based architecture firm Sameep Padora and Associates have recently completed building a Buddhist Learning Centre in Maharashtra. The architect wanted to renew the lost traditions that went into making Buddhist learning and meditation centres.

“Our approach looks to extend the idea of the regional paradigm whilst separating it from the pervasive image of what defines the local,” said the architect to a news portal. The centre was built keeping in mind that not a single tree is harmed at the site or cut down during the construction. The centre was hence split up into 6 buildings, situated between gaps of heavy trees, , mentioned dezeen.com.

Such learning centres in Buddhism are also called Jetavan. A Jetavan is one of the most integral spaces of meditation in Buddhism. It was earlier a monastery donated to Gautam Buddha, outside Savatthi an ancient Indian city in Uttar Pradesh. The remains of Buddha’s hut in Jetavana are still prevalent today.

A lit up evening of discourse and exchange of ideas. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Designed by ‘sP+a’ – Sameep Padora & Associates, this half-acre holistic Jetavan has been constructed by employing authentic and local artisans, villagers and naturally acquired materials. It also has a butterfly roof. The traditional architecture also has dung flooring done by the local community, which also has antiseptic virtues. The walls were built using volcanic stone dust, in an attempt to revive traditional Buddhist architecture.

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Buddhist art has its deep roots in India, which also influenced ancient Indian infrastructure, architecture, and heritage. The emperor of Magadh, Ashoka built his monuments in traditional Buddhist architecture and established Buddhism as the homogenous or state religion in his empire, as an endeavor to spread Buddhism across his land. The most famous forms of this style are Stupas (topes), Stambhs (pillars), Chaitayas (caves) and viharas (monasteries).

Disciples at the serene Mahabodhi Temple
Disciples at the serene Mahabodhi Temple. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Major rock-cut temples in ancient India, especially during the rise of Ashokan School, were built by workers and artisans, who had made temples of other religions too. So Jain, Hindu, and Buddhist temples more or less have similar kind of architecture. The oldest and the most famous example of such architecture is Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya, near Patna, Bihar. It is a Buddhist temple which is famous for the legend that Buddha attained enlightenment here.

Headless figure of Gautam Buddha at Sanchi Stupa, Madhya Pradesh. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Headless figure of Gautam Buddha at Sanchi Stupa, Madhya Pradesh.
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Another recognized model of Buddhist art and architecture is Sanchi Stupa, Madhya Pradesh. Built in the 3rd century BC, it is the oldest structure of India made with stones. A less complex hemispherical structure, it is built on the remnants of Buddha. The umbrella-like parasol at the top of the stupa is suggestive of high significance.

Ashoka Pillar, Sarnath Source: Wikimedia Commons
Ashoka Pillar, Sarnath. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

On the other hand, they have often been caught the attention of the figure on Indian currency, which illustrates three lions. This illustration is taken from the Ashoka Pillar, another Buddhist example of a creative building. The Ashoka Pillar was erected in Sarnath, where Buddha had his first discourse and talked about the four noble truths. It is the symbol of the national emblem of India. It carries high symbolism too – it symbolizes ‘axis mundi’ (celestial axis). The interpretation can be made from bottom to top because this represents a transition from unknowledgeable to enlightened living:

  • Lotus represents the dark mud of the dull world, where the lotus still blooms nevertheless.
  • The four animals symbolize the never-ending cycle of life despite one’s own fears, insecurities, losses and pain of this materialistic world.
  • The lions are suggestive of positive energies, inner confidence, to guard one from evil, and are often interpreted as Buddha himself. And it is from these lion figures that one can attain moksha, which is symbolized in the chakra.

– prepared by Chetna Karnani, at NewsGram. Twitter: @karnani_chetna

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‘Religion’ in India- Types and its Connection to Country’s Civilization

The Ancient religions of India are Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.

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Religion
Ancient Religions of India.

India’s economic and political strata in today’s world have reached a great level, but that is still not what the country is known for. The country is known for its diversity and religions because the term ‘religion’ in India is not just a system of belief and worship, but a way of life too. Since ancient times, it has been an integral part of its culture. For the citizens of this country, religion pervades through all the activities of life- from cooking chores to working and politics. The religion we follow plays an important role in our upbringing as well. Our conditioning is done based on the principles of our religion. India is a home to many religions- Hinduism, Sikhism, Christianity, Jainism, Buddhism, Islam and others.

How old is the Indian civilization?

The Indian civilization is around 4000 years old, with the existing Indian religions growing in that period. The antiquity of the religions in India begins from the Harappan culture. It’s a secular country which respects all kinds of religion and culture, but during the ancient times, when the Human civilization was developing, there were three main religions native to India- Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The predominant religion during this period was Hinduism, which is said have originated in the Northern India.

Religion wise Indian Population:

  • HINDUISM – about 82%
  • ISLAM – about 12%
  • CHRISTIANITY – about 2.5%
  • SIKHISM – about 2%
  • BUDDHISM – about 0.7%
  • JAINISM – about 0.5%
  • ZOROASTRIANISM – about 0.01%
  • JUDAISM – about 0.0005%   (stated by adaniel.tripod)

Hinduism

Religion
Brahma                                                                                                                                                          Pixabay

Hinduism is a polytheistic religion. Its followers worship several deities. Unlike the other religions, this religion does not have one teacher. Its followers, the ‘Hindus’ believe in a supreme divine spirit called ‘Parama Brahma’. The concept of Parama Brahma states that Brahma is omnipresent.

Hindus believe in vasudhaiva kutumbakam, which means the whole world is a single family. They also believe in Sarva dharma Sama Bhava, which means all religions are equal. The practice follows the ideas of mercy, charity, compassion, benevolence, non-violence and mercy. It believes the concept of ‘Bhakti’ or devotion.

The sacred writings of Hinduism include the Vedas, Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Upanishads.

Also Read: The history and development of Indian Handicrafts

Jainism

Religion
Lord Mahavira                                                                                                                                                   Pixabay
According to tradition, the founder of Jainism was first Tirthankara Adinatha. However, the religion was widely propagated by the 24th Tirthankara, Mahavira. He was born in Vaishali, Bihar, who belonged to the clan ‘Licchavi’. Mahavira was moved by the sufferings of people, and therefore, left his home at the age of 30 to seek the truth. He supported the teachings of the previous Tirthankaras, and added his own beliefs to the teachings.
He believed in the ideology of leading a good life and not doing any wrong. He did not encourage the practice of needing the help of God for everything.
Doctrines of Jainism:
  1. Ahimsa (Non-violence)
  2. Satya (Truth)
  3. Asteya (Non-stealing)
  4. Brahmacharya (Chastity)
  5. Aparigraha (Non-possession)

Buddhism

Religion
Lord Buddha                                                                                                                                                    Pixabay
Buddhism is a religion which consists of different kinds of beliefs and practices based on the teachings of Lord Buddha. Buddha’s name was Siddhartha. He was the son of the Shakya clan’s leader. It is believed that Siddhartha made three observations, which changed his life:  a feeble old man; a person suffering from disease; and a dead body being taken for cremation. This propelled him in finding the true meaning of life. He left his home at an early age and attained ‘enlightenment’ in Bodhgaya.
He also prescribed the four noble truths and eight fold path.
Four noble truths are:
  • Dukkha (truth of suffering)
  • Samudāya (truth of the suffering’s origin)
  • Nirodha (the truth of suffering’s cessation.)
  • Magga (Direction to eight-fold path)

The eight fold path are- Right aims, Right beliefs, Right conduct, Right speech, Right effort, Right occupation, Right meditation and Right thinking.

-by Megha Acharya of NewsGram. Megha can be reached at twitter @ImMeghaacharya.