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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

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.

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Angkor Wat: History behind Cambodian Hindu temple

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Angkor Wat: World’s Largest Hindu Temple


In this article, we will discuss about the “History behind Angkor Wat Hindu Temple“, which is the world’s largest Hindu temple located in “Cambodia” – southeast asian nation.


 

Angkor Wat: Lost in the woods for over 400 years, the discovery of Angkor Wat, the largest Hindu monument literally shocked the world. Angkor Wat, Cambodia’s famous temple is a place full of still unexplored history, myth and legend.

Discovery & History of Angkor Wat – World’s Largest Hindu Temple

  • Angkor wat denotes Cambodia’s unwrapped mystery of civilization that for centuries looked like it never existed. The hidden temple was a stuff of legend until 1860 when a French naturalist, “Henri Mohout”  accidently came to that place during his expedition. He saw the ruins of Angkor Wat. But why did the civilization collapse? How did they make this sophisticated temple with no modern technologies? What must have happened?  It’s the high time to uncover these hidden secrets.
  • Angkor, the capital of last Cambodian empire was home to millions of people over 800 years ago. The powerful empire covered South East Asia including Vietnam, Bay of Bengal and North West China. Built in the 12th century, Angkor Wat is among the wonders of the world. Even today, this world’s largest hundu temple or religious monument has a huge complex stretched at about 200 hectares of land. While entering the main temple a vast gate gives an impression that you have reached the temple, however, you realize that the main temple still is 400 yards away. The expansive nature of temple is seen to be believed.
  • Angkor Wat is also known as the city temple as it was surrounded by urban areas (long back before disappearing). When built,  it was dedicated to representing Hindu god, “Lord Vishnu”. There is a 213 feet high central tower(temple) encircled by 4 small towers representing Mount Meru, a celestial home of god based on Hindu mythology. It took 50,000 workers to build this extraordinary temple, that was completed in the year 1145.
  • This huge temple can be compared to Egyptian pyramids in the context of the strength. Compared to the construction of modern European temples which require almost 300 to 400 years, Angkor Wat was completed in only 32 years. How did they do? The answer to this question lies inside the temple. There is a carving in the main temple which gives clues to the mystery of building this huge temple without any modern technology. The story carved in the stones speaks: a lever used to push big stone blocks one over another to assemble it perfectly. This shows Angkor Wat was planned, assembled and then carved.
  • The surface of this masterpiece is covered with carvings that display the Hindu mythological stories originated in India. But how did the stories from India arrive in Cambodia? The answer is “Indian Traders”. The Indian traders travelling towards south-east Asia passed their religion, art and architecture to the local people of Cambodia. This way the traders were an important part of spreading Hindu culture in Cambodian Empire.
  • Archaeologists have used sophisticated aerial imaging techniques to look into the past of Cambodia. In 1994, NASA took the first image which shows Angkor Wat was huge and another recent satellite image show collection of hundreds of temples in the area. The modern technology has also thrown light on the extensive water management system of the Cambodian empire which existed those times. This shows the engineering marvels of Cambodians. They constructed rectangular reservoirs and water systems in such a way that the water from Kulen Mountain irrigates the farms resulting in a good harvest. It could have been the work of only advanced and skilled people.

History behind Cambodian Hindu temple
Wikimedia

How did the civilization collapse? Hard evidence points towards the failure of Water management system. But the debate is still going on. Surprisingly the temple was never abandoned, a group of Buddhist monks stayed there and aggressively worked to save the religious place for over centuries. This also gradually resulted in the transformation of a Hindu Temple into a Buddhist temple.

In 1992, Angkor Wat was listed as World Heritage site in danger. Subsequently, it was removed from the endangered list, to be included as a World Heritage site. France, Japan and China have helped  in temple restoration project. India’s archaeological department had also chipped in the 1980s. Currently,  German Apsara Conservation project is in place to save the sculptures carved on the stones. Due to the continuous efforts of UNESCO and other nations Angkor Wat has become a major tourist spot with over 2 million people visiting this place every year. (Inputs from Aakash Sinha)(image-Unesco)

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  4. Ancient Hindu Temple Changu Narayan in Nepal Possesses Historical Significance.
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Schools in Sydney Witness Increase in Enrollment of Muslim and Hindu Students: Is Australia’s Religious Profile Changing?

According to latest figures, almost 30 per cent of the entire student population of the state has declined association with any religion".

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Muslim and Hindu
According to latest data, Hinduism and Islam and growing religions in the schools of New South Wales. Pixabay
  • Public schools have witnessed a rise in the enrollment of Muslim and Hindu students
  • According to survey by NSW Department of Education, about 20, 000 Hindu students have sought admissions this year
  • Shockingly, almost 30 per cent of the students have associated themselves with “no religion”

Australia , August 29, 2017 : Public schools in Sydney have witnessed a huge rise in the enrollment of Muslim and Hindu students while the population of Christian students is on a decline. This has been discovered by a recent survey by the New South Wales Department of Education, which revealed the growing figures of Muslim and Hindu students. According to the official data, the tally of Muslim and Hindu students enrolled this year has now touched 52,000 and 20,000, respectively.

The Rising Tally of Hindu-Muslim Students

Islam is the second largest religion of Australia, after Christianity, followed by Buddhism and Hinduism.

It was found that about 52,000 public school students now identify themselves as Muslim; a 2,000 person increase from last year’s enrollment.

As per data, 445 out of 507 students at Punchbowl Boys High School are listed as Islamic while 91 percent students at Auburn West Public School have identified as Muslims.

The state is also the preferred location for most residing Hindus of Australia with over 20,000 Hindu students in the state- this makes for a 7 per cent increase than 2016 figures.

According to a report by The Daily Telegraph, last year about 50,000 Muslim students were enrolled in public schools while the figures of Hindu students stood at 18,600.

ALSO READ Australian Census of 2016 Reveals Some Captivating Facts about Hindus

Students’ Tally of Pupils Belonging to Other Faiths

In comparison to the two faiths, the tally of Anglicans has fallen from 105,300 in 2016 to 99,000 this year. Additionally, a fall has also been observed in Protestant, Baptist and Presbyterian religions.

While the tally of children identifying as Catholic (other) has also witnessed a decline, the figures of Catholic (Western/Roman) students enrolled in schools this year have remained unchanged at 103,000.

However, shockingly, over 230,000 pupils choose to associate themselves with “no religion”. They make up almost 30 per cent of the entire student population of the state.

The high tally of children who do no associate with any religion has prompted parents and school authorities alike to define the structure of classes based on ethics instead of those in scriptures.

At present, about 30 per cent of the primary schools in the state offer ethics classes however they remain outside the domain of government funding.


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