Monday, 16 July 2018

Buddhism


 The facade of the Buddhist Golden Temple Museum at Dambulla.
These children are on their way to attend a Buddhist Sunday School. They walk along hand in hand, laughing and chattering. To the onlooker they are noticeably happy and carefree, and what was particularly refreshing was to discover that none of them had or was using a mobile phone!!! How fresh and clean they look dressed in white - the girls wear a long skirt with a frilly blouse, and the boys a long wrap with a shirt.
Their weekly school outfits are also white - the boys wear long white trousers and shirts whilst the girls wear white knee length pleated skirts and blouses. Whether arriving at school in the morning or returning home in the afternoon they always look immaculate! 
Dambulla Golden Pagoda
The town of Dambulla, however, was not for us, as we were heading up a local mountain to visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 


he Dambulla Cave Temples date back to the 1st century BC when King Valagambahu sought refuge from monks there following his exile from the ancient city of Anuradhapura. When he eventually regained his throne 14 years later he converted the caves into rock temples to show his gratitude to the monks for their sanctuary. Down the centuries several Sri Lankan kings have also added further embellishments to them.
There are five caves to visit, which would prove challenging to the soles of our bare feet. Having made the final steep climb up the mountain via many steps, we then deposited our shoes with what we nicknamed 'the shoe mafia man' - you have to pay to get them back again!
 Every single wall and ceiling is completely painted.  There are over 150 different statues - it is difficult to interpret these images with Western eyes which are so unaccustomed to seeing Buddhist art and symbols. 









This is a standing Buddha surrounded by a very long row of assistants. Their right hand gesture represents reassurance and safety which dispels fear and accords divine protection and bliss. 
Meditating Buddha pose around a stupor
This reclining rock Buddha is 14m (46ft) long and carved into the wall of the cave. A reclining Buddha historically represents Lord Buddha during his last illness, and about to enter pari nirvana.
The beautifully decorated enormous feet of the reclining Buddha are painted in a design combining the lotus flower and the wheel of dharma. These feet are about 7ft (2m) high. 
In Buddhism the lotus flower is a symbol of purity - their roots are in muddy water, but their flowers rise above the mud to bloom both fragrantly and clean - a lotus represents faith.
Gautama Buddha - Lord Buddha, was born in 623 BC, in Lumbini, Nepal - he was an ascetic and a sage. It was his teachings upon which Buddhism was founded.  

The wheel of dharma represents Gautama Buddha's teachings and walking the path to Nirvana. It is connected to the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path, and along with the lotus flower is one of the most important Buddhist symbols. 
This is c17th King Kirti Sri Rajasinha - the last king of Kandy, and the guardian of this cave temple along with his attendants painted on the wall behind him. He is credited with having revived Buddhism in Sri Lanka. 


Seated Buddha beneath Makara Torana -  Dragons Arch - Makara Torana in Buddhism symbolises majesty and blissfulness.  
Seated Buddha with a three headed snake shielding his head.
It is said that four weeks after Gautama Buddha began meditating under the Bodhi Tree (see below) the heavens darkened for seven days, and a prodigious rain descended. However, the mighty King of Serpents, Mucalinda, came from beneath the earth and protected with his hood the one who is the source of all protection. When the great storm had cleared, the serpent king assume his human form, bowed before the Buddha, and returned in joy to his palace.










Sacred Bohdi Tree
Most Buddhist Temples have a sacred Bohdi tree, the reason being that Guatama Buddha attained enlightenment whilst meditating beneath one. 
The time has arrived for us to try and locate the shoe man, collect them, and take the many steps back down the mountain side as we continue onwards to the city of Kandy.  
In Kandy we are greeted by dancers, 
drummers,
fire eaters and
fire walkers. 
I wonder whatever will we see next!

23 comments:

  1. You are such an extensive traveler -- have you ever tallied the number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites which you have visited? I'd be curious!

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    1. I am curious myself now, but no, I have never thought of making a tally - may be I should do it when my travel days are over.

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  2. Hello Rosemary, The rock cave temples are amazing and impressive, a real testament to continuous faith and acts of gratitude over the millennia.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - visiting these temples in Sri Lanka dating back into antiquity opened my eyes to Buddhism, and I feel that I understand just a little bit more about it than I did prior to my visit.

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  3. Wonderful photos, I like the one with the girls in clean white dresses going to Sunday school and of course the beautiful Lotus flowers. The golden buddhas and temples are impressive but there are so dazzling many of them.

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    1. The girls and boys look lovely dressed in white and the Lotus flowers are a wonderful vibrant shade of purple complimented by their golden centres.

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  4. Beautiful place. What a varied trip.

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    1. Each day we saw things that were completely new to us.

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  5. Dearest Janey,
    Quite an experience to see the ancient buildings and statues with all their symbols.
    Those cave temples go a very long time back and are witness of a living religion with many rituals.
    Love the white dresses.
    Sending you hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Dear Mariette - visiting the various temples across Sri Lanka has helped me to understand at least a little more about Buddhism than I did previously.

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  6. Thank you for sharing these amazing images Rosemary. I really had no idea of the vibrant painting style of Sri Lanka, and its long history. The children in white look delightful, and what discipline they must have to keep it so fresh and clean. The big golden Buddha is beautiful and must look absolutely incredible in real life. You might be interested to know we have a Bodhi Tree outside our Gallery of Modern Art, grown from a sprig from the original tree brought specially to Queensland by a local community of Buddhist Monks for the new gallery about 12 years ago. It has grown to a huge tree already.

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    1. I was really interested to learn about your Bodhi tree given by the local community of Buddhist monks to plant outside the art gallery. I had never heard of one before, or knew about the significance of the tree to Buddhist before this visit to Sri Lanka. I understand that it is a type of Asian Fig tree.

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  7. Dear Rosemary,
    What fabulous photos and what an exotic and colorful place you are sharing with us. I know nothing about Buddhism but I admire their way of life.

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    1. Dear Gina - I knew very little about Buddhism either, but I am happy that I now know just a little bit more. I have barely scratched the surface but what I have learnt I have found interesting.

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  8. You are a true professional. This is an awesome post. I have learned a little bit about Buddism going to a meditation class. Peaceful colorful people.

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    1. Thank you for your very kind comment Janey - I knew only the very basics about Buddhism before travelling to
      Sri Lanka.

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  9. I admire and admire what you show. Rock temples are amazing. This completely different culture is admirable. I wonder if you've been looking for your shoes for a long time. :)

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    1. It is lovely to see you again Giga - we found Sri Lanka an amazing place and saw so many wonderful things. Yes, we did find our shoes again, and were really pleased to be able to walk in them again rather than on the hard ground with our bare feet.

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  10. Stunning, colourful images. I love seeing different parts of the world.

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