Kathmandu believers restore quake-damaged Boudhanath stupa without government assistance

The quakes, which killed nearly 9,000 people, caused cracks in the stupa’s dome, tore some of the walls at their base, and damaged its gold-plated spire and crown

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 November, 2016, 3:00am

Associated Press

With gold, cash and labour contributed by locals and Buddhist organisations, Kathmandu’s famed Boudhanath stupa has been fully restored, making it the first of the country’s more than 700 quake-damaged heritage structures to have been returned to its pre-quake glory.

Over 600 monks and nuns will perform purification prayers at the stupa from Friday to Sunday, after which Prime Minister Prachanda will formally open the Buddhist monument, the country’s largest stupa and a Unesco World Heritage site, to the public the following Tuesday.

“The restoration cost us 230 million rupees (US$2.1 million), all of which came from locals, Buddhists residing in Nepal and abroad, and Buddhist organisations across the world,” said Sampurna Kumar Lama, chairman of the Boudhanath Area Development Committee that spearheaded the effort.

Help came in the form of 3kg of gold, together with cash donations and free labour. All that the government needed to contribute was technical support.

“Boudhanath’s restoration has set an example that we would like to see emulated at other quake-damaged heritage sites,” said Bhesh Narayan Dahal, director general of the country’s Department of Archaeology.

The speed of the department’s own efforts to restore quake-hit monuments across the country is no match to what has been achieved in 18 months in Boudha, a dense Buddhist settlement in the northeastern outskirts of Kathmandu dotted with monasteries, prayer wheels, stores displaying elaborate Buddhist Thangka art and bustling with tourists.

Dahal said the tender process for rebuilding 61 of the country’s damaged heritage structures has been completed so far, but it is too early to say when they will be restored.
Believed to have been built in the fifth century by a king or a widow depending on which of the popular myths one believes, Boudhanath attracted over 280,000 tourists annually before the nation’s worst earthquakes in eight decades struck in April and May last year. After the quakes, the number of tourists fell to 102,000. Continue reading

1st Century Buddhist panels found

The Buddhist panels discovered on the bed of the River Gundlikamma in Prakasam district on Saturday

The Buddhist panels discovered on the bed of the River Gundlikamma in Prakasam district on Saturday

THE HANS INDIA | Nov 27,2016 , 01:37 AM IST

Vijayawada: Two Buddhist panels measuring 1.40X 0.55×0.13 metres depicting the worship of the Dharma Chakra were discovered on the river bed of the Gundlakamma River on Thursday at the village of Vennampalli at Tripurantakam Mandal, Prakasam District.

The panels made of Palnadu limestone represent the mature phase of Amaravati art and dates back to the 1st century AD when the area was ruled by the Satavahanas, said Dr Muniratnam Reddy of Archaeological Survey of India and Dr E Sivanagi Reddy, Buddhist Expert and CEO, The Cultural Centre of Vijayawada & Amaravati.

They said that the panels belonged to the Buddhist stupa located on Singarakonda hill at Chandavaram village and were used to encase the brick built stupa.They appealed the state Department of Archaeology & Museums to shift them to the site Museum at Chandavaram for safe custody and proper display.

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BOOK REVIEW: The Buddha and Dr. Führer

prod_main209Short Review by Jonathan Ciliberto

The Buddha and Dr. Führer: An Archaeological Scandal
by Charles Allen

Buddhist art began with relics: bits of hair and bone purportedly from the Buddha or other figures that gave practitioners something on which to focus, or acted as talismans or objects of veneration. There are myriad things to say about the European explorers, military men, colonial administrators, and scholars who unearthed the antiquities of Egypt, Palestine, India, et al… certainly they were industrious! As much as they uncovered the past, they wrote it. This book is about one particular excavation, in 1898, of a reliquary that was trumpeted as holding the ashes of the historical Buddha himself. The discovery soon became the source of controversy and confusion when a German archaeologist (Dr. Führer), who became associated with the find, was involved a separate archaeological scandal, tainting the 1898 discovery. “Führer wanted,” writes Allen, “to believe that the sacred landscape explored […] in the fifth and seventh centuries still existed in that same idealized form in the last decade of the 19th century. So strongly did he believe this that he sought to make it so.” Allen has written a very detailed book, with quite a bit of background history.

ART OF JAPAN AND RINZAI BUDDHISM: BUDDHIST CONTEMPLATION OF SENGAI GIBON TO ARTISTIC OUTREACH

Modern Japan Times
October 8, 2016

Art of Japan and Rinzai Buddhism: Buddhist Contemplation of Sengai Gibon to Artistic Outreach

Lee Jay Walker

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Sengai Gibon (1750-1837) is a famous individual in Japanese art and history. This is based on his art, spirituality, and unique approach to life. He belongs to the Rinzai School of Buddhism and true to the nature of this remarkable individual he focused on art in the later stages of his life. Of course, art was always inside his soul but in the early stages of his life, he was more concerned about spiritual matters in relation to Buddhism.

The individualistic nature of Sengai Gibon meant that he focused on art from a unique angle outside of the trappings of high culture. Given this reality, humor became fused within his art, philosophy, and following the right path. However, just like the right path in Buddhism – or any major religion – he bestowed this virtue based on free will, alternative thought concepts, and challenging the individual to see reality through a vision of unreality.

Indeed, it could well be that the bigger picture wasn’t the concept being highlighted by Sengai Gibon in the first place. Similarly, the high culture that he tried to avoid may have materialized itself within the world of art and literature. Continue reading

BUDUGALA: TRANQUIL MONASTERY AT THE HEART OF WALAWE VALLEY

z_p36-budugala1Sunday Observer

6 November, 2016
Story and pictures by Mahil Wijesinghe

The meandering Walawe River begins as a spring in the Horton Plains and flows down across several provinces until it meets the sea at Godawaya in the Southern city of Ambalantota. An extensive land area in Sabaragamuwa is known as the valley of Walawe and hidden in this heartland are some very impressive prehistoric ancient stone beauties from the classical Anuradhapura period. In 2002, the Department of Archaeology carried out an extensive exploration at the archaeological site, Budugala at Kaltota in close proximity to the Walawe River where a complex of ancient Buddhist monasteries have been found and restored.

A long arduous journey through the harsh terrain of the otherwise lush Sabaragamuwa Province, brought us to the Balangoda-Kaltota road. From Balangoda, the road was ever winding as we kept descending steadily from Balangoda toward Kaltota for around 30 kilometres. The scenery was refreshing with the edge of the mountain affording a distant view of the plains of the entire Southern province before melting into misty greens.

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The road then runs on flat terrain and we met a gushing canal carrying Walawe waters, running parallel with the road. The canal gives water to the paddy-fields on the opposite side of the road. We saw shallow bathing spots along the canal where locals were washing and relaxing after a bath. The huge, tall trees along the canal give ample shade to the road. The rugged steep road to Kaltota took a right turn, leading us to the Weli-Oya – Kaltota narrow carpeted road and we reached a place steeped in history.

Boundary
The scenic, rustic village of Budugala, (meaning ‘the rock of Buddha’) nestles in the boundary of the Udawalawe National Park, at the edge of the Sabaragamuwa Province, and the Walawe River flows across this village. Paddy cultivation is the main source of livelihood of the villagers of this area.

We stopped at an Archaeological Department signboard and parked on the side of the narrow road. There was hardly any traffic, and hardly any room for two vehicles to pass. We crossed the canal by a narrow bridge and reached the small watch hut built by the Department of Archaeology at the entrance to the site.

Although the site meeting our eyes seemed interesting, there was hardly any information available. Since we visited the Budugala ruins in Kaltota on a drought ridden day, the area was surrounded by clumps of yellow sunburnt grass and brownish shrub jungle. There were hardly any visitors. It was quiet, save for the sudden wind that took a fancy to howl through the huge trees. But, in a bygone era, this was a main spiritual hub and part of the ancient site in Ruhuna and may be in Anuradhapura – far enough for seclusion, and yet, near enough to maintain some kind of contact. Both were essential requirements for a forest monastery. Continue reading

A.P. develops cold feet over cultural centre near Buddhist site

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The Hindu

VISAKHAPATNAM, November 7, 2016
Updated: November 7, 2016 01:13 IST
SANTOSH PATNAIK

A huge Buddhist monastery dating back to 3rd Cenury BC is believed to have existed atop Thotlakonda and the nearby Bavikonda hillocks located between Visakhapatnam and the 17th century Dutch township of Bheemunipatnam.

After finding itself on a sticky wicket over allotment of 15 acres of prime land near the famous Thotlakonda Buddhist site for establishment of Filmnagar Cultural Centre, the government appears to have developed cold feet.

Following vociferous protests from Buddhist monks, various social action groups and BJP MLA P. Vishnu Kumar Raju, the government at the highest level had decided to go-slow on the project, highly placed sources told The Hindu.

A huge Buddhist monastery dating back to 3rd Cenury BC is believed to have existed atop Thotlakonda and the nearby Bavikonda hillocks located between Visakhapatnam and the 17th century Dutch township of Bheemunipatnam.

The sites have been declared as archaeologically sensitive areas. INTACH members and conservation activists have been pressing for protection of the heritage sites especially in the light of attempts to commercialise them to promote tourism.

“Establishment of a recreation centre in an archaeologically sensitive area has hurt our feelings. It should be dropped immediately,” said Buddhist monk Dharmananda Bhante. Continue reading

Buddha Mahotsava kicks off in Arunachal with vibrant cultural display

ANI | Bomdila (Arunachal Pradesh)
November 5, 2016 Last Updated at 08:16 IST

Buddha Mahotsava celebration in West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh began with vibrant cultural display from Monpa, Sajolang(Miji) Aka, Sartang, Bugun and Sherdukpen tribes of the region here at Buddha Park, Bomdila.

The unique cultural display from each tribe mesmerized the crowd and filled the air with joy.

Organised by the District Administration of West Kameng, Buddha Mahotsava is a three-day Buddhist festival (November 4-6) held in Bomdila, West Kameng district, Arunachal Pradesh to promote tourism in the state.

The festival commemorates the life and teachings of Lord Gautama Buddha.

Hundreds of Buddhist monks playing cymbals and drums are present at the festival.

Dancers in traditional attire take the centre stage amidst chanting and drum beating and demonstrated various facets of Arunachal Pradesh’s dance and music.

The festival brings out the Buddhist influence on the life of the people in Arunachal Pradesh. Continue reading