22nd March 2017

History of Boudhanath, a World Heritage Site in Nepal.

When one is a teenager, having a free time in Kathmandu without having to do anything immediately, Boudhanath is the place to go and hang out. The wide open space around the Gumba is a perfect place for introverts to just go and sit and enjoy the scenery. People of all ages and from all walks of life come here to have a little of peace of mind away from the busy monotonicity of everyday life. Friends all clamp together for a day out, the old people who make living carrying heavy loads all day come here to have a little rest. Families come here together, for the kids to enjoy a nice outdoor air away from the stuffiness of four walls and for the parents to have a change of scenery from the toils of parentage, even for a little while. The open space around Boudhanath really is a wonderful respite for an interlude for people to just sit and enjoy the time with the open air and the myriad of people who come there. It is called ‘Bouddha’ by the local Nepali people.

The Buddhist stupa of Boudhanath dominates the skyline. The ancient Stupa is one of the largest in the world. The influx of large populations of refugees from Tibet has seen the construction of over 50 Tibetan Gompas (Monasteries) around Boudhanath. As of 1979, Bouddhanath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Along with Swayambhunath, it is one of the most popular tourist sites in the Kathmandu area.

A stupa is a hemispherical structure containing relics that is used as a place of meditation by the Buddhist. Stupas originated as pre-Buddhist tumuli in which śramaṇas were buried in a seated position called chaitya. Śramaṇa means “seeker, one who performs acts of austerity, ascetic”, and they hold a high place in the Buddhist religion. In Buddhism, the term parinirvana is commonly used to refer to nirvana-after-death, which occurs upon the death of the body of someone who has attained nirvana during his or her lifetime. It implies a release from the world, karma and rebirth as well as the dissolution of the skandhas. A skandha in Buddhism refers to the five aggregates concept that asserts five elements that constitute and completely explain a living being’s mental and physical existence.  After the parinirvana of Lord Buddha, his remains were cremated and the ashes divided and buried under eight mounds with two further mounds encasing the urn and the embers. Tibetan merchants have rested and offered prayers here for many centuries. When refugees entered Nepal from Tibet in the 1950s, many decided to live around Boudhanath.

The Stupa is said to entomb the remains of Kassapa Buddha. Kassapa Buddha is one of the ancient Buddhas whose biography is chronicled in chapter 24 of the Buddhavamsa, one of the books of the Pāli Canon. According to Theravāda Buddhist tradition, Kassapa is the twenty-seventh of the twenty-nine named Buddhas, the sixth of the Seven Buddhas of Antiquity, and the third of the five Buddhas of the present kalpa.

The Myth of the Holy Stupa consists of a very grumpy, rude and irreligious man who lived in Ancient Nepal. He was detested by everyone and never did anything pious in his life. He owned a shop in the city complex, but hardly anyone came to his shop because he spoke ill of everyone who came there. When he died, he fell straight to hell. Just before he was to be sentenced for his sins, Lord Buddha appeared and nullified his sentence. When the demons asked The Holy One why he did this, Lord Buddha answered, “Yes, this man has committed many sins in his life, but once he circled around Boudhanath while chasing a dog, he had gained a little merit; thus, the Buddhas shall grant him one chance to atone.” After this incident, it is believed that if a person has committed great sins, they can circle around the Stupa–if only one time–and be granted one chance to atone for their sins.

It is said that Boudhanath was founded by the Nepalese Lichchhavi king Śivadeva; though other Nepalese chronicles date it to the reign of King Māndev.

This is a wonderful religious place for a visit while you are in Kathmandu! The Kathmandu Day Tour is a perfect way to excurse to this historic site!


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