This post covers the architecture of ‘Stupas’ in detail from the Civil Services Examination point of view. What are Stupas?
- Stupas are the Buddhist monasteries built on top of relics, like the ashes of Buddhist monks.
- It is the symbol of “Mahapari Nirvana” of Lord Buddha (one of the Pancha maha kalyanas) and thus very sacred for the Buddhists.
- Asoka (of Mauryans) had built several thousands of Stupas across the country according to the Tibetan Buddhist monk book – “Divya Vadana”. Some of them are:
- Sanchi Stupa
- Bharhut Stupa
- Takshasila Stupa
- Amaravati Stupa
Structure of a Stupa:
- Bharhut Stupa, MP:
- Carvings depict the scenes from ‘Jatakas’ – the Buddhist mythological stories.
- Buddha can be seen both in ‘symbol’ (Heenayanism) form as well as in ‘human’ (Mahayanism) form.
- Inscriptions describing the scenes, a narrative practice which was abandoned later, can be seen.
- Sanchi Stupa:
- Gateways (Toranas) are remarkably carved with several ornamental features.
- Carvings depict scenes from Jatakas and life events of Buddha.
- Life events of Asoka are also depicted.
- The scenes depict monkeys, animals, birds, forests and musicians playing various instruments.
- Amaravati Stupa: Belongs to the ‘Amaravati’ school of art.
- Jatakas and life events of Buddha are depicted.
- Buddha was first time shown as a divine power – with his disciples offering him the prayers.
- Ayakapatas – scenes carved on white marble slates.
- 5 life incidents of Buddha (Pancha Maha Kalyanas) on the 5 pillars of the stupa.
- Kings, palaces are present as part of narration (unlike Mathura school of art where the special focus is laid on the Kings).
- Nagarjunakonda Stupa also belongs to this school.