Posts Tagged 'buddhism'

chaityas of ajanta caves

Posted by on 23 Mar 2011 | Category: india, photography

Chaityas are buddhist prayer halls that house a stupa. The word chaitya has its roots in sanskrit chita ~ meaning a pyre or a pile of ashes. The ancient rock-cut buddhist caves of Ajanta were built during the 2nd century BC ~ 6th century AD. All these caves and sculptures are carved out of the rocky hills of Ajanta. They start carving from top of the hill and reach the bottom, and hence do not make use of scaffolds for support.

In the next four chaitya images, you can see how buddhism evolved during the period, from the early hinayana style to the mahayana style of buddhism. Out of the 30 caves of ajanta, 9, 10, 19, 26 and 29 are chaitya grihas and the remaining caves are viharas, carved out of a horse-shoe shaped rock-cliff valley.

Ajanta Cave 10. Thought to be the oldest chaitya hall at Ajanta (2nd century BC). During the early hinayana period, stupa is the centrepiece and no idols are revered.
hinayana chaitya hall, ajanta caves number 10
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bedsa caves

Posted by on 10 Jan 2011 | Category: india, photography

We were enchanted by the ancient rock-cut caves at Karla, that we decided to visit the Bedsa (bedse) caves which are also within 50kms from Pune, towards Karla.

on the way to ancient bedse rock-cut caves

This time we had much more to hike up, but Pratya was game, and the cool breeze kind of lifted us up.
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buddha and the deer

Posted by on 12 May 2006 | Category: india, japan, photography

Buddha has been the paragon of man’s coexistence with nature. It is surprising that you can catch the same coexistence in the heart of a technologically superior country, Japan. This is the country of contrasts, and the more advanced in technology Japan has become, the more firecly she is holding on to her past and her cultural relics.

Here is the first set of pictures from a recent trip to Nara and Kyoto. Nara was the first permanent capital of Japan from AD 710 to 794. The Giant Buddha or the Daibutsu, world’s largest gilded bronze Buddha was built during the Nara period in AD 752.

Buddha, after enlightment, gave his first sermon at the Sarnath deer park near Varanasi (Benaras) in northern India and set in motion the Wheel of Dharma. The  deer park in its premises of the Giant Buddha evokes this experience in your mind. The deers there are friendly and have coexisted with the inhabitants for centuries. Legend holds that god Kasuga made his long journey to Nara on a deer. The deer which lives around the Nara park have been warmly protected as servants of gods. You get deer biscuits to feed them. Some foriegners mistake it for food and eat it themselves

the-great-buddha-nara * The Giant Buddha or the Daibutsu, world's largest gilded bronze Buddha built during the Nara period (8th cent). Nara was then the first permanent capital of Japan. The buddha have been heavily repaired over time and very little remains of the original work.The position of left hand of buddha (oh! cant be seen in this picture) expresses buddha's desire to put an end to all suffering. The right hand extends his welcome to those in the world who suffer. * 1024 x 766 * (281KB)

deer-park-nara-1 * the Deer Park @ Nara, the first permanent capital of Japan * 766 x 1024 * (397KB)deer-park-nara-2 * the Deer Park @ Nara * 766 x 1024 * (371KB)

daibutsuden-the-great-buddha-hall-nara * Then the largest wooden structure in the world, Daibutsu-den or the Great Buddha Hall was originally built in the Nara period (8th Cent). The hall was twice destroyed by fire and the present building was constructed at the beginning of the 18th century. Daibutsuden is in the Todaiji Temple premises. * 1024 x 766 * (313KB)deer-park-nara-4 * the Deer Park @ Nara * 1024 x 766 * (345KB)deer-park-nara-5 * the Deer Park @ Nara * 1024 x 766 * (341KB)

deer-park-nara-3 * the Deer Park @ Nara * 1024 x 766 * (186KB)

how to spend NewYear in Japan

Posted by on 01 Jan 2006 | Category: japan

In Japan you can celebrate new year eve either by jumping into some party or in the much more intricate manner tradition has tagged it. New Year brought a free pair of new underwears for me and that was only cuz I opted for the latter.

Well this is what happened.. I was sitting at my lab as ever, and never dreamt on celebrating it in any ways. and Then my cellphone chimed enchantingly with Tomo’s invitation to celebrate new year eve with them. Tomomitsu Minato (Tomo) & family have been home away from home for me ever since my arrival @ Sapporo. Japanese cellphones are intelligent; instantly it mailed him back that I’ll be arriving there before midnite!

NewYear rituals @ Buddhist temple
A few hours later I found myself sitting inside their car, on the way to the Buddhist temple at Gakuen Mae. Most japanese accept aspects of both Shintoism and Buddhism and they tend to adhere to the rituals. On the way I could see most of them paying visit to the shrines. Many may have their favorite shrines and the one that I went happens to be frequented by the Minato family.

ama-sake and toshi-koshi soba

Omisoka, the time leading up to the new year, is one of the most important times in Japan and also means a new start in one’s personal life. It was almost NewYear by the time we arrived at the Buddhist temple. "Akemashite Omedeto!" 1(Happy NewYear), we greeted each other with smiles. Then we moved on to where the soba (kind of buckwheat noodles) was served. In Japan, a new year is welcomed by eating toshi-koshi soba. Toshi-koshi means across the year (toshi=year, koshi=cross). The thin long strands of soba reflects the wish for a long healthy life (gee, am not gonna end this horrible saga, it means!). The soba was served free for everyone, hot n yummy. With soba we had ama-sake. ama-sake is sweet hot drink prepared from the remains of sake (liqor made from rice). I didn’t like it though  (usually get along with all kind of japanese food )

omisoka newyear bell

The time we spend outside left us freezing but we braved on to stand in the long queque to the Big Bell. It is one of the most interesting part of the ritual. Ringing of the bell wipes out all the evil spirits and sins from the past year and announces the new life. Waiting in the queue for over 15 minutes, we reached the summit at last; I rang the bell with all might that, no evil spirits even dream of coming close to me in the past or future..  (i know u guys won’t be fended off by any of those, but still..)

omisoka newyear bell buddhist temple at hokkaido

Then we moved on to the main temple, knelt and bowed..

NewYear rituals @ Shinto shrine

shinto shrine omikushi bad fortune 

Tomo then took us to the Shinto shrine, 5 minutes drive from there. The facade was pretty with a traditional layout and a small track leading to the shrine. After our prayers, went forward to take the omikushi, the paper slips which tell your fortune. Took one in random and here it is  It says my lot is dai-kichi, meaning am very lucky. "Everything you ought to do you should do as this year is pretty good for you. Be like a sunshine and don’t be selfish while everything works for you! Do for others too! And for work, don’t worry even if you need to put some money, you’ll be benefited.." What else I needed! Well at first I thought everyone got good luck scribbled in their fortune slips.. I was totally wrong. Don’t you see a lot of paper slips tied in rows..?? All of them are bad luck cards someone got, nobody wants to take bad luck home! And poor meu-chan, she  is also tying her slip, she didn’t get a good one. Seems am the only lucky person out here. Oops I forgot, I should radiate my luck to others. Thatz how it works, right?

shower and new Wear @ Japanese home

new year clothes

That was enough for the day and we returned to Tomo’s home. Everything was ready with a stove warming up the room and a warm cozy bed and the night was calling me inside.. but things weren’t supposed to end there! A set of new clothes, tshirt, set of socks n underwear were waiting for me. I was supposed to take a hot shower, cleanse myself of the remaining evil spirits and adorn a new attire so that I have a realistic feeling of the fresh new soul inside me. So off I went to bang off the rest of the demons!

..Thou shalt sleep. I faintly remember a voice from heaven saying that. When I regained consiousness the new rays of the sun was gushing through the trees – through the window – through the curtains, still strong and warming my soul n body altogether. I remember what the fortune slip had told.. I wish the sunshine flows to you, through me, forever.. an everlasting river of love and happiness.

That morning I watched one of the most emotional parts of the tradition, a grand father (Tomo’s father; we call him Otosan, meaning father) and grand daughter (Tomo’s daughter Mignon, shez 3 years old and naughty) kneeling and bowing to each other and Otosan carrying on the tradition and asking her to repeat "akemashite omedeto gosaymasu. kotoshi mo yoroshiku onegayi-shimasu" happy new year. let us be good to each other this year too.

あけまして おめでとう