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Each day I walk past, around, and gaze in wonder at the huge domed center of this little world.

By the end of my second month it felt like home. The wonderment of it just felt normal. I became curious and read up on the grande old beast and developed a new sense of awe. After all, the Boudhanath Stupa is the largest stupa in Nepal and the holiest Tibetan Buddhist temple outside Tibet.
 

It was constructed during the 6th Century, at the time when King Arthur ruled England and defeated the Anglo-Saxons and Beowulf wasn’t a story that you had to read to get a passing grade, but was the Legendary King of the Geats.
 
The Stupa is on the ancient trade route from Tibet which enters the Kathmandu Valley by the village of Sankhu in the northeast corner, passes by Boudnath Stupa to the ancient and smaller stupa of Cā-bahī (often called 'Little Boudnath'). It then turns directly south, heading over the Bagmati river to Patan - bypassing the main city of Kathmandu which was founded later. Tibetan merchants have rested and offered prayers here for many centuries.
 
After the arrival of thousands of Tibetan refugees following the 1959 Chinese invasion, the temple has become one of the most important centers of Tibetan Buddhism and many decided to live in the village surrounding it. Today it remains an important place of pilgrimage and meditation for Tibetan Buddhists, Indian Hindus, and local Nepalese, as well as a popular tourist site. In 1979, the Boudha Stupa became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
 
There is a legend that surrounds the construction of the Stupa. To me, the legend shows the smart thinking of a woman trying to attain a huge goal.
 
"The village that surrounds the great Kāṣyapa tower is generally known by the name of Boḍḍha. ...which in Tibetan is called Yambu Chorten Chenpo. Yambu is the general name by which Kāthmāndu is known in Tibet; and Chorten Chenpo means great tower. The real name of the tower in full is, however, Ja Rung Kashol Chorten Chenpo, which may be translated into: ‘Have finished giving the order to proceed with.’ The tower has an interesting history of its own which explains this strange name.
 
It is said in this history that Kāṣyapa was a Buḍḍha that lived a long time before Shākyamuni Buḍḍha. After Kāṣyapa Buḍḍha's death, a certain old woman, with her four sons, interred this great sage's remains at the spot over which the great mound now stands, the Stupa having been built by the woman herself.
 
Before starting construction, she petitioned the King of the time, and obtained permission to proceed with building a tower on a piece of land the size of a buffalo hide. By the time that the groundwork of the structure had been finished, those who saw it were astonished at the greatness of the scale on which it was undertaken. Unbeknownst to the King, the old lady had cut the buffalo hide to the width of a string, in one long, continuous piece and laid the base for the Stupa at the circumference that the one hide could encircle.
 
The high officials of the country, who all said that if such a poor old lady was allowed to complete building such a stupendous tower they themselves would have to dedicate a temple as great as a mountain. So, they decided to ask the King to disallow further progress. When the King was approached on the matter his Majesty replied: ‘I have finished giving the order to the woman to proceed with the work. Kings must not eat their words, and I cannot undo my orders now.’ So the tower was allowed to be finished, and hence its unique name, Ja Rung Kashol Chorten Chenpo.”

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copyright 2011-2017 Loxley Browne

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