CPPS Daily – Borobudur Temple as a Cultural Library

This May, all Buddhists celebrate a phenomenal event by celebrating the Trisuci Vesak celebration which is centered on the grounds of Borobudur Temple. Dharmasanti, the peak ritual of Trisuci Waisak, is always held at night accompanied by the reading of parita by monks which adds to the sacred and solemn celebration.

As is known, Trisuci Vesak is a phenomenal event that is very important, namely, commemorating the birth of Prince Sidharta in Lumbini Park, getting great illumination in Bodh Gaya, and the Buddha parinibbhana (died) in Kusinara. Sidharta is a noble figure from the Kapilawastu Kingdom who seeks eternal enlightenment. Sidharta was a teacher, philosopher, and spiritual leader known as the founder of Buddhism.

Between Borobudur Temple and the place of worship of Vesak, contextually it cannot be separated. Borobudur Temple as an indisputable historical witness. The physical building of the Syailendra Dynasty and the place of worship of Vesak are intertwined in a frame that shows positive synergy in the vortex of time that comes one after another, as the moon machinery rotates with time.

When examined more deeply, the reliefs in Borobudur Temple dominate the story of Sidharta Gautama’s life journey in finding the highest spiritual state to get great illumination with all its dynamics. The philosophy of this teaching can be seen in the teachings of Majjhima Patipada, as the teaching of Sidharta Gautama’s enlightenment to all mankind. The purpose of Majjhima Patipada’s teachings is none other than to teach mankind throughout the world to consistently adhere to the teachings of wise, moral, and conscious life as a moderate attitude towards the state of sanctity of life (Totok Tejamano, 2022).

Cultural Masterpieces

It is undeniable, Borobudur Temple is a cultural masterpiece created by the son of the archipelago which has been cosmopolitan recognized by the world. The prediction of the construction of this temple began when the Syailendra Dynasty reached its glory. This temple, estimated to be built in the 8th century during the reign of Samaratungga in 825 AD. A monumental work that amazed everyone around the world. Works whose thinking surpasses the people of their time, who are not necessarily the current generation are able to make such magnificent works.

Referring to the concept of Buddhist cosmology, Borobudur Temple is likened to Mahameru or a mountain that connects heaven and the world. This mountain stands in a location surrounded by mountains, oceans, and large rivers. As can be witnessed today, Borobudur Temple is surrounded by several mountains, namely Merapi, Merbabu, Sumbing, Andong, and Menoreh Mountains. In the region also flows water from major rivers, such as the Elo and Progo, as well as the major rivers in India, namely the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers.

Its characteristics are seen in the design and buildings designed to personally evoke religious emotional intuition. The design of Borobudur which forms squares and circles and decorated with ornaments on the walls (reliefs) is a construction of the community at that time, that the temple is a sacred building or sacred as a place of worship. The signs are consistent and orderly like a narrative in a text. Like a text, temples can be read and explored their meaning based on cosmological concepts.

Borobudur Temple was built not without purpose. In every corner of Borobudur Temple there are ornaments that illustrate noble values as humanities teachings that are thick with Buddhist teachings. Overall, it tells about the nature of human life visualized in its relief aesthetic sculptures.

Basically, relief is a three-dimensional sculpture or carving on stone media that contains deep meaning or philosophy. On the reliefs are engraved aesthetically pleasing narratives of historical stories of the past that contain spiritual teachings or philosophies to be the lessons of the next generation. Borobudur Temple is special because there are 2,672 relief panels with a classification of 1,460 story relief panels (narrative) and 1,212 decorative relief panels that can be read constellatively like a narrative in a story.

Like the relief of Karmawibhangga which tells the law as a result of human actions that are universal. There is also a relief of Lalitavistara (3rd floor) containing Buddha’s life from before his birth to his first teaching at the Deer Park. Each of these reliefs, interlocking with each other forms a narrative that can inspire many people to learn one by one.

Cultural Library

Behind its spectacular splendor, Borobudur Temple basically when examined from Buddhist philosophy is a form of a mandala or representation of the dwelling place of the Buddha. The teachings on mandalas were passed down orally by Buddha Sakyamuni. Looking at mandalas can help change one’s inner flow by creating a deep and strong impression of the Buddha’s inner perfection. The result of this deep impression will bring the individual to feel more compassionate, introspective, become a better individual, and ceaselessly to introspect.

In addition, Borobudur Temple can be said to be a cultural library that can be explored in depth from various perspectives. Both from a religious perspective, knowledge, architecture, culture, philosophy, and various other disciplines. The inherent symbols contained a sublime meaning for human life.

This shows that Borobudur Temple also has high educational value that can be excavated and analyzed from various disciplines. Borobudur Temple as a learning medium, where learning is not only to know or remember (pariyatti), but also to carry out (patipatti), and achieve penetration (pativedha). Thus, it can be emphasized that studying the structure, ornaments, and reliefs of Borobudur Temple is not only knowing but also understanding contextually as learning the pilgrimage of human life.

Moreover, every year in this historical place is always the center of the Trisuci Vesak celebration which contains meanings related to the noble value of human teachings. Optimizing the function of Borobudur Temple from sharing perspectives will make people smarter to continue digging to the depth, because Borobudur Temple is not just a physical building but a cultural library that can be a source of inspiration.

Happy Celebrating Trisuci Vesak 2024.

Sabbe satta bhavantu sukhitatta. May all living beings be happy.

By: Ch. Dwi Anugrah, Head of Ganggadata Art Studio Jogonegoro Village, Mertoyudan District, Magelang Regency.

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