Buddhist Arch 1

  • Published on

  • View

  • Download

Embed Size (px)


History of Architecture IICourse code: AT2DCHOA

II sem A B. Arch 15 FEB 2012

Gradually stratifying caste system of Vedic society By 500 BC, Vedic society was slowly stratifying into a rigid class system of the familiar four Varnas - the Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras. The Brahmins, being the priestly class, were gradually assuming dominance over society with a firm grasp over rituals that controlled every aspect of life.

Gradually stratifying caste system of Vedic society Meanwhile the evolution of the Aryans ways of life gave birth to a new influential class of merchants, artists guilds and bureaucrats.

To this materially progressive group residing in the cities, Vedic religion as instituted by the Brahmins was of a rather mechanical and lifeless character as it involved the performance of rituals and sacrifices that were cumbersome to the busy city dweller.The urbanites, resented the fact that the priest, apart from having acquired all religious merit and powers to himself, was reluctant to give up the top place of the caste system.

Gradually stratifying caste system of Vedic societyThis conflict between established orthodoxy and the new aspirations led to the growth of religious and philosophical speculations that confronted the institutionalized domination of the Brahmins. Thus sixth BC is of great significance in the Indian history as it ushered an era of spiritual revolution and the spirit of opposition to the increasingly complex and sacrificial rituals performed by the Brahmin priests.

Mauryan and Buddhist CulturesBuddha and the MauryasPrince Sidhartha Gautam of the ShakyasIt was in such an atmosphere of speculation, inquiry and rebelliousness of the established order that Prince Sidhartha Gautam of the semi-royal Shakya tribe renounced the pleasures of a princely life in palace that seemed artificial to him in contrast with the miseries of outside life. This made him to embark in search of a new path of peace and happiness. None of the studies of Upanishads or the techniques of meditation showed him the way to the liberation of life from sorrow and suffering.

Ultimately in 528 BC,35 years old Gautam found enlightenment after 49days of continuous persistent meditation.

Dharma Wheel: The Noble Eightfold PathLiberation is only possible through the eighth fold path of

The sermon was simple and rational, not involved with complex metaphysical thinking nor requiring complicated rituals of worship. This became Buddhas Middle Path to Nirvana freedom from the eternal wheel of birth and rebirth. To a people weary of the endless machinations of the Brahmins, Buddhas message was welcoming and comforting one.

Two major branches of Buddhism are recognized1.Theravada - The School of the Elders 2. Mahayana -The Great VehicleTheravada -the oldest surviving branch has a widespread following in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, and Mahayana is found throughout East Asia and includes the traditions of Zen and Tibetan

The MauryasBy the end of the 6th century BC king Bimbisar of Magadh dynasty and his son Ajatshatru, ruling from Patliputra had established the first great empire in India by their supremacy in the Aryan concept of kingship in the plains of the Ganga.

Backed by strong economy and efficient administration, the Mauryas consolidated their control over the whole of North India. Thus, early in the 3rd century BC and for the first time in Indian history , the plains of the two great Indian rivers, the Indus and the Ganga, came under a single great rulerChandragupta Maurya.

The Maurya Empire, 250 BC

Chandraguptas son Bindusara further extended Mauryan control and carried it into Deccan. His grandson Ashoka ,the great (270-232BC) fought many battles and further extended the empire.

The ahimsa of Ashoka, the great

Stirred greatly by the ensuing misery and suffering of Kalinga war, Ashoka determined to atone for hi sins by setting up an enlightened administration, and in course of time even entertained ambitions of becoming the moral leader of the whole civil zed world

He adopted Buddhism unconditionally and set about the task of propagating Buddhism not only in the Indian subcontinent but to the whole world.

Buddhist adoption at the time of emperorAshoka (260218 BC)

Ashoka proclaimed Buddhism as the state religion and spread its message to the four corners of the land through state-funded monasteries, grants, and his famous rockedicts, which dot the face of modern Orissa and central India.

The most evident choice open to the Buddhist architect was either a square or a circle(purest and most perfect geometric forms). He chose the circle as it not only symbolize the Buddhist Wheel of Law but it was also an ideal focus for performing the Buddhist endless circumambulation of a sacred object. In addition, its connotations were opposite to the square base plans of the Vedic altars of sacrifice.

Nevertheless, every religion needs an icon, and Buddhism was singularly unsuccessful in providing a God to worship. The next thing to a God was the Buddha himself, and his relics, or his mortal remains, scattered at various sites, became the objects of reverence and magnets for (religious) pilgrimage.

The first architectural manifestation of Buddhism

The Stupas or Topes evolved from the simple prehistoric burial heap or Tumulus under which the ashes of the dead were buried. They are also known as Relic Shrines

Many such funeral mounds low, circular elevations of earth ringed by huge boulders are seen in the Deccan and South India.

The first architectural manifestation of Ashokas campaign for Buddhism was to give the many unexceptional earth and rubble structures that housed the relics and ashes of the Buddha, a distinguished and durable form.

This is an evidence of how these pilgrimage points evolved into Buddhist centers of learning. What started as a pile of stone or rubble over sacred remains , was gradually crystallized into the spherical Stupa

A division arose after the Parinirvana (death) of Buddha between the earlier Hinayana -200BC-200AD(Lesser Vehicle) and the later Mahayana-300AD( Greater Vehicle). In the Hinayana phase, Buddha was worshipped only through symbols- Stupa, footprints and Bodhi tree. But in the Mahayana phase, Buddha was worshipped in his physical form.

Buddhist architectureCharacteristic featuresThe major features of Buddhist style are -

Stupa or Topes Stambhas (Free standing Monolithic Pillars) Rock cut cave architecture Chaitayas

Viharas or Monasteries

Stupa or Topes The main purpose of the Stupa was to enshrine Sharirika (body relics, normally small pieces of bones) of the Buddha or of Buddhist teachers or their Paribhogika (personal belongings) Sometimes they built Stupas to commemorate Uddesika (some event) at sacred places. Besides being the symbol of the Buddhas Parinirvana (death) , the Stupa itself became an object of reverence as for instance the rock-cut Stupas in Chaityas. Numerous votive Stupas around the large ones were also built over the ashes of the Sangha (association) members.

The relics were enclosed in a stone box and placed in a small chamber during the time of building so that the solid masonry of the Stupa enclosed them securely. The egg-mounds were made of large unburnt bricks and rubble, covered with a thick layer of white plaster .

The Dhamek Stupa, Sarnath in Varanasi. This marks the spot where the Buddha gave his first sermon, setting in motion the "Dharma Chakra".

Sanchi - The Center of the Heavens After Ashoka, by 200 B.C., the royal patronage enjoyed by Buddhism was on the decline. Gradually, under a succession of kings, Brahmanism regained the prestige it used to enjoy.

Under the circumstances, Buddhist monks retired from urban conglomerates to secluded spots, where they built their places of worship and in general led a life of atonement and meditation.

Sanchi StupasHowever, assistance from the mercantile class, who had little interest in Brahmanism, was still available, and thus the Buddhist monks could, over the years, transform their humble centers into truly magnificent works of art. The largest and most famous of these blossomed upon a hilltop in Sanchi (near modern Bhopal) during 200 BC under Shunga dynasty. Monuments at Sanchi are built over a hillock, about 91 m high from ground level.Of the other main Stupas, the biggest one is known as the Great Stupa or Stupa-I

Plan of the excavated ruins and structures of the Buddhist monastery at Sanchi

The Great Stupa, Sanchi, 250 BCStupa- a symbol of Buddhas nirvana

As a part of Ashokas historical campaign, Sanchi already had a semi-circular brick mound of about 21m in diameter.

This Stupa was enlarged to double of its size by building another stone faced mound increasing the diameter of the original to 36.5m and its ht. to 16.4m of the present day but without removing the Ahoken bk. Tumulus.

The Great Stupa, Sanchi, 250 BCSymbolism and Structural functionThe Stupa consists of a solid hemisphere dome called The Embryo or Egg-mound (Anda), the most powerful architectural form of Buddhism. It stands on a 1.8m wide Medhi(circular or square base) which is 4.87m high from the ground level.

It is referred as embryo as it contains the Seed namely the relic of the monk and represent the Dome of Heaven or The world cosmic structure The facing of the dome consists of dry masonry composed of hammer dressed stones laid in even courses.

The Great Stupa, Sanchi, 250 BCSymbolism and Structural function

At the flattened top of the dome, is a small square balcony in decorative form, called Harmika a kind of kiosk enclosing a pedestal.

Originally an umbrella was firm