Mindrolling in India

The Commemoration of the Great Stupa


A stupa is a Buddhist monument representing the Buddha's enlightened mind. It is essentially the earliest form of the Buddha's image built in order to commemorate the major events in his life and to mark the sacred places where these events occurred, and to house his relics as well of those of his spiritually accomplished disciples. As the receptacle of the Buddha's enlightened mind, a stupa encapsulates a multitude of symbolic meanings that reveal his enlightened qualities. A stupa is said to bring great benefit to the land and immense blessings to anyone who beholds it.

The Stupa of Descent from Devaloka at Mindrolling commemorates Buddha's descent from the heaven of the thirty-three Gods (Trayastrimsa) when he was forty-two years old. Here he spent the summer retreat in Tushita heaven teaching the dharma to the reincarnation of his mother, in order to repay her kindness in having borne him just before she died. He descended in the city of Sankasya, and the local inhabitants there built a stupa in this design to commemorate the event.

Photo: Five snow lions above the door to the Great Stupa, © 2006