The Well-Designed Eternal Stupa – Special Message for Our Painters and Architects

Photos: (1) Comment on the dome proportion, (2) Golden rings, (3) Main temple/hall, (4) Great Mother Satig Esang

Rinpoche explained that there were 118 types of stupas. All of these have similar proportions and designs. The Well-Designed Eternal Stupa (Yungdrung Koleg Choten), architype of our Tara Great Stupa is one of these. Its design is exactly as the one shown in the Foundation’s brochure. Rinpoche compliments Ek for a beautiful drawing. He has some comment for the dome which needs a slight adjustment.

Above the lotus base there are 5 steps representing 5 natural elements: earth, water, fire, wind and air. These steps are quite different from ordinary Buddhist stupas which usually have only 3 steps.

There are 3 shrines and 1 main temple (hall) inside the stupa. The temple is dedicated to the 4 Buddhas, namely Satig Esang (Tara), Shenlha Oka (Vajrasattva), Sangbo Bumtri, and Tonpa Sherab representing 1,000 Buddhas.

The roof above the temple is called “ten thri” meaning “support throne”. It can have beautiful designs as drawn in the brochure. From this support throne up is what we call the real stupa.

For general Buddhist stupas, the 13 golden rings are called “cho kor cuk sum” meaning “13 dharma wheels”. The Bon tradition calls them “khor lo cuk sum” or “13 wheels”.

The decorations on the very top of the stupa for a general Buddhist stupa are the sun and the moon, for a Bon Buddhist stupa is a tigle that shows that everything returns to the natural state. The two garuda horns represent the two truths, thab “method” and sherab “wisdom”. The flaming sword shows that all the passions (kleshas) are destroyed by this knowledge.

Rinpoche emphasizes that apart from the slightly different names and decorations, there is no great difference between the Buddhist tradition influenced by Indian Buddhism and the Bon Buddhist tradition originating in Tibet.

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