Stupa as Buddha Body and Cosmos
For the believing Buddhist a stupa symbolizes the body of the Buddha, which is nothing other than the cosmos itself. The homology stupa = Buddha body = universe is shown in the stupa’s defining elements. The central axis (yasti), the middle piece running through the stupa from the base to the pinnacle, is called the backbone…This backbone is the cosmic mountain meru. The supporting platform with the quadratic terraces on which the round dome rests represents the crossed legs and hips of the Buddha…
The base of the stupa forms a mandala, the cosmos in its ordering of the center and four cardinal directions….
From: Franz-Karl Ehrhard, “Views of the Bodhnath-Stupa, in co-operattion with Philip Pierce and Christoph Cuppers, Kathmandu, 1991.