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Sacred Spaces: Buddhist Temples in Asia

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Sydney Deusenberry

on 8 December 2015

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Transcript of Sacred Spaces: Buddhist Temples in Asia

Sacred Spaces:
Buddhist Temples in Asia

By: Sydney Deusenberry, Daniel Jimenez, Sarah Maisonet, Elizabeth Sikora, Kimberlyn Amanda Skille
Gautama reached Enlightenment and became Buddha, "Enlightened" or "Awakened"

Taught pupils "Sermon of the Turning Wheel," "Four Noble Truths," and "Noble Eightfold Path"

Stupas provide space for Buddhists to worship
History and Sacred Space of Stupas
Arrived in Cambodia in the 5th or 6th century CE.

Around the 7th century CE a style known as Prei Kmeng became prominent and artifacts represented both Hindu and Buddhism

12th or 13th century CE Buddhism officially declared the "state" religion
Arrived in 6th century CE
Brought by monks from China and Korea
Shinto was predominant belief system at time of arrival
Was viewed as a way of achieving peace
Incorporated into people's daily lives alongside Shinto
Temples were often built in and alongside Shinto shrines
Viewed as sacred spaces by all people, similar to the way Shinto sacred spaces had been treated
Continued use as place to keep religious artifacts safe
Served as monasteries
Only open to a limited number of people
Festivals and other ritual gatherings took place outside
For many years from the time of Buddhism's arrival believers of Shinto and Buddhism shared these sacred spaces
Modern Day
Still viewed as sacred spaces and are still monasteries and repositories for artifacts
Viewed as historical and cultural heritage sites and are generally viewed with pride
Destination for travelers
One of many features of Shinto architecture that was incorporated into Buddhist temples in Japan
These gates symbolize the transition from a profane space to a sacred one

"Mountain" complex represented Mt. Meru
Khmer rituals, to serve for ancestral and ancient king worshiping
Mountain pyramids may have been built as tombs, specifically Angkor Wat
Over time these sacred spaces completely transitioned into Buddhist temples
Modern Relevance
Temples severely damage due to previous invaders
Many of the temples have been added to the "World Heritage Sites" list in 1992
Angkor Wat, was immediately placed on the "World Heritage in Danger" list and was removed in 2004
Today these temples are visited by hundreds of tourists and Buddhist pilgrims
Mountain Temples
Multiple level complex built to form a "mountain"

Buddhism came to Thailand as a Theravada religion (religious culture) in the 13th century CE

After Khmer Empire fell and expelled 1st Buddhist state Sukkothai formed-North Central Thailand

Animistic practices and Brahmanism were already practiced in this area and continued on within the larger Theravada tradition

Thai Buddhism divided 4 key periods: Theravada from the Asoka’s period (Southern), Mahayana’s period (Eastern) Theravada from the Bukama’s period (Southern), and Theravada from Sri Lanka
History of Buddhism in Thailand
Modern Day

Indian Buddhism was transmitted to China during the first century B.C.E.

Buddhism is intertwined with Daoism and Confucianism

Mahayana Buddhism, or the Greater Vehicle, is established due to its accessibility to enlightenment

The Indian stupa is combined with the que (tower) and is transformed to the pagoda

The pagoda is utilized as a place of worship that contains “relics, sutras, and images of the Buddha” (Yanxin: 69)

Utilized by scholars, for sightseeing tours, and even military reconnaissance

Cave shrines evolved from
the caitya halls of India

Cave shrines were rock carved architecture

These carvings were longer lasting and therefore have captured Buddhist art, history, and culture in ancient China

Sacred spaces must now navigate globalization, politics, and modernity.

Sacred spaces are "economically self supporting"(Kang:229).

"Religion for popular Consumption"(Kang:242).

Wat is a Buddhist center built for protection and celebration of Buddha or a Buddhist teacher.
Serves social, cultural and religious community functions.
Offers mental purification, emotional comfort and refuge in the Triple Gem:
Teachings of Buddha
The monastic community

Sacred Spaces: Buddhism in Asia
A cross cultural comparison of sacred spaces in Asia
Our purpose is to demonstrate how Buddhist practitioners utilize sacred spaces in Asia
Trace the movement of Buddhism across Asia

Define sacred spaces in anthropological terms

Similarities and differences of Buddhist temples in specific countries

Ancient and modern cultural practices associated with Buddhist temples
We will:
Sacred Spaces in Buddhism

Central to monastic practices

Culturally contextualized physical space

Place of healing and well-being

Emphasize the importance in Buddhism attached to place
Transmission of Buddhism throughout Asia
Spread from Northern India and Nepal in 5th century BCE to the rest of India

Moved to China via missionaries on the Silk Road in 1st century BCE

Arrived in Cambodia in the 5th or 6th century CE

Brought to Japan by Chinese and Korean missionaries in the 5th century CE

Arrived in Thailand 13th century CE

Today, Buddhism is found worldwide.

Sacred Spaces: Torii and Sando
Pathways that traditionally lead to Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples
Begin at the torii
Meant to foster mindfulness
Symbolize the path of one's efforts in life

Nava Jetavana Temple https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ANava_Jetavana_Temple_-_Shravasti_-_004_King_Pasenadi_Planting_the_Ananda_Bodhi_Tree_in_Jetavana_(9241772739).jpg, By Photo Dharma from Penang, Malaysia [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons,-color=light

Seated Buddha in "Maravijaya" - Walters 542520.jpg|, 330px-Thai_-_Seated_Buddha_in_Maravijaya, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sukhothai_Kingdo

Wat Chaiwatthanaram. wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c0/Sunset_at_Wat_Chaiwatthanaram,_Ayutthaya,_Thailand.jpg, By Justin Vidamo [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Wat Rong Khun https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wat_Rong_Khun1.jpg#filelinks By an-d https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:an-d, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:An-d/gallery1, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:%C3%9Cberraschungsbilder/Archiv/2010

Angkor Wat Temple. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AAngkor_War.JPG By Ksuryawanshi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Links for Images
Full resources can be found at http://anthreligion.commons.uaa.alaska.edu/?p=73
Temples as sacred spaces for Asian Buddhism

Spaces have many uses: social, cultural, and religious

As Buddhism spread, cultural influences combined the existing belief systems with the new, creating innovations in temple architecture

Examples of past and modern use for:
monks: resting place, pilgrimage, and worship
locals: cultural center, meeting place for social or religious practices
many others: national symbols including religious and historical significance
tourism that focuses on art and architecture
Please visit our WordPress site Sacred Spaces: Buddhism Temples in Asia at

1868 Shinbutsu bunri law was passed making it illegal for Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples to be connected
Many temples and shrines were permanently destroyed as a result
Sacred Spaces of Cave Temples and Modern Relevance of Temples
Earliest excavations "are datable to second century B.C." (Archaeological Survey of India)

Prayer halls and monasteries common in Buddhist cave temples
Stupas are considered national symbols in a secular way

Cave temples are popular tourist attractions
Modern relevance of Chinese spaces.
Chinese Cave Shrines
Chinese Pagodas
Temples showed combination of Hindu, and Buddhist symbolism
Full transcript