The construction of the temple
Borobudur Temple is located in Indonesia in the province of Central Java. Its name probably goes back to the expression “Vihara Buddha Ur”, which means “Buddhist temple on the mountain” in Sanskrit. It is located on a hill, but scientists assume that once there was a lake in its place. According to one version, the pond was filled up on purpose, and on the other, it dried up itself. Be that as it may, the temple most likely symbolized the lotus.
View of Borobudur from above
There is not a single written source that would reliably tell when and by whom Borobudur was built. Presumably, the complex was founded between 750 and 800 by the rulers of the state of Mataram, which existed on the territory of modern Indonesia. At that time, two religions competed in Java: Buddhism and Hinduism. However, the Hindu ruler could well personally contribute to the establishment of a Buddhist temple.
Millennium under the ashes
For a millennium Borobudur was hidden under a layer of volcanic ash. In place of the temple for hundreds of years, the real jungle has grown. One can only guess when exactly the inhabitants abandoned the temple and stopped the pilgrimage. This probably happened in the 10th - early 11th century, when the king moved the capital to the east of Java after several volcanic eruptions. According to another version, the temple was finally abandoned only in the XV century, when part of the population converted to Islam. Of course, the existence of a huge complex on a relatively small island was difficult to forget. The local population retold the legend of Borobudur to each other, but most of them were associated with failures that allegedly overtook everyone who approached the temple.
Opening of the temple by Europeans
The largest Buddhist temple in the world, with a volume of more than 55 thousand cubic meters, was reopened only at the beginning of the XIX century. From 1811 to 1816, Java was under the protection of Great Britain. The Governor of Stamford Raffles Island was interested in history, collecting local antiques and writing down Aboriginal stories. In 1814, he was informed about an unknown monument discovered in the jungle near the village of Bumiserego. Dutch engineer Cornelius along with 200 assistants went on an expedition. For a month and a half he cleaned up the monument, then others took over his work. By 1835 the upper part of the complex was well overlooked. Borobudur sketched and photographed a few years later. True, in those days the scale of the temple was not yet clear, so it was even offered to disassemble and place it in a museum. In the meantime, the souvenir merchants began to take away reliefs and sculptures piece by piece, the King of Siam himself also brought out many sculptures and even the only remaining statue of the temple keeper.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the first capital restoration of the complex was organized. The focus was on drainage, as well as preventing soil erosion and corrosion of the hill on which the monument is located. Borobudur began to look much better, but this did not solve all the problems. In 1973-1984 the complex was completely disassembled and reassembled. This titanic work was carried out under the guidance of the famous Indonesian archaeologist Bukhari. Since then, the temple has once again become the main place of pilgrimage in Indonesia. Every year thousands of Buddhists come here from all over the world.
Model of the universe
Borobudur is a huge stupa, made in the form of a mandala, a peculiar scheme of the universe in accordance with the views of Buddhists. On a square basement there are eight tiers, five square and three round ones. At the top tier there is a huge bell-shaped stupa surrounded by 72 small ones. Inside the stupas are 504 statues of Buddha and 1,460 bas-reliefs depicting religious subjects. Borobudur is believed to be a kind of book for pilgrims. Each of them must go around all the tiers clockwise seven times. During the tour, believers get acquainted with stories from the life of the Buddha and learn about his teachings. According to legend, if you touch each Buddha on the upper tier, then you will find infinite happiness.
The three levels of the complex symbolize the three levels of Buddhist residences. At the first level is the sphere of passions Kamadhatu. On it were installed 160 relief panels describing the world of the sensual. Only a few of them have survived. The following level symbolizes the sphere of Rupadhatu forms. The panels located here depict stories from the life of the Buddha Gautama. The highest level corresponds to the sphere without the forms Arudadhatu. During construction, life-size buddhas were located on top of the stupa, many of which were destroyed or damaged. Thus, the Buddhist model of the universe, embodied in the Borobudur temple, is completed.