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The Miracle and The Mystery of the Biggest Temple in the World – Borobudur Temple

Candi Borobudur
The Miracle and The Mystery of the Biggest Temple in the World – Borobudur Temple
Borobudur is the biggest temple in Indonesia. Borobudur temple that located at Magelang Regency Central Java to be the crowded tourist attraction. Beside this, Borobudur temple to  be a Buddhist worship place especially Waisak.

Long before Angkor Wat at Cambodia and Grand Cathedrals at Europe were built, Borobudur temple had built at Java Island. UNESCO stated that Borobudur is as a monument and the complex of pretentious stupa in the world. In the middle of 9th – 11th century, some Buddhists from Cambodia, India, Tibet and China came to Borobudur temple to get enlightenment.

Borobudur is not only pretentious but also big. There are some fetwork on the wall of Borobudur temple. There 2.672 relief panels if it is arranged in a row the length of the relief will be approximately 6 km. It is very amazing and the most complete relief of Buddha in the world. There is no relief likes relief at Borobudur.

The location of Borobudur temple at the hill of Borobudur village, Mungkid Magelang Regency. It is 42 km from Yogyakarta. This temple is surrounded by the Menoreh hill that long-wise from east to west. At the east of Borobudur there are Mount Merapi and Mount Merbabu. On the west there are Mount Sindoro and Mount Sumbing.

To build this temple, It needed no less 2 million of andesite. It was same with 50.000 m2, height 42 meters at the beginning and because of the struck of lightning so the height is 31.5 meters. , width 123 meters. The weight entirely of Borobudur temple is 3.5 million ton.

The shape of Borobudur temple if it viewed  from above it forms  Mandala. Mandala is a map that shows the universal order  and inner nature. The shape of Mandala that is the underlying architecture of Borobudur is Mandala Dharmadhatu and Wajradhatu. The Borobudur temple terrace  is arranged suitable with the Mandala Wajradhatu Mathematics


History of Borobudur Temple

Borobudur temple is believed as the heritage of Syailendra Dynasty. The king was Samaratungga from Mataram Kuno Kingdom and it was finished on the 8 century. There are some mysteries from Borobudur temple haven’t revealed yet, for example the origin name of Borobudur temple. There is no epigraph or book as a proof of the Borobudur’s name. Some said that the name of Borobudur temple cames from samara budhara. It means the mountain that its slope has terrace. Some also said that Borobudur came from the Buddhist said that means shifting.

Based on the epigraph of Kaumwungan on May 26th, 824 Borobudur temple was built by Samaratungga between 8th  century until 9th century. It was at the same time with Mendut temple and Pawon temple. The development occurred 75 years and led by the architect named Gunadharma. Although at that time haven’t known computer and modern utensils, Gunadharma able to apply the interlock system. The andesite stone was chiselled and arranged to be puzzle and covered up the small hill until Borobudur temple formed.

The word #Borobudur based on the first written evidence that wrote by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, The General Governor of Great Britain at Java who gave the name of this temple. As stated above that there was no older evidence who gave the name of the temple #Borobudur. The only one oldest document that showed the existence of this temple is Nagarakertagama written by Mpu Prapanca on 1365. At that holy book written that this temple used as a meditation place for Buddhists.

The meaning of Borobudur is monastery on the hill. It comes the word “bara” means temple or monastery and “beduhur” means hill or residence. They are Sanskrit. That is why, suitable with the name of Borobudur so this place at that time used as a place to pray for Buddhists.

J.G. de Casparis a historian in his dissertation to get the doctoral degree on 1950 said that Borobudur was a worship place. Based on te Karangtengah epigraph and Kahulunan he predicted that the founder of Borobudur temple was King Mataram from Syailendra Dynasty name Samaratungga who did the development of the temple on 824 M.

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Samaratungga is a Buddhist. The development of the temple is very mysterious because the human at the 7th century haven’t known about high architecture calculation. But in fact Borobudur temple was built by the sophisticated architecture calculation. Until now no one can explain how to build and the certain history about Borobudur temple.

Many scientists in the world come to Borobudur temple to do research about the temple. But all of them cannot release the mystery of Borobudur development. One question from the scientists that make them curios is where did the big stones at Borobudur temple came and how they could arrange the stones with precision and the very tidy architecture. Some predicted that the stone came Mount Merapi but how could they brought the big stones from Mount Merapi to Borobudur temple which located of this temple is on the hill.

This temple for some centuries never used more. Then because of the Merapi eruption some of the Borobudur building covered by the volcanic soil. Beside this, the building also be covered by the trees and bush for some centuries. The temple began forgotten when Islam came to Nusantara on 15th century.

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On 1814, when British occupied Nusantara, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles heard that there was a giant discovery of archaeological objects at Bumisegoro Village Magelang. His interest was very big with the Javanese history so Raffles ordered to H.C. Cornelius a Dutch Engineer to investigate the discovery location which form is a hill that full of bushes.

Cornelius was helped by 200 men cut the trees and release the bush that covered the giant building. Cornelius considered that the building was so weak and it could felt in so he reported the discovery to Raffles included some pictures. After Raffles found this building, he got appreciation as a person who began the Borobudur temple restoration and got attention from the world. On 1835 all area on Borobudur temple succeeded to extract. The temple was restored on the Dutch colonization.

On 1885, the archaeologist JW Yzerman was documenting and recording the relief of Borobudur temple and booked it on 1931. The origin book saves at National Museum Jakarta. And the origin stereotype saves at Tropen Museum, Amsterdam. It caused the owner status was Dutch Government while the Indonesia Government has the replica of all the photos.

Around 1890-1891, the cover part of Borobudur temple was opened and it taken a picture one by one by Kasiyan Chepas.  The stone with 13.000 cubic was appointed and put it back it to the origin position.Until today, this part is back filled the soil so it could not be seen. There were three panels at south east of the temple that was not covered. Perhaps it was not perfect back filled process of the temple.

Parts of Borobudur Temple

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1. Stupa
Stupa is a holy building that related with Buddha. Stupa to be a symbol of Buddhism itself. As a symbol of Buddha’s journey enter the heaven. The stupa consists of three parts. They are Andah, Yanthra and Cakra. The classification and the meaning of them is not too different with the temple.

Andah symbolize of the underworld a place where the human controlled by carnality. Yanthra is a utensil to make concentration when meditation. On Mendut temple there is deer statue. It symbolizes the first preaching of Buddha. Cakra symbolizes the heaven the place of Gods. Borobudur temple has 72 magic bells stupa. The biggest stupa is located in the top of the temple while the other stupa around until the downwards. When the scientists drew the Borobudur temple blueprint, they  found strange pola that directed the function of Borobudur temple as solarium. The clockwise was as the shadow of big stupa and felt down on the downstairs. It was not certain how to divide the time used Borobudur temple. Some said that  the clock on Borobudur temple showed when the farming  began and when the harvest came.

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2. Statue
There are 432 Buddha statues in the niche of this terrace. Buddha statues in the niche is in cross-legged position, faces out. Hand gestures or mudra arca is different at each sides of the temple. Below are the details :
  • Buddha statue faces east ; Mudra Bhumisparsa. It means calling the earth as witness. 
  • Buddha statue faces south; Mudra Wara. It means generosity. 
  • Buddha statue faces west; Mudra Dhyana. It means minute of the inner 
  • Buddha statue faces north ; Mudra Abhaya. It means undaunted 
  • Buddha statue faces circumference terrace; Mudra Witarka. It means enlightened intellect 
  • Buddha statue in the stupa ; Mudra Dharmacakra. It means rotate the Dharma Wheel.

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3. Relief 
The relief that sculpted on the temple wall is divided by 4 main stories. They are Karmawibanggan, Lalita Wistara, Jatakamala and Awadana , the last Gandawyuda. Besides talking about the Buddha’s journey of life and his tenet the relief also recorded the Javanese society progress at that time.

The proof that the ancestors of Nusantara is accomplished and strong sailors could be seen on 10 ship reliefs. One of the ship relief was made as a model in making ship replica and it was used to cross The Cinnamon route from Java to Africa continent. Now, the replica of this ship stated as Borobudur ship and it is saved at Samudra Raksa Museum.

  1. Karmawibhangga Relief. Hidden over the wide temple base. It is consists of 160 panels that surround the temple. Each reliefs has dimension 2 m x 67 cm. The story of the relief teach about cause and effect law of moral or karma. The content of this relief to be Javanese life principals and the culture. Everybody who do the goodness will get happiness, prosperity, and reborn in paradise. Otherwise everybody who do the wickedness will get  This relief has pola: action or behaviour, then the next panel shows the karma’s result because of what they do.The proof that the ancestors of Nusatara is accomplished and strong sailors could be seen on 10 ship reliefs. One of the ship relief was made as a model in making ship replica and it was used to cross The Cinnamon route from Java to Africa continent. Now, the replica of this ship stated as Borobudur ship and it is saved at Samudra Raksa Museum.
  2. Jatakamala Relief. It is on the first gate gallery. The chain of relief tells about 34 stories of Bodhisattwa birth before he was borned as Prince Siddhartha who in the future he would be Buddha Gautama. The story of the relief chaien is based on the text that written by Aryasura on the 4th century.
  3. Awadana Relief. The 120 panel narrative or heroic story tells about the birth of Bodhisattwa on the ancient text called Diwyawadana. This panel series relief located on the down part of the main wall first gallery.
  4. LalitaWistara. The chain of 120 panel relief is on the top of first gallery’s wall . It is the most complete fretwork of the Buddha’s life on the world. The story of Buddha based on the Lalitawistara.
  5. Gandawyuda. From all the stories on Borobudur, the founder ofBorobudur temple provided the space for the story about the young man named Sudhana and his journey to find the enlightment. The engravers gave three levels or 460 relief for its story on Awatangsaka Sutra or sermon wreaths
To follow the story line on the wall of the temple, the tourists must walk around the Borobudur temple clockwise. It is known with Pradaksina. Enter from the east gate hen walk clockwise so the position of the temple is always on the right side and it will end on the east gate where the tourists begin walking. After that, the tourist must be walking up on the next level. It must be done same in every levels of the temple and it will be end on the top of the temple – main stupa.

On the top of Borobudur temple, you must look around. Enjoy the beauty there. The tourists will see the beauty of Menoreh Hill, Mount Sindoro, Mount Sumbing, Mount Merapi and Mount Merbabu surround the temple. All of the mountains and hill are as if guard and to be a fort for Borobudur temple.

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The Mystery on Borobudur Temple 

If we see the framework architecture of Borobudur temple, mathematically there is interesting mystery that direct to number one. Some number on the temple if we summed it the result is always  one. Before talking about mystery of number one, we need to know the levels of Buddha spiritual o Borobudur temple.

The first level is Kamadhatu. This level means that the world is still overpowered by “kama” or low appetite. This part is most of them covered by piles of stones that is made to strengthen the temple construction.

The second level is Rupadhatu. This level means the world able to break loose from the appetite but still bound manner and form. The area is four stairs terrace the forms korang kriling on the wall that decorates by square floor relief gallery. On the 4 aisles there are 1.400 relief and the length of all relief is 2.5 km with 1.212 decorative panel.

The third is Arupadatu. This level is the highest level that symbolize the perfect lack of form. At this area the floor map is circle. It symbolizes that the human has free from all the desires of bond forms and shapes, but have not yet reach the heaven.

1. Mystery of Number 1
The architecture of Borobudur temple mathematically  is very unique. Some  numbers at Borobudur temple, if it summed all the numbers always get result 1. The appearing of number 1 on each architecture of the temple will be stated below :
  • Number of level on Borobudur temple is 10, number 10 if it is summed so the result is 1 + 0 = 1 
  • Number of Stupa at Arupadhatu which statue in, there are 32 + 24 + 16 + 1 = 73. Number 73 : 7 + 3 = 10; 1 + 0 = 1 
  • Number of Statues at Borobudur temple is 505 statues. 5 + 0 + 5 = 10 = 1 + 0 = 1

2. Buried by Merapi Eruption
The next mystery began from disappearance of Borobudur temple caused by Mount Merapi eruption. It was on 1006 and Borobudur was avowed disappear from civilization. But, suddenly Borobudur found on 1814 at the tropic jungle. Mysterious, isn’t it?

3. Ancient Lake
The geological fact that stated by the scientists that around Borobudur temple there was a well with salty water on certain point. It was predicted that Borobudur temple was a building that was built in the middle of ancient lake. Because of its rarity, many scientists come to Indonesia to research the mysterious lake by researching everything around Borobudur likes Progo and Elo River.

4. The Mystery  of Borobudur Development
Borobudur temple  is known in the world. They come to Borobudur to know details about the building because Borobudur is as Seven Wonders of the World. Some scientists still investigate to know the history of Borobudur temple. But as stated before that until now, there are no sources that state how to build Borobudur temple.

5. Perfect Pyramid
The architecture belongs to Borobudur temple is only 1 in the world. That is Borobudur itself. It is be point for Borobudur temple to be predicted when and by whom this temple made. The pyramid at Borobudur temple is different with  giant pyramid from Egypt  or Teotihuacan Pyramid from Mexico. Borobudur is a punden, it will be never founded or be possessed by the other country include India.

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The Story on the Borobudur Relief

There are 1.400 relief panels to tell all Buddha Gautama’s thought. Each levels has beautiful relief. It showed how adept the maker of the relief. This relief will be read coherently if we read it clockwise.

On the Borobudur relief there is a legendary story i.e. Ramayana. Beside this, there is a relief that describes the condition of the people at that time. For example the relief that talking about the farmer activity that reflect the improvement of agriculture system at that time and relief about ship. It represents the improvement of cruise at that time which centered on Bergotta (Semarang).

As stated above that all relief at Borobudur temple reflects the Buddha thought. Therefore, this temple can be education media for the people who want to learn Buddha thought.  Because of visiting Borobudur temple and armed the script of Buddha thought from Serlingpa (one of the king on Sriwijaya kingdom). Atisha  able to expand the Buddha thought. He was a leader of Vikramasila monastery and tought Tibetan how to practice Dharma. Six manuscripts from Serlingpa summarized to be core teachings named “ The Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment “ or more known as Bodhipathapradipa.

On the wall of each levels- except on Arupadhatu terrace are carved the panels that is made very precise and smooth. The relief and decorative patterns on Borobudur is naturalist with ideal proportion and with smooth aesthetic taste. The reliefs is very beautiful, elegant and graceful on the art of Buddha world.

The relief on Borobudur also adopts Indian art likes the body’s position that has meaning or certain aesthetic value. The reliefs have the shape of a holy people likes hermit, king and duchess, angel or person who reached the degree of sanctity likes God for example Tara and Boddhisatwa. Both of them are described with tribhanga position. This position is called “lekuk tiga”  i.e. curl up on neck, hip, and ankle with his weight rests on the one leg while the other leg curl up at the resting position. The body position likes that shows the elegance likes the angel Surasundari who stands with tribhanga position while her hands hold long stemmed lotus.

The relief on Borobudur temple shows many pictures such as human, plants and animals. It also shows some traditional vernacular buildings of Nusantara. Borobudur is like a holy book that records all aspect of ancient Javanese community life. Some archaeologists investigate the ancient Javanese community life and Nusantara on 8th and 9th century by looking and referring the carving of Borobudur relief. The shape of Rumah Panggug, shed, palace  and temple, jewelry shape, clothes and also weapon, any kinds of plant and animals, means of transportation looked by the researcher. One of the known relief is Borobudur ship relief. Wooden ship with cadik special ship of Nusantara shows the  ancient maritime culture. The replica of the ship is made based on the Borobudur relief saved on Samudra Raksa Museum in the north of Borobudur.

These reliefs is read clockwise or called mapradaksina. In ancient Javanese  it from Sanskrit daksina that means east. These relief has some stories such as jātaka story. To read these relief always begins and ends on the east gate each levels. It begins at the left side and ends at the right side of the gate. So, in real that east side is the real climb stair to the top of temple. It means that the temple faces to the east although each sides are same.

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The Miracle of Borobudur Temple

Borobudur temple is a nail earth of Java island from its position on Mount Tidar. Borobudur was built with tala unit. 1 tala is the same with 22.9 cm.

If it is measured with tala unit, there are some miracle facts appear from the dimension of Borobudur. For example the fact that Borobudur temple is a monument that shows its location in the world. The long axis north and south of the temple is divided with the terrace diameter of stupa equals 7.61. This number is similar with the position of Borobudur itself on 7,608 degrees south. The height of Borobudur temple based on the ratio 4 : 6 : 9 is 41,81 meters or 182.576 tala. This number is half of number of days in a year solar calendar 362,25 days. If it is measured, the result of both diagonal axis at second circle terrace are 182,53 tala and 182,79 tala. It is exactly same with the number of days in a year i.e. 365,32 days. Borobudur is monument that symbolizes timeline.

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