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Buddhist Cosmology: Borobudur Temple Compounds. ©NHK 1970
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Buddhist Cosmology: Borobudur Temple Compounds

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Language(s): English

Summary/Historical Context

(Narration Text)
Mount Merapi, meaning "red fire" is an active volcano. The temple complex was rediscovered by the British in 1814. It is known as Borobudur among the local people. The base is a 1200 square meter terrace, topped with six tiers. The walls are adorned with numerous Buddha reliefs. The total length of the galleries when placed end-to-end stretches for 5 kilometres.

Borobudur was probably built between the 8th and 9th centuries. The exact purpose of its construction is not clear. One theory is that the complex represents Buddhist cosmology, it's a mandala. A group of reliefs hidden at the back of lined stones at the base were discovered in 1885. It was a significant discovery. The words "ugly face" are inscribed in ancient Javanese script. It describes the earthly world dominated by greed. The monument represents the "three worlds" of Buddhist cosmology. The base level is the world of desire. The world of forms is above. Then comes the world of formlessness, the highest level of enlightenment. As visitors walk across the gallery, they enter the world of forms - they can see images of people trying to achieve mastery over worldly desires. The daughters of the author of evil, opposed to Buddha, are trying to seduce him. He absorbs himself in meditation convinced they are illusions of his own mind. As visitors progress and reach the top level, the gate to the world of formlessness awaits.

Stupas appear amid the world of formlessness. 72 are neatly lined. Statues of Buddha are hidden inside they can be glimpsed through the grate. There is a 10-meter high stupa at the top of the monument. Standing right at the centre of Borobudur, it encourages Buddhists the world over to strive for enlightenment with diligence. (World Heritage webiste)

Place/Country: Indonesia
Series: NHK World Heritage 100
Type: Documentary
Credits: NHK, producer. UNESCO WHC, co-producer ; UNESCO TV, co-producer.

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