Shwedagon Pagoda

From Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The main Golden stupa with many smaller stupas of Shwedagon in daytime.

The Shwedagon Pagoda, also known as Shwedagon Zedi Daw (Burmese: ရွှေတိဂုံစေတီတော်), is a Buddhist stupa and pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar. It is considered the most sacred Buddhist site in the country. It's believed to hold relics of past Buddhas, including strands of hair from Gautama Buddha. The stupa is built on Singuttara Hill and stands 112 meters tall, towering over Yangon. The pagoda is important as it also contains relics like a staff and robe fragments of Kakusandha and Kassapa Buddhas.[1][2][3]

The Shwedagon pagoda is prominent in the Yangon city skyline, zoning rules in Yangon limit nearby building heights to 127 metres.The Pagoda is also one of Yangon city's landmarks and heritage sites.[4]

History and legend[change | change source]

Local legends say the Shwedagon Pagoda was built over 2,500 years ago, while Buddha was alive, making it the world's oldest Buddhist stupa.[5] Merchants Tapussa and Bhallika, the first lay disciples, received eight strands of Buddha's hair and instructions to build a stupa. King Okkalapa enshrined the hair and relics of three Buddhas in this stupa on Singuttara Hill.[6][7][8]

Statue of Queen Shin Saw Pu

The first mention of the pagoda is only in 1362/63 CE in the royal chronicles , when it raised to 18 m by King Binnya U. Inscriptions from King Dhammazedi's reign (1471–1492) list repairs dating back to 1436. Queen Shin Saw Pu raised its height to 40 m, making it Myanmar's top pilgrimage site by the early 16th century.[9][10]

Earthquakes, especially in 1768, damaged the pagoda. King Hsinbyushin restored it to 99 m in 1775. King Mindon donated a new hti (the crown umbrella) in 1871. A 1970 earthquake caused misalignment, requiring extensive repairs.

The Shwedagon Pagoda Festival, which is Myanmar's largest festival, starts during the new moon of Tabaung and lasts until the full moon.[11]

Design of pagoda[change | change source]

Design and features of the Shwedagon Pagoda.

The stupa has a base made of gold-covered bricks. Only monks and males can access the terraces above it. Then comes the bell-shaped part, followed by the turban, the inverted almsbowl, and the lotus petals. It also hs an umbrella crown. The crown is adorned with 5,500 small diamonds, 2,300 rubies and 4,000 Gold bells.[5] At the very top, on the bud, there's a 72-carat diamond.[12] People across the country and successive monarchs, starting from Queen Shin Saw Pu, have donated gold to maintain the pagoda.[13]

US President Barack Obama performing a Blessing Ritual by pouring water over the Buddha statue at the Friday planetary post; Obama was born on a Friday.

There are four entrances leading up to the platform on Singuttara Hill. Giant leogryphs guard each entrance. Circling Buddhist stupas is a common practice in a clockwise direction. Starting at the eastern shrine, which houses a statue of Kakusandha Buddha, one can then visit the southern shrine with a statue of Koṇāgamana Buddha, the western shrine with a statue of Kassapa Buddha, and finally, the northern shrine with a statue of Gautama Buddha.[14] Over time many smaller stupas have been built around the Shwedagon Pagoda.[3]

References[change | change source]

  1. "Curating the Shwedagon Pagoda Museum in Myanmar". Buddhistdoor Global. Retrieved 2023-12-21.
  2. Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. "Shwedagon Pagoda on Singuttara Hill". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Retrieved 2023-12-21.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Shwedagon Pagoda – The Most Expensive Pagoda on Earth". 2015-12-30. Retrieved 2023-12-21.
  4. "- Asia 2014 - Oxford Business Group". 2014-02-25. Retrieved 2023-12-21.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Shwedagon Pagoda – Worth Its Weight in Gold (and Diamonds)". Heritage Line. 2022-09-13. Retrieved 2023-12-21.
  6. Hmannan Yazawin (Royal Chronicles). Royal Historical Commission of Burma. 1832.
  7. Goldberg, Kory; Decary, Michele (2013-12-03). Along the Path: The Meditator's Companion to Pilgrimage in the Buddha's India and Nepal. Pariyatti. ISBN 978-1-938754-58-6.
  8. Strong, John (2004-08-15). Relics of the Buddha. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-11764-5.
  9. "Shwedagon Pagoda Yangon - 99 Meter tall gold plated stupa". Retrieved 2023-12-21.
  10. BURMA, D. G . E. HALL, M.A., D.LIT., F.R.HIST.S.Professor Emeritus of the University of London and formerly Professor of History in the University of Rangoon, Burma.Third edition 1960. Page 35-36
  11. "Banned festival resumed at Shwedagon Pagoda". 2012-02-25. Archived from the original on 2012-02-25. Retrieved 2023-12-21.
  12. Composto-Hart, Domenico Italo (2019-07-26). Travels in the Land of Hunger. ISBN 978-0-9850177-8-1.
  13. Islands Magazine. October 1993.
  14. "Shwedagon Pagoda Myanmar | The Temple Trail". The Temple Trail | Inspiring you on your own journey . . . 2012-11-20. Retrieved 2023-12-21.