Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Question of the Week - Buddhist Trifecta, Part III

This week, we’ll wrap up the Buddhist Trifecta with three more questions:

1. What is the Nakhon Pathom Pagoda or the Phra Pathom Chedi?
2. Why do monks throw rice during ceremonies?
What are mudras?

Bonus: Who is the Tai Citu? (Hint: its not the star in the Constellation Cetus)

1. The Nakhon Pathom Pagoda (also known as the Phra Pathom Chedi) is the largest stupa in the world, standing 127m or 417ft. It is located in Nakhon Pathom province of Southern Thailand and was built around 350 A.D./C.E. In 2005, the monument was nominated to UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

2. The throwing of rice by monks is symbolic of one of these ritual functions, depending on the type of ceremony: 1) Spreading the Dharma, 2) Offering flowers to deities, 3) Dissolving wrathful deities into the sky.

3. Mudras are hand gestures performed during Tibetan Buddhist ceremonies, signifying the offering of prayers to the deities.

Bonus: The Tai Citu is one of the oldest Tulku lineages in Tibetan Buddhism, going back to 1407. Again, Tulkus are reincarnated Buddhist Masters. Chokyi Gyaltsen was the first incarnation to bear the name Tai Situ, a title given to him by the Yongle Emperor of the Ming Dynasty in China. Gyaltsen became a close disciple of the Fifth Karmapa. As there is a close affinity between Master and Disciple, that allows Buddhists to be reincarnated with the same group of individuals, so do the reincarnations of the Karmapa and the Tai Situ follow. We see the same reincarnation patterns with His Holiness the Karmapa and HE Kalu Rinpoche, as well as His Holiness the Dalai Lama and HE Panchen Lama.


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