buddhist places of worship
conducive- suitable/ helpful for worship
stupas- bell shaped structures containing a holy relic or sculpture
temples-places of worship for buddhists
monastries- living places for communities of monks and nuns
vihara- a term used to refer to buddhist temples and monastries
a buddhist temple is a place of worship for buddhists, they represent the pure land of a buddha, temples are often at the heart of buddhist communities. buddhist temples reflect the three refuges, the buddha, the dhamma and the sangha.
the gem on top represents nirvana, the eight rings represent the eightfold path, the four corners represent the four noble truths, the main body represents dharma and the three rings represent wisdom, morality and concerntration.
key features of a buddhist temple
a main hall where buddhists practice together, it will contain a buddha rupa and in mahayana buddhists may contain statues of a boddhisatva.
meditation hall where buddhists can meditate, in tibetan buddhism also known as a gompa.
a study hall for meetings and lectures or a library where study materials can be borrowed.
a shrine dedicated to the buddha or boddhisatva.
a pagoda or stupa, which is a tiered tower that is used to contain holy relics.
some temples have some kind of accomodation for bhikkus or bhikkhunis or memebers of the lay community. these may be for people studying or on retreats.
some buddhist temples are a place of pilgrimage, a special journey for religous purposes.
a shrine or an altar, can be found in a temple or in a home. they provide a focal point for buddhists to meditate or practice and include images to represent the buddhas enlightened body, speech and mind. the objects on the shrine represent the 3 jewels of refue, the dharma, the buddha and the sangha. offerings are made that appeal to the five senses. puja can take place here.
the buddha is on a raised platform to show respect to the buddha, candles show enlightenment and represent the wisdom and knowledge of buddhas teachings. flowers are presented as an offering and help to represent annica and the impermenant nature of things and the insense helps meditators to focus and create a calm atmosphere.
stupas and pagodas
a stupa is a mound like or hemisphere structure containing relics and is used in a place of meditation. buddhist stupas symbolize buddhist concept of the universe and its elements, earth water fire air and wisdom. in tibetan buddhism there are 8 different stupas each referring to major events in the buddhas life.
a pagoda is a tiered tower with multiple eaves and is an evolution of the stupa, they serve the same purpose as stupas.
however temples are not all that important as puja can happen at home and buddha himself reached enlightenment at the bodhi tree. But the temple may offer no distractions and buddhists may feel a higher connection to buddha when they are in a temple.