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Leshan Giant Buddha
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrThe Giant Buddha of Leshan is the tallest and biggest stone Buddha statue in the world, at 71 meters tall. The Giant Budda and Mount Emei Scenic Area, was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. The site is regarded as one of Buddhism’s holiest sites with the first Buddhist temple being built on the site in the 1st century AD. Now there are many more temples, as well as diverse vegetation and trees dating back over 1,000 years. Mount Emei is widely considered to be the place where Buddhism was first established in China, and therefore one of the Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains of China. Many Buddhists regard the mountain as the ‘place of enlightenment’.
HistoryA Chinese monk, named Haitong, referred to by many as one of the wise, started construction on the statue in 713 AD during the Tang Dynasty, building the Buddha on the banks of the Minjiang River. The reason for the construction of the Buddha was to calm the turbulent waters on which cargo ships traveled, and as a result of the amount of stone carved out of the cliff face and deposited in the river, the currents were calmer, allowing for the safe passage of ships.
For both religious reasons and safety reasons, Haitong saw that the project would reduce the loss of life caused by the tremendous rapids that frequently sunk passing ships, and the project was hailed a success.
The Chinese government funded the project, and when funding was threatened, Haitong gouged out his own eyes in an act of devotion for the Buddha. The statue was eventually completed in 803 AD by the military governor of Sichuan, Wei Gao.
Importance of Buddha’s/BuddhismBuddhism, a nontheistic religion, encompasses a variety of teachings, beliefs, and traditions that are based on the teachings of Buddha. Gautama Buddha , largely considered the founder of Buddhism, is believed to have lived and carried out his teachings across India.
With approximately 350-660 million Buddhists worldwide, followers are found mostly in Asia, the religion is now truly global, with major branches found in most countries.
There are many Buddha statues all over the world, and a lot can be learned from the position of the Buddha. The Giant Buddha in Sichuan is a seated Maitreya Buddha with his hands resting on his knees as he gazes across the water. In Buddhism, a Maitreya Buddha, also known as the medicine Buddha, represents ‘the embodiment of loving-kindness’; specifically, ‘unattached and unconditional’ kindness.
Getting There and Other Things to See.You can see the Buddha by boat, or via the park. Both have advantages and disadvantages. By boat you can see the whole Buddha and have an astounding view. Furthermore, you don’t have to deal with the crowds of tourists which often forms a long line waiting to see the Buddha. If you choose to go into the park, you can see the other temples as well as the Buddha, and it is a cheaper alternative.
Leshan Giant Buddha is about a 2-hour bus ride from Chengdu and most visitors decide to go just for the day, as this is plenty of time to visit both Giant Buddha and Emei scenic pool. You may also decide to visit the Giant Buddha on your way up to Chengdu from Yunnan, though this would take more planning, especially considering the long railroad journey.
Understandably, the Giant Buddha is a tourist trap, with lots of people on hand to help – for a fee. The options for lunch are also rather limited, very expensive and the quality is unreliable, so it is advisable to bring a picnic, or travel to a neighboring village for a more authentic fish meal.
Although located deep within mainland China, away from the major cities of Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, it is worth the journey to catch a glimpse of the world's largest religious statue.
For a closer Buddhist attraction, the Big Buddha, known formally as Tian Tan Buddha, is located in Hong Kong and sits at an impressive 34 meters. Completed in 1993, it is much newer and in fact, is an extension of Po Lin Monastery also located in Hong Kong. The monastery was founded in 1906, by three monks visiting from mainland China, and was originally known as ‘the Big Hut’. As it is traditional in Buddhism, there are three Buddha’s each representing a moment in time; past, present and future. Though far apart, and seemingly separated, the monks living in the monastery make wooden bracelets that can only be bought at the Giant Buddha, forming some form of connection between the two Buddhist worship places. The Big Buddha is impressive for its size as well as its bronze color, and it sits cross-legged looking over the residents of Hong Kong.
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Author: Convergence. Last updated: May 24, 2015