News at Tipitaka Network
Ashoka Pillar now stands tall in Australia
IANS, Friday, November 21, 2008
It has been hailed as historic. A five-metre-high Ashoka Pillar now stands at a monastery located midway between Sydney and Canberra, in a celebration of the spread of Buddhism from India to Australia.
Believed to be the first in Australia, the Ashoka Pillar has been installed at the Sunnataram Forest Monastery in the verdant surroundings of Southern Highlands.
"This is a truly historic event. The Ashoka Pillar, whose Lion Capitol is the national emblem of India, symbolises the global relevance of the principles of truth, non-violence, tolerance and compassion," Sujan R. Chinoy, consul general of India in Sydney, said.
"Emperor Ashoka fostered democratic rule and it is a privilege to dedicate the Ashoka Pillar at a Buddhist monastery in a fellow democracy such as Australia."
The pillar stands on a pagoda next to a topographical world map showing the spread of Buddhism - one of the fastest growing religions in Australia.
Facing the breathtaking views of the mountainous Kangaroo Valley on one side and the vast expanse of the ocean on the other, the Sunnataram Forest Monastery attracts hundreds of people of all nationalities, especially on weekends, for meditation, relaxation and healing.
It was during a pilgrimage to India last year that the head monk of the monastery, Phra Mana Viriyarampo, decided to construct an Ashoka Pillar in Australia.
The monastery is dotted with carved sandstone "Life of the Buddha" panels, copied from the Sanchi Stupa in India, on display in the garden and under trees.
The Ashoka Pillar has been hand-carved by artists in Thailand and the sandstone supporting base has been constructed by monks and volunteers of the monastery.
"This is to express our gratitude to Emperor Ashoka for his foresight in preserving and spreading the teachings of the Buddha to different parts of the world. It has made it possible for us to practise the teachings of the Buddha in Australia today," says Kim McSweeney, secretary of the monastery.
He is also chairperson of the Gratitude Pagoda Project, which includes the world map and a museum.
"The world map will be expanded to depict the life of the Buddha and how his teachings have been adopted and adapted in many cultures, influencing the way of life and art in those countries," McSweeney said.
According to the 2006 census, there were 418,755 Buddhists comprising 8.9% of the total population. Between 1996 and 2001, the number of people affiliated with Buddhism increased by 79%, reflecting the growth in migrants from India and other parts of Asia.
About a thousand people, including Indians, Sri Lankan, Thai, Laotian, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Chinese, Singaporean, Malaysian, Burmese and Australians, attended the weekend installation ceremony.
Buddhist News Features:
Sunday, May 19, 2019 Vesak Extra!
Tuesday, May 29, 2018 Vesak Extra!
Wednesday, May 10, 2017 Vesak Extra!
Women in contemporary Buddhism: A challenge for the 21st century
Significance of Esala Poya: A conqueror conceived
A Buddhist perspective on women`s liberation
Has mindfulness become just another wing of capitalism?
Bahujan Rangbhoomi event highlights Buddhist caves
How an 8th-century Jewish text ended up in a Buddhist cave temple in China
Nara Great Buddha cleaned before Bon festival
Buddhist statue exhibition held at National Museum of China in Beijing
Monk builds pagoda on Koh Pha Ngan out of beer bottles
Drought reveals submerged Buddhist temple in Thailand
Christian Europe once celebrated the story of Buddha without even knowing it
The day the most amazing Dunhuang Library was discovered
US Library of Congress makes available online rare 2,000-year-old text of early Buddhism
A play depicting the life journey of Gautam Buddha staged in Lucknow
Guadalupe Buddhist Church celebrates Obon Festival
Buddhists gather in Kendal for retreat
Pieces of Buddhist text discovered in ancient Afghan settlement
Guimet Museum in Paris hosts historic exhibition, “Buddha, the Golden Legend”
Hong Kong (China)
Ven. Yifa brings the monastic code to life at Woodenfish conference
Thich Nhat Hanh honored with inaugural Gandhi Mandela Peace Medal
Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammāsambuddhassa.
Buddha sāsana.m cira.m ti.t.thatu.