Borobudur Temple Relief

Borobudur Temple is a magnificent temple, also the biggest Buddha monument in the world. It was built from about two million volcanic boulders, cut and sculpted to be interlocked with each other even without cement or any other plaster.

Borobudur Temple also kept amazing historical, cultural, and religious artwork, in form of its relief. All ten of Borobudur Temple levels are believed as a representative philosophy of Mahayana, which depicts ten level of Bodhisattva that should be passed to reach enlightenment and become Buddha.

Borobudur Temple is like a book from stones, with a superb relief of an amazing story, completed by statues and stupa. Borobudur Temple has 2572 complete priceless relief panels. To read these relief panels, do it clockwise. The beginning and the end of the story is located in the east gate in each level.

Borobudur Temple has four gate at four points of compass, but the main staircase is the one on the east. These reliefs are a pictures of stories from some sutra, which are Karmawibhangga, Lalitawistara, Jatakamala, Awadana, Gandawyuha, and Bhadracari.

Karmawibhangga is a story of cause and effect correlation (karma). In Kamadhatu zone, some reliefs of Karmawibhangga depicts human carnal desire and wickedness. For example robbery, murder, torture, and adultery. Reliefs of Karmawibhangga also pictures the cause and effects of good deeds.

Kamadhatu is the world ordinary people lives in, or a world which still controlled by kama  or lowly lust. Thus, this zone in on the lowest level or Borobudur Temple and now closed by supporting foundation of the temple and cannot be seen (except in southern side, opens a little). Some says that the closure is needed for supporting the temple, and others said its for hiding the prurient, lewd contents of the reliefs. To see the content of these reliefs, you can go to Karmawibhangga Museum which has pictures of Kamadatu reliefs pictures.

The panels are not a narrative continuous story, more like separate shorts story about ancient Javanese people life, their occupation, religion, clothing, tools, and also various flora and fauna.

Lalitawistara is a relief that pictures Buddha legend started from born, out of the palace and had enlightement under Bodhi tree to the first teaching near Banaras City. These panels located in the main wall, second level of the temple.

Jatakamala is a relief about Buddha before He was born as Prince Siddharta. These panels shows good deeds done by Buddha and His sacrifice in the form of His various reincarnation, human or animal alike. These good deeds were what define Him from another creature. Doing good is a preparation step in the effort to get higher level of Buddha.

Awadana panels contains story much similar to Jataka, only the main character is Prince Sudhanakumara instead of Buddha. Both Jatakamala and Awadana located at second level balustrades of the temple. Jatakamala and Awadana panels are mixed, with no clear separator.

Gandawyuha is relief of 460 panels, scattered in different levels of the temple, in the main wall and also in balustrades. This relief pictures Sudhana, a son of rich merchant, in his journey to enlightenment. The panels shows how Sudhana vowed to made Bodhisattva Samantabhadra as his role model.

From fifth to tenth level, there are no relief on the wall. These levels symbolized higher exsistence or Arupadhatu (non existence form; unformed). In this level, human are free from all desire and bond, but have not reach Nirvana. In Aruphadhatu level there are stupa and Budda sclupture inside of it.