Day 5 in Nara: Deer Park - TODAIJI TEMPLE - Yoshikien Garden - Kofukuji Temple - Naramachi street
Deers on the way upto the Todai-ji Temple
The main Nandaimon wooden gate took us to the temple site, at the center of which stood the main temple built entirely out of wood... centuries old and housing one of the largest images of Buddha. The surroundings were peaceful with the lush scenery of Nara park all around and the temple standing right at the center looked beautiful from every angle that I saw.
The Todaiji Temple from a distance
We stood there, right in front of the temple admiring it's grand scale and glory. The temple undoubtedly was huge and remarkable, but it was the peace permeated in the quarters that overwhelmed me more.
Meanwhile, snowwhite drew our attention to two unique protruding structures at the top of the temple and asked –
Can you guess what they symbolize?
Looks like the tip of a shoe, I said rather sheepishly.
Now what could a shoe be doing at the top of a temple? Ha, talk of creative minds! Of course, I was wrong! History has seen fire destroy the edifice twice which is why the authorities decided to build these water symbolic structures on the top of the temple as a protecting force against fire. When we further learnt that this temple today was a mere scaled down version of the original one which was 1.5 times bigger, the grandiosity of the original structure was surely hard to imagine.
Four columns of marble flooring led us to the main temple hall, all of them laid in such a manner so as to depict the journey of Buddhism from India to Japan via China and Korea. As we approached the hall, we paused again; this time for taking in a bit of the sacred vapors from the incense bowl. This would protect us from all diseases and keep evils at bay.
Blow some vapors onto yourself
In the hall, the bronze image of the Great Buddha was striking – big, life-like and bulky. Around the 8th century, Japan had gone through a lot of troubles and difficulties. It was at this time that Emperor Shomu had decided to enshrine the Great Image of Buddha (Daibutsu) to restore the lost peace and happiness of the country. Through centuries, times came to become better but the image continues to do it's work -- infuse life, hope and peace in it’s enthusiasts till date.
15 mtrs tall Buddha in the sitting position
Snowwhite took time out pointing out the various aspects of the statue in detail. There was a lot to learn about the history of the statue and it's built, how His face was more radiating than the rest of His body and how His webbed hands gave out a blessing for one and all. There was a lot of peace to be found in His gaze, a lot of solace while standing at His feet. His serene face, the lotus flowers around Him, the glow emanating from the candles further enhanced His message of leading a pure life.
Besides the image, the temple also had a bell to announce your arrival in His house and quite a few Buddhist statues and other historic sculpts preserved over the years.
The Bell in the temple
Other Buddhist images in the temple room
The highlight of the hall, however was a partially hollow wooden pillar believed to be the size of the Daibutsu's nostril. It is said that those who who can pass through attain deliverance in their next life.
Why don’t you give it a try, Arti? We think you can make it.
After some kind motivations from my blogger friends, I pushed myself through the wooden hole but gave it up soon after, after getting stuck mid way. A bit more prodding from Snowwhite and redrose and I was down, trying again. Just that this time, I was a lot more determined!
The hollow wooden pillar in the temple - Buddha's Nostril
I twisted my body this way and curled up that way until finally I realized that I had successfully passed through the door. Boy, if I wasn’t delighted! I had a fair enough reason too. Thanks to my Nara friends, albeit with a little difficulty, I had opened my door to Nirvana!
As we circumambulated the temple hall, I heard more and more stories from their folklore and realized that there was a lot of wisdom, a lot of knowledge veiled within the temple corridors... not only historical but the other worldly as well.
I realized... that this place had it all - beginnings, belongings and also... the eternal gates to salvation.
Before heading further, we made a quick stop at Binzuru Sonja - the healing Buddha; one of the original disciples of Buddha.
It is said that if you place your hand on that part of His body
that corresponds to your ailing part and then place it on yours, your ailment will disappear.
We could barely reach out till his legs, but even then we all made sure we did not miss out on touching this one!
Previous Posts from the Japan Trip -
1. Planning for Japan: Visa, Flight Bookings, Hotel Reservations, etc.
3. Entire Day 1 of Japan (includes Review of Hotel Villa Fontaine Roppongi, Tokyo, Expedia Japan Office Meet: An Afternoon to Remember)
4. Entire Day 2 of Japan (includes SensoJi temple: Asakusa - Tokyo, Nakamise Dori Shopping Arcade in Tokyo, Sumida River Cruise, Tokyo, A Stroll in the Hibiya Gardens, Imperial Palace and East Gardens, The Tokyo Tower, Japan)
5. Entire Day 3 of Japan (includes Meiji Jingu Shrine, Tokyo, ISKCON Temple, Funabori in Tokyo, Epson Aquarium, Shinagawa in Tokyo