Todaiji   東大寺

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Todaiji temple

Todaiji temple in which lies the Great Buddha.

The Great Buddha of Todaiji Temple

The Great Buddha of Todaiji temple.

Todaiji temple

View of the Todaiji temple.

Todaiji temple

View of the entrance of Todaiji temple.

Todaiji temple

View of the Todaiji temple.

Todaiji temple

The garden of Todaiji temple.

A temple to rule them all!

If this great temple (Todaiji) arouses curiosity by its imposing statue of the Buddha, its status, as the first sacred Buddhist site in the province can not be put aside. This folly of grandeur on a site steeped in history commands respect.

Todaiji embodies the notion of infinitely greater that is usually attributed to the gods. Buddha, which the Buddhist religion does not aspire to count among the deities, touches several dimensions according to Mahayana Buddhism, said the Great Vehicle. From and earthly incarnation, he reached absolute nothingness through the intermediate step of elevating his spirit.

The huge statue of him in Daibutsuden (the Hall of the Great Buddha) seems to recall this multifaceted existence. Vairocana ("the all radiant"), the absolute Buddha, not to be confused with the historical Siddhartha Gautama Buddha also known as Sakyamuni, is embodied in a bronze idol, which is distrainable by ordinary men while remaining out of reach due to its impressive height.

This osmosis of the three stages of promotion of the spirit makes the best tribute to the supreme model toward which the Buddhist teaching leads.

A monument unlike any other

Ordered in 743 by Emperor Shomu (701-756) Todaiji was completed eight years later. Until 1998, it held the title of tallest wooden building in the world when several destructions and subsequent reconstructions reduced its size to two-thirds of the original building.

According to legend, the statue was cast in bronze by more than two million Japanese people, at the same time depleating the metal reserves of the country. The opening ceremony of the sacred site in 752 was symbolized by the awakening of Buddha, who had eyes drawn on him. Today, the many gifts collected during this event constitute the treasure room (Shosoin), located northwest of Daibutsuden.

The fifteen foot high bouddha, has the most sophisticated hairstyle of the archipelago, made ​​up of more than one hundred bronze balls. Resting on a lotus flower, he raises his right hand in a gesture of appeasement.

A former command center

Since it was founded, the Todaiji had the function of gathering the different Buddhist sects of Japan's Nara period (710-794), the Rokushû Nanto or Six or sects of Nara, and to administer. At the head of all the temples, it was authoritative and official monks were ordered to be it.

 Its reputation grew thanks to the monk Kukai (774-835), the famous founder of the sacred site of Mount Koya and initiator of the Shingon sect, responsible for priestly vocations of the empire and the Todaiji administration from 810. Today, this temple remains the source and the most active place of worship of the Kegon sect, one of six remaining from the Nara era.

A great wonder that hides many other

Todaiji is not only the great bronze Buddha. Upon entering, the Nandaimon (Great South Gate) is a sensation, flanked by two statues of benevolent kings. Even within the Daibutsuden an opening in a pillar behind the left shoulder of the Buddha lets past any perseverant child or adult who wants seek the promise of enlightenment in the next life. Also not to be overlooked, the scary wooden sculptures of Buddha guardians who lurk behind him, and the two gold-coated wooden bodhisattva at his sides.

For those wishing to delve further into the history of Todaiji, a museum awaits visitors near the Nandaimon door. Finally, once again to remind us of the impermanence of things and the smallness of man, through the vast expanses of lawn, turn left and follow the confines of Daibutsuden and take the flight of stairs to reach the lobby of Nigatsu- dô, on the terrace from which the entire city of Nara unfolds.

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