The History of Shillong’s Buddhist Temple
Every philosophy has its own message. During our school days, our teachers in School taught and explained to us the great teachings of Gautama Buddha: ‘We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make our world. Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment. Get ready to inspire your mind and spirit’.
Founded by Gautama Buddha,Buddhism is the fourth largest religion of the world. The history of the Buddhist religion dates back to the year 580 BC, which started with the birth of Buddha Siddhartha Gautama. Born in Lumbini, Southern Nepal, Siddhartha left his home at the young age of 29 years in search of enlightenment. After going through a life of self-denial, discipline and meditation, he attained enlightenment which resulted in the alleviation of all his pain and suffering. He then set off on a journey of teaching people the path to enlightenment that would liberate them from the cycle of life and death. As Buddha’s famous saying states - ‘Virtuous deeds are a shelter, wisdom is the light by day and right mindfulness is the protection by night. If a man lives a pure life, nothing can destroy him. If he has conquered greed, nothing can limit his freedom’.
Gradually, Buddhism spread to numerous countries of the world which resulted in the development of the religion and the building of temples. In Sri Lanka, Emperor Asoka sent his son Mahindra to spread Buddhism in the state. He succeeded in converting the king of Sri Lanka to Buddhism and soon, Buddhism became the state religion of the country. The original Indian foundation was expanded by the inclusion of Hellenistic as well as Central Asian, East Asian and Southeast Asian cultural elements. The history of Buddhism also witnessed the development of numerous movements and divisions, such as Theravada, Mahayana, etc.
The International Buddhist Temple delivers the philosophies of Buddhism to the western world through meditation, traditional ceremonies, charity, adult study sessions, various organizations, to meet the growing needs and multicultural interests of their Sangha (congregation) and the impeccable art of Chinese Craftsmanship. Here the International Buddhist Community or Society, offers visitors an insight into Buddhist values and beliefs, as well as details about the Temple and its service to mankind.
Buddhism had set its roots in Shillong, the then capital of Assam and now the capital of Meghalaya in the year 1918, and though it spread very slowly, at present, it has three places of worship, in an around the city. Shillong which is very popularly known to the outside world as ‘The Scotland of the East’ is blessed with much natural scenic beauty. The picturesque landscape of Shillong with its greenery, the sylvan forest, the enchanting beauty of the hills and the quaint pace of life of the people make it a unique place like none other. Shillong is also well-known for its diversity and secular nature where many religious faiths co-exist and highlighting such secular nature is the Buddhist temple which was built in the state and which also happen to be the oldest Buddhist temple in the region.
Perched atop a hillock, the Shillong Buddhist Temple at Forest Colony near Polo Hills-Shillong is one of the Buddhist shrines in existence in Shillong. This temple has an archway similar in architecture to that of the world famous Sanchi Stupa.
The First Buddhist Temple in the entire north east was established on May 24th 1918. The idea of the need for the teaching of Buddha in an around the area at that time, and Shillong in particular, goes to the credit of late Kripasaran Mahastavir, the president of Bauddha Dharmankur Sabha, who visited Shillong on his pilgrimage tour and accordingly planned and arranged to build the Buddhist Temple in Assam-Shillong. Under his initiative and with the help of local businessmen, Kamala Kanta and Gnanarranjan Barua, the Shillong Branch of Bauddha Dharmankur Sabha was established on May 16, 1923. This temple was registered Under Act XXI of 1860 No. S/2665 of 1915. He also acquired a plot of land (one bigha) from the Deputy Commissioner of Khasi and Jaintia Hills District A. J. Lane for the construction of a Buddhist Temple here.
The construction work was started in 1925, but had to be stopped due to the death of Mahastavir in 1926. In 1936 Bhikkhu Jinaratan Mahathera, while visiting Assam-Shillong, stayed at the incomplete structure of the Temple. Understanding the response of the general public and the need to spread the spiritual meditational teachings of Buddha in an around Assam-Shillong, the next year, he decided to finish the work left by Late Mahastavir and initiated the members of the committee to complete the construction of the Temple. After a few years of struggle, the Shillong Buddhist Temple was formally inaugurated on May 4, 1947.
Interestingly, many great people of the country and the world regard the teaching of Buddha a necessity for lifting the spiritual life of all mankind as reflected in:
“We are living under the brightening shadow of a nuclear war and increasing terrorism. Hopes of a decent peaceful life on Earth are fast receding. Is there no way to avert the war and end violence other than leaving the fate of the mankind in the hands of a few politicians? There is a way to save this world build a civilization attain peace in spite of the tremendous advantages of science and technology, we are scared, anxious and despairing even do not know what to do ourselves, the answer to it is contained in the great teaching of the “BUDDHA”- Dr. Radhakrishna.
The admirers of Buddha, the great teacher in the history of mankind, celebrated this full- moon day of Vaishak as the thrice blessed history of the historic holy days with great sense of sanctity, the admirers of the Buddha living in India, in neighbouring Buddhist countries and in other parts of the world, celebrate this occasion by performing various moral and meritorious deeds and duties of a uniform nature. All these are done only with a noble aspiration to lead a completely harmonious, peaceful and purposeful life with all fellow and even non- fellow beings and to attain and share the joy of the supreme bliss of life in this very life here now, as the token of the unfathomable regard they have for their teacher every full moon day of Vaishak is celebrated as ‘Buddha Purnima’.
On 6th May 2012, members of the Vihar Committee of the Shillong Buddhist Association Branch of Buddha Darmankune Sabha, celebrated the 2556th Buddha Jayanti Festival at the Buddhist Temple, Forest Colony, Shillong through the distribution of milk and bread etc. to hospital patients and hosting of the World Buddhist Flag.
Dr. M. L. Kynshi,
Ronald Evans Lyngdoh
|< Prev||Next >|