The Stupa [tib. »Chörten«] is the most important architectural monument of Buddhism.
One of the early stupas was a similar circular burial mound that was originally used for the burial of ancient rulers in India.
The form of the stupa has developed independently in the course of time in different countries. The eight Sugata Stupas of Tibetan Buddhism, however, have remained largely unchanged.
The stupa building can also be a symbol for Mount Meru or Sumeru, which according to Buddhist philosophy is considered a huge mountain and the central axis of the world Mount Meru is identified with Mount Kailash in western Tibet.
Relics of the historic Buddha were kept in eight different stupas [see below] in India after his death.
- The Lotus Blossom Stupa: [Padpung Tchörten]
Buddha's Birth in the Lumbini Garden at Kapilavastu in Northern India in the 6th Century BCE.
- The Stupa of the Descent from Tushita Heaven [Lhabab Tchörten]
Maya Devi, the Buddha's mother, was reborn in a God realm called Tushita Heaven where he taught his mother the path to enlightenment. This stupa represents Buddha's return from the celestial realms in order to continue teaching the path to enlightenment.
- The Enlightenment Stupa: [Dschangtschub Tchörten]
Buddha's Atteinment of Enlightenment at age 35. After meditating 49 days under a tree at Bodhgaya, Buddha understood the true nature of all phenomena and realized that all sentient beings without exception have the same potential for enlightenment, the "Buddha Nature".
- The Stupa of Turning the Wheel of Dharma
Teaching at Sarnath After attaining enlightenment at Bodh Gaya the Buddha went to Sarnath; and it was here that he preached his first discourse in the deer park to set in motion the »Wheel of the Dharma«. It is one of the most holy sites as in this place the stream of the Buddha's teaching first flowed. Above the entrance gate of almost all Tibetan Buddhist monasteries you can find today the wheel of dharma flanked by two gazelles.
- The Great Miracle Stupa [Tschothrul Tchörten]
Buddha's resolution of a dispute among the sangha. Buddha's prolonging of his life by three months after one of his disciples had pleaded him not to pass away.
This stupa commemorates the Buddha's display of miracles at Shravasti where he was challenged to demonstrate his realization and performed a different miracle every day for 15 days.
- The Stupa of Reconciliation [Yendum Tchörten]
Buddha's resolution of a dispute among the sangha.
- The Stupa of Complete Victory [Namgyal Tchörten]
Buddha's prolonging of his life by three months after one of his disciples had pleaded him not to pass away.
- The Parinivana Stupa: [Nyangdä Tchörten]
Buddha's passing unto nirvana, a stateof true peace which is beyond death. With his final words, the Buddha urged his followers to be diligent in their efforts to attain enlightenment. Lying on his right side and in a state of profound meditation, the Buddha left the world and passed into nirvana.