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Symbolism of the stupa

The stupa is a very complex iconographic symbol of Buddhism, and each part of it represents a particular aspect of the path to enlightenment. The base of the stupa is a multistage throne or pedestal called the "lion's throne". Above it is a hemispherical dome of the stupa, sitting on a square box, and the upper part is made up of thirteen discs, ending with a lotus parasol, a crescent, a sun disk and a gem. Shortly after Buddha Shakyamuni reached parinirvana, eight stupas were erected twice. The first series is called the Steps of Awakening of the Eight Sacred Places, which commemorate the eight main events of Buddha's life. The second row is made up of eight large memorial stupas of cities that contain the Buddha's remains that remained after his cremation. Along with the spread of Buddhism to other Asian countries, new stylistic forms of the stupa were added.

In the Tibetan tradition, we encounter eight stupas symbolizing the eight most important events in Buddha's life.


The structure of the stupa from an external point of view symbolizes the five elements that make up the world (earth, water, fire, air and space itself, or ether).

The individual stages symbolize the path to developing the full human potential.

symbolika stupy

The platform at the basis

The platform at the basis of the stupa symbolizes 10 positive deeds of body, speech and mind.

Click the arrows to see the symbolism of each parts of the stupa.

The shape of the stupa represents the body of the Buddha sitting in the meditation position.

Five elements, which is make up of the world

As pure elements, earth, water, fire, air, and ether (space) are represented by the following symbols: earth by a yellow square, water by a blue circle, fire by a red triangle, air by a green semicircular sector or crescent, space dissolving by a white "drop". In the case of a three-dimensional representation, the earth element takes the form of superimposed yellow cubes, the blue sphere water, the red conical pyramid embodies fire, the green hemisphere air and the evaporating drop of ether.


Esoterically, the earth element is expressed by the yellow Sanskrit syllable of lam, water by the blue syllable of vam, fire by the red syllable of ram, air by the green syllable of jam, and space by the white syllable of húm.


These elements in lifetime represent body structure (earth), blood and juices (water), heat and nature (fire), breath (air) and body openings (ether).

stupa elementy
stupa elementy
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