It is generally agreed that Borobudur temple was constructed some time between late 8th and early 9th century. No documents or inscriptions relating specifically to Borobudur temple have yet been found. While its exact purpose is not known, it is understood to be a Monument of instruction in Mahayana Buddhism. It is now becomes the most visited tourist object in Indonesia.
Borobudur temple is not temple, but a monument or “Stupa’. It is not a closed structure; it has no inner cellar or chamber. It is a stone encasement on a hill. Like a nine-tired mountain it is 34.5 meters high, it has a total of 1,500 magnificently carved panels and 500 statues of Buddha.
The ground plan of Borobudur temple is often compared to a Mandala, meaning a circle in Sanskrit. It is a cosmic diagram of the world and describes both the material and non-material realities. It can be used as an object of meditation, which with practice can bring the initiate to higher levels of consciousness.
Stylistically Borobudur temple belongs to the Classic Central Javanese period. Basically the Indian artistic tradition is adhered too, although there are definite Javanese elements. The construction was Javanese, built according to the Mahayana Buddhist doctrine.
Two important dynasties ruled in Java during the 8th to 10th centuries:
The Buddhist Sailendra’s who are associated with Borobudur temple, and the Hindu Sanjaya. They lived in relatively peaceful co-existence.
With the shift of political power from Central to East Java in 10th century, Borobudur temple gradually fell into decline, was abandoned and further destroyed by earthquakes. Stamford Raffles, who later founded Singapore in 1814, rediscovered it.
The Dutch undertook the first major restoration at the beginning of 1900, followed by UNESCO’s largest restoration project, which commenced in 1973 and took 10 years to complete. All the square terraces were dismantled, involving the removal of 1 million pieces of stone.
Mahayana Buddhism: Often called the “Greater Vehicle” or Mysterious
Buddhism began around A.D, 600, as opposed to the earlier Hinayana tradition. Although these two doctrines are theoretically different, in practice they were combined.
“Stupa”. The term, originating in pre-Buddhist India, refers to a burial tumulus or hemispheric half-dome mound. After Buddha’s cremation his ashes were distributed in eight different stupas in various locations, they became the supreme symbol of Buddhism. Borobudur temple in its entirety is a “Stupa”, and contains many smaller stupas.
“Candi”, is a pre-Islamic Indonesian term used to describe the abodes of the Gods, or a monument for a deceased king. Borobudur not incorrectly, is sometimes refereed to as a “Candi”.
“Caitya” can also refer to a “Stupa”. While in Sri Lanka term “Dagoh” is preferred.