2
Mar

Indian garden history and design: Pt2 of Buddhism and Gardens Videos


The second Jewel of Buddhism is the Sangha,
which is the entire Buddhist community. A Sangha Arama is a local Buddhist community,
which could be a school or a monastery. In Sanskrit, ‘Arama’ means ‘garden’. So a sangarama
is a community living in a garden like place. Buddhist monasticism began centuries before
Christian monasticism and both were associated with caves and gardens. At Ajanta, in Central
India, some caves held stupas and were shrines. Others were residential, with individual cells
for the monks. Sanchi, about 500 kilometers north of Ajanta,
is a great example of a sangharama on a hill. The hill was called Vidisha and the monastery,
in a famous phrase, was ‘not too near and not too far’ from the town of Vidisha. This
meant it was near enough to the town for the monks to collect alms and sufficiently far
away from the town to give them the seclusion which a monastic life requires. Unfortunately,
there is now a motor road up the hill but the old pilgrimage path still exists � and
you can use it. It leads to a place of retreat for the monsoon season, with stone reservoirs
to catch rainwater. Sanchi also has stupas with mandala plans and carvings which both
illustrate Buddhist beliefs and show us what Indian towns looked like in the third century
BC. Sigiriya, in Sri Lanka, is another example
of a sangharama on and around a mountain. It�s a volcanic plug, with a path leading
upward from what was a Lion Gate. Only the paws survive. The site is sometimes described
as a palace fortress, which it was for a short time, and sometimes as �the oldest water
garden in Asia�, which is misleading. Sigiriya was a Buddhist Sangharama for most of its
occupation history. The water tanks are certainly ornamental, but would have been used, as at
the Jetavana, for washing and for drinking .

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