Maitreya at Kushinagar, UP

BuddhaThe focal point of Indian architecture, like its culture, has always been religious in nature. Just as the Indian economic boom is bringing incredible economic and architectural growth in the secular area, so has Indian religious architecture once again become manifest in the creation of some of the worlds largest, massive, and most intricate religious architecture the world has seen.

Now, another great religious project has officially been given the go-ahead in one of the poorest parts of India. The Maitreya Project is a tribute to Buddhism for and from the land of the Buddha and is as a multi-faith cooperative designed by Tibetans who call India their home as as a lasting gift to India and Buddhism.

A monumental sustainable work of art that will serve as a constant source of inspiration and a symbol of loving-kindness, work will soon begin on the 152 meter-tall Maitreya Buddha Statue that is the centerpiece of a large temple complex. An engineering marvel that at will not only be — at three times the size of the Statue of Liberty — the world’s tallest statue and world’s tallest temple but will also be the world’s largest (first?) statue-skyscraper, designed to for a lifespan surpassing a 1,000 years.

The statue is a temple that will contain 17 individual shrine rooms. The highest room at 140 meters high — the equviliant of the 40th storey of a standard building — making the statue a veritable temple-skyscraper as well. This statue and complex will be a fusion of Indian and Tibetan architectural styles that will adhere to ancient Vaastu Shastra design code and will also hold the world’s largest collection of Lord Buddha’s relics.

Apart from the statue/skyscraper, the Maitreya Project organizers will also build free hospitals and schools servicing tens of thousands of poor, and also be a huge catalyst for infrastructure and tourism development efforts in one of the most economically backwards parts of India.

The project is a joint religious collaboration by organizations representing the various sects and faiths that revere the Buddha: from Hinduism to Mahayana to Vajrayana to Hinayana to Jaina to Christian and Muslim. Under guidance of the overall project conceptualizer, Nepalese-Tibetan spiritual leader Lama Zopa Rinpoche, the Project was funded by Buddhist and Hindu temples, social organizations, religious groups and by individuals in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Tibet, China, Japan, Korea, the UK and America.

Through this project, India once again shows that the ancient arts of massive devotional architecture continues to undergo a veritable renaissance.

The entire temple complex is designed to be completely sustainable, meaning that it will quite literally have the same environmental impact (i.e. emit the same amount of carbon dioxide and methane) as the paddy field it will be constructed.

The Project will include schools and universities that focus on ethical and spiritual development as well as academic achievement, and a healthcare network based around a teaching hospital of international standard with the intention of supplementing the medical services currently provided by the government to provide healthcare services, particularly for the poor and underprivileged.

As such, the Maitreya Project organizers are working in tandem with the local, regional and state governments in Uttar Pradesh, India, who have fully supported the project. To this effect, the Kushinagar Special Development Area Authority will support the planned development of the area surrounding the Project.

The Maitreya Buddha project was originally concieved to be built in Bodh Gaya, Bihar state, the site of the Buddha’s enlightenment, but due to threat of delays due to red tape, was moved to what was seen to be a more appropriate location, the village of Kushinagar, in Uttar Pradesh state.

Kushinagar is a place of great historical and spiritual significance. It is the place where Shakyamuni (Historical) Buddha passed away and it is predicted to be the birthplace of the next Buddha, Maitreya – the Buddha of Loving-kindness – of whom this temple is dedicated to.

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