What Does Stupa Refers to in Buddhism?


What does Stupa Refer to in Buddhism?Buddhism is one of the many religions or ‘Dharma’ that are covers a lot of beliefs, tradition, and practices which guide one’s life. The beliefs and practices are based on the religious teaching of the Lord Buddha. Originated somewhere around ancient India (Present day Nepal) at around 5th centuries, Buddhism is now spread over much of Asia. Many people follow the path that was set by Lord Buddha and believe in the notion of Lord Buddha.

Every religion has its own place to pray their God. Just like Temple is to Hindus, Church to Christian, in a similar way, Stupa is to Buddhism. But, what does Stupa refers to in Buddhism? Why are Stupa built? And what are the reasons behind the unique architectural structure of the Stupa? If you have been wondering about these questions and are in search for an answer, here we provide you detailed information about Stupa and what it refers to in Buddhism and Buddhist people.

The origin of Stupa

The origin of Shape of Stupa and concept of formation of stupa goes back to 5th century when Buddha was still alive. It is believed that it was Lord Buddha himself who designed or outlined the Stupas. When Buddha was on his deathbed and waiting for his ultimate Nirvana, he gave instruction to his fellows to cremate him and place his relics in four different monuments. He wished for the monuments to be built in four different places: First, at his birthplace Lumbini; Second, at Bodhgaya; Third, at Sarnath and finally at Kushinagar where he would die. He demonstrated his fellows about the shape of Stupa with his robe.


Boudhanath Stupa Nepal - Pilgrimage Places Visit Kathmandu
Boudhanath Stupa Nepal


Stupa’s shape represents the Buddha’s Mind and soul. It discloses the way to enlightenment. Also, it represents the way a body can be altered into enlightenment. Stupa can be perceived as a manifestation of five different elements.

  1. The base of the stupa signifies the Earth. It extends out in four different directions.
  2. The dome shape signifies Water. It is also called Womb or Garbha- formless potentiality.
  3. The Conical spire characterizes fire. It represents the knowledge which burns away the ignorance of people.
  4. The upper lotus parasol and the crescent moon signify air, waxing, and waning. It is an early representation of the feminine.
  5. The sun and the melting point represent the component of space.
  6. Above the space is an ornament, which signifies a higher state of reality and goes beyond the five elements.

In this way, the whole shape of stupa indicates the qualities of Buddha’s mind and therefore is a very holy thing for all Buddhists. Buddhists all over the world pray in the stupas considering Lord Buddha resides in it.


There is a various purpose behind building stupas.
  1. Stupas remind the teacher of the religious beliefs in Buddhism
  2. Stupas help Buddhists to actualize the enlightenment
  3. It promotes longevity
  4. Stupas help in creating harmony and peace in society.
  5. Stupas are supposed to magnetize all the enlightened energy.

Author- (Asmita Sharma)


Jitendra Sahayogee

I am Jitendra Sahayogee, a writer of 12 Nepali literature books, film director of Maithili film & Nepali short movies, photographer, founder of the media house, designer of some websites and writer & editor of some blogs, has expert knowledge & experiences of Nepalese society, culture, tourist places, travels, business, literature, movies, festivals, celebrations.

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