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Candi Borobudur is located some 45 minutes northeast of Yogyakarta.  It sits on a hill in the town of Muntilan in Magelang District.

Various types of Buddha statues can be viewed on the 5-storey terraced corridors as well as the topmost section inside the 72 stupas.


Just like the temple itself, the existence of Buddha statues in various sitting positions is well shrouded in mystery. On certain locations, the statues can be seen facing directly to Mount Sumbing and Mount Merapi (which ironically was spewing hot ashes and molten lava during my visit) as if to guard the holy temple from the perils of natural influence.

In total, there are 504 Buddha statues documented in Candi Borobudur. By any standard, it is not a small number. Nonetheless, some were severely damaged due to vandalism (by that, I meant irresponsible poachers chopped off the heads to sell as exquisite arts). Restoration work was still in progress and I am not entirely surprised if not all the statues are in their original beings.

In the Rupadhatu section i.e. the 5 terraces of the temple, you could view small Buddha statues enclosed in niche balustrades. On the first terrace, these are called Manushi Buddha, which manifested themselves as worldly beings. Manushi Buddha protects the temple from each directional point - Maitreya (North), Knakanmuni (South), Kacyapa (West) and Ckvanmuni (East).

Another interesting attribute that you may notice is that the positions of Buddha's hands are distinguishable. The hand position is referred to as mudra, which is Sanskrit for symbolic hand gesture we normally see in yoga practice.

Akcobya Buddha on east-facing wall has his palm downward as if to call the earth spirit to bear witness to his victory over the evil forces. This hand position is called bhumisparca mudra. Ratnasambhawa Buddha on south-facing wall has his palm open as if to show and to give blessing. This hand position is called wara mudra. Similarly, the north-facing Amoghasidha Buddha has his palm raised to show immunity to danger (probably against Mt Merapi, Mt Merbabu, Mt Sumbing and Mt Sundoro, ironically in the northeast and northwest). This hand position is referred to as abhawa mudra.

On the higher terraces, you can find the Dyani Buddha in meditative positions. Ultimately, in the Aruphadatu section (topmost floors), you will find encased Buddha statues in each of the stupas. These are called Vajrasattwa Buddha (or Vajrasattva depending on the spelling). One can't help but trying to figure out the rationale behind putting the statues inside the mysterious stupas. It was said that the lattice structure of the stupas metaphorically represents a sieve- or strainer-like barrier between the mere world to the outer state of formlessness.

Amazing collections of different Buddha statues all in one place. Filled with mystery. Each sitting position has interesting meaning to it.

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