World’s Tallest Maitreya Bodhisattva Statue Under Construction in Mongolia
Under the auspices of the US- and Mongolia-based Buddhist organization the Grand Maitreya Foundation, construction of the world’s tallest statue of the bodhisattva Maitreya is currently underway near the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar.
According to the project’s official website, the initiative is aimed at contributing to world peace by helping to create awareness and conditions for loving kindness to manifest. “The intention is that the size and beauty of this statue will bring this symbol of love to the attention of many people around the world,” said Michael Fouts, executive director of the US branch of the project, who added that construction was projected to be completed by 2018. (Huffington Post)
The bodhisattva Maitreya, also known as the Buddha of loving kindness and regarded as a future Buddha of this world, is recognized by almost all Buddhist traditions. According to the Grand Maitreya Project website, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and several rinpoches have provided relics of the Buddha and other holy items, which will be enshrined inside of the statue and a stupa to be constructed nearby.
The project is located at a sacred Buddhist site in the Uguumur Valley known as Heart Hill, just outside of Ulaanbaatar, which is believed to be where one of the revered Jebtsundamba Khutuktu, the spiritual heads of the Gelug lineage of Tibetan Buddhism in Mongolia, lived some 300 years ago, said Fouts, adding, “It is very special and auspicious for the Mongolian people to build symbols of love and Buddhist centers on this site, as well as to receive teachings here.” (Huffington Post)
The 177-foot-tall statue, which is so far about 35 per cent complete, has been modeled on a 17th century gilt-bronze statue sculpted by Zanabazar (1635–1723), the first Jebtsundamba Khutuktu and an influential spiritual leader of the Mongols who enriched and advanced traditional Mongolian culture through the introduction of Buddhist art, philosophy, and culture. Once completed, the statue will be connected to a 354-foot-tall stupa.
The complex will also include a temple dedicated to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, a meditation pavilion for up to 5,000 people, as well as temples and centers representing Buddhist traditions from around the world, educational facilities, an amphitheater, a cinema, and a hotel. Designed as an educational, spiritual, tourism, and cultural center for the entire world, the completed site will be open to the public free of charge. The site will be “a unique place for all spiritual traditions to come together in peace,” said Fouts. (Huffington Post)
A non-profit, non-governmental organization founded in 2009, the Grand Maitreya Foundation is implementing the Grand Maitreya Project under the spiritual guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama; Mongolian Buddhist leader His Eminence Khamba Lama Gyabje Choijamts Demberel; Lama Jhado Rinpoche; the Venerable Thupten Ngodup, the state oracle of Tibet; and American Buddhist teacher Robert Thurman, who serves as president of Tibet House in New York City.
“The whole concept is one we support—a free expression, forward- and outward-looking and hopeful for the future, of the Buddhist roots of Mongolian culture,” said Thurman’s son, Ganden, the executive director of Tibet House. (Huffington Post)
Spiritual Center Aims To Revive Buddhism In Former Communist Mongolia (Huffington Post)
The Grande Maitreya Project (Homepage)
The Grand Maitreya Project (Facebook)