The 8 Great Stupas

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The Eight Great Stupas


In Tibetan Buddhism we can distinguish eight different Stupas:

1) Lotus Blossom Stupa

This stupa refers to the Buddha’s birth, when he was still called Siddharta Gautama.

2) Enlightenment Stupa

This stupa symbolizes the Buddha’s attainment of enlightenment (under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya).

3) Stupa of Turning the Wheel of Dharma

This stupa refers to the first teaching that Buddha gave after he reached enlightenment; in the deer-park in Sarnath.

4) Stupa of Great Miracles

This stupa refers to various miracles the Buddha performed at Shravasti, where he was challenged to demonstrate his realization of enlightenment.

5) Stupa of Descent from Tushita Heaven

The Buddha’s mother, Mayadevi, was reborn in Tuṣita Heaven. In order to repay her kindness the Buddha went there to teach the dharma to her. This stupa commemorates the Buddha’s return from this celestial realm in order to continue his teachings on earth.

6) Stupa of Reconciliation

This stupa symbolizes the Buddha’s resolution of adisagreement among the sangha (the monastic followers).

7) Stupa of Complete Victory

Also called the Stupa of Long Life, this stupa refers to the Buddha’s agreement to prolong his life by three months, after one of his followers had begged him not to pass away.

8) Stupa of Parinirvana

This stupa symbolizes the Buddha’s passing into nirvana. His complete absorption into the highest state of mind is a state of true peace – which is beyond death.

Related to this subject:

Carmen posing with her students in front of this beautiful stupa in northern Italy during one of her thangka drawing and painting retreats in Italy that she offers there every year.


Stupas in front of the Potala Palace in Tibet, and the beautiful eyes on the great Kumbum Stupa in Gyantse that look deep into your soul.


Three out of the eight different stupas drawn by Carmen Mensink, with a closeup of one of them on the right, with a small Buddha Shakyamuni.


The Stupa of Boudhanath in Nepal with its distinct eyes. These famous eyes were also painted during on of Carmen’s thangka workshops in collaboration with Windmill De Kat (the Cat) in Zaandam, The Netherlands, where her students learned to make their own paints before creating Tibetan symbols with it on handmade paper that she brought from Nepal.


The stupas in the famous caves of Dambulla, Sri Lanka, that Carmen visited with her thangka group on the sightseeing tour after one of the Thangka Painting Retreats that she offers in Sri Lanka. During one of the visits, the whole thangka group poses with Banthe Dhammaratana, who you see on this picture standing in between all the thangka students. Besides being the head of the Bellanwila temple near Colombo (the capital of Sri Lanka), Ven. Banthe also leads the Paramita Buddhist Centre near Kandy, Sri Lanka. In this retreat center, beautifully situated on a rock in the jungle, the thangka painting retreats are held. Check out all upcoming Thangka Retreats


A different thangka group posing in front of the Stupa at the Paramita Buddhist Centre (near Kandy, Sri Lanka), together with all monks, nuns and staff of this retreat center. This is one of the places where Carmen offers her thangka drawing and painting retreats, and each morning the group gathers in the Stupa, where she leads the guided meditation.