Buddha At Kamakura

The Kamakura Buddha is a giant bronze statue renowned for its spiritual presence.

And whoso will, from Pride released,
Contemning neither creed nor priest,
May feel the Soul of all the East
     About him at Kamakura.

-The Buddha At Kamakura - Rudyard Kipling

Sri Chinmoy At Kamakura

... Sri Chinmoy at Kamakura ...

The Buddha at Kamakura is a 700 year old giant bronze statue located in the grounds of the Kotokuin Temple in Kanagawa, Japan. It was originally located inside a large temple hall, but the temple was washed away by a tidal wave at the end of the fifteenth century. The Buddha has been left in the open air since then. It remains one of the great landmarks of Japan.

The founder of the Kamakura Shogunate, Yoritomo Minamoto, was inspired to build a Great Buddha at Kamakura after viewing the reconstructed Todaiji Great Buddha in 1195. Unfortunately he died soon after without realising his dream, but the cause was taken up by one of his court ladies, Inada, who asked a priest to travel the country collecting donations. After much hardship the priest was able to raise enough funds and construction was completed in 1242. This original statue was wooden, and larger than the present day version. Unfortunately it was completely destroyed in a violent storm in 1247, prompting Lady Inada to start the construction of a more sturdy, bronze statue, again with donations from the public. The casting took more than 12 years and was a major engineering feat. Gilt all over, it would have glittered magnificently.

For a time the statue was neglected and fell into disrepair. At one point it even became a shelter to homeless people and gamblers. Luckily, in 1712, a priest named Yuten realised that something had to be done or else the Great Buddha might be lost. He began collecting donations to restore the statue and build a new hall to house it. Though his collection was not enough to cover the construction of a new hall, it was enough to restore the statue.

Sri Chinmoy has visited the Great Buddha on several occasions, remarking often on the deep spiritual atmosphere of the place. In 1992, he met the curator, a Buddhist monk, to pray in front of the statue and plant a tree for peace. He performed on several instruments at the foot of the statue and sung several of his own compositions, including a chant invoking the Buddha. In 2006 Sri Chinmoy performed again at the foot of the Great Buddha.

But when the morning prayer is prayed,
Think, ere ye pass to strife and trade,
Is God in human image made
     No nearer than Kamakura?

-The Buddha At Kamakura - Rudyard Kipling