By Le Huu Phuoc
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Extra info for Buddhist Architecture
It is crucial to establish the architectural criteria for the proper classification of Buddhist monuments. In general, the presence of Buddhist images or inscriptions is alone sufficient for the attribution to Buddhist origins; however there are many instances where identifications are not as clear-cut. In order to be qualified as a Buddhist structure, it should meet one of the following key requirements: (1) The commencement was initiated by the Buddhists. Many Asoka pillars have stylistically been a-religious in the beginning and referred in a vaguely neutral term as ‘dharma pillars’ (‘morality pillars’ or ‘pillars of Buddha’s Dharma’).
My conclusion is that the garuda could not have crowned this particular pillar. * Nigali Sagar (pillar missing capital, one Asoka edict): This pillar carries an Asoka edict recorded his visit and enlargement of the stupa of Konakamuni Buddha in his twentieth regnal year (c. 249 BCE), which was also the same erection date for the Rummindei (Lumbini) pillar; the location of the stupa and the capital of this pillar have not been found. This pillar, together with the Rummindei and Gotihawa pillars, were discovered in the Nepalese Terai apparently within the former territory of the ancient Sakya Republic and Buddha’s homeland.
The stories about Nigrodha and Moggaliputa Tissa in the Theravada and their equivalents Samudra and Upagupta in the Mahayana are certainly sectarian in nature; these monks might have actually existed but their specific names are irrelevant in this context. The stories about Asoka’s constructions of stupas, caityas, and sangharamas are certainly true as recorded in his edicts but the 84,000 number given by the Buddhists could be an exaggeration. What about Asoka’s killings of non-Buddhist offenders to defend his religion?