Monday, March 31, 2014

Historical Significance of Buddhist Temple in Theosophical Society, Adyar, Chennai

Buddhist Temple at Theosophical Society, Adyar, Chenna
Lily Pond
Bodhidharma Tablet

Buddhist Temple at Theosophical Society, Adytar, Chennai

It’s very uncommon to view the temple devoted to Buddha in Chennai. Apart from Buddha Vihar at Maha Bodhi Society of India at Kennet Lane Egmore, there is one small but elegant Buddha Temple stands, in a serene and tranquil environment, amidst the shady coconut grove  in Theosophical Society, Adyar.  

Though this white painted Buddhist Temple was contemplated in 1883, actually it was constructed under the guidance of Shri. Curuppumullage Jinarajadasa (1875–1953), the fourth President of the Theosophical Society and was consecrated during the Golden Jubilee convention of the Theosophical Society in December 1925. The temple architecture, according to Shri. C. Jinarajadasa, exhibits  "a combination of two styles, both contemporaneous, though one is at Buddha Gaya and the other in Nepal. The base of the shrine, with its rounded arches and pillars, is taken from Buddha Gaya, while the cornices and the dome are from a Buddhist temple in Nepal." 

Dr. Annie Besant arranged to bring the gray sandstone icon of Gautama Buddha from Eastern India and was sanctified at this temple. The splendidly carved wooden doors bear the lotus and Swastika motifs and the seven steps with elephant headed balustrades provide wonderful facade. Just close to the head of the icon of Buddha shows this inscription in Tibetan script:   'He taught the cause of all things as also the means of cessation'.

The vast splendid Bodhi Tree (ficus religiosa), seen before the shrine, is well known for its holy past i.e, the tree grown from the sapling brought from the mother banyan tree under which the Gautama Buddha attained Enlightenment. 
Marble Marble Plaque about Bodhi Tree
The tree was planted by Shri. C. Jinarajadasa to commemorate the the 75th anniversary of the Theosophical Society. It is all learned from the marble tablet found around this area. Also there is greenish lily pond facing the Buddha Temple. The antique Buddhist gong, commissioned near to the shrine, was striking sharply at six o' clock both in the morning and evening. 

The Zen Memorial Tablet, donated by the Institute of South Indian Buddhist Studies, was installed on October 5, 2009 at the corner of the Lily Pond. The tablet shows the figure of Bodhidharma, the holy Buddhist monk who instituted Zen to China in the 6th century and he was born in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu.


  1. The Theosophical Society
  2. The Buddhist Shrine
Post a Comment