Secret Buddhist Language from the Past

Dhamma amphitheatre contains 40 carved sand stone panels depicting the life of the Buddha. These panels are replicas of art work from Sanchi, Amaravarthi and Bharhut stupas in India from approx. 2nd Cent. BC. They are extremely significant as they are the earliest known documents of Buddhist history, carved before the first Buddha images. The Buddha is depicted using different symbolic icons which may or may not be understood by the observer, ( for example footprint, empty seat, pillar of fire, bodhi tree).  This means when the Buddhist sites were destroyed or damaged, any Buddha image was defaced, however the carved sand stone panels with symbolic icons were left unharmed.

The replica carved panels at Sunnataram Forest Monastery are a joint project with Si Que prison, Saraburi province, Thailand.  The monastery provided drawings, tools, materials and a sand stone mason to teach the prisoners to carve. The result is the beautiful sand stone panels now installed in the Dhamma amphitheatre, with some of the prisoners rehabilitated and now released from jail. We are very proud of the successful community project.

The Dhamma amphitheatre project is an extension of the Gratitude Pagoda and is dedicated to the teachings of Ajahn Buddhadassa Bhikkhu and his extraordinary work in Suan Mokh, Suratthani province, Southern Thailand. His special way of teaching the Dhamma, incorporating art and design is our inspiration for the Dhamma amphitheatre. We contacted Suan Mokh in 2003 at the beginning of the Garatitude Pagoda project to ask for Ajahn Buddhadassa Bhikkhu's researh documents and art work from India.