The Great Eastern Temple also called Todaiji, situated in mid Nara in the Nara Park, is amongst Japan’s highly fames shrines and a remarkable milestone of Nara. Built in 752 under the reign of Emperor Shomu, as the chief temple of all regional Buddhist temples found in Japan, it draws its name from its position in the east Nara that was the former capital of Japan at the time of its construction. Presently, it is the head-office of the Kegon school of Buddhism in Japan.
Depicting the zenith of grand Buddhist architecture, the wide-scaling temple was appreciably bigger than what it presently stands. The prime figure of the temple is the bronze-based enormously sized statue of Buddha Vairocana venerated by the Kegon sect in Buddhism.
In accordance to famed myths, close to twenty-six lakh locals assisted in the construction of the Buddha statue that amounted to practically half the Japanese populace during the time which in most probability is overstated. Japan faced literal insolvency with the eventual completion of the statue’s construction in 751 as a significant amount of bronze produced went into its creation.
In 752, amidst grand pageantry and rites, with hundreds of neighbouring monks and envoys from far-ranging places in attendance, the majestic Buddha statue was eventually instated. The statue was inaugurated with an Indian origin high priest painting the eyes with the aid of huge brush in a ritualistic attempt to open his eyes. The spectacular array of presents that were given by the visitors and the painting brush used at the time are still upheld in the Shoso-in coffers.
Widely known as the Nara Daibutsu or the Great Buddha of Nara, the statue was instated in the Great Buddha Hall or Daibutsuden. In the year 798, the gigantic temple complex of Todaji was entirely constructed. The wooden buildings of the temple were repeatedly reconstructed through the centuries subsequent to natural calamities. Todaiji was rebuilt under the reign of Shunjobo Chogen in a manner he noticed in China, whose typical styling is evident in the 13th century built, Great Southern Gate or Nandaimon with its striking eight meters tall towering sentinel statues of the compassionate emperors of Nio sculpted in 1203.
The Great Buddha statue too faced many ravages with the present statue dating back to 1692. Considered the largest wooden building globally, the Great Buddha Hall or Daibutsuden is considered size-wise a mere two-thirds of what the initial temple size was at that time.
The initial temple complex even housed two magnificent pagodas towering 100metres high that were the highest buildings globally during that time, however even they faced annihilation due to innate calamities.
Todaiji is famed for being the abode of the biggest Buddha statue called Daibutsu in Japan resembling one at Kamakura. The thirty meters towering statue of the Great Buddha is made of an amalgamation of copper and bronze, weighing a mammoth 250 tons. His elaborate hairdo is composed of 966 bronze-made spherical balls.
The back prop pillars in the Daibutsuden are quite unique in the sense that they have openings in the base. A famed credence states that if one is able to wring past either of the healing pillars, then that individual is assured an entry into Heaven.
An endearing sight of the eight century Octagonal-shaped Lantern located outside of the Daibutsuden is amongst the most olden and prized caches in Todaiji. The inscriptions on the prop-up post of the lantern reveal its fine value.