C T I V I T I E S ии C R A F T
Sima stone blessing
|SUMMARY |LANTERN |FIRE |STUPA |BUDDHA |STEREOGRAMS | COLOUR-IN |MEDI STOOL |MANDALA |SHRINE |OTHERS|
|Part of the Amaravati
Temple concept was to designate it as a suitable place for the formal
acceptance of candidates into the Sangha as monks or nuns. This required
the marking out of a sima - a consecrated boundary, determined
by marker stones - within which these ceremonies could take place. A sima
is used for a variety of other 'official' monastic business but ordinations
are the most closely defined and regulated. In the time of the Buddha
natural features would have been used to delineate the sima - the rock
outcrop in the north, the river in the west, etc. - and the lines of the
actual boundary would not have been especially precise. With the development
of monasteries, and their more clearly defined boundaries, the degree
of precision and formality that developed around establishing a sima increased.
The establishment procedure: the area within the required boundary is divided into sections, each of which is ceremonially consecrated and formally declared part of the sima using a variety of traditional Pali formulae. The line of the sima is marked at the eight primary compass points - usually with stones. In the case of the Amaravati sima, these stones were buried under the foundations of the building; the idea being that even should the Temple be destroyed it would still be possible to continue ordaining monks and nuns. Once in the ground each stone is then designated by its cardinal orientation using various Pali formulae: 'This is the stone in the north-west corner of the sima' and so forth. To make the sima area visually clear, limestone was used to form an inner court of the final Temple floor; the sima stones, buried well below the floor, were each indicated by stylised lotuses carved into the limestone.
There are a few photos of the establishment of the Amaravati sima - here (see: Groundwork). And another one - here.