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Holy Cribs: The Vihara
A young Buddhist called Hivin welcomes TrueTube to his Vihara in West London. We’re given the full tour while learning about Buddhist beliefs and worship, and even get to see the monks who live there.

Component 1: The study of religions - beliefs, teaching and practices: Buddhism - The nature, use and importance of Buddhist places of worship - Temples, shrines, monasteries (viharas), halls for meditation or learning (gompas) and their key features including Buddha rupa, artefacts and offerings.

Area of Study 3 – Buddhism - Section 3: Living the Buddhist Life - Features of Buddhist places of worship: the divergent nature, history and design of Buddhist places of worship, including temples, gompas, viharas, shrines in Theravada, Mahayana and Triratna Buddhism; how and why the places of worship are used, including reference to the shrine room, shrine facing east, and the library, showing the importance learning, including reference to the Kimsila Sutta. Puja: The nature and purpose of puja in the vihara and the home, including reference to Mangala Sutta; examples of the different types; when each type might be used and why; the importance of having different types of worship and their use in different Buddhist contexts.

Component Group 1–Beliefs and teachings & Practices - Buddhism-Practices - Sacred and significant places and spaces for Buddhists •The importance ,features and functions of: •• Temples •• Gompas and viharas •• Shrines •• Sites of pilgrimage •• Artefacts and offerings •• Retreats •The events that take place in different significant places, including Bodh Gayaand the Deer Park at Sarnath •The meaning and significance of key artefacts and offerings made at different significant places,includingthedifferentimages of the Buddha and his hand positions( mudras) • The purpose and form of retreats • The importance of undertaking pilgrimages • Common and divergent emphases placed on significant places and spaces by different Buddhist groups, including the role and importance of retreats •Different interpretations and emphases given to sources of wisdom and authority by different Buddhist groups

2.1 Unit 1 PART A - Part A - Buddhism - Core beliefs, teachings and practices - Practices Places of 'Worship' and Puja  The importance of features and functions of a vihara/home shrine  Diversity of practices in Theravada and Mahayana puja (Buddha, buddhas, bodhisattvas, mudras, mantras, mandalas)  Dana (giving) – opportunity to make offerings of food to monks.  Examples of the work of sanghas in Wales (Swansea, Cardiff, Raglan)

2.3 Component 3 (Route A) - Option 1: Buddhism - Practices - Buddhist places of worship in Britain and elsewhere ➢ The importance of features and functions of temples and viharas; statues, shrines, stupa and meditation area. Mahayana and Theravada Buddhist temples in Britain compared to those in countries where Buddhism is widely practised. ➢ Offerings: food, light, flowers, incense, offerings of food to monks (dana)

Holy Cribs: The Vihara


Hivin:     Hello and welcome to the London Buddhist Vihara. My name is Hivin and I'm a Buddhist. My religion is called Buddhism and our holy building is often called a temple, but the proper name for it is a vihara. And I'm going to show you around. Come on in. The first thing we do is take off our shoes and leave them on this rack. We do this to keep the inside of the building as clean as possible, as a symbol of purity. A vihara is a Buddhist monastery, a place where Buddhist monks live and we do have monks living here. The proper name for a monk is a bhikkhu. Bhikkhus are people who have decided to devote themselves into a spiritual life of simplicity and meditation. Come with me. This is a shrine room. It's the most important part of a vihara or any Buddhist temple. We come here to do puja, which means worship, and to meditate in front of a shrine which contains a statue of the Buddha. The Buddha is not a god. He was a man named Siddhartha Gautama, a royal prince who lived in Nepal about 2500 years ago. The title Buddha means enlightened one or awakened one because we believe that he discovered the truth about the world, how to live a happier and better life. We follow the Buddhist teachings, what we call the dhamma, and we give offerings of flowers, candles, incense, fruit and rice to a statue to show our respect for him. During puja, everyone sits on the floor as a sign of humility and equality. There might be clean sheets spread out on the floor or mats or cushions for people to sit on, so we are comfortable and ready to begin. We often chant words or phrases called sutras, which come from our holy books. This helps us to get into the right frame of mind for meditation, which is a very important part of Buddhism.


Meditation is concentrating or thinking deeply, and there are lots of different ways to do it. Meditation helps us to learn how our minds work so we can be like the Buddha and see the world for what it is and how to be happier. I can't control what goes on out there, but I can learn to control what goes on in here. We use bells to start or end a meditation and they can come in lots of different shapes and sizes. Like this bowl shaped one here. These are used because if I hit it. The sound goes on for ages, getting quieter and quieter, and I love it. It really helps me calm down and concentrate on my meditation. Buddhism has a lot of symbols to help us remember the dhamma, the Buddhist teachings, and to help us meditate. The eight spoked wheel is probably the most important and the best known. It's called the Dhamma Wheel, and it represents the noble Eightfold Path; eight principles that the Buddha taught us to live by: Right Understanding; Right Thought; Right Speech; Right Action; Right Livelihood; Right Effort; Right Mindfulness; and Right Concentration. This is a stupa. Really big ones are put up in places that are special to Buddhists, like where the Buddha was born or died or visited. Sometimes there are holy books or holy objects inside. For instance, things that used to belong to the Buddha, like clippings of his hair. Little stupas like this may also have something inside, but the shape itself has lots of different meanings. The eight rings around the top are another reminder of the Eightfold Path, which points towards the sky to symbolise the journey towards enlightenment. Which is when you know the truth about the world like the Buddha did. Some


Buddhists use a prayer wheel. It has sutras, words from a holy books, written around the outside and you hold the handle and spin it around. As it turns, the words are spread out into the air to bless everyone around. You sometimes get big ones to touch the walls or even turned by windmills or water wheels. Sutras are also written or printed onto flags which are hung up outside so that the wind can carry the blessings away to everyone. And we also have the stripey flag. The colours all have a meaning. Blue stands for peace and compassion. Yellow for the dhamma. Red for blessing. White for purity. Orange for wisdom. And all five together stand for unity. Mandala means circle or centre. Some Buddhists use these patterns to help them meditate. They are full of symbols with lots of different meanings. You see lotus flowers a lot in Buddhist art. Lotus flowers symbolise purity because they grow out of the mud at the bottom of lakes and rivers and float above it all, looking beautiful. It reminds us to be pure in an impure world. Welcome to our library. We have lots of holy books and books about the holy books. The most important are called the Tripitaka because that's where we find the teachings of the Buddha. My favourite is called the Dhammapada. These books were originally written in Pali, which was a language that used to be spoken during Buddha's time. And traditionally they were written on palm leaves. So we get these old odd shaped books with long, thin pages. And this is our meeting hall. We have lots of events here, like festivals and fundraisers for charity. Everything we do in the vihara is to help the Sangha, the community, and to support the bhikkhus who teach us and help us to become better Buddhists. Thanks for coming. You're welcome anytime. Bye.


Holy Cribs: The Vihara

Video length - 06.38
Published date - May 2023
Keystage(s) - 2, 3 and 4
Downloadable resources

A Day in the Life of a Buddhist Monk – Say hello to Manapo. He’s a Buddhist Monk, and TrueTube followed him around with a camera to find out what he does all day.

TrueTube films are designed for use in a number of ways. Some ideas of where this film could link to your curriculum are below:


Component 1: The study of religions - beliefs, teaching and practices: Buddhism - Human destiny - A ‘perfected person’ (Arhat) and Bodhisattva ideals, Buddhahood and the Pure Land. Buddhahood and the Pure Land - Buddhahood and its relation to Pure Land Buddhism. Meditation, the different aims, significance and methods of meditation - The visualisation of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.


Area of Study 1 – Buddhism - Section 3: Living the Buddhist Life - Meditation: the nature, purpose and significance of meditation in Buddhism; the different types of meditation: samatha (concentration), metta bhavana (loving kindness) and vipassana (insight); meditative practices, including mindfulness breathing and zazen, divergent understanding of the nature and importance of visualisation of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas, including Amitāyus Meditation Sutra; how the different practices are used by Mahayana and Theravada Buddhists and the benefits from their use. Chanting: the nature, purpose and role of chanting in Buddhism as a devotional practice and to gain mental concentration, including Dhammapada 1–2, confidence and joy; the divergent understandings of the importance of chanting in Buddhist life today with reference to Theravada Buddhism, including Tiratana: Dhammapada 190, and Mahayana Buddhism, including Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. Mantra recitation: divergent understandings of the nature, purpose, role and importance of mantra recitation with reference to Theravada Buddhism, including Namo Buddhaya (‘Homage to the Buddha’), and Mahayana Buddhism; the nature and purpose of using sacred syllables, devotional articles, offerings and mala beads and why they are used in different schools of Buddhism.


Component Group 1 -Buddhism-Beliefs and teachings & Practices - Buddha and Enlightenment • The life of Buddha •• The early life of Buddha •• The Four Sights •• Defeat of Mara •• Enlightenment •• Nibbana • Issues related to the life of Buddha, including the importance of Buddha for Buddhists in the modern world • Common and divergent emphases placed on the life of Buddha by different Buddhist groups •Different interpretations and emphases given to sources of wisdom and authority by different Buddhist groups


2.2 Unit 2 PART A - Christianity - Core beliefs, teachings and practices Beliefs –Practices - Special Places  Significance of a place of worship (Hebrews 10:24-25; Matthew 18:20)  Purpose of pilgrimage, places, activities, experiences in Wales and elsewhere e.g. Holy Land, St. David’s, Bardsey Island, St. Non's Well


Component 3 (Route A) - Option 1: Buddhism - Practices -Buddhist places of worship in Britain and elsewhere ➢ The importance of features and functions of temples and viharas; statues, shrines, stupa and meditation area. Mahayana and Theravada Buddhist temples in Britain compared to those in countries where Buddhism is widely practised. ➢ Offerings: food, light, flowers, incense, offerings of food to monks (dana)

A Day in the Life of a Buddhist Monk

Manapo  My name is Manapo, Manapo Bhikkhu, and I am a Buddhist monk.

Manapo  A bhikkhu is a fully ordained Buddhist monk. The word literally means one who depends on alms, not these kinds of arms, but alms as in gifts of food. A typical day will begin at 5:30, so a bell, big bell will be rung at 5:30, and then hopefully everybody gets up, and then at 6 a.m., there is what we call morning puja, and that is an hour of chanting followed by meditation.

Manapo  (monks carrying out puja)

Manapo  Buddhist meditation is a combination of samatha and vipassana. Samatha means calming, stilling the mind, making it peaceful and most importantly, clear. Vipassana means insight and this is the goal of Buddhism, so we are developing a concentrated mind that is able to see things clearly and then let go.

Manapo  Then at 7:30, we have chores and these go on for an hour. An important part of the monastic discipline is looking after the place in which you live. You would usually find monasteries to be very clean and well kept places. Then at about 8:30, I will have a period of personal time.

Manapo  Enlightenment is when we fully understand the Four Noble Truths. The first noble truth is that this ordinary life of ours involves suffering. The second noble truth is that our suffering is caused by our craving and our desires. The third noble truth is that this suffering can be ended by letting go of craving. And the fourth noble truth is the Noble Eightfold Path, the Buddha's teachings which lead to the ending of suffering.

Manapo  Then at 11, we eat our one meal of the day and we have to eat that before 12, and that is a ceremony. So, we monks have to formally receive the food so we don't just go and help ourselves. It's all given to us. I've been a Buddhist monk for almost 17 years and I haven't had any money during that time, not even a penny. So that means that we are completely dependent upon the generosity of others. As a monk, being dependent on what people give to me, I am grateful for whatever food is offered. However, I choose to be a vegetarian. A central teaching in Buddhism is, is compassion, wishing all living beings to be free of suffering. In the process of producing meat, there is obviously an enormous amount of suffering in the animal world, and so we want to help animals by stopping eating meat.

Manapo  As a Buddhist monk, I don't have many possessions. There are eight basic requisites which we are supposed to have, which includes three robes, there is the alms bowl, there is a water filter, a razor, a belt, and the needle and thread. Buddhist monks robes are usually yellow or orange or brown, and in ancient India, yellow was the colour of renunciation. The word renunciation means to leave behind, so when we wear this, this yellow robe, it's the same colour as a leaf that's about to fall from a tree. It signifies that we have left behind the so-called ordinary life, the rat race. So we leave behind our money, our wealth, our family and an and relationships. We also leave behind our hair and our normal clothes. I shave my head for the same reason that I wear the robe, so it's another symbol of renunciation. Hair is often closely connected with vanity. People spend an awful lot of time on their hair and their appearance by shaving off our hair. We're saying that physical appearance and beauty are not important when it comes to the pursuit of of real happiness.

Manapo  On the day that I became a novice monk, I was given the name Manapo. Manapo is a Pali word, so Pali is the, the language of the ancient Buddhist texts. It means, the likeable one, so whether my teacher found me likeable or whether it's something I need to work on, I'm not quite sure.

Manapo  During the late afternoon. We have time to ourselves and it will be similar to the morning period, so walking meditation, sitting meditation, perhaps some private study, reading of Buddhist texts. Walking meditation is very similar to sitting meditation in that we focus on just one thing. So we we have a number of paths, a number of walking paths around the monastery, and they're just straight paths, and we walk back and forth and as we walk, we focus very carefully on the soles of our feet touching the ground.

Manapo  As a bhikkhu, I am not married, I don't have a girlfriend or a partner, and I am not allowed to get married.

Manapo  So at 8 p.m. we have evening puja, which is more or less the same as morning puja, but the chanting is a little bit different.

Manapo  (monks chanting)

Manapo  After evening puja, we have personal time again, and then I go to bed, usually between 11 and 12. So as a monk, I don't get as much sleep as most people. I do get more than what the Buddha actually recommended, he recommended four hours. And the reason why we don't need to sleep as much is because meditation practice, in part fulfils the function of of sleeping and dreaming, because it can be a very restful activity. The thing I find most rewarding about being a bhikkhu is that it gives my life a purpose. One of the most difficult things I've found about life before, was the sense that it had no purpose. I realised that I'd been born, I was going to live a bit and then I was going to die. What's the point in that? But as a monk, I've given my life a purpose, and that purpose is to reach enlightenment, which means to free my mind from all greed, hatred and delusion. I might be some way off, but at least I have a purpose.

A Day in the Life of a Buddhist Monk

Video length - 08.46
Published date - Sep 2017
Keystage(s) - 3
Downloadable resources