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Stupa (Skt. stūpa; P. thūpa; T. mchod rten མཆོད་རྟེན་; C. ta) is a structure that contains the relics (śarīra) or possessions of the Buddha or other realized being.[1] Stupas can vary in size and shape, but often have a wide square base, a rounded middle and a tall conical section at the top.[2]

Tsultrim Allione states:

A stupa is a three-dimensional mandala representing enlightenment. It has a square or cube base representing the element earth, and the various levels represent the elements and the process of illumination. The spire at the top represents the ten stages of the Bodhisattva path (sometimes there are thirteen). The stupa is related to as a body of enlightenment which emanates great blessings. By circumambulating or practicing near a great stupa, one's mind is tremendously benefited and the merit of the practice is multiplied a thousandfold. The most important thing about a stupa is the strength of the blessings of the relics and mantras that it contains. Some stupas have such powers that they produce relics themselves.[3]


  1. Robert E. Buswell Jr., Donald S. Lopez Jr., The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism (Princeton: 2014), s.v. stūpa
  2. RW icon height 18px.png Stupa
  3. Allione, Tsultrim (2000). "Preface, footnote 1". Woman of Wisdom. Snow Lion.