Buddha Memorial Center
History and museums
The Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial Center (Chinese: 佛光山佛陀紀念館; pinyin: Fóguāngshān Fótuó jìniànguǎn) is a Mahayana Buddhist cultural, religious and educational complex located in Taiwan's Kaohsiung City, Dashu District. The center is affiliated with Fo Guang Shan, one of Taiwan's largest Buddhist organizations. The center purportedly houses one of the tooth relics of Gautama Buddha, the founder of the Buddhist faith. Construction of the center began in 2008, and the complex was opened to the public in December 2011.
In 1998, Fo Guang Shan founder Hsing Yun held the Bodhgaya International Full Ordination in India. This drew the attention of Kunga Dorje Rinpoche, a Tibetan lama who had been protecting one of the last remaining tooth relics of Gautama Buddha since the destruction of Namgyal Monastery in Tibet during the Cultural Revolution. The relic itself had been authenticated by several Tibetan rinpoches who had advised Kunga Dorje Rinpoche to build a stupa, but he was unable to do so due to old age. They reached the consensus to donate the tooth relic to Hsing Yun, believing he had the means to build a stupa so the public could pay their respects and make offerings to the Buddha's tooth relic. The relic was officially escorted to Taiwan on April 8, 1998.
Building plans for the Buddha Memorial Center started immediately in 1998 with support from the government. The site is situated immediately behind the main temple and covers more than 100 hectares. The complex faces east and is built along a central axial line. There is the Welcoming Hall, the eight Chinese-styled pagodas that stand for the Noble Eightfold Path, Photo Terrace, Bodhi Square, Memorial Hall, four stupas that symbolize the Four Noble Truths, and the Fo Guang Buddha.