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Maha Wizaya Zedi (မဟာဝိဇယစေတီ)

Burmese. Name of a Buddhist temple in Yangon's Dagon Township, which was built in 1980 AD, on a hill known as Dhammarakkhita, a Pali name meaning either ‘Protected by the Dharma’ or ‘Guardian of the Buddhist Law’, after one of the missionaries sent by Emperor Ashoka to proselytize the Buddhist faith. The pagoda was built in order to commemorate the first successful convening of all sects of the Buddhist monastic order of Myanmar under one supervisory body. It features a zedi that enshrines a Buddha image donated by the King and Queen of Nepal. On the inside, the convex ceiling of the inner sanctum (fig.) is richly decorated with 38 astronomical symbols, that are clarified by means of a nearby chart titled nakatayah amih myah (fig.), i.e. ‘Names of the Planets’, while on the inside the entrance gates are flanked with replicas of different trees that play an important role in Buddhism, such as the Cluster Fig Tree (fig.), which is mentioned in the Lotus Sutra, and that in Theravada Buddhism was used by Konagamana (fig.), the 26th of the 28 buddhas, as the tree for achieved Enlightenment; the Bodhi Tree (fig.), i.e. the tree under which the Sakyamuni Buddha attained Enlightenment; the Sala Tree, i.e. the tree under which Siddhartha Gautama was born; a Mango Tree (fig.), i.e. the tree which is said to have been used for achieved Enlightenment by Sikhi, the 23rd of the 28 buddhas; the Pulila Tree (Bignonia suaveolens), i.e. the tree which is said to have been used for achieved Enlightenment by Saranankara, the 3rd of the 28 buddhas, as well as by Vipassi, the 22nd of the 28 buddhas; the Indian Tulip Tree or Pacific Rosewood Tree (Thespesia populnea), i.e. a tree that due to its strong resemblance with the Ficus religiosa is sometimes used as a substitute for the Bodhi Tree, whilst there is also ample lexical evidence that both trees have been designated by identical or similar names in Sanskrit; and the Banyan Tree (fig.), the tree under which the god Vishnu was born, and which in Buddhism is the tree to which the Buddha moved to stay, seven days after he had gained Enlightenment. Surrounding the inner sanctum is an ambulatory-like aisle (fig.), which is decorated with colourful murals representing scenes from Buddhism, especially in the tunnel-shaped entrances. On one side of this corridor, along the outer walls of the inner sanctum, are niches with large-scale bonze Buddha statues, displayed in an alternating fashion with wooden panels of bas-relief carvings that depict characters and scenes from Buddhism, while on the opposite side, along the outer walls of the hallway, are big showroom-like chambers with large windows on the front and sides. Each one displays various Buddha images and occasionally a few other Buddhist artifacts or characters, while in the background are murals depicting Buddhist landmarks and famous temples from all over Myanmar. See MAP.