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Last updated: May 15, 2002
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Maitreya Statue Project

The Maitreya project wants to build the world's largest statue. It is to be a representation of the future Buddha, the Maitreya Buddha. The height of the proposed monument is, at 150 metres, the equal of the great pyramid of Cheops in Egypt. It is to be an eighth wonder of the world at an estimated cost of 150 million US Dollars.
However, it the statue will not be built in Bodhgaya and the website of the Maitreya project says that "The statue will be located at Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh, in northern India close to the place of the historical Buddha's passing away." (see Maitreya site)

Whilst the idea of such a statue is in itself quite awe inspiring the notion of constructing it in Bodh Gaya (which was earlier the preferred site) appeared to me to raise some issues that needed to be discussed. The main issues that concerned were: Were all sections of the local community being consulted? Who decided whether the project benefited Bodh Gaya? Does constructing such a statue benefit Buddhism?

Maitreya Project To Move To Kushinagar
Melbourne, August 20, 2002. It is now clear that the Maitreya Project is almost certainly on the move to UP. The latest issue of the Full Moon Newsletter (Vol. II.2 - June / July 2002 ) contains a Progress Report by Peter Kedge, Director and CEO of the project in which he says that: "Maitreya Project has been offered a number of beautiful sites in the vicinity of Kushinagar" full story

The follow articles also relate to the statue project.


THE UNHAPPY PRINCE AND THE MAITREYA STATUE PROJECT

Christopher Titmuss. Oscar Wilde, the beloved 19th century Irish novelist, wrote a touching story called The Happy Prince about a tall statue gilded with leaves of fine gold, two bright sapphires for the eyes and a large red ruby on his waist. full article

Statue Project "not to be moved to Kushinagar"
March 20 2002. It appears that during January when His Holiness the Dalai Lama was in Bodh Gaya he was asked about the Maitreya Statue project by the Project Director Marcel Bertel, and he said in response that Kushinagar was a good place. This has led to discussion about whether it will perhaps be built in Kushinagar rather than Bodh Gaya. Full story

Buddha Realms: ABC Compass Program:
October 21 2001. "While traditional Buddhism may be under threat in Japan it had almost died out in India. But in recent years it has made a come-back here in Bodghaya where twenty seven temples have been erected by foreign Buddhist groups. Destined to out shine all of these is the ambitious plan by the popular Tibetan Buddhist, Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Just 3 kilometres from the Bodhi tree, an international standard hospital, school and university are on the drawing board. But the centre piece to this project will be a gigantic one hundred and fifty metre high statue of the Maitreya Buddha, the messianic or future Buddha. It will be the largest statue in the world and will cost at a conservative estimate 390 million dollars to build." transcript of program

China beats India in Buddha wars
The Observer May 13 2001. It was to have been the world's largest statue -- a 152m Buddha on a giant throne, visible for hundreds of kilometers across the dusty Indian plains. But the designers of the towering Maitreya Buddha -- soon to be built in the holy city of Bodhgaya -- received a nasty shock last week when the Chinese revealed that they are to construct their own monster Buddha, which will be 2.7m higher. full story

Maitreya Project Nickel-Aluminum Bronze Selected for World's Largest Statue
by Clive Barnes (nd.)
The economic situation in Bihar State, one of the poorest areas in India, will be transformed by plans to construct the world's largest statue there. The Maitreya Project is planning to build a 500-ft (152-m)-tall, 50-story-high bronze statue of the Buddha Maitreya at Bodhgaya in Bihar. link to article

India's 1,000 year Buddha underway
BBC Online May 4 2001. By Priyath Liyanage
Work has begun on a project to build the world's tallest Buddha statue in one of the poorest regions in India. Organisers say the statue will last for 1,000 years. The Maitreya project, in the northern province of Bihar, will also include a village complex on 16 hectares of land surrounding the holy Bodhgaya shrine. link to full story

The construction of a statue of the Buddha - big enough to contain a school, library, theatre and other facilities - in one of the poorest parts of India is drawing criticism
South China Morning Post
Wednesday  November 5  2000 David Wilson
WE are heading towards a new dark age, according to Buddhist scriptures. Despair, deformity and chaos will reign until a loving messiah - the Buddha Maitreya - manifests himself and creates heaven on Earth. full story

Pure Vision Editorial
April 2000. In this issue, Peter Kedge, Director of the Maitreya Project, replies to the concerns raised in our last issue about the proposed building of a US$150,000,000 (Aus$220,000,000) 500 foot bronze Buddha statue there. There has been surprisingly little discussion of this proposal in the Buddhist press, but if a 500 foot bronze statue of Jesus was being proposed by one group of Protestants for the city of Jerusalem, I imagine all Christians, Jews and Muslims would have a view. Big issues like these need open discussion, because in the long term, all Buddhists will be affected. full story

Peter Kedge's Response
April 2000. Thank you for Maitreya Project's opportunity to respond to Dr Friedlander's piece from your last issue. The chance to clarify, correct misconceptions, and offer an update full story

Letter From Bodh Gaya
September 1999. The monsoon has been fairly good in Bodhgaya this year. At dusk a cool breeze relieves the stifling heat if you stand on the new Japanese bridge across the Phalgu river. full story

The Village Republics letter
28 May 1999. "We introduce ourselves as members of the Bodh Gaya Forum of Village Republics. This Forum stands for grass-roots democracy and a social order built on spiritual values of freedom, justice and peace." full story

Related Links

THE UNHAPPY PRINCE AND THE MAITREYA STATUE PROJECT
Christopher Titmuss. more

Statue Project "not to be moved to Kushinagar" more

Buddha Realms more

China beats India in Buddha wars more

The Village Republic's letter more

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Texts and Translations © Peter G. Friedlander unless otherwise indicated.