All-Seeing Wisdom (Bodnath, Nepal)
The Great Stupa of Bodnath, in Nepal's Kathmandu valley. The stupa is a major pilgrimage place for Tibetan Buddhists, for its construction was linked to the establishment of Buddhism in Tibet.
The mysterious eyes, painted on all four sides of the stupa's spire, represent the eyes of the Buddha and face the four cardinal directions--east, west, north, and south. Between each pair of eyes, where the nose would be, is what looks like a question mark. This is actually the Nepali character for the number 1, which symbolizes unity and the "one" way to reach enlightenment--through the Buddha's teachings. Above this is the third eye, symbolizing the all-seeing wisdom of the Buddha.
As an offering, devotees regularly sponsor the whitewashing of the stupa, concluded by the scattering of saffron-colored water in wide arcs around the "vase" of the monument and the hanging of new prayer flags from its pinnacle.
The gold of the stupa's pinnacle, gleaming brightly in the afternoon sun, was offered by a wandering Tibetan yogi, Shabkar, in 1821.