FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, NJ - Councilman At-Large Rajiv Prasad and Mayor Phillip Kramer proclaimed the Samadhi Buddha statue a cultural landmark on behalf of the township council and its citizens on Tuesday. 

"Part of our diverse community has the Buddhist Vihara, they bring a lot to the town and they have brought a cultural landmark to the town," Prasad said. "The largest Buddha in the western hemisphere right on 27 if you haven't been there or seen it please make a point to go and see it."

The statue was unveiled at the New Jersey Buddhist Vihara & Meditation Center (NJBV) September 2009 and is the largest of its kind in the western hemisphere. The statue depicts Buddha in the Samadhi (sedentary meditation) position. The Buddha stands 25 feet high on its own and sits on a five-foot high pedestal that is designed as a lotus to give it a total height of 30 feet. 

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The Samadhi Budda statue was built by an accomplished monk sculptor, the Venerable Embulawitiya Medhananda Thero from Sri Lanka. He modeled the statue after a stone image of the Buddha at Anuradhapura, which is one of the ancient capital cities of Sri Lanka, known for its well-preserved ruins of ancient Sri Lankan civilization. 

"Since the unveiling seven years ago, we have had a large number of people visiting the temple grounds to see the statue and its sitting nature," NJBV President Dr. Wije Kottahachchi said. With the teachings of compassion and universal loving kindness is exemplified in this very statue. Our temple where the statue is located is open to the public of any faith, we welcome visitors with open arms."

It took Medhananda six months of actual work over a period of two years to complete the statue. Steel-reinforced concrete was used to construct its core and the outer layer is constructed out of cut red bricks with a mortar coating. The Buddha is painted annually to keep it looking pristine, and the paint gives it a luminous glow at night. Many commuters say they can see the statue glowing at night from Route 27. 

All Buddhist temples have a statue of the Buddha to not only provide a focus for devotees in their worship and observance of religious rites but also to provide a symbol embodying the Buddha’s benevolent and virtuous qualities of loving kindness, compassion, tolerance, non-violence, and co-existence. Seated in front of the statue, one can meditate on these virtues. The statue was built for the purpose of conveying these ideals, the essence of Buddha’s message, to people of all beliefs, cultures, and nations. 

Visitors can meditate in front of the Samadhi Buddha statue every day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. There is also a scenic redwood tree-lined meditation trail, one can walk to help cleanse their mind, and along the trail, they will see quotes to help with meditation. 

On Friday nights between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. are evenings of meditation with the resident monks and after meditation one can take part in discussions on the Buddhist doctrine. There is also a Dhamma school for children to help give them a foundation to assist with the development of rational thoughts, along with positive attitudes.

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