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Tuesday, 21 March, 2000, 14:44 GMT
Brits to build biggest Buddha
gfx on sizes
The Buddha will dwarf the Statue of Liberty
Engineers from the UK have been asked to help make the world's largest statue - a 500ft Buddha that must last 1,000 years.

The Maitreya Buddha, which will be three times the size of the Statue of Liberty, is to be built at Bodhgaya in north India.

Its construction, expected to run into hundreds of millions of dollars, is being funded by an international consortium, the Maitreya Project.

The scale of the project and the logistics are just mind-blowing

Steve Oxley, British engineer
The spiritual adviser to the consortium, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, is quoted as saying: "Since Maitreya Buddha is the representation of the love of all the Buddhas, building the statue can be of great benefit to all living beings."

The statue, due to be completed in 2005, will sit on a throne 17 storeys high, housing a huge temple. Its feet will rest on a lotus.

Engineering feat

The Buddha is being described as a feat of modern engineering.

The UK company chosen to design and build prototypes is the Casting Development Centre in Sheffield.

Steve Oxley, project development manager at CDC said: "The scale of the project and the logistics are just mind-blowing."

Building the statue can be of great benefit to all living beings

Lama Zopa Rinpoche

The plan is to build it from at least 3,000 two-yard square bronze panels, each weighing about a half a tonne.

These will be bolted and welded to a tubular steel skeleton 100ft in diameter.

A big challenge facing the engineers is how to help the statue withstand damage from the elements.

In the rainy season they have to prevent the Buddha being either corroded from standing water or eroded from fast flowing water.

They also have to work out how to deal with extreme temperature varations between night and day, which are expected to make the Buddha expand and contract up to a foot a day.

'More good karma'

The Buddha was the dream of the late Tibetan Buddhist master, Lama Thubten Yeshe, who died in 1984.

It was then taken up by Lama Zopa Rinpoche.

The Maitreya Project believes that "by building the statue so big it creates much more good karma."

Quoting Buddhist teachings it says: "The merits received in making a holy object are directly related to the number of atoms the holy object is comprised of."

And it says: "By building it in the Bodhgaya, the place of enlightenment... many people will come to see it and will accumulate merit, leading them to temporary happiness and ultimate enlightenment."

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11 Mar 99 | From Our Own Correspondent
Tibetans keep their faith
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