Temple First Sangharma
On the ground floor of the Bell Tower (facing right entrance) is an elegant altar housing a beautifully wood-carved Male Sangharama Guardian（男伽蓝）.
On the ground floor of the Drum Tower (facing left entrance), you will find an altar dedicated to the Female Sangharama Guardian（女伽蓝）.
Sangharama Guardians in BTRTM
Both Sangharama Guardians measure approximately 120 (height) × 70 (width) × 60 (depth) cm. Seated on a ornate sectional throne or seat, they are dressed in traditional chinese costumes befitting those of ancient Chinese magistrates.
The male Guardian is depicted as a middle-aged man with a short black beard with drooping eyebrows and long earlobes. He wears a type of Guan Mao (冠帽) or an official’s headdress comprising of a bright blue headband fitting snugly just above his ears with two orange-coloured decorative side panels and a front pentagonal multi-coloured panel. He wears layered bright red long flow robes with light blue collars and a rectangular panel draping down to the level of his shins. The long outer sleeves flared up somewhat dramatically to reveal the inner—also red—robe. Just protruding from the bottom of his long robes is glimpsed the pointed fronts of his polychromatic boots, echoing the colours of his hat.
With an expressionless gaze to the front, his right hand holds a thin plain golden tapering plaque (a symbol of imperial authority) while his left rest on his left thigh.
The female Sangharama is shown with long slender curving eyebrows with her distinctly blue hair typed up behind the elaborate coronet. She also sports long earlobes and a small finely formed mouth framed by her closed red lips. She too gazes forward without any emotion.
Her clothing is more flamboyant: she wears an ornamental golden necklace with a green scarf covering her shoulders. Her main dress is orange on the outside and yellow on the inside while beneath this is a white inner robe. At the level of her elbows, blue, yellow, green and red ruffles (strips of cloth) appear on her sleeves. Her colourful shoes are shown sticking out from the bottom of her dress.
Her left hand is raised to the level of her shoulder with her open palm facing outwards; her middle and ring fingers are drawn back, holding a golden ring from which hung a small gold bell. The back of her right hand rests on her thigh with her index finger extended and the rest drawn in.
About Sangharama Guardians
Sangharama or Sanghagara (सँघाराम) is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘community garden’ (sangha, community + arama, garden) and thus ‘monastery’, or ‘temple’, the place, including its garden or grove, where dwells the Buddhist monastic community (Sangha). A famous sangharama was that of Kukkutarama in Pataliputra. The Kukkutura sangharama was later destroyed and its monks killed by Pusyamitra Sunga, according to the 2nd century CE Ashokavadana.
“Then King Pusyamitra equipped a fourfold army, and intending to destroy the Buddhist religion, he went to the Kukkutarama. (…) Pusyamitra therefore destroyed the sangharama, killed the monks there, and departed.” —Ashokavadana, 133, trans. John Strong.
Sangharama Guardians (simplified Chinese: 伽蓝菩萨; traditional Chinese: 伽藍菩薩,; pinyin: Qíelán Púsà, Vietnamese: Già Lam) are only revered in Chinese mixed Buddhism-Taoism, Sangharama Guardians refer to a group of devas and spirits who guard Buddhist monasteries, the dharma and the faith. There are 18 Sangharama guardians of a monastery. In Chinese Buddhism, over time and as an act of syncreticism, Guan Yu was seen as a representative sangharama guardian of the temple and the garden in which it stands. His statue is usually located on the far left of the main shrine, opposite his counterpart, Skanda.
According to Buddhist legends, in 592, Guan Yu manifested himself one night before Ch’an Master Zhiyi, the founder of the Tiantai school of Buddhism, along with a retinue of spiritual beings. Zhiyi was then in deep meditation on Yuquan Hill (玉泉山) when he was distracted by Guan Yu’s presence. Guan Yu then requested the master to teach him about the dharma. After receiving Buddhist teachings from the master, Guan Yu took refuge in the triple gems and also requested the Five Precepts. Henceforth, it is said that Guan Yu made a vow to become a guardian of temples and the dharma. Legends also claim that Guan Yu assisted Zhiyi in the construction of the Yuquan Temple (玉泉寺), which still stands today.
Development of BTRTM Sangharama Guardians
They were hand-carved and hand-painted by the master carver, Mr Zhang Weicheng from Yueqing Global Arts and Crafts Factory of Zhejiang Province, China.
On arrival from China, they were assembled in the Hundred Dragons Halls for the consecration ceremony before they were placed in their respective positions in the bell and drum towers.