Buddha (Shakyamuni)


Gautama Buddha, also known as Siddhārtha Gautama, Shakyamuni, or simply the Buddha, was a sage on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. He is believed to have lived and taught mostly in eastern India sometime between the sixth and fourth centuries BCE.

The word Buddha means "awakened one" or "the enlightened one". "Buddha" is also used as a title for the first awakened being in an era. In most Buddhist traditions, Siddhartha Gautama is regarded as the Supreme Buddha (Pali sammāsambuddha, Sanskrit samyaksaṃbuddha) of our age. Gautama taught a Middle Way between sensual indulgence and the severe asceticism found in the Sramana (renunciation) movement common in his region. He later taught throughout regions of eastern India such as Magadha and Kośala.

Gautama is the primary figure in Buddhism and accounts of his life, discourses, and monastic rules are believed by Buddhists to have been summarized after his death and memorized by his followers. Various collections of teachings attributed to him were passed down by oral tradition and first committed to writing about 400 years later. (Wikipedia)

 

Representation of the Buddha in the Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhara

Representation of the Buddha in the Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhara

Representation of the Buddha in the Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhara, 1st century CE.

Image source: en.wikipedia.org

Giant Buddha sculpted into the cliff at Leshan, SICHUAN, CHINA

Giant Buddha sculpted into the cliff at Leshan, SICHUAN, CHINA

Giant Buddha sculpted into the cliff at Leshan, SICHUAN, CHINA

Image source: www.flickr.com

A statue of the Buddha from Sarnath

A statue of the Buddha from Sarnath, 4th century CE

A statue of the Buddha from Sarnath, 4th century CE (Dharmacakra mudrā)
Gupta period. Sandstone, H. 160 cm. Archaeological Museum (ASI), Sarnath, India. Location:Sarnath Museum, India.

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

 

Head of a Buddha

Head of a Buddha

Head of a Buddha Wood, gilded, H. 11.0 cm.Tumshuk, 5th -6th century, Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 7656)

Seated Buddha

Seated Buddha

Seated Buddha Wood, H. 16.3 cm and 12.1 cm. Kizil, Peacock Cave, 6th century (MIK III 8151 and 8135)

Buddha

Standing Buddha   Seated Buddha

Standing Buddha   Seated Buddha
Left: Standing Buddha Wood, H. 22.7 cm. Kizil, Peacock Cave, 7th century, Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 8137)
Right: Clay, H. 102.0 cm.Shorchuk, Kirin Cave, 7th- 8th century, Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 7841)

Buddha Under a Canopy

Buddha Under a Canopy

Buddha Under a Canopy Wall painting, 23.5 x 21.0 cm. Khocho, 7th century (MIK III 8731)

 

Bronze medallion of Seated Buddha with Worshipers

Bronze medallion of Seated Buddha with Worshipers

Bronze medallion of Seated Buddha with Worshipers

Bronze, D. 6.2 cm. Khocho, 7th -8th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 7197)

This repousse gilt- bronze medallion depicts a seated Buddha with a worshiper at each side. His robe covers both shoulders, and his head and body are surrounded by a nimbus and mandorla. He is sitting on a lotus pedestal with hands clasped in his lap. The medallion has a beaded border with holes through which it can be attached to a support.

Standing Buddha

Standing Buddha

Standing Buddha

Embroidery on silk, 14.5 x 6.0 cm. Toyok, Manuscript Room, 8th -9th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 6178)

This standing Buddha has been executed in Zopfctkk-technik (interlacing backstitching?), silk on silk. Re- mains of material on one side prove that it formed part of a larger textile, perhaps a temple banner. The Buddha is standing on a lotus, his head encircled by a nimbus. His outer garment is bordered in blue at the top and bottom hems and at the sides. His right hand is raised, while his left holds one end of the garment. Red, black, and blue stitches create the contours.

Otto von Falke, who is quoted by von Le Coq, explains the embroidery technique thus: "Nothing is to be seen ... of the very delicate ground material, as the embroidery totally covers the front and back of the fabric. Flechtstich is used to follow the lines of the design and thus enhance its clarity of form by clarity of texture . "

 

Seated Buddha

Seated Buddha   Seated Buddha (in meditation)

Seated Buddha   Seated Buddha (in meditation)

Left: Wood, H. 15.0 cm. Khocho, 9th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 4722)
Right: Wood, H. 16.0 cm. Tumshuk, 5th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 8034)

Left: The Buddha sits on a lotus pedestal before a mandorla and a nimbus in the form of a pointed leaf. His right shoulder is partly covered by a section of the shawl. The broad, fleshy face has East Asian features. The Buddha is in an attitude of meditation; his hands rest on his lap beneath the shawl. Around the mandorla is a border of addorsed spirals, carved from the full thickness of the wood.

It is possible that the figure comes from the crown of an Avalokiteshvara and is to be identified as the Buddha Amitabha.

Right: Among the treasures of the Central Asian collection in Berlin is one of the most beautiful ancient wood figures ever found, a sculpture of the Buddha seated in the attitude of meditation {dhycmasana). His head is slightly inclined forward; the hair and the topknot are smooth. The contours of his body are clearly discernible beneath a tight-fitting, apparently transparent overgarment, the only garment to be seen. This type of smooth, unwrinkled robe is reminiscent of some of the masterly sculptures of the Indian Gupta dynasty found at Sarnath. The webbings that are one of the thirty-two marks ( mahapurushalakshanas) of a world-ruling king (chakmvartiri) or a future Buddha are here only visible between the thumb and forefinger of the right hand, yet we must picture them between all the Buddha's fingers. Missing are the halo and mandorla, and the throne on which the figure was originally seated has been lost.

As traces of polychrome suggest, the sculpture was once entirely painted. Statues of this type and size seem to have been votive offerings from pious Buddhists.

Seated Buddhas

Seated Buddhas

Seated Buddhas

Wall painting, 67x72 cm. Bezeklik, Temple 19, 9th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 8382)

This fragment of a row of almost identical Buddhas is from the corners of the pedestal of Temple 19. Two Buddhas, alike apart from the position of their hands, are sitting with legs crossed on large stylized lotus blossoms under canopies hung with bells and studded with precious stones. The figure on the left has his left hand (and probably also his right hand, now badly damaged) raised in the gesture of teaching; the second Buddha has his right hand raised in the teaching gesture, while his left holds one end of his garment. The nimbuses and the mandorlas round the bodies lend warmth to the picture by their harmonious gradations of color. The East Asian character of this painting, in the Buddhist Chinese Style, is very evident.

 

Life Scenes of Buddha - Birth-Enlightenment-Descent from Heaven-First Sermon-Passing Away -

Life Scenes of Buddha - Birth-Enlightenment-Descent from Heaven-First Sermon-Passing Away -

Life Scenes of Buddha - Birth-Enlightenment-Descent from Heaven-First Sermon-Passing Away -
This artefact resides at the Government Museum, Mathura. (hi: Rashtriya Sangrahalaya) formerly The Curzon Museum of Archaeology, Museum Road or Murari Lal Rajpal road, Dampier Nagar, Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, India.

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

Life Scenes of Buddha - Korean version

Life Scenes of Buddha - Korean version

View Entire Life Scenes of Buddha - Korean version at m.blog.daum.net   Alternate version  

Image source and Reference: m.blog.daum.net

 

Birth of Buddha at Lumbini

Birth of Buddha at Lumbini

Birth of Buddha at Lumbini.
Picture of a painting in a Laotian Temple.

Image source: en.wikipedia.org

Painting of the miraculous birth of Gautama Buddha

Painting of the miraculous birth of Gautama Buddha

Painting of the miraculous birth of Gautama Buddha,
out of the side of Queen Mahamaya. Sanskrit Astasahasrika Prajnaparamita Sutra manuscript written in the Ranjana script. Nalanda, Bihar, India.

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

 

Birth of the Buddha (Scalpture)

Birth of the Buddha (Scalpture)

Birth of the Buddha (Scalpture) Gandhara (Pakistan); Kushan dynasty. late 2nd to early 3rd century AD
COLLECTION OF FREER GALLERY OF ART, SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION.

This scene shows the miraculous birth of Prince Siddharta in the grove of sal trees called Lumbini, near the Sakya capital Kapilavastu, where his mother stopped on the way to her parents’ home for her confinement. Queen Mahamaya is standing in the center holding onto a branch, while her sister Mahaprajapati supports her; we note the short tunic and the trouser-like dhoti. Like all heroic births, this one is miraculous: the child emerges from the mother’s side. In the Freer relief, the child Siddharta is shown with a halo, symbol of divinity (originally the Iranian sun disc), and the ushnisha (a cranial protuberance concealed under the topknot). The latter is among the magic marks that distinguish him from ordinary mortals and reveal his supernatural character; it is thought to accommodate the cosmic consciousness or supreme wisdom which Siddharta Gautama acquired only when he became the Buddha, i.e., the Fully Awakened or Enlightened One.

In this relief (fig. 8), two women are standing next to the queen’s sister. The first holds a mirror; her right hand is raised in a gesture of rejoicing. The other carries a box with ointments and a fan of peacock feathers . The elaborate coiffures of all four women are adorned with flowers; they wear earrings, necklaces, wristlets and anklets. The anklets of the queen and her sister are double and adorned with a cabochon; the queen alone wears an additional long, jewelled necklace which falls over her right breast. To the left, the child Buddha is received on a scarf by Sakra (Indra), the king of heaven — recognizable by his flat (Iranian?) crown and the third eye; he wears a heavy jewelled necklace which falls over his arm like a sacred cord. The youthful god with bare torso and the topknot of a brahman, standing behind Indra, in an attitude of pious adoration, is Brahma. A third deva, in awe, touches his lower lip with the left hand while the right jubilantly waves his upper garment in the air. Two more adoring denizens of the heavenly world are shown above; they may have held musical instruments.

 

 

Birth of the Buddha (Scalpture)

Birth of the Buddha (Scalpture)

Birth of the Buddha (Scalpture) Gandhara (Pakistan); Kushan dynasty.

As we are told by the scriptures, the child Buddha at once stood upright, took seven strides and announced that this was his last birth.

Image source: archive.org "The Freer Indian sculptures" Plate 9

Birth of the Buddha (Scalpture)

Birth of the Buddha (Scalpture)

Birth of the Buddha (Scalpture) Amaravati; Later Andhra dynasty.

For comparison, we show this Amaravati relief illustrating the similar scene, but the child Buddha is not represented. The scarf held by the gods is empty; so is the footstool next to Queen Maya. The languorous attenuated beauty of the figures, the music of softly moving contours make the Amaravati reliefs, in the words of Coomaraswamy, “the most voluptuous and the most delicate flower of Indian sculpture.”

Image source: archive.org "The Freer Indian sculptures" Plate 10

 

The Seven Steps of Prince Siddhartha

The Seven Steps of Prince Siddhartha

The Seven Steps of Prince Siddhartha

Schist, 34x21.5 cm. Pakistan, Gandhara, ca. 3rd-4th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK I 94)

According to tradition, immediately after the miraculous birth of Prince Siddhartha in the Lumbini garden near Kapilavastu, the divine baby, later to become the Buddha Shakyamuni, received his "First Bath." This ritual bath of consecration and purification can be depicted as two streams of water falling from the heavens or from the great cosmic serpents. In Gandharan sculpture, the Brahmanical gods Indra and Brahma are often shown pouring the holy water over the child. This episode is followed by the "Seven Steps": the baby is said to have taken seven steps in the direction of each of the cardinal points, proclaiming that he had been born to become the Buddha — the enlightened one — and that this birth was his final one, since he had achieved the necessary merit in previous existences to escape the cycle of reincarnation, as is the goal of all Buddhists.

The two scenes are sometimes combined, and it is not always easy to determine which is being specified. The Seven Steps can at times be identified by the raised right arm of the baby symbolizing his proclamation, while in the First Bath he is normally shown standing on a stool, his arms hanging at his sides. However, in the absence of water being showered over the child, even the arms-pendent position is usually identified as the Seven Steps. The Berlin fragment shows the naked infant standing on the ground where he took the seven steps, his arms at his sides; the spiritual energy emanating from him is indicated by a halo.

The birth of Siddhartha was attended by Indra and Brahma as well as a group of lesser divinities. Here the attendant figures clasp their hands in the traditional gesture of adoration; the figure to the right of the infant in the foreground probably represents Indra. Another god, standing to the right of Indra, fingers raised to his lips in wonder and waving his scarflike garment, is often present at the birth scene.

 

 

The Four Sights (Signs)

The Four Sights

The Four Sights
The four Sights (Signs) were an old man, a sick man, a dead man, and a Sadhu, or mendicant religious ascetic.

Image source: www.newworldencyclopedia.org

The 4 Signs (Omens) for going forth

The 4 Signs (Omens) for going forth

The 4 Signs (Omens) for going forth

Image source: what-buddha-said.net

 

Great Departure

Great Departure

Great Departure
Scene of the Buddha's Great Departure from palatial life. Gandahara 1-2nd century. Guimet Museum. Photograph 2005. This scene depicts the "Great Departure" predestined being, he appears here surrounded by a halo, and accompanied by numerous guards, mithuna loving couples, and devata, come to pay homage

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

 

The Great Departure of Prince Siddhartha

Departure of Prince Siddhartha   The Great Departure

Left: Departure of Prince Siddhartha

Right: The Great Departure Wall painting, 47.0 x 26.5 cm. Khocho, Ruin p, 8th century, Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 4426)
This fragment was found in the rubble of the northern passage of Ruin p in Khocho. Its original location was at first a mystery, until Grunwedel found the answer on a visit to Sengim. There he discovered a painted dome, with a central rosette at the apex depicting just such a scene. The radial stripes in this fragment prove that it must have come from a corresponding location. The reduced dimensions suggest that it belonged to the dome of the porch of Ruin.

Behind the scene depicted here is the legend of Prince Siddhartha. Although his father sought to interest him in worldly pleasures and keep him oblivious of suffering, it came to pass that while riding out on four occasions he met an old man, a sick man, a dead man, and a monk. These experiences convinced him of the transitory nature of all forms of life and led him to renounce the world. At the age of twenty-nine he left his father's palace, and his wife and son, secretly in the middle of the night.

Here the Bodhisattva Siddhartha, partly visible on the left, rides his favorite horse Kanthaka "away from home to homelessness." He was assisted in his clandestine flight, the legend tells us, by gods and demi-gods. To avoid any noise demigods held the horse's hooves. In the mural the forehead and bristling hair of one such being can be seen below the horse's head. At the bottom there is a fragment of the figure of another demigod.

The Great Departure (Gautama leaving home)

Relic depicting Gautama leaving home   The Great Departure

Left: Relic depicting Gautama leaving home. The Great Departure, c.1–2nd century. (Musée Guimet)

Right: The Great Departure This is a closeup of the Great Departure from Lalitavistara panel I.a65, on the west side of the monument. It narrates Shakyamuni's departure from his palace at Kapilavastu, on the beginning of his spiritual journey. Gods Indra (with umbrella) and Brahma lead Shakyamuni's horse, while flying apsarasas cushion the horse's feet so as not to awaken the palace's inhabitants. The prince is seated on his horse in a variant of "royal ease," almost as if the saddle were a throne.

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org   commons.wikimedia.org

 

Prince Siddhartha shaves his hair and becomes an ascetic.

Prince Siddhartha shaves his hair and becomes an ascetic.

Prince Siddhartha shaves his hair and becomes an ascetic.
Prince Siddharta Gautama shaves the hair off his head as the sign to decline his status as ksatriya (warrior class) and becomes an ascetic hermit, his servants hold his sword, crown, and princely jewelry while his horse Kanthaka stands on right. Bas-relief panel at Borobudur, Java, Indonesia.

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

 

Ascetic Gautama

Ascetic Gautama with his five companions   The Fasting Siddhartha

Left: Ascetic Gautama with his five companions,
who later comprised the first Sangha. (Painting in Laotian temple)

Right: The Fasting Siddhartha Stone, 4.3 x 3.5 cm. Pakistan, Gandhara, 5th-6th century, Said to have been found at Khotan , Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 4849)

After Prince Siddhartha renounced his royal heritage and his luxurious existence in the palace at Kapilavastu, he wandered for six years in search of personal salvation and enlightenment. He tried all the traditional approaches, including the ascetic practice of severe physical austerities. Eventually he forsook these methods as being too extreme, having realized that moderation in all things would bring him closer to his goal.

Here, the emaciated Siddhartha is shown seated in a yogic posture surrounded by disciples and Vajrapani, the thunderbolt bearer, who throughout Gandharan Buddhist iconography assumes the position of the Buddha's personal bodyguard even though never specifically contributing to his personal safety.

This fragment is part of a miniature portable shrine in the form of a diptych which would have included additional scenes from the life of the Buddha. Originating in the Gandharan region, such objects played a major role in the dissemination of Buddhist iconography and Gandharan styles, being transported by the faithful to lands far distant from those where the Buddha lived out his life.

The emaciated Buddha as an ascetic

The emaciated Buddha as an ascetic   The emaciated Buddha

Left: The emaciated Buddha as an ascetic (Gandhara, second or third century C.E., British Museum)
Right: The emaciated Buddha Asceticism, Sramana traditions, Shramanic austerities, Wat Umong, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Image sources: www.newworldencyclopedia.org (commons.wikimedia.org)     commons.wikimedia.org (flickr.com)

Ascetic Buddha

Ascetic Buddha   AThe emaciated Buddha as an ascetic

Left: Ascetic Buddha late Ming period (1368-1644) Blanc-de-Chine, Danish National Museum
Right: TThe Buddha Shakyamuni as an ascetic approx. 1900-1949. China. Nephrite.

Image sources: commons.wikimedia.org   commons.wikimedia.org

Buddha walking away from asceticism

Buddha walking away from asceticism  

Buddha walking away from asceticism

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org  

 

Buddha Enlightenment


Buddha
The Bodhisatta was sitting on a Golden Throne under a Bodhi tree and being challenged by Mara (the Evil One) riding on the ferocious elephant Girimekhala. Mara with host tried to capture the Golen Throne just before the Bodhistta’s Enlightenment.
Source: phramick.wordpress.com

After asceticism and concentrating on meditation and Anapana-sati (awareness of breathing in and out), Siddhartha is said to have discovered what Buddhists call the Middle Way—a path of moderation away from the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification. He accepted a little milk and rice pudding from a village girl named Sujata, who wrongly believed him to be the spirit that had granted her a wish, such was his emaciated appearance. Then, sitting under a pipal tree, now known as the Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya, India, he vowed never to arise until he had found the Truth. Kaundinya and the other four companions, believing that he had abandoned his search and become undisciplined, left. After 49 days meditating, at the age of 35, he attained Enlightenment; according to some traditions, this occurred approximately in the fifth lunar month, and according to others in the twelfth. Gautama, from then on, was known as the Buddha or "Awakened One." Buddha is also sometimes translated as "The Enlightened One." Often, he is referred to in Buddhism as Shakyamuni Buddha or "The Awakened One of the Shakya Clan."

At this point, he is believed to have realized complete awakening and insight into the nature and cause of human suffering, which was ignorance, along with steps necessary to eliminate it. This was then categorized into 'Four Noble Truths'; the state of supreme liberation—possible for any being—was called Nirvana. He then allegedly came to possess the Ten Characteristics, which are said to belong to every Buddha.

According to one of the stories in the Ayacana Sutta (Samyutta Nikaya VI.1), a scripture found in the Pali and other canons, immediately after his Enlightenment, the Buddha was wondering whether or not he should teach the Dharma to human beings. He was concerned that, as human beings were overpowered by greed, hatred and delusion, they would not be able to see the true dharma, which was subtle, deep and hard to understand. However, Brahma Sahampati interceded and asked that he teach the dharma to the world, as "there will be those who will understand the Dharma". With his great compassion to all beings in the universe, the Buddha agreed to become a teacher.

Read the mythological version of Buddha Enlightenmen.

 

Mara’s Assault and the Buddha’s Enlightenment

Mara’s Assault and the Buddha’s Enlightenment

Mara’s Assault and the Buddha’s Enlightenment Gandhara (Pakistan); Kushan dynasty. Late second and early third century, A.D.
COLLECTION OF FREER GALLERY OF ART, WASHINGTON, D,C.



Mara’s Assault and the Buddha’s Enlightenment

Mara’s Assault and the Buddha’s Enlightenment

Mara’s Assault and the Buddha’s Enlightenment (detail) Ajanta; Vakataka dynasty.

This scene (fig. 11) shows Gautama attaining Buddhahood, i.e. Enlightenment, despite the attacks and temptations of the Buddhist devil Mara, the spirit of the world. After years spent as a wandering ascetic, in meditation, fasts and penances, he sat down under a pipal tree (Ficus religiosa) outside of Gaya, in Magadha. He made a solemn vow that he would not leave his seat until the riddle of human suffering was solved.

For 49 days he sat beneath the tree. Mara tempted him with false news about his father’s kingdom; he called his host of demons and attacked him with whirlwind, tempest, flood and earthquake; he called his daughters Desire, Pleasure and Passion, who danced and sang, trying to seduce him; in vain, the Universal Empire was offered him. When Mara asked Gautama to show evidence of his goodness and benevolence, the latter touched the ground with his hand, and the Earth herself spoke with a voice of thunder: “I am his witness.” The devil gave up his struggle, and at the dawning of the 49th day, Gautama knew the ultimate truth. He had found the secret of suffering and understood what man must do to overcome it. He was “fully awakened” or enlightened — a Buddha.

In our relief, we see, at the Buddha’s right, a princely warrior who shields his eyes from the blinding sight with one hand while his sword arm is restrained by a young noble wearing a topknot. In the equivalent group at the Buddha’s left, the prince is drawing his sword while a noble youth pulls him back by his left arm. Despite some differences in their turbans, garments and swords, the two princes probably both represent Mara, and each of the two youths his son who tried to restrain the father. A progression in time may be implied by the different gestures.

To the far right, a bare-headed warrior in scale armour carries trident, shield and sword. The straight hilts of the swords, the sword belts, and the manner in which the latter pass through a loop halfway down the scabbards, all are typically Iranian features.

Above, Mara’s host of demons attack from both sides, brandishing various kinds of weapons and sounding bell, conch and drum; one of them appears to hold a serpent. An Indo-Scythian riding a camel, a rearing elephant, a monkey riding a horse and a large dog have joined the fray. Some demons have animal heads: boar, ram and monkey. One has a pronounced goitre; on his back, he carries the barrel drum which is being beaten by a helmeted figure.

A third helper of the Buddha is visible above the dog’s head: the bodhisattva Vajrapani, foe of sin and evil, and double of Indra who, like the latter, carries a thunderbolt (vajra).

Gautama is shown with the attributes of Buddhahood: halo, ushnisha and urna — a luminous mark (originally a tuft of hair) on the forehead. He is seated in yoga-posture under the pipal, also called bo-tree or Treeof Wisdom (bodhi), on a seat covered with grass and leaves. The left hand holds the end of his mantle while the right points downward, calling the earth to witness (bhumisparsa-mudra). In front of his seat, two armoured warriors with sword and battle-axe helplessly tumble to the ground.

In the lower left corner of the relief, a third princely figure sits in meditation under a sal tree, on a wicker stool. His back is turned towards the main scene. His right hand touches his forehead; one leg is raised above the footstool. The motif is the one we know as the “Contemplative Prince” in Chinese sculpture; it became very popular in early Korean and Japanese art as well. The insertion of the meditating Siddharta, still wearing his princely garments and jewels, in a relief illustrating the attack of Mara and the Enlightenment is an anachronism. Artistically a counterpoint to the dramatic main scene, this detail has a deep religious significance.

According to the relevant scripture Mara, in the midst of his assault, is told by an invisible being that Sakyamuni is like a great physician, pitying the world in its distress, diseases and passions. His one desire is to free mankind from the snares of delusion. So great are his psychic power and his compassion that he has become invincible.

Sakyamuni is here conceived as a powerful agent of mercy who will use his enlightenment for the benefit of mankind. This concept corresponds with that of the unspecified bodhisattva called Mahasattva whose qualities are described in a text 40 translated into Chinese in A.D. 284. The emphasis is on compassion, mercy and salvation; divine mercy is embodied as a superior being, the bodhisattva par excellence.


We can perhaps recognize the same motif in the gently smiling seated prince in an Amaravati relief illustrating the Assault of Mara.
In later representations of this scene at Ajanta Cave XXVI (fig. 12), and on the Barabudur, the seated prince has been transformed into Mara who is being consoled by his daughters. We believe that this motif of the dejected Mara is derived from that of the compassionate bodhisattva when the latter was not properly understood any more. We still recognize the sal tree beneath which the bodhisattva was meditating. The Prince of This World is sitting on a low stool under an umbrella, symbol of authority; his right hand supports the inclined head. The expression of compassionate sorrow has imperceptibly changed to one of distress at his failure. Mara’s three lovely daughters who, further to the left, are tempting the Buddha with song and dance, have come to sit at their father’s feet, trying to console him. The inserted “ideograph” of the compassionate bodhisattva who, in relative time, precedes the enlightened Buddha, has become a final adagio on which the drama of the climactic temptation scene ebbs out.

 

 

 

 

Buddha Preaching

Mahabodhi Temple and Tree of Wisdom (Scalpture)

Mahabodhi Temple and Tree of Wisdom

Mahabodhi Temple and Tree of Wisdom ib Bodhgaya

The holy site at Gaya (now Bodhgaya), where Sakyamuni’s Enlightenment took place, was later enclosed by a railing; parts of it from the Sunga dynasty still exist. The great temple, replacing a structure erected by Asoka, was admired by the Chinese pilgrim Hsiian-tsang as early as A. D. 635; its tower rises to nearly 200 feet (fig. 13). The temple has been much restored over the centuries. An altar-like platform next to it, in the shadow of an old pipal tree, is said to be the Buddha’s seat; the tree is believed to be the original Tree of Wisdom, or at least its direct descendant.

From Gaya, the Buddha journeyed to the Deer Park near Varanasi (Benares), the site of the modern Sarnath, where he joined the five hermits who had shared his previous penances. To these five ascetics, the Buddha preached his first sermon, the “Sermon of the Turning of the Wheel of the Law.” This contains the “Four Noble Truths” and the “Noble Eightfold Path” which are accepted as basic dogma by all Buddhist sects. He defined the Noble Truths as: Sorrow (birth, age, disease, death, etc.); the Causes of Sorrow (desire leads to rebirth which brings passion, etc.); the Suppression of Sorrow (the complete suppression of that desire so that no passion remains, etc.); and the Way to the Suppression of Sorrow (i.e. the Noble Eightfold Path). The latter consists of Right Views, Right Resolve, Right Speech, Right Conduct, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Recollection and Right Meditation.

The five ascetics were convinced by the new doctrine, gave up their austerities and once more became the Buddha’s disciples. On this holy site monasteries, shrines and stupas were erected; one of the latter still stands.

Painting of the first sermon

Painting of the first sermonn

Painting of the first sermon
depicted at Wat Chedi Liem in Thailand.

Image source: en.wikipedia.org

 

 

Buddha's First Sermon

Buddha's First Sermon

Buddha's First Sermon at Sarnath,
Kushan Period, ca. 3rd century Pakistan (ancient region of Gandhara).

Image source: www.arthistoryclub.com

Painting of the first sermon

Painting of the first sermonn

Painting of the first sermon
depicted at Wat Chedi Liem in Thailand.

Image source: en.wikipedia.org

Buddha's First Sermon

Buddha's First Sermon

Buddha's First Sermon at Sarnath,
painted clay, Shorchuk, Kirin Cave, probably 8th century AD

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

Buddha's First Sermon at Sarnath

Buddha's First Sermon at Sarnath Buddha's First Sermon

Buddha's First Sermon at Sarnath Pakistan (ancient region of Gandhara), 2nd century. Gray schist, H. 11 1/4 in.; W. 12 3/4 in. Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Buddha is shown teaching the first sermon to five ascetics who become monks; in this way, he establishes the monastic order. The Buddha reaches down to set in motion the wheel of the law—a well-established symbol of Buddhist teaching, or dharma. To the Buddha's upper right stands the protective deity Vajrapani holding a vajra (thunderbolt).

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

 

The Buddha’s First Sermon (Scalpture)

The Buddha’s First Sermon (Scalpture)

The Buddha’s First Sermon in Sarnath (Scalpture)
Gandhara (Pakistan); Kushan dynasty. Late 2nd to early 3rd century AD
COLLECTION OF FREER GALLERY OF ART, WASHINGTON, D,C.

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org   archive.org "The Freer Indian sculptures" Plate 14

The Buddha’s First Sermon and Teaching Buddhas (Scalpture)

The Buddha’s First Sermon and Teaching Buddhas (Scalpture)

The Buddha’s First Sermon and Teaching Buddhas (Scalpture)
Ellora; Chalukya dynasty. seventh century

Gautama as well as the neighbouring Seven Buddhas of the Past are in the attitude of teaching.

Image source: archive.org "The Freer Indian sculptures" Plate 15

In the Freer relief above (fig. 14) the Buddha is seated on a dais covered with grass and leaves beneath a tree from which two garlands are hanging. His left hand once more holds the end of his mantle; the right is raised in a gesture of assurance, granting the absence of fear (abhaya-mudra). Generally in this scene — and especially at a more developed stage of Buddhist iconography — the Buddha is shown in the attitude of teaching, of turning the Wheel of the Law (dharmachakra-mudra).

In front of the Buddha’s seat, we see the Wheel of the Law, indicating the First Sermon; it is flanked by two reclining deer (antelope and ibex), which symbolize the Deer Park. This configuration became a standard element of the First Sermon motif. This configuration became a standard element of the First Sermon motif. We recognize it in Ellora Cave XII (fig. 15).

At the right of the Freer relief (fig. 14), on two lower seats, two monks with shaved heads are seated, listening intently; a third is standing on the left. The monks represent the five ascetics mentioned above; the two missing ones may have been lost with a part of the relief. Two standing worshippers flank the throne: on the left, a youthful brahman seems to receive a blessing; on the right, a typical Kushan in short tunic and trousers, with thick moustache and short curly hair, probably is an honored donor. Six devas, turbaned and jewelled, are shown in the background on the right; one of them is offering flowers. More gods or demi-gods may have been carved on the other side of the Buddha. The bearded figure holding a thunderbolt (vajra) behind the Buddha’s left shoulder is once more his guardian Vajrapani.

 

Scene of the Buddha Preaching

Scene of the Buddha Preaching (Illustration) 

Scene of the Buddha Preaching (Illustration)
Kizil, Cave of the Painters (after Grünwedel)

Scenes of the Buddha Preaching

Scenes of the Buddha Preaching 

Scenes of the Buddha Preaching

Wall painting, 47x42 cm. Kumtura, Cave at the Bend, 8th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 9024)

The Buddha is shown with a nimbus and flaming mandorla, seated crosslegged on a lotus pedestal. He is debating with a monk who squats to his right, offering what is probably a flower (the object is difficult to identify). The stubble on the monk's chin, dabbed on with a brush, is an original touch, making him more lifelike. The following considerations may help to explain the unconventional style of the painting.

There are caves in Kumtura with paintings in the Indo-Iranian style (see No. 18), and others where the pictures betray a definite East Asian touch. This fact gives us an idea of the historical influences operating along the northern Silk Route. It is remarkable that the two different styles are found in caves of the same area, without any tendency to merge. We do, however, possess a few fragments of paintings from Kumtura that cannot be positively ascribed to one style or the other: this is one of them. Indo-Iranian elements are mingled with Buddhist Chinese features; drawing and coloring techniques cannot be compared with the works of the main schools. The facial characterization of the Buddha, the flaming mandorla, and probably the speckled pattern on the robe are of distincdy Oriental inspiration, whereas the border, the lotus, and the portrayal of the monk reflect a different style. It is interesting to compare this painting with the six Kumtura murals that follow and to note the disparity that exists between them.

 

Scenes of the Buddha Preaching

Scenes of the Buddha Preaching 

Scenes of the Buddha Preaching

Wall painting, 51x75 cm.Tumshuk, Eastern Area, 7th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 8716)

The main ruins at Tumshuk are situated above the hamlet of that name on a ridge whose northern end divides into three spurs. The flat tops of these spurs and parts of the side of the massif between them are covered with the ruins of places of worship. Surprisingly enough, although the stone here is a brittle schist with abundant traces of clay, no works of art in this material have been found at the site.

While the French expeditions led by Paul Pelliot investigated the ruins of monasteries and temples north of the Aksu-Maralbashi road, the fourth German expedition under von Le Coq studied the complexes on the three cliffs to the south.

The area on the middle spur is the smallest and least interesting. On the eastern spur, however, remains of wall paintings were discovered, the only examples to have survived from these two great complexes. Von Le Coq considered the paintings to be quite different from those in the Kucha region and earlier in date.

This fragment of wall painting shows two scenes of the Buddha preaching. On the left the remains of a Buddha mandorla are visible. In front of it, to all appearances, stands a knight whose helmet is an un- usual sort of Spangelhelm. The nimbus round his head sets him off from another, younger man to the right, with lamellar armor and a conventional helmet.

A broad border separates this scene from a second, better-preserved one showing a seated Buddha with both hands raised in the teaching position. Webbing can be seen between his fingers. His body is surrounded by a circular mandorla, composed of concen- tric rings of different colors and filled in with a wavy pattern. The same ornamentation is known to us from later wall paintings under Chinese influence, for example, a large lunette in the Nirvana Cave in Kumtura (see No. 64, Fig. l). The design of the floral motifs around the Buddha's head also suggests a later date for this painting, as does the separation of the scenes by an ornamental border. There is a similar example in the Third Cave from the Front in Kizil, which Waldschmidt dated after A.D. 650.

The Buddha inclines his head to the right toward a brahman, whose expressive face with its blue beard has been preserved. To the left of the Buddha we see Vajrapani in armor, in his hands the traditional vajra and a fly whisk. Curiously enough, he is characterized as a demon by fangs in the corners of his mouth.

Scenes of the Buddha Preaching

Scenes of the Buddha Preaching   Scenes of the Buddha Preaching

Scenes of the Buddha Preachingt

Wall painting, 143x145 cm. Kizil, Gorge Cave, 7th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 8725a)

The remains of four square pictures of the Buddha preaching are contained in these paintings from the left-hand wall of the cella, which form a series complete in itself. They are composed on the same lines, with the Buddha seated in the center and addressing a group of believers, sometimes to his right, sometimes to his left. His static form is enlivened only by the varying position of the hands with broad webbing between the fingers. The Buddha is bigger than all the other figures, who surround him on both sides and sometimes encroach over the edges of the picture and the nimbus.

In the upper register, the left half of the first scene on the left has been almost totally destroyed. Originally the Buddha appeared in a nimbus and mandorla, preaching to his left. Above his nimbus on the left stood Brahma in a patchwork garment; the god Indra on the right has been preserved. Three rows of persons were originally portrayed in the left half. Direcdy at the Buddha's feet knelt an old ascetic in a patchwork garment, doubtiess Mahakashyapa; behind him sat Vajrapani wielding in the left hand a stylized fly whisk, with the vajra poised on his right knee; the third person was a young brahman. In the second row, adjacent to the mandorla, there was a young man with his hands together in an attitude of adoration, thought by Griinwedel to be the monk Subhuti. Behind and above him three brahmans could be seen, the one on the top left holding in his right hand a bowl from which he strewed flowers. In the midst of these four stood a dark-skinned lute player.

In the right, remaining half of this scene we can distinguish the following groups of figures. The first row from the bottom shows a king and queen looking up to the Buddha in adoration. Squatting at the queen's feet a maid supports a tray of flowers. Behind the king stands a figure holding the royal parasol rather low so as not to conceal the other attendants behind him, who carry the rest of the regalia: first, a woman holding the crown and a man standing behind the king, bearing the sword; then a flutist and two devaputras. Thus, the king is being invested with his insignia in the presence of the Buddha.

The story can be identified, as Griinwedel first pointed out, by reference to the dusky man who kneels at the Buddha's feet clasping a liquor bottle idhurta). It is the story of Dhurta the cobbler, who on the instructions of the Bodhisattva is carried in a drunken stupor into the king's palace, where he is waited on as king when he awakes. The cobbler is astonished at the change in his fortunes; he is then plied anew with wine, only to wake up again in his own hovel.

The way this scene is put together is very interesting, as the cobbler and the king are, of course, one and the same person. The contrast between these two types in a man's life constitutes the theme of the sermon.

In the upper right-hand scene the Buddha is preaching to his right. Before him kneels a brown-skinned man, apparendy making an entreaty, and turning his head toward a royal couple who are seated immediately next to the Buddha. Griinwedel interprets the scene thus:

A striped ruff is discernible behind the shoulder of the kneeling figure, which I would explain in the following way. We always find similar paper ruffs attached to the skull-masks of the Tibetan lamas I am fairly certain that the kneeling man so designated is meant to be an offender under sentence of death. The two figures behind the king and queen perhaps relate to the crime the man has committed: an old woman with a stick is talking to a maid who holds a parasol (the artist has drawn this very small) over the royal couple.

In the lower register on the left the Buddha faces to his right; Indra and Brahma are again to be seen above his nimbus, Sariputra and Maudgalyayana on either side of his mandorla. The crescent moon in the tree is meant to suggest night. Two demon princes with their retinue sit on each side of the Buddha. In front of him are three bowls on a small trolley. There should in fact be four, namely those that the guardians of the four quarters of the universe, the lokapalas Dhritarashtra, Vaishravana, Virupaksha, and Virudhaka, offered him when the two merchants Trapusa and Bhallika brought him gifts.

In the last scene on the right, of which only the left half has come down to us, the seated Buddha was shown in the company of two naked women (the one on his right has been preserved) — obviously temple prostitutes with their companions. A dead woman lay at his feet. By analogy Griinwedel postulated that the woman who originally sat on the Buddha's left was the same person as the dead woman. "She is meant to be the beautiful Shrimati, Jivaka's sister, with whom one of the monks fell in love, and who died suddenly. According to the legend, the Buddha preached a sermon to King Bimbisara over her corpse to the effect that human beauty is as nothing."

 

 

Yasodhara

The marriage of Prince Siddhattha and Princess Yasodhara
The marriage of Prince Siddhattha and Princess Yasodhara
(whose real name was BaddaCancana ) took place at the Golden Palace which was presented by his father, King Suddhodana. It was a luxurious palace full of comforts of life . The celebration lasted many days.
Source: phramick.wordpress.com


Tumetta aspires to be Sumedha soul-mate at the time of Dipankara Buddha
Tumetta aspires to be Sumedha soul-mate at the time of Dipankara Buddha
Source: www.usamyanmar.net


Buddha's and Yasodhara's past lives together as Kinnari and Kinnara
Kinnari and Kinnara One of Buddha's and Yasodhara's past lives together as Kinnari and Kinnara.
Source: www.usamyanmar.net

... Life ...

Yasodhara was the daughter of King Suppabuddha, and Pamita, sister of the Buddha's father, King Suddhodana. Her father was a Koliya chief and her mother came from a Shakya family. The Shakya and the Koliya were branches of the Adicca or Iksvaku clan of the solar dynasty. There were no other families considered equal to them in the region and therefore members of these two royal families married only among themselves.
She was wedded to her cousin, the Shakya prince Siddhartha in his 19th year when she was 16 years of age. At the age of 29 she gave birth to their only child, a boy named Rahula. On the day of his birth the Prince left the palace. Yasodhara was devastated and overcome with grief. Hearing that her husband was leading a holy life, she emulated him by removing her jewellery, wearing a plain yellow robe and eating only one meal a day. Although relatives sent her messages to say that they would maintain her, she did not take up those offers. Several princes sought her hand but she rejected the proposals. Throughout the six years that the Prince struggled for Enlightenment Princess Yasodhara followed the news of his actions closely and did likewise.
When the Buddha visited Kapilavatthu after enlightenment, Yasodhara did not go to see her former husband but thought: "Surely if I have gained any virtue at all the Lord will come to my presence." One day, after his meal the Buddha, accompanied by his two chief disciples entered the chamber of Yasodhara and sat on a seat prepared for Him. Hearing of His visit, Yasodhara swiftly came to him and clasping His ankles and placing her head at his feet reverenced Him.
Some time after her son Rahula became a novice Monk, Yasodhara also entered the Order of Monks and Nuns and within time attained Arahantship. She was ordained as Bhikkhuni included among the five hundred ladies following the Pajapati Gotami to establish Bhikkhuni Order. She was declared as foremost in possessing the supernatural power among the Nuns. Amongst female disciples she was chief of those who attained great supernormal powers. She died at the age of 78, two years before the Lord Buddha's Parinibbana.


... Legends ...

In many legends of the Buddha's life, Yashodhara meets Siddhartha Gautama for the first time in a previous life, when as the young brahmin Sumedha, he is formally identified as a future Buddha by the then current Buddha, Dipankara.
Waiting in the city of Paduma for Dipankara, he tries to buy flowers as an offering to the Enlightened One, but soon learns that the king already bought all the flowers for his own offering. Yet, as Dipankara is approaching, Sumedha spots a girl named Sumidha (or Bhadra) holding eight lotuses in her hands. He speaks to her with the intention of buying one of her flowers, but she recognises at once his potential and offers him five of the lotuses if he would promise that they would become husband and wife in all their next existences.
In the thirteenth chapter of the Mahayana Lotus Sutra, Yasodhara receives a prediction from Sakyamuni Buddha; Mahapajapati, too.

 

 

Jataka

Vishvantara Jataka

Scene from the Vishvantara Jataka 

Scene from the Vishvantara Jataka

Wall painting, 30x27 cm. Kizil, Cave of the Musicians, 600-650
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK HI 8392)

The once very beautiful Cave of the Musicians in the third architectural style, consisting of a barrel-vaulted cella, an icon pedestal on the rear wall, and an am- bulatory, was richly decorated with paintings. Even the underside of the door lintel carried a painting, and the ceiling was covered entirely with stylized, lozenge- shaped mountain landscapes, showing scenes from Jatakas and of bodhisattvas immolating themselves.

This painting illustrates what is probably the most famous, and throughout the Buddhist world the best-loved, story of one of the former existences of the Buddha, the Vishvantara Jataka (see Lienhard 1980). With its 800 stanzas it can be considered a true epic. Different versions of it in many languages, countless paintings and sculptures, and the accounts of Chinese pilgrims, all go to prove its popularity.

The story is as follows: Prince Vishvantara once pledged never to deny anything to anyone in the world, no matter what might be demanded of him: "My heart and eyes, my flesh and blood, my entire body — should someone desire them of me, I will give them to him." When without considering the welfare of his people he was led by generosity to give away a rain-bringing state elephant, he was banished from the kingdom. Shorn of all his possessions except a wagon drawn by four horses, Prince Vishvantara went into sylvan solitude, accompanied by his faithful wife Madri and their two children. Soon they met four brahman beggars who asked for the horses, and four others who wanted the wagon. After giving them all they desired, Vishvantara and Madri walked on, carrying their children. Soon they arrived at a hermitage in the woods, where they decided to stay.

One day, when Madri was out gathering berries in the woods, the god Shakra appeared to Vishvantara in the guise of an evil, covetous brahman, and demanded Vishvantara's children as his house slaves. Our wall painting shows the two children clinging desperately to their father in an attempt to avoid this sad fate. The scene, the giving up of Vishvantara's children, many descriptions of which exist, is the true climax of the tale — a full 344 stanzas are devoted to it. Finally, the wicked brahman asked for Madri too, and when Vishvantara consented even to this, the god Shakra revealed himself and everything turned out for the best after all. Having passed his trials the prince returned home accompanied by his relatives, and was reunited at the palace with his wife and children. In his next existence Vishvantara would achieve Buddhahood.

Jataka Scenes

Jataka Scenes 

Jataka Scenes

Wall painting, 168.8 x 221.7 cm. Kizil, Gorge Cave, 7th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 8449a)

This large mural is part of the painted ceiling of the Gorge Cave and gives an idea of the size such pictures could assume. It is generally taken as an example, along with No. 33, of a special development of the second Indo-Iranian style.

A stylized mountain landscape forms the setting for a number of Jataka scenes, which illustrate the essence of key moments in Buddhist legends telling of the Bodhisattva's boundless compassion and its moral repercussions. Each of the main figures, human or animal, suffering or sharing in another's sufferings, is to be identified with the Bodhisattva, that is, the Buddha in one of his previous existences. Here we shall mention only the most important and most easily identi- fiable scenes of the painting.

In the center is a scene from the previous incarnation of the Bodhisattva as Shyama. Legend has it that as a young ascetic Shyama lived a life of sacrifice in order to care for his old, blind parents, who dwelt in seclusion in the mountains. One day, while fetching water, he was accidentally shot by a king out hunting. Through speaking with the dying Shyama the king attained to increased wisdom and took it upon himself to look after the bereaved parents. The scene shows Shyama kneeling by a semicircular pool; he is filling a jug in his right hand with water for his parents. The royal huntsman charges toward him on a white horse, his bow at the ready. The legend is very popular in the Buddhist world and is also to be seen in the art of Gandhara and at Sanchi.

The next scene to the right is an illustration of the Sarvandadaraja Jataka. A king leaves his vast realm to an envious rival and goes off to live the life of a hermit. While he is meditating under a tree, he is approached by a beggar in the guise of a brahman; he allows himself to be delivered up to the rival king so that the beggar can collect the bounty on his head. The tall figure standing left of the tree is the king, his hands bound, while the dark-skinned brahman on the right is about to lead him off.

The scene below and between these two depicts the Shankhapala Jataka. The devout snake king Shankhapala submits without resistance to ill-treatment. The dusky king is standing in front of a tree, while a man to the left is about to strike him.

The next scene to the right is unfortunately difficult to decipher. It illustrates the popular legend of the Simhakapi Avadana, which tells of the lion who gave his own blood to save the life of a baby monkey that had been snatched by an eagle. On the right kneels the father monkey, imploring the lion's aid, while above them the eagle is about to make off with the infant.

All the scenes of this great painted ceiling are composed on similar lines, against a background of moun- tain landscapes. The same secondary features — such as the birds sitting in the mountains, the monkeys climbing trees, and the motif of the semicircular pool — occur again and again, and are often conceived as purely decorative elements.

Along the top is a strip containing an Avadana illustration, to be precise the Sumagadha Avadana. Su- magadha, the daughter of Anathapindika, is given in marriage by her father to the son of a friend. Her parents-in-law are devotees of the Digambara Jaina cult. Deeply ashamed to have to look upon these naked ascetics, Sumagadha is anxious to convert her parents-in-law and therefore wishes to invite the Buddha to visit them. Having obtained her parents-in-law's permission, she performs a flower sacrifice on the roof garden of the house. Pouring water from a jug, she prays the Buddha to visit her with his retinue. The Buddha does indeed hasten thither with his disciples, who are possessed of magical powers, and, as they approach, Sumagadha gives her parents-in-law the following description of the host in full flight: "He who sits in the chariot yonder and unleashes lightning and rain is Kaundinya; he who has his throne on the flowery mountain is Kashyapa the Great; he who rides yonder on the lion-drawn chariot is Sariputra; astride the elephant is Maudgalyayana; seated on the golden lotus is Aniruddha; in the chariot drawn by Garuda sits Purna, son of Maitrayani; the rider on the cloud is Ashvajit; he who leans against the palm tree is Upali; he who reclines on the palace of lapis lazuli is Katyayana; he who rides in the chariot drawn by bulls is Koshthila; in the chariot drawn by a swan sits Pilindavatsa; he who walks in the grove of trees is Shrona- kotivimsha; yonder is Rahula, in the form of a Chakravartin." Then the Buddha himself appears in the midst of his retinue.

On the extreme right is a woman standing with hands together in an attitude of entreaty — doubtless Sumagadha; two servants carrying jugs are running up to her. To the left appears a hovering figure, and next to it a seated one. Then follow: a pupil of the Buddha on a swan, Pilindavatsa; Purna on Garuda(?); Mahamaudgalyayana on his elephant; a seated pupil, not identifiable; and Ajnatakaundinya in his snake chariot. The figure on the extreme left cannot be identified.

 

Jataka Scenes

We can make out four Buddhist legends on this pedestal frieze. The first picture on the left extends from the broken edge to where the pool begins. It is an illustration of the Mahaprabhasa Avadana, which we shall meet again in No. 37 from Kirish. According to the legend, King Mahaprabhasa once went for a ride on a domesticated elephant. The elephant was in rut, and on seeing a wild elephant cow charged after her in leaps and bounds. The mahout was unable to bring the elephant under control and advised the king to grab the branches of a tree to save himself from the careering animal. Safely back at the palace, the king summoned the mahout, whom he accused of having given him an unschooled mount. But the mahout proved the elephant's obedience by ordering the animal to swallow red-hot iron balls.


Jataka Scenes
Jataka ScenesJataka Scenes

Jataka Scenes

Wall painting, 244x38 cm. Kizil, Second Gorge, Middle Cave, 7th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 8851)

The picture on the left shows the king in front of the palace, sitting on a throne draped with carpets; on his right we see the queen, on his left a brahman. To the right of this group kneels a man gesticulating wildly, with a brazier of red-hot balls at his feet. In the adjacent scene the king, mounted on the rutting elephant, is grabbing the branches of a tree with both arms.

The next picture relates the legend of the ascetic Mahatyagavan, who once upon a time visited three cities guarded by snakes on the other side of the ocean; in each he won for himself a chintamcmi, a wish-granting jewel. The snake gods, or nagas, were envious and wanted to rob him of the magic gems, whereupon he threatened to dry up the ocean, their element, with his supernatural powers. The snakes in their terror then offered him precious gifts.

In the picture we see Mahatyagavan standing in the oval ocean, on the point of bailing out the water with a shallow vessel. On each side a dark-skinned naga appears from below the waves, offering him precious stones in a bowl. Two deities hover over the scene and help the Bodhisattva to bail.

The third scene depicts the Kshantivadin Jataka. In the legend the king's wives are strolling in the park while he sleeps, when they meet an ascetic and listen to his preaching. When the king learns of this he metes out a barbaric punishment, chopping off the ascetic's hands and feet.

On the left we see the Bodhisattva as the ascetic in a rustic hut, his arms extended to the right; the dusky king is about to chop them off. The ascetic's right foot already lies on the footstool. A pupil of the ascetic's approaches, floating through the air.

The fourth and last of the legends depicted in the frieze is that of the ape king Mahakapi, who rescues his people from a hunting king by making a bridge over the river with his own body. Conical mountains frame the almost symmetrical picture on each side. Mahakapi has made himself into the bridge. On his back three little apes are hurrying to safety on the other side. To the left lurks the kneeling king with his arrow drawn.



Jataka Scenes

Mahaprabhasa Avadana

Scene of Mahaprabhasa Avadana 

Scene of Mahaprabhasa Avadana
Wall painting, 130x180 cm. Kirish, Knights' Cave, 7th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 8917)

The village of Kirish lies about twenty-five miles east-northeast of Kucha. Temple complexes with many fine wall paintings and sculptures have been excavated in the area.

The Knights' Cave in Kirish housed two series of pictures in strip form on its lateral walls. This fragment represents only a small part of them. Unfortunately, the murals were found in very bad condition, heavily coated with soot, so that an interpretation of the subject matter and a comparison of styles are very difficult. Yet it takes no more than a glance to appreciate the graphic finesse of this painting. There are no obvious criteria by which it can be assigned to one or other of the Indo-Iranian styles. Waldschmidt takes the view that the pictures exemplify a hybrid style of earlier and later elements. He also draws attention to peculiarities such as the curved back of the king's throne, the ends of which are here — an exceptional occurrence — visible above the drapery that hangs over it, or the king's small rectangular footstool, which is shown in oblique perspective.

The main section consists of two scenes illustrating the Mahaprabhasa Avadana, which has been described under No. 36. On the right is the charging elephant with the king on its back; he is clearly to be seen grabbing at the branches of the tree overhead. To the left of this is the king seated in front of his palace, attended by two courtiers and a servant who is presenting a bowl. The elephant, missing from this scene in No. 36, is here shown lying at the king's feet. In front of the throne is the bowl with the three red-hot iron balls. Behind the elephant can be seen the top half of a man gesticulating wildly with his right hand.

A caption in Tocharian occupies the top border of this illustration. According to Dr. K. Schmidt it reads: "...recited to him in [great] detail the. . . Jataka: Because of an elephant he [scil. King Mahaprabhasa] renounced the world [and] attained prophecy."

Because of their poor state of preservation it is for the time being impossible to explain the scene to the left of the Mahaprabhasa legend and the heads below the lower band of script.

 

 

 

The Legends of Buddha

The Spider Thread

Hindu hell

Hindu hell

Hindu hell

Image source: en.wikipedia.org

The Spider Thread

spider

(from a lecture by Masao Yokota)

The Buddha was in a lotus-filled garden when he perceived a man named “Kandata” who was squirming in the depths of Hell. He had been a murderer, an arsonist, and thief. A lifetime of these causes had put him in hell. He was in the company of others like him.

The Buddha looked further into Kandata’s life and saw an incident where Kandata came upon a spider. He raised his foot to stomp on it. Suddenly, he reconsidered, thinking, "There is no doubt that this spider is also a living being and it is a shame to take its life for no reason." In the end he spared the spider.

Knowing this, the Buddha took a spider thread and lowered it to into depths of Hell with the intention of saving Kandata.

Kandata reached for the thread and found it strong enough to hold his weight. Using all his strength he began lifting himself from Hell.

After some progress, he looked down and saw hundreds of others behind him climbing on the same spider thread.

He shouted back at them: “Get off! This is mine!” Just then, the thread broke and Kandata fell back into Hell.

 

 

Miraculous Crossing of the Ganges

Miraculous Crossing of the Ganges 

Miraculous Crossing of the Ganges

Wall painting, 48.5 x 97.5 cm. Kizil, Maya Cave (Site III), 600-650
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 8863)

This small fragment is part of a large, only partially preserved composition that once decorated a passage-way in the Maya Cave. In the center of the composition the Buddha is shown on the bank of a river, his left hand on his chest, his right hand outstretched and holding a dish. At the left five princely clad devotees are standing or kneeling, some of them presenting offerings. The most important of these figures, who is the only one covered by an umbrella, is shown here.

The following interpretation of the scene has been suggested by Waldschmidt:

In my view the subject can be none other than the miraculous crossing of the Ganges by the Buddha, as it is narrated in the Vinaya of the Mulasarvastivadin (Kyoto Tripitaka, 18.8) The presence of the brahman Varshakara relates this painting to the Ajatashatru episode depicted on the opposite wall; in both legends Varshakara plays an important part.

The story of the crossing of the Ganges goes like this:
King Ajatashatru's minister Varshakara has invited the Buddha and his community to a meal, at the close of which Varshakara offers the Buddha a cosdy bowl, making a solemn pledge. The Buddha replies with a few verses; then he proceeds on his journey to the Ganges, which he desires to cross. Curious as to which gate the Sublime will leave the city by, and at what point he will cross the river, Varshakara accompanies him, planning to erect a gate-tower and start a ferry service. The Buddha leaves the city by the western gate, then turns north toward the Ganges. There he notices that many people are crossing the river with the aid of gourds — a method that does not appeal to the Buddha. Summoning his transcendental powers he transports himself and all his community to the far shore. This miracle inspires a monk to compose three glorifying stanzas. Varshakara, for his part, carries out his plan and builds a gate-tower, calling it the "Gautama Gate" and the Buddha's crossing point the "Gautama Ford."

Note the interesting depiction of a city gate in the left background.

The Buddha on a Dragon-Boat

The Buddha on a Dragon-Boat 

The Buddha on a Dragon-Boat

Wall painting, 34x30.7 cm. Kizil, Cave of the Musicians, 600-650
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 8707 )

The Buddha is seated on a dragon-boat, his head shaded by a canopy which seems not to be connected to the boat. His large circular mandorla and his halo dominate the scene. As the mountain peaks projecting into the picture from below suggest, the boat must be quite close to shore. If this interpretation is correct, the small figure at the left is probably a ferryman.

The subject of this painting might well be one of the last miracles the Buddha performed before his earthly death. The story goes that he wished to journey from Rajagriha to Vaishali, and had to cross the Ganges near Pataliputra. Since the river was high, however, no ferryman was willing to take him to the other bank. So the Buddha called upon his supernatural powers and floated through the air across the water.

 

Double Image of the Buddha

Double Image of the Buddha  Double Image of the Buddha

Double Image of the Buddha

Painting on ramie, 52x19 cm. Khocho, 8th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 6301)

The curious painting on this temple banner shows two Buddha figures with separate bodies that merge into one in the region of the legs. They share a common mandorla and nimbus. The Buddha on the left raises his right arm and holds an alms bowl in his left hand before his chest. His head appears to be more inclined than that of his double; he looks down at the now hardly discernible Uighurian woman kneeling in adoration at his feet. The clothes are in light colors with brownish red stripes to indicate the folds. Above the feet can be seen the blue edge of the undergarment, possibly shared by both figures.

The unusual subject of this picture — the Buddha as a double image — crops up again and again in many different parts of Central Asia. It is inspired by a legend which is reported by the famous Chinese pilgrim Hsiian-tsang, who traveled through Central Asia and India in the seventh century. Two poor pilgrims, he tells us, each gave an artist a coin to paint them separate pictures of the Buddha. But when they came to pick these up on the appointed day, they suffered a great disappointment: their money had been sufficient for only one painting. Thereupon the Buddha in his boundless compassion performed a miracle: he doubled his image to honor the piety of the two pilgrims.

Newborn Prince Siddhartha

Newborn Prince Siddhartha 

Newborn Prince Siddhartha

Ivory, H. 6.8 cm. Chinese(?), 6th century or later. Acquired at Khocho
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 4747)

This remarkable sculpture, which to my knowledge has never been properly identified or put into historical perspective, illuminates in many ways the crosscurrents of iconography and style that influenced Central Asian art. The iconography derives from Gandharan sculp- ture, the style is Chinese, the ivory was discovered in Central Asia, but where it was made is unclear.

The association of this figure with the First Bath or Seven Steps in the narrative of Siddhartha's career is less important than the recognition of its significance as a cult image. Where the elevation of the newborn Siddhartha to cult status first took place is not known, but it did not occur either in Gandhara or in India. Fifth-century reliefs from Sarnath with scenes from the life of the Buddha emphasize the iconic nature of the infant by placing him on a lotus pedestal and making him proportionately larger than in Gandharan art. I am not aware, however, of any icons in the round from this period.

Credit for the subject's evolution to cult status belongs either to Central Asia or to China, with the weight of available evidence in favor of the latter. A Chinese gilded-bronze sculpture in The Cleveland Museum of Art, probably dating to around a d. 500, is apparendy the earliest candidate for a cult image of the newborn Siddhartha known (Lee 1955, figs. 1 and 2). At Cave 6 of the Yiin Kang Caves in Shansi province, dating to the end of the fifth century, the divine child as icon is already clearly represented.

A remarkable object, extraordinary in the emphasis of its subject matter, shows the continuation or survival of the cult of the newborn child in Central Asia in the eighth or ninth century. Sir Aurel Stein re- covered from the shrines of the Ming-oi site at Karashahr, not too far from Khocho, a section of a portable wooden shrine devoted to the newborn Siddhartha (Stein 1921, IV, pi. cxxvn). In the two main com- partments are very unorthodox representations of the over-life-size child with a nimbus, making the traditional, but iconographically premature, gestures of the Buddha, his right hand raised in the fear-allaying gesture {Mayamudm) and his left lowered in the boon-granting gesture (varadamudm). In one panel an at- tendant holds an umbrella over the man-child; in the other, he is adored by three figures. So conspicuous a departure from traditional iconography can only be explained by the existence of a cult devoted to the newborn child. In both these representations, as well as in the Berlin sculpture, the child wears a loincloth, probably reflecting the effect in Central Asia of the traditional Chinese abhorrence of the display of nudity. In Indian prototypes the baby is almost never clothed.

One cannot with any degree of confidence insist on either a Chinese or a Central Asian origin for the Berlin ivory, since both possibilities exist. But the elongated figure is close to Chinese figural styles of the late Northern Wei and Eastern Wei dynasties and could be as early as the sixth century. The schematic, symmetrical folds of the loincloth and their sculpturesque handling are also more Chinese in flavor than those of the portable shrine from Karashahr, being close to fifth- and sixth-century Chinese Buddhist bronze sculpture.

 

 

Nirvana

Buddha's entry into Parinirvana

Buddha's entry into Parinirvana

#An artist`s portrayal of Buddha's entry into Parinirvana.

Image source: en.wikipedia.org

The Death of the Buddha

The Death of the Buddha

The Death of the Buddha

Image source: www.pbs.org

Parinirvana of Gautama Buddha

Parinirvana of Gautama Buddha

Parinirvana of Gautama Buddha
Painting of the Sanskrit Astasahasrika Prajnaparamita Sutra manuscript written in the Ranjana script. Nalanda, Bihar, India. Circa 700-1100 CE.

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

Buddha statue depicting Parinirvana.

Buddha statue depicting Parinirvana.

Buddha statue depicting Parinirvana.
(Mahaparinirvana Temple, Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh, India)

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

 

The Buddha’s Death (parinirvana

The Buddha’s Death (parinirvana

The Buddha’s Death (parinirvana) Gandhara (Pakistan); Kushan dynasty.

The Buddha’s Death (parinirvana)

The Buddha’s Death (parinirvana)

The Buddha’s Death (parinirvana) - detail Ajanta; Vakataka dynasty.

 

Nehan (仏涅槃)
Nehan (仏涅槃)
Diptych of hanging scrolls, By Kōno Bairei (幸野楳嶺; 1844–1895)
Image source: The Mary Griggs Burke Collection Donated to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2015 

More than 40 years after enlightment, at the age of 80, the Buddha spent the rainy season near the city of Vaisali. After the rains he journeyed with his followers northwards to the hill country which had been the home of his youth. On the way he prepared the disciples for his death.

At the town of Pava he was entertained by a lay disciple, Chunda the smith, and ate a meal of pork. Soon after this he was attacked by dysentery, but he insisted on moving on to the nearby town of Kusinagara. Here on the outskirts of the town, he lay down under a sal tree, and that night he died. His last words were: "All composite things decay. Strive diligently!" This was his Final Extinction (parinirvana). The sorrowing disciples cremated his body, and his ashes were divided between the representatives of various tribal peoples and the king of Magadha.

In the Gandhara fragment at the Freer Gallery (fig. 16), the Buddha is lying on a splendid bed with mattress, blanket and pillows; his head rests on the right hand. The monk with a staff, standing at the far left, is Maha-Kasyapa, one of the principal disciples. On the road he had met a naked ascetic of the Ajivika sect who told him of the Buddha’s death. Next to Kasyapa, we see the naked ascetic; in his left hand he holds a cloth, in the right, one of the heavenly mandarava flowers which the gods had showered on the death-bed. In front of the Buddha’s couch, a hooded monk sits in meditation, next to a tripod of three sticks supporting a water container. He is Subhadra, the last convert made by the Buddha. Behind the naked ascetic, the Buddha’s guardian Vajrapani with his thunderbolt touches his head in an expression of grief. At the right, the Malla nobles of Kusinagara, with moustaches, turbans and jewels, are raising their hands to their heads and above in gestures of sorrow and despair. Above, a noble or deva is offering flowers; at the left, a tree spirit salutes the Buddha from a sal tree.

In a later representation of this scene in Ajanta Cave XXVI (fig. 17) the reclining Buddha has, in the “perspective of importance,"grown to colossal proportions; beneath him, we recognize the mourning disciples and nobles, their heads resting on their hands.

 

 

Nature Buddha

Not Buddha Nature !

Buddha statue overgrown by fig tree

Buddha statue overgrown by fig tree

Buddha statue overgrown by fig tree in Wat Mahatat in Ayutthaya historic park, Thailand.
According to a local tour guide, the tree is about 50 years old.

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

Buddha Thailand Art

Buddha Thailand Art

Buddha Thailand Art

Image source: photobucket.com

Buddha tree

Buddha tree

Buddha tree

Image source: www.flickr.com