Buddha and Mara


Mara (Sanskrit: māra; Chinese: 魔; pinyin: mó; Tibetan Wylie: bdud; Burmese: မာရ်နတ်; Thai: มาร), in Buddhism, is the demon that tempted Gautama Buddha by trying to seduce him with the vision of beautiful women who, in various legends, are often said to be Mara's daughters. In Buddhist cosmology, Mara personifies unwholesome impulses, unskillfulness, the "death" of the spiritual life. He is a tempter, distracting humans from practicing the spiritual life by making mundane things alluring, or the negative seem positive. (Wikipedia)

 

Mara


Wall painting, Kizil, Cave of the Seafarers, ca. 500
Wall painting
Cave of the Seafarers
Kizil, ca. 500

Buddha and Mara
Mara's assault on the Buddha: The Defeat of Mara
Source: media.photobucket.com

Buddha and Mara
Attaining Enlightenment - Subduing Mara, Calling the Earth Goddess to Witness.
Comment: Mae Thorani is a hottie.
Source: www.thaiwebsites.com

Buddha
Mara's assault on the Buddha (aniconic representation: the Buddha is only symbolized by his throne)
Comment: Buddha is nobody !
Source: en.wikipedia.org

Buddha
Jin vase, Buddha detail. Shanghai Museum. (aniconic representation of sunyata: the Buddha is only symbolized by his image)
Comment: Buddha is somebody !
Source: commons.wikimedia.org


See it at YouTube
Comment: Korean girls want nobody !---Be grateful if you are nobody.

In Buddhism, Mara is the demon who assaulted Gautama Buddha beneath the bodhi tree, using violence, sensory pleasure and mockery in an attempt to prevent the Buddha from attaining enlightenment. In Buddhist cosmology, Mara personifies unskillfulness, the "death" of the spiritual life. He is a tempter, distracting humans from practicing the Buddhist dharma through making the mundane seem alluring, or the negative seem positive. Buddhism utilizes the concept of Mara to represent and personify negative qualities found in the human ego and psyche. The stories associated with Mara remind Buddhists that such demonic forces can be tamed by controlling one's mind, cravings and attachments.

In Buddhist iconography, Mara is most often presented as a hideous demon, although sometimes he is depicted as an enormous elephant, cobra or bull. When shown in an anthropomorphic (human) form he is usually represented riding an elephant with additional tusks. Other popular scenes of Mara show his demon army attacking the Buddha, his daughters tempting the Buddha, or the flood that washes away those under Mara's command.

In traditional Buddhism four senses of the word "mara" are given.
Klesa-mara, or Mara as the embodiment of all unskillful emotions.
Mrtyu-mara, or Mara as death, in the sense of the ceaseless round of birth and death.
Skandha-mara, or Mara as metaphor for the entirety of conditioned existence.
Devaputra-mara, or Mara the son of a deva (god), that is, Mara as an objectively existent being rather than as a metaphor.

Early Buddhists, as well as later Buddhists, acknowledged both a literal and "psychological" interpretation of Mara. Mara can be interpreted either as a real external demon or as internal vices that one faces on the pathway to enlightenment. From the psychological perspective, Mara is a manifestation of one's own mind. No external demon exists since it emerges from our own deluded thoughts. Those who see Mara as a personification of our human ego interpret the stories associated with him in a symbolic way. Mara becomes a representation for internal vices. His attack on the Buddha represents internal impulses towards violence and rage that can be overcome by following the Buddha's teachings of cultivating compassion, detachment and gentleness. The daughters of Mara represent lust and desire, which the Buddha overcame by recognizing their true nature as emptiness. Mara's own attack on the Buddha's pride was defeated by the Buddha's denial of the self since there was no "I" (ego) left to feel pride. Thus, the story of Mara's temptation can be interpreted symbolically, whereby the Buddha's own emotions, desires, and sense of self were represented by demons. Regardless of how Mara is understood, it is agreed that Mara has power only to the extent that our minds give it to him, and he must be overcome to proceed further into the Buddhist understanding of reality.



 


The Buddha's Enlightenment


Mara is best known for his part in the attack on the soon-to-be Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, meditating under the Bodhi tree, just prior to Buddha's enlightenment. This story came to be mythologized as the greatest battle between good and evil.

There are several versions of this story. This is the true version.

Thus have I heard: The Exalted One came to Bodh-Gaya and meditated under a tree. The tree was in the center of the world, the axis mundi. The spot was immovable spot because the Exalted One was about to enter the realm without fear and desire, a realm that transcends time and space, a realm that "I", the ego, no longer exists.
When Mara recognized that Siddhartha was on the verge of transcending his domain--the realm of fear and desire--the samsara, he took immediate action to prevent this kind of nonsense from happening.
He brought his three beautiful daughters (Tanha-craving, Arati-aversion and Raga-passion) to seduce Siddhartha. The Exalted One, without desire, remained in meditation.
Mara himself appeared before Siddhartha as a Chakravartin (world ruler), mounted on his elephant, Girimekhala, accompanied by a large army including monstrous demons wielding powerful and deadly weapons. They attacked Siddhartha. The Exalted One, without fear, sat still and unharmed.
Mara claimed that according to the Dharma the seat of enlightenment belongs to the greatest and only the greatest. Mara's soldiers cried out, "Mara is the Chakravartin. He is the greatest. I am his witness!". Mara challenged the Exalted One.
Then and there the Exalted One reached out his right hand to touch the earth in what is called the Bhumisparsha mudra, and Mae Thorani appeared. The water (representing the good merit accumulated by Buddha) she wrung from her hair caused a flood that drowned Mara's army. The earth-mother herself spoke: "Bless him/her who sits on the axis mundi, for one can only transcend time and space if one is immmovable."
Mara tried to push and pull Siddhartha away from the immovable spot but there was no-body there. He went ahead and sat on the spot but some-body was there.
Mara was perplexed. Mae Thorani explained: "This is Sakyamuni, my beloved son, who through his five-hundred incarnations has so given himself that there is no more "I". This is Tathagata--a Buddha who is going and is coming. This is Sunyata--form is empty and empty is form. This is Heaven--the world of non-duality. This is Nirvana--the extinction of fear and This is Eternal Bliss."
And as morning star rose in the sky on the new day, Siddhartha Gautama realized satori and achieved illumination. He became Buddha--the Enlightened One.



Note: Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr who grew up to become Muhammad Ali--The Greatest--wasn't born yet.

 




Joseph Campbell's version of the Buddha's enlightenment


Joseph Campbell
Follow your bliss

In Campbell's version, the immovable spot or axis mundi is not a geographical place, but a state of mind. It is that place in the psyche that is not moved by desire and fear.
To test the future-Buddha, Mara appeared as three different characters.
The first was Kama, or desire. He displayed before Siddhartha his three beautiful daughters named Lust, Fulfillment, and Regret.
If Siddhartha had not let go of his desire he would have looked for a way to fulfill his lust and would inevitably regret it. But he had disengaged his mind from the bodily desire.
Kama then turned himself into Mara, Lord of Death, and he brought an army of monstrous demons and threw against the Buddha all kind of weapons to inspire fear. But there was no "I" there to be frightened. This may explain why we don't see the Buddha's image in early Buddhist arts where he was symbolized by his throne, a dharma-wheel or a blurred image. He had disengaged himself. And the weapons that came into his realm of presence/non-existence were turned into lotuses or flowers.
Mara turned himself now into Dharma, the Lord of Social Duty. It was a trick and also a trap. Siddhartha was born a prince and destined to be a king. His duty was to rule and to rule well. How could he leave his people and the world behind in the pursuit of personal gratification? Wasn't that a selfish and cowardly act? By the way, where did he get the idea that he deserved to be and was about to become Buddha? What an egotistical jerk that he really was.
Campbell gave an excellent rhetorical answer: "How in heaven's name are you going to find your own track if you are always doing what society tells you your duty is?" So Buddha just dropped his hand and touched the earth. This is: "Don't try to move me with this journalistic appeal. I'm interested in eternity." And he called the Mother goddess to witness his right to be there. The goddess Earth herself said, "This is my beloved son who has, through innumerable lifetimes, so given of himself, there is no body here." And with that the elephant on which the Dharma was riding bowed, the army was dispersed and the Buddha received Illumination.



Victory over Mara
Victory over Mara
Victory over Mara (detail); Mongolia?; 19th century; Pigments on cloth; 30 7/8 x 25 1/2 (78.42 x 64.77 cm);
Rubin Museum of Art; C2006.66.305 (HAR 699)

View high-resolution image of 'Victory over Mara' (2519x3402 1.2MB)

 

 

Buddha statue, Wat Bang Riang, Phang Nga Province, Thailand

Buddha statue, Wat Bang Riang, Phang Nga Province, Thailand
Buddha statue, Wat Bang Riang, Phang Nga Province, Thailand

Meditating Buddha, protected by Mucalinda, king of serpents.

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

Statue of Buddha in Laos

Statue of Buddha in Laos

Statue of Buddha in Laos

Meditating Buddha, protected by Mucalinda, king of serpents.

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org


 

Buddha vs Mara

Buddha vs Mara

Buddha vs Mara

Image source: photobucket.com

Buddha vs Mara: BUDDHA! RESISTING TEMPTATION!!

Buddha vs Mara: BUDDHA! RESISTING TEMPTATION!!

Buddha vs Mara
BUDDHA! RESISTING TEMPTATION!!

Image source: photobucket.com


 

Buddha vs Mara

Buddha vs Mara

Buddha vs Mara

Image source: photobucket.com

Calling the earth to witness

Calling the earth to witness

Calling the earth to witness

Image source: www.flickr.com: Calling the earth to witness

 

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.

 

 

 

Fasting Buddha Statue at Lahore Museum

Fasting Buddha Statue at Lahore Museum

#1: Fasting Buddha Statue at Lahore Museum

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

Painting of Buddha, Shwesandaw Paya, Twante, Myammar

Painting of Buddha, Shwesandaw Paya, Twante, Myammar

#2: Painting of Buddha, Shwesandaw Paya, Twante, Myammar

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

Golden Triangle Buddha (near the Thailand - Laos border)

Golden Triangle Buddha (near the Thailand - Laos border)

#4: Golden Triangle Buddha (near the Thailand - Laos border), protected by Mucalinda, king of serpents

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org


The temptation of Siddhattha

The temptation of Siddhattha

#5: This scene depicts the meditation of Siddhattha beneath the Bodhi tree, when Mara sent his three daughters to tempt Siddhattha. They are Tanha (craving), Rakha (lust), and Arati (discontent).<

Image source: www.flickr.com

Daughters of the demon Mara

Daughters of the demon Mara Daughters of the demon Mara

#6a: Daughters of the demon Mara 1460-1470 CE Southern Burma (Myanmar) Glazed Terracotta
#6b: Three daughters of the Mara

Image source:
www.flickr.comdharmadeshana.blogspot.com

The temptation of Buddha

The temptation of Buddha

#7: The temptation of Buddha

Image source: photobucket.com

The ass-headed demons

The ass-headed demons

#8: The ass-headed demons (The British Museum) were sent by Mara to distract the Buddha from his course of enlightenment.

Image source: texasliberal.wordpress.com


Mara's army

 Mara's army

#9: Mara's army: Often foreigners are depicted amongst the army. They will be depicted with the clothes and weaponry that prevailed during the Ayutthaya period, not with contemporary attire.

Image source: www.thaiwebsites.com

Abhaya mudra

Abhaya mudra

#10: Abhaya mudra (mudra of no-fear") represents protection, peace, benevolence, and dispelling of fear. In the Theravada, it is usually made with the right hand raised to shoulder height, the arm bent and the palm facing outward with the fingers upright and joined and the left hand hanging down while standing

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

Mara's demonic army

Mara's demonic army

#11: Mara's demonic army

Image source: www2.bremen.de

Mara' army shouted: "Mara is the greatest.

Mara' army shouted:

#12: Mara' army shouted: "Mara is the greatest."

Image source: vayo.at.infoseek.co.jp


Riding on the back of Girimekhala, his celestial elephant, thousand-armed Mara, each hand brandishing a deadly weapon, advanced at noon with an incredibly large army toward the Bodhisatta Buddha-to-be to drive him from his seat under the Bodhi tree.
Mara tried nine different weapons from his arsenal--a tornado, heavy rain, showers of hot rocks, various missiles, embers, hot ashes, hot sand, and hot mud, and complete darkness--all in vain. Then he threw his last great weapon, a sharp, spinning blade, but again with no effect.
At last, Mara claimed the Bodhisatta's seat for himself, but the Bodhisatta asked, "Mara, do you have any witness of your greatness? Certainly, Mara replied, and he pointed to his soldiers who shouted, We are witnesses. What witness do you have? Mara asked in return. Not even counting other existences, the Bodhisatta calmly answered, but recalling just a fraction of the meritorious deeds I performed when reborn as Vessantara, this great earth will be my witness that I have fulfilled the ten Paramis merits.
As the Bodhisatta pointed to the ground, the earth roared so loudly that the elephant Girimekhala dropped to its knees, and Mara's whole army fled in panic even before the sun had set."-----Source: vayo.at.infoseek.co.jp


Bouddha Bhumisparsha-Mudra

Bouddha Bhumisparsha-Mudra

#13: Bouddha Bhumisparsha-Mudra

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

Buddha ayutthaya

#14: Buddha ayutthaya

#14: Buddha ayutthaya

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Buddha mit Mogallana und Sariputta

Buddha mit Mogallana und Sariputta

#15: Buddha mit Mogallana und Sariputta

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

Calling the Earth to witness

Calling the Earth to witness

#16: Calling the Earth to witness.

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org
Reference: Goddess of the Earth: Mae Thorani

 

Bhumisparsa Mudra (Buddha Subduing Mara): A mudra is a symbolic or ritual gesture in Hinduism and Buddhism.
The Bodhisattva is seated in the yoga position, left hand in his lap, palm up. The right hand rests on the knee and points to the ground. This posture is better known as 'calling the Earth to witness'.
When the evil Mara sent his three daughters (Tanha-craving, Arati-aversion and Raga-passion), to seduce the Buddha & then his army to stop Buddha from attaining enlightenment, the latter touched the ground (depicted as the 'calling the earth to witness' pose in statues) & Mae Thorani appeared.
The water (representing the good merit accumulated by Buddha) she wrung from her hair caused a flood that drowned Mara's army.


Nirvana

Nirvana

#17: Nirvana

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Sitting Buddha, Vitarka mudra

Sitting Buddha, Vitarka mudra

#18: Sitting Buddha, Vitarka mudra ("giving instruction"), Dvaravati style, Phra Pathom Chedi, Nakhon Pathom, Thailand

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org
Reference: Portrait of Buddha, in teaching posture
Dharmachakra Mudra

Buddha with gods Indra and Brahma

Buddha with gods Indra and Brahma

#19: This painting depict Buddha paying a visit to heaven, and meeting with the gods Indra and Brahma. Indra and Brahma hold their hands in posture indicating respect, while Buddha is explaining some teaching to them.

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

Halting the Sandalwood Image

Halting the Sandalwood Image

#20: Halting the Sandalwood Image
King Udayana had a sandalwood replica of the Buddha made. When the Buddha came, the image miraculously came to live and greeted him. Standing with his left hand raised, the Buddha halted the approach of his likeness and made the statue return to his seat, to be a model for further representations of the Buddha.

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org