Category Archives: asian art

Chalukyas of ancient India : glimpses from Badami caves

        The Gupta dynasty and its successors had declined by the end of the 6th century and several changes took place in the Deccan and Southern India. By the time the Vakatakas had collapsed the early Kaluchuris dynasty established itself  around 520 A.D and flourished till 600 A.D.  The Kaluchuris are noted for Pasupata Saivism, a religious  movement in the Deccan and South Asia. They excavated the Jogeswari caves,Mandapeshwara,Elephanta and the Dhumar Lena at Ellora. They were overtaken by the Western Chalukyas of Karnataka. The Kadambas of Banavasi ruled in South Karnataka and were also overtaken by the Western Chalukyas, who were Dravidian and ruled from Badami (ancient Vatapi) and called Badami Chalukyas. Their ruler Pulakesin I fortified the area of Badami in 543 A.D.  Pulakesin II was its most notable ruler. He defeated Harsha on the banks of the Narmada. He expanded the kingdom to the northern limits of the Pallava kingdom. However in  642 A.D Pallava king Narasimhavarman occupied Badami for some time. Pulakesin died fighting. However the Chalukyas regained power under Vikramaditya I. Later Vijayaditya (696-733) ruled for 37 years and built many temples. Vikramaditya II ruled 733 – 744 A.D and was victorious over Pallava king Nandivarman II. He was a kind ruler, made temples at Kanchipuram too. Thus this early Chalukyan dynasty ruled most of the Deccan for 200 years; from mid 6th century to mid 8th century.  They were overthrown by the Rashtrakutas.This dynasty is remembered for it rock-cutting sculpture and later structural temples. The rock cut tradition is found at Aihole and Badami in Karnataka. The Ravana Pahadi Cave at Aihole was excavated in 550 A.D.

    The Badami caves were excavated under the Chalukyas who were patrons of art. Badami was the capital of the Early Chalukyas. Badami is 5 km from the Malaprabha river.The rock is sandstone and the caves are next to an artificial lake, Lake Agastya. There are four main caves.

Badami Caves, 6th century,Karnataka.

By SUDHIR KUMAR D – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28398778

File:Badami-cave-temple.JPG

Badami Caves,6th century, Karnataka.

By rajeshodayanchal (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

      Cave 1 is Saivite. The forecourt of the cave is barely there. A mandapa with pillars and a small shrine are part of the cave. The facade has frieze of dwarfs. The sculpture of Nataraja with Ganesha and a drummer is seen at this cave. The image is 5 feet tall. The different arms are in different mudras and holding different objects. Nandi, the bull, the vehicle of Shiva can also be seen.  Adjoining the Nataraja is Goddess Durga as Mahisasuramardini.  This cave also has Ganesha, Kartikeya sculptures carved on its walls. There is also Harihara (half Vishnu, half Shiva) with Goddesses Lakhsmi and Parvati. There is also a relief sculpture of Shiva as ardhanarishwara, the androgynous Shiva along with consort Parvati. The verandah which is 75 feet by 65 feet has four columns with various carvings of Shiva. two dwarapalas guard the entrance. The carvings of this cave are ornate with the figures having borders around them with more reliefs of birds and animals. The ceiling has Vidyadharas. Lotus motifs have been much used. The roof has five carved panels with shesha,  yaksha figure, apsara and lotuses.

Nataraja at Badami caves, 6th century,Karnataka.

By Jean-Pierre Dalbéra from Paris, France – Temple troglodytique dédié à Shiva (Badami, Inde), CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37213652

Harihara,Badami Caves,6th century,Karnataka.

By Ismoon (talk) 21:54, 10 June 2013 (UTC) (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Cave 2 is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Steps lead to this cave which lies west of Cave 3. The entrance verandah is divided by four pillars with brackets further having sculptures. many Hindu deities are carved in this cave. Lord Vishnu as Trivikrama or Vamana is depicted in this cave. One foot is on the earth and one is directed north.Vishnu as Varaha too is depicted in this cave.  The dwarapalas of this cave are shown holding flowers. the columns are sculpted too showing mythological scenes including those from Lord Krishna’s life. The ceiling has a wheel with 16 fish spokes along with flying couples and swastikas.

Cave 3  is again a Vaishnavite cave with giant figures of Lord Vishnu as Trivikrama,Anantasayana,Varaha,Paravasudeva,Harihara and Narasimha. The cave faces north and is sixty steps away form Cave 2. The verandah is 70 ft. by 65 ft. and has four free standing pillars with carvings. this cave is fifteen feet high. There are fresco scenes on the ceiling,mostly mythological. Lord Brahma, the wedding of Lord Shiva and Parvati are depicted. The roof of the verandah has seven panels with paintings in circular compartments of Hindu deities and  images of dwarapalas.

Lord Vishnu,Badami Caves,6th century,Karnataka.

By Ismoon (talk) 17:00, 10 June 2013 (UTC) (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

File:Sculpture2 near pillar bracket in Vaishnava cave temple no. 3 in Badami.jpg

Sculpture,Vaishnava cave temple,Badami Caves, 6th century.

By Dineshkannambadi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia CommonsImage result for badami caves

Carvings,Badami caves,6th century,Karnataka.

By Naane.naanu (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Lord Vishnu as Trivikrama,Badami Caves,6th century,Karnataka.

By Ismoon (talk) 15:49, 12 June 2013 (UTC) (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Cave 4 is located to the east of Cave 3, higher than the other caves. It is dedicated to Jaina deities. Like the others this cave is also richly carved. The entrance to the cave has five bays with four columns having brackets.  The verandah of this cave is smaller compared to the other caves.A hall behind the verandah has two free and two joined pillars. The sanctum sanctorum is reached through steps where Lord Mahavira is depicted seated on a lion throne. On two sides are attendants holding fly whisks. Parshvanatha is carved with a snake hood. This cave has Indrabhuti Gautama, Bahubali,Padmavati and also yaksha and yakshi figures.Temple troglodytique jaïn (Badami, Inde) (14352949993).jpg

Lord Mahavira,Badami Caves, Karnataka.

By Jean-Pierre Dalbéra from Paris, France – Temple troglodytique jaïn (Badami, Inde), CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37213634

Badami 06.jpg

Tirthankaras,Badami Cave 4, Karnataka.

Cave 5 is not yet dated, small natural cave and can be approached only by crawling with a sculpted figure seated on a throne.

File:Badami caves carvings16.JPG

Badami caves, 6th century,Karnataka.

By Raamanp (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

References :

  • The art of ancient India/Huntington,Susan,New York : Weatherhill,1985.
  • wikipedia.org

 

Posted by

Soma Ghosh

© author

 

Kushana art : views from ancient India

         Between the late 1st century to 3rd century the Kushanas ruled parts of Central Asia,northern India,ancient Gandhara (Pakistan and Afghanistan). They had arrived in Bactria in 135 B.C a branch of the Yuch-chih, called Kushana or Kusana; residents of Kan-su region of China. They were forced westward by policies of the Chinese Han dynasty. The Kushanas founded an empire. Their deities and kings were depicted on coins. They had issued coins in gold. The Kushanas believed that the emperor was a divine being. Shrines were built for them. The Mat shrine near Mathura is one of them.

      Kushana art depicts princes, royal portraits, images of Lord Buddha, scenes from his life etc. The art is influenced by Persian, Greco-Roman and Indian styles. The Gandhara and Mathura styles have unique characteristics. Under Kanishka I Buddhist art flourished, and many stone images were produced. He was responsible for the spread of Mahayana Buddhism from Gandhara to China.

        The Gandhara school of sculpture produced very natural looking figures influenced by the Hellenistic and Roman styles. Many  motifs were from Roman art, eg. vine scrolls,centaurs,cherubs bearing garlands etc. The sculpture was done in green phyllite and blue-green mica schist. Originally they were painted and gilded. The Buddha figures have youthful faces and resemble the Roman imperial statues.

       A gold coin below shows Oisho or Shiva with the ΑΔϷΟ (adsho Atar) on the left and Kanishka’s dynastic mark is seen on the right.

Kanishka I coin with Oisho/Shiva.

By I, PHGCOM, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2233710

 

 

Sculpture of a man, Kushana pertod.

Publiek domein, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=309963

      The sculpture below depicts from left to right, a Kushan devotee, the Bodhisattva Maitreya, Lord Buddha, the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, and a Buddhist monk.

File:BuddhistTriad.JPG

An early Buddhist triad. 2nd-3rd century CE. Gandhara. Musée Guimet.,Paris.

By No machine-readable author provided. World Imaging assumed (based on copyright claims). [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

    The Mathura school evolved in Mathura in Uttar Pradesh with its unique stylisations. The figures were made in red mottled sandstone available from the quarries at Sikri.The Buddhas produces are large in size, standing in abhaya posture, head is shaven with a ushnisa; a small tiered protuberance in the form of a spiral. The drapery is close to the body and the left shoulder is bare. As the school developed the hair got depicted as flat, tight curls on the head. Jaina images are similar. The Kushana  kings are shown wearing long boots, a conical cap and a belted tunic.

File:Jain Votive Plaque made in spotted red sandstone, Kushana artefacts, National Museum, New Delhi 03.jpg

Jaina votive plaque, red sandstone,Mathura,National Museum, New Delhi

By Nomu420 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The women figures carved during this period were sensuously beautiful with stylised proportions, depicted on pillars and gateways, yakshi-like in association with trees as symbols of fertility  or in toilet scenes.

 

File:Toilet bearer, Kushana.BKBhavan.jpg

Toilet bearer, Mathura,Bharat Kala Bhavan, Varanasi.

By Ismoon (talk) 23:50, 23 January 2013 (UTC) (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

File:Kushana period Sculpture of an intimate couple.jpg

Mithuna, 2nd century.

By Nomu420 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

      The sculpture below depicts Queen Maya with female attendants and guards, one of whom holds a sword,  sleeping on a bed covered with a textile having floral scroll motif. Maya dreams of a six-tusked elephant that descends from heaven to enter her womb through her right side. the broken disc would have had an elephant. This miraculous conception marks the Buddha’s final birth into the world.

Dream of Queen Maya. Gandhara.Met.jpg

Dream of Queen Maya , Schist, Gandhara, Kushan period, 2nd century,  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

By Ismoon (talk) – Own work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46247608

References :

  • The art of ancient India/Huntington,Susan,New York : Weatherhill,1985.
  • wikipedia.org

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

©author

Sunga art of ancient India: some images

 

     The Sunga  dynasty was established by  Pushyamitra Sunga in 2nd century, around 185 B.C, in Magadha and extended up to Malwa. The last king was Devabhuti who ruled between 83 and 73 B.C. The Sunga dynasty has many contributions. They were patrons of art and knowledge. They were culturally more aligned to Hinduism. The Patanjali yoga-sutras and Mahabhasya were composed during this period.

     The Bharhut stupa at Madhya Pradesh  from the Mauryan times saw the railings reconstructed by the Sunga dynasty, many parts of it are presently at museums in India. Additions like the railings and modifications to the Great stupa at Sanchi ,Madhya Pradesh(which was built under King Ashoka of the Mauryas),  was also done under them. The decorations on the railings of the Bharhut stupa are ornate and depicted with yakshas, yakshis and Kubera, their leader. Medallions with floral patterns, busts of kings, Jataka tales and scenes from the life of the Buddha. The yakshas are depicted on the uprights. The art was executed over a period of time by different craftsmen and artisans from India. The style is a continuation of the Mauryan period. The human figures are seen wearing heavy and elaborate jewellery having metal beads. Though the early Sunga rulers were against Buddhism, Buddhist art flourished with the Mathura school.

     At Bhaja caves in Western Ghats was a Buddhist monastery for the monks to stay during the rainy months. The caves have  yaksha depictions on sides of the doorways, a deity on a chariot drawn by four horses etc. The railing at the Mahabodhi temple at Bodhgaya has mythical animals on medallions used on it for decoration.

Yakshi. Bharhut, Satna, C. 2nd cent BC. Bhopal Museum.jpg

Medallion from the balustrade (vedika), Bharhut stupa, Bhopal Archaeological Museum, Madhya Pradesh.

By Ismoon (talk) 17:42, 10 February 2013 (UTC) – Own work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24580803

Balustrade and staircase, Great Stupa,Sanchi, Sunga period.

By Vivek Shrivastava – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29038176

       At Chandraketugarh in West Bengal, many archaeological finds of different historical periods have revealed some interesting statuettes and terracotta plaques from the Sunga period. Some are depicted below. As mentioned the figures are seen wearing elaborate jewellery and with elaborate head-dress.

Amourous royal couple Sunga 1st century BCE West Bengal.jpg

Amorous royal couple,1st century B.C, Chandaraketugarh,West Bengal.

By Uploadalt – Own work, photographed at the MET, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12572072

Chandraketugarth, epoca sunga, dea della fecondità, II-I sec. ac. 02.JPG

Fertility deity, 2nd -1st century B.C,Chandraketugarh, West Bengal.

By I, Sailko, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22568769

Chandraketugarth, epoca sunga, dea della fecondità, II-I sec. ac. 01.JPG

Mother and child, 2nd-1st century B.C,Chandraketugarh,West Bengal.

By I, Sailko, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22568766

KITLV 87926 - Unknown - Relief on the Bharhut stupa in British India - 1897.tif

Relief , Bharhut stupa,British India image, Madhya Pradesh.

By Unknown – Leiden University Library, KITLV, image 87926 Homepage media-kitlv.nl KITLV, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39953719

Yakshi on elephant.Bharhut.Bharat Kala Bhavan.jpg

Yakshi on elephant mount, red sandstone,Bharhut, 2nd century B.C, Bharat Kala Bhavan, Varanasi.

By Ismoon (talk) 19:25, 25 January 2013 (UTC) – Own work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24188082

SungaAtalante.JPG

Balustrade-holding yaksha, Sunga period, 2nd -1st century B.C, Musée Guimet,Paris.

By No machine-readable author provided. World Imaging assumed (based on copyright claims). – No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims)., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=337076

Jetvan bharhut.JPG

Bharhut sculpture, 2nd-1st century B.C., British Library,U.K.

By Beglar, Joseph David, 1875 – British Library, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25887679

File:Terracotta - Sunga Period - Showcase 10-16 - Prehistory and Terracotta Gallery - Government Museum - Mathura 2013-02-24 6316.JPG

Terracotta, Sunga Period,2nd -1st century B.C,  Government Museum,Mathura.

Biswarup Ganguly [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

File:Male Playing Mridanga - Sunga Period - ACCN 57-4264 - Government Museum - Mathura 2013-02-24 6198.JPG

Man playing mridanga, Sunga Period, Government Museum,Mathura.

Biswarup Ganguly [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

File:Winged female deity, Chandraketugarh, India, 2nd-1st century BC, terracotta, view 2 - Ethnological Museum, Berlin - DSC01685.JPG

Terracotta plaque,female deity, 2nd-1st century BC, Chandraketugarh, Ethnological Museum, Berlin.

By Daderot (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

References :

  • The art of ancient India/Huntington,Susan,New York : Weatherhill,1985.
  • wikipedia.org
  • indianetzone.com

 

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

©author

Mauryan art : images from ancient India

          The Mauryan period in the history of the Indian subcontinent lasted between 323 B.C to about 125 B.C. It started when king Mahapadma of the Nandas was overpowered by Chandragupra Maurya in Magadha. He was guided by Chanakya whose teachings are revered even today. The Mauryan rule achieved great unity in ancient India, not just culturally but also politically. His grandson was King Ashoka who erected pillars at many places.

      The art of this time is evident from pillars, stupas and caves. Some remains of the capital city of Pataliputra are available which throw light on the styles prevalent. Greek influence is found on the style of art and architecture.

      The stupas at Sanchi,Sarnath and Amaravati were built as brick and masonry mounds during the reign of Ashoka. Pillars erected by him are found in Afghanistan,Nepal border,Odisha and Karnataka. The pillars were carved in two types of stone, red and white sandstone from Mathura; buff coloured, fine grained,sandstone with small black spots, from Chunar near Varanasi.

 The religious pillars were erected across the Gangetic plain, inscribed with Ashokan edicts. The capital part of the pillar had an animal; the lion capital of Sarnath, bull capital of Rampurva in Bihar, lion capital of Lauria-Nandangrah,also at Bihar.

Ashoka pillar,Vaishali, 3rd century, Bihar.

By mself – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1762981

       Pottery is associated with the Mauryan times; Northern Black Polished Ware is typical of early Mauryan era. It was made of alluvial clay either greyish or red. It was given burnished dressing , a jet black or deep grey glaze. This was used for dishes and bowls.

MauryanRingstone.JPG

Mauryan ringstone, with standing goddess. Northwest Pakistan. 3rd century B.C,British Museum,U.K

By No machine-readable author provided. World Imaging assumed (based on copyright claims). – No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims)., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=342265

The Pataliputra capital shows Greek and Acheamenid influence. It is dated to 3rd century B.C. it has volute, bead, reel and honeysuckle motifs. The capital city had a large timber palisade around it. it had 64 gates and 570 towers as per Megasthenes. The towers were made of sandstone similar to Ashokan pillars. Mauryan architecture can still be seen at the Barabar mounts, grottoes of Lomas Rishi.

Pataliputra Palace capital by L A Waddell 1895.jpg

Pataliputra palace capital.

By L.A. WADDELL (1854-1938), author of the book and the photograph – “Report on the excavations at Pataliputra (Patna)” Calcutta, 1903, page 16 [1], Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=52346710

MauryaStatuettes.jpg

Statuettes of the Maurya period, 4th-3rd century B.C, Musée Guimet,Paris.

By No machine-readable author provided. World Imaging assumed (based on copyright claims). – No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims)., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1145968

Rampurva bull capital side.jpg

Bull capital Rampurva, Indian Museum, Kolkata.

By User:Tinucherian – Composite of Wikipedia Commons [File:Indian Museum Kolkata 1527.jpg] (partial top, broken), and [File:Indian_Museum_Kolkata_1525.jpg] (base) with verification of design accuracy., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=52572066

 

Female figure, northern India, Maurya period, c. 320-200 BCE, terracotta, HAA.JPG

Female figure, teracotta,Maurya period, North India.

By Hiart – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17609801

 

References :

  • The art of ancient India/Huntington,Susan,New York : Weatherhill,1985.
  • wikipedia.org

 

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

©author

Bodhi tree in art : some depictions

   The Bodhi tree, a sacred tree ,the peepal , is a variety of fig, botanically Ficus religiosa under which Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment at Bodh Gaya; to become the Buddha. It has beautiful heart shaped leaves which glisten in the sunlight. Many sculptural depictions of the Buddha depict this tree. At the Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya, a bodhi tree, believed to be the original tree’s descendant is worshipped by pilgrims. The tree at Shravasti where the Buddha performed many miracles, a bodhi tree called Anandabodhi is present. At Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka , the bodhi tree is believed to have been propogated from the original tree., known as Jaya Sri Mahabodhi.

 

Image result for bodhi tree images in buddhist

Buddha meditating under the Bodhi Tree, 800 C.E . Brooklyn Museum, USA.

By Wikipedia Loves Art participant “Opal_Art_Seekers_4” [CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

Image result for bodhi tree images in buddhist

The Buddha sits under the Bodhi Tree, Borubodur, Indonesia.

By Photo Dharma from Sadao, Thailand (015 E The Buddha sits under the Bodhi Tree) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

           The Bodhi tree has many historical tales and happenings around it. It is believed that Emperor Ashoka of the Mauryan dynasty revered the tree in great measure and the spot was a holy site with a shrine in whose honour a festival used to be held every year. His queen grew jealous and tried to get the tree killed; but the tree grew back. The tree was again tried to be killed by King Pushyamitra Sunga in the 2nd century B.C. and King Shashanka in 600 A.D., but a new one was always planted in its place.

    A seed was taken from a fruit of the Bodhi tree at Bodh Gaya; as it fell from its stalk and was caught midway by Mogillana, a disciple of Buddha. It was planted in a golden bowl which grew  very quickly and the Buddha  consecrated it by meditating under it for a night. It was planted by Ananda, his disciple, in front of the Jetavana monastery at Shravasti. The tree that grew is called Anandabodhi.

File:Worship of Bodhi Tree - Sandstone - ca 2nd Century BCE - Sunga Period - Bharhut - ACCN 294 - Indian Museum - Kolkata 2016-03-06 1561.JPG

Worship of Bodhi Tree ,Sandstone, 2nd Century BC, Sunga Period, Bharhut, Indian Museum,Kolkata.

Biswarup Ganguly [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

          Bhikkuni Sanghamitra , Emperor Ashoka’s daughter along with other nuns, took a sprig of the tree from its southern bough to Anuradhapura, Sri Lanks’s ancient capital where it grew at Malta meghavana (grove of the Great rain cloud)  and was called Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi.  It was planted in 288 B.C. The tree considered the most sacred, was worshipped by Buddhists who performed rituals near it, as it was believed to augur rain and have powers of healing and fertility.  During Emperor Ashoka’s time , women looked after the tree and four royal maidens were chosen by him. They were bedecked with ornaments and would sprinkle water from golden and silver pitchers on the tree during the annual festival. The four maidens enjoyed great status at the king’s palace. The tree’s descendants are believed to exist in this area to the present day.

Ficus religiosa Bo.jpg

Bodhi tree leaves.

By Marshman at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2203566

Image result for bodhi tree images in buddhist

Manuscript illustration, the Buddha sitting below the Bodhi tree, 10-11th century,Nepal/India.

By Anonymous ancient artist from India or Nepal. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
File:A small temple beneath the Bodhi tree, Bodh Gaya, c. 1810.jpg

Bodhi tree, Bodh Gaya,1810, British Library,UK.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

 

Bodhi Tree, illustration, 1891, Anuradhapura,Sri Lanka.

By w:James Ricalton – The City of the Sacred Bo-Tree, w:Scribner’s Magazine, pp. 319-335, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47122078

 

 

 

References:

  • wikipedia.org
  • srimahabodhi.org

Posted by

Soma Ghosh

© author

Buddhist sutras: some textual images

       Buddhist literature  is having many forms and has been produced from different cultures wherever Buddhism flourished and still does. The most important ones  are in the form of sutras which are the Buddha’s words or Buddhavachana, abhidharma concerned with analysis of phenomena, shastras or treatises. Initially it was passed down orally by monks. It was written down in different languages; mostly Indo-Aryan which were  later translated. The earliest manuscripts have been found in the civilisation of Gandhara dating to the 1st century B.C, near Taxila ( now in Pakistan).

     The Pali canon known as the Pali tripitaka is the most important collection of Buddhavachana in Theravada Buddhism. It was preserved in Sri Lanka and was written down in the first century B.C; the Theravada textual tradition developed there. The Pali tripitaka which means three baskets  which refer to vinaya, sutta and abhidhamma,  The Vinaya Pitaka contains disciplinary rules for the Buddhist monasteries. The Sutta Pitaka contains words attributed to the Buddha. The Abhidhamma Pitaka contain expositions and commentaries on the Sutta. The Taisho Tripitaka is the Chinese Buddhist canon. In Tibet the Kangyur is the Buddhavachana. It belongs to various schools of Buddhism and contains sutras, vinaya and tantra. From the Kushana period in India, Sanskrit has been used to write the Buddhist texts. In Mahayana Buddhism, the sutras , based on the idea that the word of the Buddha has been transmitted by supernatural beings like the nagas, or revealed directly by bodhisattvas, were written in Sanskrit. which were later translated to Chinese and Tibetan canons. In the Mahayana school of Buddhism there also exist shastras or treatises which outline the sutras and expand on them. The works of important Buddhist philosophers like Nagarjuna, Vasubandhu and Dharmakirti are called shastras written in Sanskrit. The class of Buddhist texts called tantras developed in the seventh century. The tantras describe ritual practices and the use of mandalas,mudras etc. These are important texts in Vajrayana Buddhism dominant in Tibet. Vinaya texts are about monastic discipline.

        The Sutras  are the discourses given by the Buddha or by his close disciples. Buddhavacana, the word of the Buddha.

          The sutras were delivered in forms like the sutra,prose discourses, geya,mixed prose and verse discourse, vyakarana,explanation, analysis, gatha,verse, udana, inspired speech, ityukta,beginning with ‘thus has the Bhagavan said’, jataka,story of previous life, abhutadharma, concerning wonders ,vailpulya,’those giving joy’,nidana,in which the teachings are set within their circumstances of origin,avadana, tales of exploits and upadesha,defined and considered instructions.

  Other well-known texts include the Dhammapada, a collection of sayings and aphorisms. the Udana, a collection of inspired sayings in verse, the Sutta Nipata, contains oldest of Buddhist practices,Theragatha, Therigatha; two collections of biographical verse related to the disciples of the Buddha and  Jataka or birth stories, which recount former lives of the Buddha are part of the Pali Khuddka Nikaya. The prajna texts deal with wisdom or insight, which refer to the ability to see reality as it is. The  Diamond sutra, the heart sutra are prajna texts.

        Other important sutras are the Lotus sutra, the Amitabha sutra, the Golden Light sutra, the samadhi sutras, kandavyuha sutra, Mahaparinibbana sutra  among others.

Image result for lotus sutra buddhism

Illustrated manuscript of the Lotus Sutra, 14th century,Goryeo dynasty (918–1392), Korea,Metropolitan Museum of Art,USA.

By Unidentified artist [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

File:Lotus Sutra decorated with Buddhas.jpg

Preface to the Lotus Sutra decorated with Buddhas,9th century, Japan.

By Kukai ([1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Image result for buddhist texts and writings

Manuscript fragment , Buddhist Jatakamala, Sanskrit language in  Gilgit-Bamiyan-Type II Protosarada script, Toyuk, probably 8th-9th century , Ethnological Museum, Berlin.

By Daderot (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

         The image below  is the  frontispiece to the world’s earliest dated printed book, the Chinese translation of the Buddhist text of the ‘Diamond Sutra‘. This consists of a over 16 feet long scroll, made up of a long series of printed pages. It was printed in China in 868 A.D., it was found in the Dunhuang Caves in 1907 in China.

Image result for buddhist texts and writings

Diamond Sutra,9th century,China.

Source : flickr.com/photos/britishlibrary/12459240784

File:Expedient Means Lotus Sutra.jpg

Lotus Sutra, chapter on Expedient means,10th century,Japan.

By attributed to Minamoto Toshifusa [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

File:Folio from Ashtasahasrika Prajnaparamita Manuscript - Sanskrit - Ranjani - Varendra Bhumi - Palm Leaf - ca 12th Century CE - Eastern India - ACCN At-72-101-G - Indian Museum - Kolkata 2016-03-06 1758.JPG

Folio from Ashtasahasrika Prajnaparamita manuscript ,Sanskrit (Ranjani  Varendra Bhumi), palm leaf – 12th Century, Eastern India, Indian Museum, Kolkata.

Biswarup Ganguly [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

File:Eight Title Pages from a Kanjur (Buddhist Canon) LACMA M.86.343.1-.8 (4 of 6).jpg

Title-page,Kangyur (Buddhist canon), 12th-17th century,Tibet,LACMA, USA.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

         Below is depicted  a the first leaf from a Prajnaparamita or perfection of wisdom  manuscript. The text is in Tibetan language and script,  a translation of a Sanskrit text that was produced in India a 1000 years earlier. The Buddha Shakyamuni is depicted on the left;on the night of his enlightenment at Bodhgaya. The tree under which he was enlightened appears above the temple. The goddess depicted at the right is Prajnaparamita, a personification of the text.

File:Tibetan - Buddha Shakyamuni and Prajnaparamita - Walters W8561 (2).jpg

Tibetan  Buddha Shakyamuni and Prajnaparamita ,ink and paint on paper,13th century, Walters Museum, USA.

File:Buddhist manuscript NGFA.jpg

Partial manuscript on metal plates with ornamented wooden covers, Pagan Kingdom, 11th-13th century, National Gallery for Foreign Art.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

File:Amitabha Sutra book.jpg

Amitabha Sutra in book form.

By tamakisono [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

References:

  • wikipedia.org

Posted by

Soma Ghosh

© author

 

 

Vajrayogini in Buddhism: depictions in art

Vajrayogini is a female Buddhist deity, a tantric  istadevata. She is capable of transforming the ordinary into the spiritual. She is a meditation deity in Vajrayana Buddhism. She is often called sarvabuddha dakini, the dakini who is the essence of all Buddhas. Her consort is Chakrasmavara. The term dakini is related to drumming in Sanskrit and means sky-goer in Tibetan language. In the Kathmandu valley of Nepal there are several important Newar temples of Vajrayogini. She has other forms like Vajravarahi and Chinnamasta.

       Vajrayogini is mostly depicted as a red young, strong female with a third eye of wisdom on her forehead.  She wears a garland of fifty human skulls. She holds a driguk, a vajra-handled knife in her right hand and a kapala or skull filled with blood in her left hand, which she drinks from. On her head she wears a crown made of five human skulls.  She stands in the centre of the blazing fire of exalted wisdom.  Her right leg tramples the chest of the red Kalaratri and her left legs treads on the the black Bhairava.

Image result for vajrayogini

Vajrayogini, brass and gilt copper alloy, 18th century,  Rubin Museum of Art, New York.

Source and attribution : flickr.com/photos/andryn2006/22666470775

           

Image result for vajrayogini

Vajrayogini , gilt bronze, 18th century,Nepal, Honolulu Museum of Art,USA.

von MyName ( Hiart ( Diskussion )) (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

     Vajrayogini  with her red body symbolises her inner fire.  She has only one face which means she has realised that all phenomena are of one nature in emptiness.  She has three eyes which depict that she has the ability to see past, present and future. The knife she holds in her right hand can cut through delusions and obstacles of living beings. In Vajrayana Buddhism she appears in a mandala to her followers which they visualise according to a sadhana describing the practice of the particular tantra. Many collections have sadhanas connected with Vajrayogini but the guhyasamayasadhanamala contains only Vajrayogini sadhanas for practice.

Plik:Painted 19th century Tibetan mandala of the Naropa tradition, Vajrayogini stands in the center of two crossed red triangles, Rubin Museum of Art.jpg

Vajrayogini ,Tibetan mandala,19th century, Rubin Museum of Art,USA.

By Anonymous, improved by Poke2001 – Rubin Museum of Art, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3589258

File:Sarva Buddha Dakini 06.jpg

Vajrayogini or Sarvabuddha Dakini , copper alloy sculpture, early 19th century, Tibet.

Joe Mabel [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Vajrayogini, board carving, Tibet.

By Original carving and photograph ShahJahanUploaded on Commons by :Miuki – Self-published work by ShahJahan, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1512565

References:

  • wikipedia.org

Posted by

Soma Ghosh

© author