Tag Archives: Buddhist art

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.

 

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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

 

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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.

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Bodhi tree leaves.

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

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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
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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

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Buddhist mudras : depictions in art

        There are various mudras in Buddhism and Hinduism. A mudra can mean a spiritual gesture or symbolic mark. The mudras are non-verbal.  Some important  ones in Buddhism include the dhyana mudra, the bhumisparsha mudra, the varada mudra, the vitarka mudra, the abhaya mudra,the dharmachakra mudra, the tarjani mudra,the namaskara mudra,the buddha sramana mudra,the bhutadamara mudra among others. Each of these mudras have a deep significance and meaning. Mostly the hands and fingers are used to depict a particular mudra. 

    The meaning of the namaskar or anjali mudra  is a prayer position ; a bowing gesture. The attitude is one of devotion. A special gesture of Avalokiteswara when he has more number of hands.

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Buddha in anjali or namaskar mudra, Java, Indonesia.

By Veit Zahlaus (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

     The abhaya mudra is one of reassurance, protection,blessing,; the word abhaya meaning fearlessness. The Buddha used this gesture while walking. In sculpture seated Buddhas too are depicted in this mudra.

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Seated Buddha in abhaya mudra ,Kushana  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

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Standing Buddha,abhaya mudra, 20th century,Hussain Sagar Lake, Hyderabad.

By Swapnika amancha (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

         The bhumisparsha mudra  or touching the earth symbolises the enlightenment of the Buddha,calling the earth as a witness to the event. This mudra usually has the left hand in the dhyana mudra.  In this mudra Buddha overcame the obstructions created by the demon Mara. the Dhyani Buddha Akshobhya is often shown in this mudra.

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Buddha, bhumisparsa mudra, cloth painting, 19th century, Tibet, National Museum, New Delhi.

By Jen – Own work (I took this photo), CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7656718

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Aksobhya, bhumisparsha-mudra, Borobudur, Java, Indonesia.

By Photo Dharma from Penang, Malaysia – 006 Bhumisparsa Mudra, Aksobhya, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40749973

   The dhyana mudra is a flexible gesture either made with one or both hands. It is the mudra of meditation. This was the gesture of the Buddha before he attained enlightenment. The Dhyani Buddha Amitabha is depicted in this mudra.

File:Buddha in Dhyana Mudra, China, Ming dynasty - Museo d'Arte Orientale Edoardo Chiossone - DSC02393.JPG

Buddha,dhyana mudra, Ming dynasty,(14th to 17th century), China, Museo d’Arte Orientale,Italy.

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

   The dharmachakra or vajra mudra is shown while depicting the Dhyani Buddha Vairocana. The Buddha used this gesture while preaching the first sermon in Sarnath. The dharmachakra means wheel of dharma.  It symbolises teaching and preaching.

Buddha,vajra mudra, 2nd century, Gandhara, ,Tokyo National Museum, Japan.

CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=135258

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Buddha,dharmachakra mudra, sandstone,Gupta period, (4th to 6th century), Archaeological Museum,Sarnath. 

By พระมหาเทวประภาส วชิรญาณเมธี (ผู้ถ่าย-ปล่อยสัญญาอนุญาตภาพให้นำไปใช้ได้เพื่อการศึกษาโดยอยู่ภา่ยใต้ cc-by-sa-3.0) ผู้สร้างสรรค์ผลงาน/ส่งข้อมูลเก็บในคลังข้อมูลเสรีวิกิมีเดียคอมมอนส์ – เทวประภาส มากคล้าย (Tevaprapas Makklay (พระมหาเทวประภาส วชิรญาณเมธี)) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

   The varada mudra is a gesture of giving and charity. It symbolises dispensing of boons. The right hand is used with the palm pointing downwards.

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Standing Buddha,varada mudra, concrete,Bodh Gaya, Bihar.

Source : flickr.com/photos/wonderlane/5978081277

     One of the lesser known mudras, is the tarjani mudra which is a gesture to ward off evil forces. In the depiction below the left hand is in tarjani mudra. The middle and ring fingers are folded while the other three are outstretched as shown.

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 Standing Buddha,left hand in tarjani mudra, Pagan,Shwezigon.

By Michael Gunther (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The vitarka mudra symbolises discussion,debate and explanation of the dhamma.  In this gesture all the fingers are held upwards with the thumb and index finger tips touching, as depicted below. The miidle and ring fingers too can touch the thumb, in case it is the middle finger it depicts compassion and in case of the ring finger it depicts good fortune.

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Buddha,vitarka mudra,near Belum Caves, Andhra Pradesh.

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

 

 

References:

  1. wikipedia.org
  2. lotussculpture.com
  3. buddhas-online.com

Posted by

Soma Ghosh

© author

Parinirvana of the Buddha : depictions in art

      The word parinirvana refers to death which happens to the body of a person after attaining nirvana; a release from samsara , the cycles of birth and death and rebirth. This is different from an ordinary person dying, as per Buddhism.An ordinary person is reborn due to unresolved karma which passes on to a new birth.

   The pariniravana of the Buddha is mentioned and described in Buddhist literature. The parinirbanna-sutta  is an important source in this regard. According to this source of the Pali canon the Buddha around the age of eighty  declared he would soon reach parinirvana , the final deathless state. He had his last meal which was an offering from Cunda, a blacksmith. He fell violently ill after this and left his earthly body. The place is believed to be Kushinara or Kushinagar, (east of Gorakhpur in present day Uttar Pradesh) India, in abandoned jungles of the Malla kingdom.  His disciple Ananda was against him achieving this state in the jungles. He also explained to Ananda that the meal had nothing to with his death, in fact it was a great meal as it was the last meal of a buddha  or enlightened one. Before entering pariniravana he asked all the bhikkhus or monks to clear any doubts or questions they had. His final words were ” ..all composite things are perishable… strive for your own liberation with diligence..”After this he passed away into parinirvana. The Buddha had told his disciples to follow no leader. Mahakasyapa was made the chairman of the First Buddhist Council. His body was cremated and his relics were divided between eight royal families and his disciples. Much later Emperor Ashoka enshrined them in stupas. He built a stupa and made a pilgrimage site in Kushinara, the Gupta kings (4th to 7th century) further developing the site. Kushinara had remained under the Mauryas, Shungas, Kushanas, Guptas and Harsha dynasties.The site had been abandoned around 1200 A.D due to invasions. It continues as an important pilgrimage site for Buddhism, following its rediscovery by  British archaeologists in late 19th century.

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Pariniravana,schist, 2nd-3rd century,Gandhara.

© Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons, via Wikimedia Commons
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Paranirvana, 2nd-3rd century,Gandhara. 

Volné dílo, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3244686

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Pariniravana, painting, Astasahasrika Prajnaparamita Sutra, 700-1100,Nalanda, Bihar.

By Asia Society created the file. Artwork created by an anonymous ancient source. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Parinirvana,painting, Wat Tha Thanon,Thailand.

By ผู้สร้างสรรค์ผลงาน/ส่งข้อมูลเก็บในคลังข้อมูลเสรีวิกิมีเดียคอมมอนส์ – เทวประภาส มากคล้าย (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

File:Gal Vihara- Reclining image(js).jpg

Buddha, Gal Vihara,12th century,Sri Lanka.

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

Mahaparinirvana.jpg

Buddha image,Mahapariniravana temple, Kushinagar.

By myself – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1766418

The painting below depicts the Buddha transitioning to parinirvana. Buddha is  in a forest with Sala trees and surrounded by mourning animals, gods, demons, and human beings.

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‘Nehan-zu’/Parinirvana,painting,1867.

Offentleg eigedom, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=628097

References :

  1. wikipedia.org
  2. Fisher,Robert E./Buddhist art and architecture,London : Thames and Hudson,1993.

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

© author

Scenes from Buddha’s life : some miracle depictions

         Lord Buddha‘s life has many miraculous incidents right from how he was born and what happened from then till he left this earthly abode.  It is believed that immediately after he was born he took seven steps to the north and uttered a few words about his birth being his last one, and wherever he stepped a lotus flower bloomed ! His birth too was via a dream his mother  Mayadevi saw of a white elephant. He was born in Lumbini grove in Nepal, from Queen Maya’s side .

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Birth of Buddha,Gandhara, 2nd-3rd century.

By The original uploader was Fowler&fowler at English Wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

           Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment and became the Buddha. His cousin was Devadatta who was also the brother of Ananda, a chief disciple of Buddha. Devadatta too was abuddhist monk but parted ways with the Buddha with 500 monks. He started a sangha of his own and gained some psychic powers. However he was against the Buddha and wanted him to retire. Buddha was against this; Devadatta plotted with Prince Ajatashatru to kill him. But the mercenaries who came to kill him (who were again ordered to be killed by others) were unable to carry out the task and got converted instead. Devadatta even lets loose an intoxicated elephant Nalagiri to trample the Buddha. But the elephant gets tamed totally owing to the Buddha’s loving-kindness and bows down before him !

 

 

 

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Nalagiri, elephant charging at the Buddha,painting,Wat Phra Yuen,Thailand.

By ผู้สร้างสรรค์ผลงาน/ส่งข้อมูลเก็บในคลังข้อมูลเสรีวิกิมีเดียคอมมอนส์ – เทวประภาส มากคล้าย (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Buddha with the Elephant Nalagiri.jpg

Nalagiri bowing to the Buddha,painting.
By myself – Picture of a painting in a Laotian Temple, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=807355
       The miracles of the Buddha are many and have been depicted in sculpture and paintings. He spent many of his monastic years in Shravasti,in present day Uttar Pradesh. It was the capital city of Kosala, in ancient India. Shravasti was on the banks of Achiravati,now called as Rapti river. He had visited this place on the invitation of Anathapindika. He had performed the twin miracle of producing contradictory elements; flames from the upper part of his body and water from the lower. He also could multiply his body supernaturally. He performed a series of miracles at Shravasti.

Site of the Twin Miracle, performed by Buddha in Shravasti.

By myself – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1793879

 

       The sculptural depiction below in gray schist  depicts Buddha standing on a pedestal with an altar, flanked by seated Buddhas and their attendants. The Buddha’s robe falls elegantly on his body , his hair secured in an ushnisha and flames are seen emanating from his shoulders and water from his feet.

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Miracle of Shravasti ,2nd-3rd century,Gandhara.

By Cea [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons(Source: Christie’s E-Catalogue Indian and Southeast Asian Art 12.09.2012)

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Buddha multiplying his body,painting, Astasahasrika Prajnaparamita Sutra manuscript, 700-1100 A.D,Nalanda, Bihar. 

By Asia Society created the file. Artwork created by an anonymous ancient source. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

       The Buddha’s miracles included, purifying water, power over nature , walking on water,travelling through space, make himself as big as a giant, and small as an ant, walk through mountains, dive in and out of the earth,allowing people to read each other’s mind and spreading a cleansing light throughout the world. His miracles resulted in the conversion of the Kasyapas’ ninety-thousand followers.

The sculpture below again depicts the Buddha performing his twin miracle. Flames rise from his shoulders, and water flows through his feet.

The twin miracle, 3rd century, Gandhara, Museum für Indische Kunst Dahlem, Berlin.

By Gryffindor – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=784387

 

References :

 

wikipedia.org

 

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

©author

 

 

 

 

Jataka in art : previous lives of the Buddha

    The word Jataka means history of birth. The Jataka tales refers to the stories of Lord Buddha’s previous birth in human and animal form. The tales depict some virtue the future Buddha is believed to possess. Lord Buddha has undergone many births before he was born as Siddhartha Gautama who became Buddha,the enlightened one, whose teachings formed the basis of the religion Buddhism.

       The Jataka tales form a part of the Pali canon in Theravada Buddhism.The Jatakamala in Sanskrit by Aryasura has 34 Jatakas which are depicted in Borubodur,Indonesia. The Jataka tales are roughly dated to 4th century B.C. The Theravada Jataka comprises of 547 poems.

     The Jataka tales include :The ass in the lion’s skin, The banyan deer, The cock and the cat, The crab and the crane, The twelve sisters, The Vessantaka jataka,The swan with golden feathers,Prince Sattva,King Sibi,The King’s white elephant,The lion and the woodpecker,The ox who envied the pig, The measure of rice among many others. Many versions of the stories exist in different cultures. Some are similar to tales in  the Hindu Panchatantra.

  In some countries like Cambodia,Myanmar,Thailand, Sri Lanka the tales are enacted in dance and theatre; mostly the longer tales like Vessantara jataka. 

The last ten Jataka tales, the Mahanipata jatakas are to do with the human incarnations of the Buddha in his previous lives,his last ten births before Siddhartha Gautama. Mahajanaka jataka is one of these. The others include the the stories of him as Prince Temiya, Suvanna sama, Nimi,Mahosadha,Bhuridatta, Canda Kumara,Brahma Narada,Vidhura Pandita, and Prince Vessantara. The last ten Jataka tales represent the ten virtues of renunciation,vigour,benevolence, absolute determination,insight,morality,patience,equanimity,reality and generosity.

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Jakata depiction,tale of jackal and otters,2nd century,Bharhut,Madhya Pradesh.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons, http://www.archive.org/details/jatakatalesfranc00fran

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Mahajanaka jataka,Ajanta Caves,7th century,Maharashtra.

By Meister des Mahâjanaka Jâtaka [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Jataka depiction,9th century,Candi Mendut,Central Java,Indonesia.

By Photo Dharma from Penang, Malaysia (033 Jataka Tale) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

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Tiger Jataka, 4th to 9th century,Dunhuang,China.

By Anonymous artists of the Northern Wei period; I created the file (Wall Paintings at Dunhuang) [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsDas Panchuposatha-Jataka 6207.JPG

Jataka depiction,terracotta tile,Myanmar,13th century,Museum of Asian art,Berlin-Dahlem.

By Bin im Garten – Own work (own picture), CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14739741

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Buddha with the One Hundred Jataka Tales,Thangka painting 13th-14th century,Tibet.

By Anonymous (Christie’s Images) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Jataka Tales,Thangka painting,  18th-19th century, Bhutan.

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

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Vessantara Jataka,depiction of Vessantara giving away the chariot,late 19th century,Thailand.

Walters Art Museum [Public domain, CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

File:Jataka, La chouette et le corbeau en NB - 1.jpg

Jataka tale,drawing,Y.Coudert,21st century,France.

By Yvain Coudert (http://data.abuledu.org/wp/?LOM=26971) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

References :

  1. wikipedia.org

 

Posted by:

Soma Ghosh

 

© author

 

 

 

Vajrapani in art : protector of Buddha

        Vajrapani means one who holds the vajra, a thunderbolt-like weapon in his hand. He is the protector of Buddha and symbolises his power. He is a bodhisattva around the Buddha and also called Vajrasattva. He is thought to be the general of the yakshas as per the Golden Lotus-sutra. He forms a triad along with Bodhisattva Avalokiteswara and Amitabha in some forms of Buddhism.

    Vajrapani is mostly depicted with a wrathful,angry expression; holding the vajra in his right hand. He sometimes wears a skull-crown but usually a five-pointed crown representing the  five Dhyani Buddhas.

     Vajrapani has many forms. He is called Dhyani-Bodhisattva equivalent to Akshobhya. He is referred to as Acharya Vajrapani in his role as Dharmapala with a third eye, a bell and a lasso. He is called Nilambara-Vajrapani when he has one head and four arms and treading on snakes. As Mahachakra-Vajrapani he has three heads , six arms and carrying the vajra and snakes. He is also depicted with the head,wings and claws of Garuda, when he takes this form to protect the nagas who came to worship Lord Buddha from the birds who devour snakes.

      In different countries where Buddhism flourished he is seen in different depictions.In Nepal he is white in paintings.In Cambodia he has four arms. In Japan he is seen depicted in mandalas. In Tibet he is seen in many fierce forms. His Indian depictions are many. In Gandhara art he is the protector of the Buddha.He is on one side of the Buddha along with Padmapani on the other at Cave No.1  of Ajanta caves at Aurangabad in Maharashtra.

     Vajrapani is believed to rock the mountains with his weapon vajra as mentioned in some Buddhist texts.

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Vajrapani,7th century,Ajanta caves, Maharashtra,India.

By Indischer Maler des 7. Jahrhunderts [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Vajrapani, 8th-9th century,Lalitagiri, Odisha.

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

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Vajrapani,  wall painting , Caves of the Statues, Kizil, 406-425 AD,Ethnological Museum, Berlin.

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

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 Vajrapani, 9th century, Tibet,British Museum,UK.

By Anonymus (British Museum) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Vajrapani, 1731, gilt bronze, Nepal, Norton Simon Museum.

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

References :

  1. wikipedia.org

 

 

Posted by:

Soma Ghosh

© author

Dhyani Buddhas in art : some depictions

      The Dhyani Buddhas are representations of the five qualities of the Buddha. They    are also called the Five Wisdom Thatagatas. In Vajrayana Buddhism they figure as an important subject in the mandalas.  The Dhyani Buddhas are aspects of the dharmakaya or dharma-body which embodies the principle of enlightenment in Buddhism.

The five Dhyani Buddhas are Vairochana,Amogasiddhi,Amitabha,Ratnasambhava and Akshobhya. Vairochana is associated with space,all accomodating,teaching the dharma; Amogasiddhi is associated with air,all accomplishing and represents the wisdom of perfect practice. Amitabha  is associated with fire,inquisitiveness and represents the wisdom of observation; Ratnasambhava is associated with earth, giving and represents the wisdom of equanimity; Akshobhya is associated with water,non-dualism and represents the  wisdom of reflection.

The Dhyani Buddhas are sometimes called the Five celestial Jinas or Conquerors. They usually have the urna,the usnisa and the long lobed ears, which are among the 32 lakshanas  or superior marks of a Buddha. They are bare headed with short curly hair with a shawl draped over one shoulder and arm.

File:5buddha0.jpg

Five Dhyani Buddhas,painting.

By Unknown – http://www.fodian.net/world/buddhas/5b/5ba.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16961889

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Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara  seated on a lion,in lalitasana , snake wrapped vajra scepter, lotus flower, 5 Dhyani Buddhas are also seen, statue, black shist, Bihar, India, Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois, USA.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/wonderlane/

Vairochana is mostly depicted with the dharmachakra mudra, Akshobhya with bhumi sparsha, Ratnasambhava with varada, Amitabha with dhyana and Amoghasiddhi with abhaya mudra.

Altar Painting of Vairocana (Treasure 1363).jpg

Altar painting of Vairocana,after 1590,Korea.

By Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea – http://www.cha.go.kr/korea/heritage/search/Directory_Image.jsp?VdkVgwKey=12,13630000,36&imgfname=b1363000036001.jpg&dirname=treasure&photoname=%BA%F1%B7%CE%C0%DA%B3%AA%BA%D2%B5%B5, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16341797

Amoghasiddhi, 14th century,Tibet, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco,USA. 

By jaredzimmerman (WMF) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33809747

Amitabha and Eight Great Bodhisattvas (Freer Gallery of Art).jpg

Amitabha and Eight Great Bodhisattvas, Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392), Korea,Freer Gallery of Art,USA.

By unidentified Goryeo-Dynasty artist – http://www.asia.si.edu/collections/singleObject.cfm?ObjectNumber=F1906.269, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29190158

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 Dhyani Buddha Akshobhya,painting.

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

Depicted below is a thangka of Dhyani Buddha Akshobhya. The background consists of multiple images of the Five Dhyani Buddhas.

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Dhyani Buddha Akshobhya, thangka, late 13th century,Tibet, Honolulu Museum of Art,USA. 

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

Ratnasambhava, Kadampa Monastery, Central Tibet, 1150-1225, LACMA,USA.

By anonymus – LACMA, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26940160

 

References :

  • Thomas, P/Epics, myths and legends of India, Bombay : D. B. Taraporevala and Sons.
  • wikipedia.org
  • Fisher,Robert E./Buddhist art and architecture,London : Thames and Hudson,1993.
  • Gordon,Antoinette K/The iconography of Tibetan Lamaism,New Delhi : Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers,1998.

 

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Soma Ghosh

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