Essay on Buddhism

Submitted By Mischa-Rapt
Words: 2415
Pages: 10

The Seated Buddha which was located in the Gandhara Region of India, built approximately between the 2nd to 3rd century is part of The Avery Brundage Collection (B 60S393). There are distinguished features of the Seated Buddha which contrasts it from the other featured images. There is a very distinctive style of the Buddha images in the Gandhara Region, which was also transmitted across Central Asia and in turn, exerting a strong influence on Buddha portrayals in East Asia. There was an idea that when Gandhara Region was ruled by Greeks from Alexander the Great’s colony in Bactria, the Buddhists of Gandhara were inspired by the Greeks influence to create the first Buddha image. However, this proposition was contested and a compromise view is that the image of Buddha had evolved in both places independently - more or less, simultaneously – in response to a growing devotionalism in Indian religion. The Gandhara style is displayed in the majority of surviving ancient images. The Gandhara style of Buddha’s head demonstrates wavy ushnisha and hair which has been said to have been influenced by images of Alexander the Great. There are also sources which state that this was often used as a comparison to the Greek ‘Apollo’. This image presents a cupid bow mouth and has the common Buddha features of the ushnisha on the top of the head, the urna in the middle of the forehead and the mudra.
The ushnisha, a protuberance on the top of Buddha’s head, often resembles a bun or a topknot. This is often thought to be a symbol of his enlightenment. The urna, which is a tuft of white hair, is thought to be the thirty-first physical characteristic of Buddha. This is supposed to symbolize wisdom and be a mark of Buddha as being a ‘great being’. There are also ideas which state its symbolism as the ‘third eye’ (often marked as a circular dot or mole on the forehead) which in turn, symbolizes vision into the divine world.
The mudra is considered to be an energetic seal of authenticity and also a spiritual gesture that uses mostly the hands and fingers. The type of mudra in this image of Buddha is called the Dharmachakra, which in Sanskrit means ‘Wheel of Dharma’ or ‘Wheel of the doctrine’. In this mudra, the thumb and index finger of both hands are touching at their tips to form a circle, in which this case represents the ‘Wheel of Dharma’. In metaphysical terms, this may also represent the union of method and wisdom, a gesture of teaching. The three remaining fingers of the two hands remain extended. These fingers are themselves rich in symbolic significance.
These three extended fingers on the right hand represent the three vehicles of the Buddha’s teachings which are: the middle finger representing the “hearers” of the teachings, the ring finger representing the “solitary realizers” and the little finger representing the “Mahayana” or “Great Vehicle”. On the left hand, the three extended fingers symbolize the ‘Three Jewels of Buddhism’ namely the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.
This mudra is thought to symbolize one of the most important moments in the life of Buddha: the occasion when he preached to his companions the first sermon after his Enlightenment in the Deer Park at Sarnath. This event is often referred to as the setting into motion of the Wheel of the teaching of the Dharma. The placement of the hands is also significant – in front of the heart - as this symbolizes that the teachings are straight from the Buddha’s heart.
This mudra is displayed by the first Dhyani Buddha Vairochana. Each of the Five Dhyani Buddhas is associated with a specific human delusion, and it is believed that they help mortal beings in overcoming them. Thus, Vairochana is believed to transform the delusion of ignorance into the wisdom of reality. By displaying the Dharmachakra mudra, he thus helps adepts in bringing about this transition.
Beneath his low throne, appears a seated princely figure flanked by kneeling…