The Jātaka on Level 1, Balustrade, Top, at Borobudur
high-definition creative commons photographs from the Jātaka, or Buddha’s Past Birth-Stories, together with further information.
The character of the following scenes, almost up to the end of the wall, is very different from what has gone before. Whereas previously we have had narrative scenes some of which have been identified as further Jātaka and Avadāna stories, the panels that follow have more the character of tableau, often stretched over five or more panels, and often with a Buddha as the central figure.
A Buddha with Devotees, 1
233b A Group with Offerings
An ensemble scene with many different characters holding offerings. In the centre there is a large vase, with a wheel over it. It is placed on a pedestal. The focus is actually on the Buddha who is two reliefs in front of this one.
234-236 A Triptych with a Buddha
The next three scenes, which will be described below, are of a Buddha sitting and teaching in the middle with two groups of people on either side.
234 Monastics and Lay
On the right we see three monastics sitting on the floor, looking at the Buddha in the next relief. Behind them are two lay people, perhaps women. They are sat under clouds and a tree.
235 Buddha and Devas
The central figure is a Buddha, though which one, of course, we do not know. He is seated on a double lotus throne, with an elaborate back to it. Above him on top of the clouds are seen two devas, one on either side. The Buddha holds his hands in teaching posture. There is an incense burner and a waterpot on either side, as in most of these Buddha reliefs.
236 Five People paying Respects
The right hand panel of this triptych shows five people, but it is very badly damaged. Two of them are holding their hands in añjali, and possibly the others were too. They are all seated on the floor under a tree and a parasol.
237 Paying Respects
This is a continuation of the previous scene, but a lot of it is now missing. All we now see are three people sat on the floor, one of whom is holding his hands in añjali. It is part of a corner relief with the next one, but they are not related.
A Buddha with Devotees, 2
238 Monastics respecting the Buddha
The first of three related reliefs. There is a group of seven monastics who are all sitting on the floor, and under a tree. They have various postures, but are paying attention to the Buddha on the next relief. Notice the sitting cloth that they carry over their left shoulders.
239 A Buddha giving Blessings
A lot of the relief at the top and the bottom is missing here, but we see enough to know it is a Buddha figure, and he is giving his blessings. On the left there is an incense burner, and on the right a waterpot.
240 Lay People pay Respects
Again a badly damaged relief. Attention is on the Buddha on the previous relief and we see a couple of lay people, one of whom holds his hands in añjali. There is a tree in the background.
241 A Divider
This scene presumably serves to divide two stories from each other. It is divided in two, on the left the characters look back at the previous scene, and on the right they look forward to those that follow.
A Buddha with Devotees, 3
242 Monastics pay Respects
The first of three reliefs, similar to the previous sets. Again on the first of them we see monastics paying respects to a Buddha who is situated on the next relief. They are outside under the trees.
243 A Buddha in Teaching Posture
The central character is a Buddha, who has had his head knocked off again here. He holds his hands in a blessing posture. Above him on either side are devas sitting on clouds, and are also paying respects to the Buddha.
244 The Bodhisattva worships the Buddha
The third part of this three-part series shows the Bodhisattva paying respects to the Buddha on the previous panel. There is a halo around his head, and two women look on intently at him. There is also a large urn on the left, though its role is unknown.
245 Meeting with Royalty
This broad relief is quite damaged. Just left of centre we see the central character, who is probably a king. Behind him is his queen, and other members of his court, including a swordsman. In front of him it appears that village folk have come out to meet him.
246 Offerings for a Monk
Many people are featured on this relief, some sitting, some standing. The scene is outdoors as we see from the tree on the top left. Many of the characters hold gifts, which they are presumably presenting to the monk on the next relief.
247 A Monk gives an Interview
A monk is sat in accomplished posture (siddhāsana) on a high pedestal. He rest one hand on his knee and another on his thigh. Before him are two royal figures, down on their knees and paying respects. Above them probably the same monk is departing by flying through the air.
248 Śakra worships a Monk
This is a corner relief. On the left we see two people sitting on the floor, and above them a monk is flying through the air, it is presumably the same character as on the surrounding reliefs. The one on the right is Airāvata, as we see from his large ears. On the right Śakra sits with a female and worships the monk.
249 A Monk flying with the Devas
In this scene the very same monk is still flying through the air, but this time he is accompanied by four devas, including Śakra and Airāvata, who are also flying. Two hold their hands up as though supporting him, while the other two are on the same level.
250 The Devas pay Homage
This is quite similar to a dividing scene, which we are seeing occasionally. The thing that makes me doubt it, is that soon Śakra and Airāvata reappear (on 253), and so it is possibly only a relief separating two dramatic moments in the same story. Some of the devas face the left, some face right.
A Buddha with Devotees, 4
251-253 A Triptych with a Buddha
These three scenes – and the preceding and following ones too – all centre on the Buddha who is sitting in the middle here. The composition is similar to the previous ones, with monks on the left, Buddha in the middle and lay on the right. We will describe each one separately.
251 Four Monastics paying Homage
There are four monks sitting under two trees, both of which are fruiting. The monks are paying respects to the Buddha on the next panel, as we have seen in a few similar scenes.
252 A Buddha in Teaching Posture
The Buddha sits atop a double lotus seat, he has one hand resting on his lap, and the other is raised in teaching posture. Above him are devas on either side, each holding an offering.
253 Śakra worships the Buddha
Three gods sit under the trees and worship the Buddha on the previous relief. In the centre is Śakra, on the right is Airāvata, and on the left Śakra’s wife. The last two have their hands held up in reverential salutation.
254 A Divider
Another divider, this time it has some overlap, but clearly the figures on the left are looking to the previous reliefs, and the ones on the right to the ones to come. A couple of them on the left have large shields; while those on the right have offerings.
A Buddha with Devotees, 5
255-257 A Triptych featuring a Buddha
We see three panels from what is probably a five panel sequence, starting on the previous relief. At the centre sits a Buddha, though we do not know which Buddha.
255 Four Monks and Three Trees
The three trees in the background signify that the scene is once more set outside. There is a bird on one of the trees. Underneath are four monks, the two on the right are holding their hands in añjali.
256 A Buddha and Two Devas
Similarly to previous scenes we find here a Buddha sitting on a double lotus throne. It has an elaborate back. The Buddha was either teaching or blessing, the arm is missing so it is now hard to tell which. Above, two devas sit on clouds. They are dressed like monastics, and appear to be blowing conches.
257 A King pays Homage
On the next relief we see a king, sitting with two female attendants under a canopy of trees. The king is gesticulating, as though pointing out the Buddha to his followers.
258 Women with Offerings
This appears to be part of the previous sequence, and mainly shows the king’s followers, especially women, who are holding up offerings for the Buddha pictured two panels ago. On the right are a few men also.
259 An Abundance of Riches
The first of four connected reliefs. This one shows men and women gathering up the riches that are falling all around them. There is cloth on the clouds, and the round disks are undoubtedly gold coins.
260 The Bodhisattva distributes his Wealth
The central character here is dressed like a king, and is sitting in princely fashion. Krom thinks it is Kuvera, but there seems to be no way to assert this other than the riches that lie around. More likely it is the Bodhisattva distributing his wealth, perhaps before going forth. He is pictured holding a standard, and underneath are four money pots, one of which is upturned.
261 Holding up the Riches
Somewhat similar to the relief on the other side of the king, this one shows lay people holding up the riches they have managed to gather. Behind stand two people, one of whom is holding a moon-crescent in his hand.
262 A Divider
A large number of people are portrayed in this relief, those on the left look to the previous sequence of reliefs, and the ones on the right to the one to come. On the top right we see two men with a carrying pole, with a sack full of items hanging from it.
A Buddha with Devotees, 6
263 A Noble and Two Monks
On the left we see a someone dressed in the clothing of the nobility, maybe even a king, he has two attendants, one of whom holds the parasol over him. In front of him are two monks holding their hands in añjali. While above in the clouds a deva flies by.
264 A Buddha in Teaching Posture
Once again a Buddha sits atop a double lotus throne. He has a halo behind his head, and is holding his hand in a teaching posture. Two devas are on the clouds above him, and again their dress and hair are similar to monastics.
265 A King and Three Women
What looks like a king is sitting in the middle, with his hands held in añjali. He is surrounded by three females, one of whom holds a lotus, and another a sword. In the top left corner a deva flies on top of a cloud.
266 A Procession
For the most part the characters on this relief are facing back to the previous panels, and are probably a procession of people bringing gifts from the king seen in the last relief. On the left the people are carrying a large casket. On the right we see musicians, though it is just possible they are connected to the following reliefs.
267 Large Pots of Wealth
This and the next relief are connected. In this one we see two large pots on the lower right hand side. Sitting alongside them is a yakṣa. Others sit under a tree, and two men with beards seem to be charge of the pots.
268 A Bodhisattva and his Entourage
A Bodhisattva sits in relaxed fashion with his knee supported by a strap. There are two people at the same level on the right hand side, and below them all are six small characters, one of whom holds a waterpot.
269 A Monk and Two Disciples
At least the next five reliefs seem to be connected by the main character: a monk. In this corner relief we see a monk sitting in meditation posture on the right of the panel. On the left are two male lay devotees sitting under a tree. Between them and the monk is a large vase.
270 A Monk and Two More Disciples
This is a similar scene to the last relief: a monk sits on the right, and two lay disciples on the left. In this case though there is one male and one female disciple. The monk probably held his hand up, either in blessing, or maybe in teaching, but the latter doesn’t look so likely as the former. The male follower holds his hands in añjali.
271 A Layman Teaching
There is quite a lot of damage on this relief unfortunately as it looks like it was very interesting. We see a layman sitting on a raised seat, with his hands in teaching posture. Before him another is kneeling. They are seen next to a stairway leading into a building, but too much is damaged to properly identify it.
272 An Offering to the Monk
In this scene, which again is set outside, as we see from the tree, two lay people make an offering to the monk. It is a large dish with a lotus spread on top. The monk has his hand touching it to receive it. Under his broken seat are signs of wealth.
273 The Monk blesses Two People
Krom thinks that the persons on the left in the relief are a nāga and a nāginī, but I am unsure how he has made this identification, as the normal markings for nāgas are not present. It could just as well be two lay people. In any case they are being blessed by the monk who sits with his hand raised.
274 Worshipping the Stūpa
We see two people, a man and a woman of the nobility, worshipping a stūpa. They are outside under the trees. It is quite possible this is the relic chamber of the monk seen in the previous reliefs.
275 Preparing for Consecration
This appears to be the preparations for the consecration of the central character, presumably the Bodhisattva, who sits atop a throne. On the left we see a brahmin getting ready, and on the far left we see someone holding a crown. Others have offerings ready.
276-278 A Triptych of the Kings
These three scenes all belong together. They show the meeting of two kings, pictured on the first two reliefs. An entourage of the second king is on the third.
276 The Bodhisattva Teaching
I presume the king who is teaching in the first of these reliefs is the Bodhisattva, who was consecrated in the previous panel. By the position of his hands it is evident he is teaching. He has his queen behind him. In front sit two more people, one of whom has his arms folded.
277 A King worships the Bodhisattva
Another king is depicted on this relief, he sits on the floor, with some companions around him. He has his hands raised in añjali as he listens to the Bodhisattva’s teachings.
278 Courtiers watch the Proceedings
The five courtiers pictured on this relief are the courtiers of the second king. They hold various postures, and one or two must be brahmins. They sit inside a pavilion. The same scene is probably continued on the next relief, which is actually around the corner from these three.
279 More Courtiers
It seems as though these must be a further extension of courtiers related to the second king. Again they are a diverse group, holding various postures. The one on the right has a sword.
280 An Entourage
This is probably the start of a new story, though all we see here is another line of courtiers, this time sitting on the floor. One, on the left, has a shield, and another, on the right, has a sword. Their attention is not focused, but they are probably related to the following relief.
281 The Bodhisattva and Women
It looks like the entourage on the last relief are for the Bodhisattva who sits on the stool in this relief. He is here surrounded by women, who hold gifts, a fan and one with her hands in añjali. He appears to keep quiet, and not be teaching.
282 The Queen and Attendants
This is so balanced with the previous relief that I think it must be part of the same scene. On the other side from the Bodhisattva therefore sits his queen, who is also surrounded by female attendants, who worship and carry offerings.
283 Another Entourage
This is perhaps the last in a sequence of four reliefs. Here we see the queen’s entourage, mainly women of the court, who carry offerings and pay their respects.
284 Eight Courtiers
The attention of these courtiers appears to be on the figure in the relief, so we may take it these are his courtiers. They hold three objects, a peacock feather fan, a furled standard, and an umbrella.
A Universal Monarch with his Jewels
285 The Universal Monarch
Seated on a seat seemingly floating in the air is the Universal Monarch, who we can identify by some of the seven jewels here and on the following reliefs. He is holding a vase of donation, and appears to be washing his hands with it, though what he is giving is not clear. Behind him a deva is worshipping. Above the brahmin on the floor is a lotus cushion, with the wheel (cakra) on it.
286 The Woman-Jewel
The woman on the lotus cushion then would be the woman-jewel, and just behind her is the gem. Other women make up the scene, including one on her hands and knees.
287 The Horse and Elephant Jewels
As these are almost certainly two of the other jewels it is hard to explain why they are turned away, and do not face back to the Universal Monarch. They are outside under the trees.
288 The Universal Monarch in Conversation
This is almost certainly another scene from the same story. Here the monarch is sitting on a raised seat, and appears to be pointing something out to the king in front of him. Behind him are two women, and behind the king, who has his arms crossed, are others holding various postures.
289 Four Devas flying through the Air
A part of this relief is missing, but we still see that four devas are flying through the air, and apparently headed towards the right, and therefore the next relief in the series.
290 The Monarch and Queen in a Carraige
In this corner relief we see first on the left three members of the nobility, but a lot of the facing stone has gone by now. Then on the right we see the monarch and his queen seated in a small carraige. The monarch, by the look of his hand, seems to be teaching.
291 Four Jewels
Here we see four of the jewels again: top left is the gemstone, top right is the wheel, bottom left is the horse, and bottom right is the elephant. They appear to be going towards the next scene.
292 Four Nobles with Gifts
In this scene we see four people, probably members of the nobility, who are holding gifts for the monarch. The first has a ribboned box, the second a lotus flower, the third perhaps a jewel, and the fourth a bowl piled up with gems.
293 A Further Entourage
It is not exactly clear whether we should regard this relief as dividing off two stories, or whether it is connecting two parts of the same story. The courtiers on the left look back to the preceding scenes, the ones on the right, which includes an elephant, look forward to those that come.
294 Seven Courtiers
Again we have a scene that is spread across several reliefs. In this one we see a pair of fruiting trees, and sitting underneath them are seven courtiers, holding various postures. At least two have their attention on the following scene.
295 The Bodhisattva at Ease
This is the central relief in this sequence, and it shows what I take to be the Bodhisattva sitting at ease on a large raised platform. The others are probably all women, part of his harem.
296 Further Courtiers
The characters in this relief look back to the previous scene and are auxiliary characters to the previous relief. There are seven persons, at least one of whom is female. The others are hard to make out. They sit under a parasol and a banner.
297 A Divider
A fruiting coconut tree acts as a divider for two groups of people. The ones on the left, seemingly all male, look back to the preceding scenes; the ones on the right, all female, look forward to those that come.
A Female Bodhisattva
298 A Female Bodhisattva sitting at Ease
The central character is this sequence is a female, who must I think be a Bodhisattva. She has a halo behind her head, and many attendants, most of whom seem also to be female. She is sitting at ease atop a raised seat.
299 A Female Bodhisattva with raised Hand
Undoubtedly the same character is now seen sitting on a raised seat, and she has her left hand raised, though what the sign is is not clear to me. Maybe she is giving a blessing, though that is usually done with the right hand. Again she is surrounded by attendants. She is probably watching the following scene.
300 Female Dancers
Here we see some musicians sitting on the floor, one plays a kind of pot-drum, and another a flute. The central character is a female dancer, and behind her is another. It is not quite clear what role the other women have in this scene. Perhaps they are also dancers.
301 A Divider
Again we have a scene which divides two sequences. On the left are the female attendants of the Bodhisattva in the previous scenes. They have various offerings in their hands. The right hand section is badly worn but they are probably monks sitting under a tree, looking forward to the scenes to come.
A Buddha with Devotees, 7
302-304 A Triptych of the Buddha warding off Evil
Three of the scenes of this sequence are shown here. In the centre is the Buddha, and he has devotees on either side. The panels are described in detail below.
302 Monks and Laymen
Another auxiliary scene. This one shows three monks and two lay devotees sitting under trees, Looking on at the Buddha in the central scene. They hold various postures.
303 The Buddha wards off Evil
This is the central scene of this sequence and here the Buddha sits on top of a double lotus throne, and holds the posture of warding off evil (karaṇa-mudrā). His seat has a high back, and above, in the clouds, are two devas.
304 Devotees and Attendants
This scene shows two devotees on the left, who almost look like twins, they hold their hands in añjali. Next to them an attendant holds up a parasol, and the one on the right is a guard who is holding a sword.
305 A Group of Twelve
This is a large group of twelve people, probably courtiers, who are sitting on the floor, and seem to be paying attention to the action on the following relief. One holds his hands in añjali, and a couple are bearded. They are seated outside under the trees.
306 A King sits at Ease
A king or someone similar is pictured sitting at ease on a raised seat. The usual female attendant sits on the same seat with him. In front of him, on his knees, one man holds his hands in salutation. There are three others in the frame, but the exact relationships to the central figure are not known.
307 Devotees and Attendants
Again we see two prominent devotees in this scene, and it makes me wonder how they are related to those seen on 304. Behind them one attendant holds a parasol, and a fourth is seen on the far left.
308 Four Men
Here we see one man standing and gesticulating, and three others sat below him, holding various postures. The top right hand section appears never to have been finished, and we cannot guess what scene it might have been meant to hold. Which sequence this relief is joined to is not clear.
Royalty worship a Buddha
309 A Procession to the Right
Here we see a simple procession of nine characters all heading to the right of the panel. They are all males, and hold various postures, with one looking back at his companions.
310 Five Monks
This group of five monks who sit on the floor, and hold their hands in various postures, is related to the Buddha in the coming corner relief. They are sat outside under trees, as are most of these scenes. But yet again the sequence is so generic it does not allow of identification.
311 A King and a Queen worship a Buddha
In this corner panel we see a king and a queen on the left hand side. The king is worshipping the Buddha who sits on the right hand side of the panel. I cannot make out the mudrā the Buddha is holding here. A deva is seen above the royal couple.
312 Five more Monks
On the other side of the Buddha we see five more monks, a couple of which are holding their hands in añjali. These two are very badly worn down. Above them two devas fly on the clouds.
313 A Badly Damaged Relief
Most of the relief is missing, and what we do see is worn away. It appeared to show maybe four or five people sitting on the floor.
314 Another Procession
Another fairly damaged relief, which is missing the top row of stones, and a few others also. It is a simple procession scene, with people holding offerings, and worshipping.
A Buddha on Alms Round
315 Five Monks on Alms Round
This relief is auxiliary to the next one in which the Buddha is also seen on alms round. This one shows five monks holding their alms bowls. There are no other characters or scenery on this panel.
316 A Buddha receives Homage
The Buddha is stood on a lotus cushion with his alms bowl held high in his left hand. In front of him a lay woman is paying homage, kneeling on the floor with her hands on a cushion. Behind her another woman is also paying respects.
317 Five Women
Five women, probably related to the woman at the feet of the Buddha in the previous scene, are sat on the floor. The top part of the relief is not finished, but we see the outline of a peacock in what was going to be a tree.
318 Musicians and a Dancer
A noble lady or queen is seen on the left of this relief, she is watching the musicians who clap, play flutes, and drum, while a lady dances. Part of the block around her legs, and the block under the queen’s seat, are uncarved.
A Buddha with Devotees, 8
319 Five Monks under Trees
Once more we have a similar scenario to those seen previously. Here we have five monks sitting under trees, and holding various postures. Their attention is on the next relief.
320 A Buddha in Teaching Posture
The Buddha is sat with his right hand raised in teaching posture (vitarka-mudrā). Unfortunately in this case the head of the Buddha has been broken off. On the clouds above we see the usual devas.
321 Women pay Respects
We see seven women, three standing, and four kneeling, who are all holding offerings of various sorts for the Buddha in the previous relief. There is a flowering tree on the left of the relief.
322 A Divider
Although this is not so clearly marked as others, I do believe the women kneeling on the lower left belong with the previous reliefs, while the men standing on the right belong to the coming reliefs. The odd thing is that the men are looking back, and not forward as usual in these dividing scenes.
A Buddha with Devotees, 9
323 Four Monks under Trees
The top left block has been lost, but we can still see the whole scene. Four monks, one of whom holds his hands in añjali, are seated under trees. They are respecting the Buddha on the next relief.
324 A Buddha in Teaching Posture
A Buddha sits in teaching posture atop a double lotus throne, and once again his head has been removed. The usual devas sit above the clouds.
325 Three Ladies pay Respects
Three ladies are seen kneeling, one holds her hands in añjali, and her face is also missing. Another holds an offering, and the third has her open palm facing forwards. There is a large offering in front of them. A parasol and a standard are pictured above them.
326a A Procession
As all attention seems to be on the previous reliefs I would think this scene should be counted with those. It is actually part of a large corner-piece. Most of the devotees are seen standing, and three are kneeling. Most have offerings.
326b A Procession
This is the right hand side of the corner panel, but here attention is directed forward at what is to come. Most people are again shown standing, but six are pictured as sitting on the floor. Many seem to have gifts in their hands.
A Buddha with Devotees, 10
327 Seven Monks and Two Devas
Seven monks sit of a slightly raised seat, all of those we can see are holding their hands in añjali. Above the clouds are two very different looking devas.
328 A Buddha in Teaching Posture
As with others in the series we see a Buddha sat on a double lotus throne, holding the teaching posture. Above him are the usual two devas. And on either side are the incense burner and the waterpot.
329 Five Nuns and Three Devas
In this case the monastics who are worshipping the Buddha are nuns (bhikṣunīs). They are all kneeling, and one holds an incense burner. Above them are three devas riding above the clouds.
330 A Female Bodhisattva with Attendants
There is a halo around the central character on this relief, and it is reasonable to suppose she is a Bodhisattva. She sits on a high-backed chair, that has three large pots under it, and a treasure chest. She is surrounded by nine females, most with offerings in their hands. Four are kneeling, the others standing. It seems this relief is not connected with the ones of either side.
331 A Bodhisattva with Female Attendants
Now again the Bodhisattva is male, and he is surrounded by female attendants on this relief, though there are males on the following relief. Behind him sits what is probably his chief consort, or queen. In front are women, one of whom seems to hold up a cup. Below his seat is a treasure chest, and two small men who are protecting it.
332 Worshipping the Bodhisattva
The character on the left, who is badly damaged, appears to have been a noble. He is placed on a seat higher than the other figures, and is worshipping the Bodhisattva on the previous relief. Behind him sit two attendants, one of whom holds a standard.
333 A King sits with Attendants
A member of the nobility or royalty sits in relaxed posture on a raised platform. He is holding something in his hand, maybe a jewel. Underneath him are two smaller characters, their exact function not being clear. The other people in the scene all appear to be female.
334 Ten Male Characters
A rather damaged relief shows ten male characters sitting and kneeling on the floor under three trees. They hold various postures, and appear to be an extension of the previous scene.
The Story of a Monk
335 A Monk receives a Gift
We now have a sequence of four reliefs which seem to be connected through the central character who is a monk. Possibly it would be the Bodhisattva, but it is not sure. In this relief he receives an offering from someone stood in front of him with a large dish. Some of the other figures hold their hands in añjali.
336 A Poor Man drives a Plough
In this simple scene we see someone in a poor person’s dress driving a pair of oxen with a stick. They are pulling a plough, presumably across a field, though in the background there are a pair of trees.
337 The Monk receives Homage
The monk from two reliefs previous is now receiving homage from the poor man in the previous relief. He has one of his oxen with him. They both sit under a tree, though the monk is of course on a high seat.
338 The Monk and Waters of Donation
This is the last scene in the series, and here again the monk sits on a high seat. In front of him one man is kneeling and paying homage, while another is preparing to pour the waters of donation over the monk’s hand. What he is being given though is unclear. The characters on the right hand side of this scene, all male, are much larger in relation to the others.
The following nine reliefs illustrate the story of the Buddha’s half-brother Nanda, which is well known from many texts. The story is one of the most famous of the Buddhist tales and was known to artists at Ajāṇṭā, Amaravati, Nāgarjunikoṇḍa and Gandhāra. Monica Zin has shown that the text followed at Borobudur was Ven. Aśvaghoṣa’s Saundarananda, and it is that story which is summarised in part here.
Not long after his Awakening the Buddha returned to his home town Kapilavāstu where he taught the Dharma to his relatives. Nanda, his half-brother, however, was too engaged with his beautiful wife Sundarī to attend.
One day while the two were engaged with each other the Buddha came on alms-round to their home, but received nothing, and so went his way. When he heard, Nanda got up and followed after the Buddha, who handed him his bowl to carry.
At the monastery the Buddha taught Dharma to Nanda and had him ordained. Nanda, however, was not happy in the monastic life, and still longed for his wife. The Buddha therefore took him to the heavens and showed him the heavenly maidens called apsarasas, who were far more beautiful than his wife, and promised them to him if he succeeded in his spiritual life.
Nanda agreed to try harder in his quest, and soon attained Worthiness (Arahatta), at which point he had already given up his desire for the apsarasas.
339 Nanda sits in his Court
Nanda is pictured dressed in finery and is seated with two females on his seat. Under his seat are a number of money sacks. In front of him, under a pavilion, are five ladies of his court. A bird is seen above the pavilion.
340 Sundarī sits at Court
The main character in this scene is rather worn and damaged. It shows Nanda’s wife Sundarī sitting in her court, along with an attendant. They sit atop a circular seat. Outside the pavilion, and in front of it, are two male figures.
341 King Śuddhodana sits at Court
King Śuddhodana is sat on top of a large seat on the right hand side of this corner panel with others before him. Two of the characters are embracing, and I wonder if this is meant to be Nanda and Sundarī?
342 The Buddha Teaching
This is the scene where the Buddha is teaching. He sits atop a double lotus seat on the right of the panel with his right hand raised in the teaching posture. On the left are several people, male and female, who have offerings in their hands.
343 The Buddha on Alms Round
The Buddha and one monk are pictured on alms round, holding their small bowls. Two people, presumably servants, are outside a building, and hold their hands up respectfully. Meanwhile on the left we see Nanda holding a mirror up for Sundarī.
344 Three Monks on Alms Round
Three monks are pictured on the right on alms round. One person is kneeling on the floor behind them, but it is unclear what he is doing. Above him stands a man holding a flywhisk.
345 Nanda carries the Buddha’s Alms Bowl
This is the scene that really makes it possible to identify the others in the story. Nanda in noble attire walks behind the Buddha carrying his alms bowl and follows him back to the monastery. The Buddha has his right hand raised in blessing.
346 The Monastery
This relief is of a very elaborate monastery, having several levels. This is presunably placed here to indicate all that follows when they get back to the monastery: the Buddha has his half-brother ordained.
347 The Buddha takes Nanda to Heaven
The Buddha and Nanda stand on the left, they are on their way to heaven. In front of them are three layers of beings: devas, animals and men. The monkey is seen below the devas, and below him are a pictured a group of sages, and in the far right a yakṣa.
348-350 A Triptych of the Buddha and Nanda
Two women and a man are seen on the left, in the middle is the Buddha is blessing posture, and next to him Nanda is meditating. Details follow.
348 Nanda and the Apsarasas
Two apsarasas kneel atop a raised seat and are in conversation with Nanda, who stands in front of them. The foremost apsaras holds up a flower. Part of Nanda’s arm, which would have shown the gesture he was making, is now missing.
349 The Buddha giving a Blessing
A simple scene in which a classically formed Buddha sits on a double lotus seat, and has his hand raised in a blessing posture (vara-mudrā). There is a large halo (vyāma-prabhā) behind him. This is different from the other Buddha scenes in this series as it lacks the devas on either side.
350 Nanda sits in Meditation
Nanda is seen here in the wilderness and is meditating. The forest is rather elaborately pictured with trees and fruits. On the ground in front of him we see two hares, the most timid of animals, who are unafraid in his presence.
351 A Divider
Although it is not clear, as the relief is badly damaged, it appears this was a divider, with the characters on the left looking back at the previous scene, while those on the right, of which only one remains, look forward to the coming reliefs.
352 Six Monks
Much of this relief is also missing. We see enough to understand there were six people standing. They look like monks, although it is not sure. Two of their faces have been gauged out. One can still be seen holding his hands in añjali.
353 Three Monks
Very much is the same style as the previous relief, we here see three monks heading to the right. The foremost one is atop a lotus stand. The middle one is virtually destroyed.
354 Petitioning a King
A king, or a prince, is seen here on a raised platform, with two women around him. He is being petitioned by the brahmin on the left. Two others sit on the floor.
355 A Divider
A normal dividing scene is presented on this relief, with some characters looking back and others looking forward at what is to come.
A Buddha with Devotees, 11
356 Monks outside a Building
Most of this relief is again missing, and all we can see is one monk kneeling on the right. And at the top what appears to be a elaborate bulding. There were at least two other figures in this scene, but we cannot see anything other than their legs now.
357 A Buddha in Blessing Posture
This is another of the set scenes we have seen at various positions on this wall. A Buddha sits on a double lotus seat, and has his hand raised. It is quite broken, but I believe it was in blessing posture. The Buddha’s face has been broken off. As usual in the top corners devas are seen.
358 Mainly Missing
We see the bare remains of two very badly damaged figures on the left, but the rest of this relief is now missing altogether.
A Buddha with Devotees, 12
359 A Procession
Around twelve figures in finery are seen walking to the right, and holding various postures. In front of them is what looks like a dwarf holding a parasol. Some of the figures are male, others female.
360 Courtiers and a Tree
This relief is also quite damaged. There appear to be five standing and five sitting courtiers, dressed in finery. They gather before a flowering tree. Most hold their hands in añjali.
361 Five Monks under Trees
Again part of the extended congregation gathered around a Buddha figure. Here we see five monks mainly sitting, in various postures. There was more than one tree above them, but we can only see one now because of the damage.
362 The Buddha and Three Ladies
In this corner piece we see the Buddha sitting on the left, with his hand held up in blessing. On the right hand side, three ladies are seen kneeling, in what is otherwise quite a damaged relief.
363 Lay People with Gifts
Four very similar-looking people line up on this relief, with is auxiliary to the previous one. One has a dish with an offering, two have flowers, and the fourth holds his hands in respect.
364 A Divider
This divider has more people with offerings on the left, while the characters on the right are looking forward to the next story. There are money bags on the top right, and a nicely patterned tree motif stands above them all.
365 The Bodhisattva receives Homage
A Bodhisattva, together with his consort, is sitting on what looks like a pair of stools. In front of him a man is kneeling and supplicating him. There is a woman behind this figure, holding a lotus flower. Underneath the seat are the usual pots, presumably containing treasure.
366 Dedicating a Stūpa
Possibly the same man and woman are seen in standing position on this relief. The man has a waterpot and is pouring it over a stūpa, presumably dedicating it. The stūpa itself is rather plain. It is not clear if it is meant to represent something full size, or perhaps a votive stūpa.
367 Devotees with Large Pots
Auxillary to the last scene is this relief showing four people sat on the floor. Two are holding large pots, one is holding a peacock-feather parasol, and the other has flowers. There are also a pair of standards behind them.
368 A Divider
The four ladies on the left, who are standing, direct their attention to the previous sequence. The five men on the right, who are sitting, look forward to the new story.
369 Five Devotees
This relief is connected with the next one. It is a general scene showing five men sitting on the floor, with a standard, peacock-fower parasol, and a normal parasol above them.
370 A King receives Visitors
What looks like a king is sitting in princely fashion atop a large raised seat. He has two women with him. Kneeling in front of him is another woman, who is holding her hands in añjali. Above, there is another women who has a small bowl, though what it contains is unknown. Underneath the seat are a large pot and a treasure chest.
371 A Wishing Tree and Treasure
This panel is probably connected to the last sequence, or may stand alone. We see a wishing tree (kalpa-vṛkṣa) with a great show of riches around it. Four kinnaras, two large, two small, are also seen standing guard of the tree. The tree itself is very elaborate.
The Story of the Ascetic and Four Animals
Fǎ jù pìyù jīng (Dharmapada Sūtra)
An ascetic, Vīryabala, lived in a remote mountain, and spent his time meditating beneath a tree. There were also four animals in the same area: a raven, a dove, a snake and a deer. One night they had a discussion about what was the greatest suffering.
The raven said it was hunger and thirst, which drive one into nets; the dove said that it was love, which made one do irrational things; the snake was of the opinion that anger drove beings to desperation; and the deer said fear was the worst, as you might die trying to escape.
Vīryabala explained however that these were only the results of another thing which caused all these sufferings. It is having a body that is the worst of sufferings, because when we have a body we thirst, crave, get angry and are afraid.
372 An Ascetic and Four Beasts
On the left of this wide relief we see Vīryabala sitting on the ground, he is gving his Dharma teaching. In front of him are the four animals who are listening: a raven, a dove, a snake and a deer. All round are the signs of remote dwelling: forests and mountains.
Photographs by Anandajoti Bhikkhu
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