The Life of Gautama Buddha
Birth & Youth
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28. The birth of the Bodhisattva
Now when queen Māyā had entered the Lumbinī-park, and had descended from that splendid carriage, surrounded by human and divine women, she moved from one tree to the other, from one thicket into another, looking at one tree after the other, and came gradually to the place where that great plakṣa, jewel of all great trees, grew. Thereupon the plakṣa-tree, moved by the power of the Bodhisattva’s glory, bowed down and saluted her. Queen Māyā stretched out her right arm like a flash of lightning in the air, laid hold of a branch of the plakṣa and stood there without any effort gazing up to heaven with her mouth slightly open.
At that moment appeared 60,000,000 apsaras of the Kāmāvacara gods and formed a train to serve queen Māyā. Attended by such miracles the Bodhisattva formerly had entered the mother’s womb; now he appeared, at the end of ten full months, out of his mother’s right side, in possession of memory and knowledge, unsullied by the impurity of the mother’s womb. At the same moment came Śakra, the king of the gods, and Brahmā Sahāpati and stood before him. With the greatest respect they received the Bodhisattva in a divine kāśika-garment, recognising him in all his limbs and parts of his body, and knowing him.
Immediately at his birth the Bodhisattva descended to the ground. As soon as the Bodhisattva, the Great Being, touched it a great lotus appeared splitting open the great earth. Nanda and Upananda, the nāga-kings, showing the upper part of themselves in the air, caused two streams of water to appear both hot and cold and bathed the Bodhisattva. It was Śakra, Brahmā and the Guardians of the world, with many more hundred thousands of the gods’ sons, who bathed the Bodhisattva directly after birth, sprinkled him with all sorts of perfumed water and strewed him with blossoms; fly-whisks appeared in the air and an umbrella adorned with jewels. He placed himself on the lotus and looked towards the four winds.
Without any man’s help the Bodhisattva took seven steps to the East (and said): “Behold I shall be the first of all dharmas who are the roots of Salvation.” And as he walked the divine white large umbrella and the two magnificent fans moved above him in the air unsupported. At every spot where the Bodhisattva set his foot sprung up lotuses. And he took seven steps to the South etc. (82:14; 83:3,12,19; 84:15).
It is certainly remarkable that while everywhere else the sculptors of the Barabuḍur do not hesitate when the text allows, to spend a new relief on scenes that are very similar, they have here chosen to combine the three important events, the birth, the bathing and the seven steps, into one panel. In the middle of the relief the plakṣa-tree is designed, shaded by an umbrella and decorated with hanging strings of jewels. On the right is the queen with attendants; the birth was just taken place as is shown by her standing in the prescribed attitude; the right arm raised and holding a branch of the tree. One attendant supports her left arm, a second kneels before her with a water-jug, a third is behind her with some four other of her women. To the left of the plakṣa tree, the bathing is ingeniously combined with the seven steps. Here seven lotuses have sprouted up, strangely enough out of the familiar, but here quite misplaced, jewel pots. On two of these flowers the Bodhisattva sets his foot; thus the seven lotuses that sprout up under his seven footsteps are clearly indicated. At the same time, above his head floats a cloud from which streams of water and flowers pour down on to him.
Here the Bodhisattva has already reached the stature of a growing youth, and wears besides the usual dress of high-born boys the crescent ornament behind his head. On the left of the scene is a row of gods, standing, among whom is no figure that can be distinguished as Śakra or Brahmā, and a row of kneeling women, with high headdress, thus no servants but probably the apsaras mentioned at the birth. They have some objects in their hands, but this part of the relief is too damaged for us to see what they are.
We can see plainly that to make a whole of all this, the sculptor has had to sacrifice a good deal. At the birth-scene, the new-born infant himself, and the two gods who fold him in the cloth are missing; the two nāga-kings are not present at the bath, though they are responsible for the water. There was no room either for the large lotus on which the Bodhisattva rested before the seven steps were taken and the umbrella and the two fly-whisks are not given at all.
Deviations of this sort are very extraordinary when it concerns such an important incident as the birth of the Bodhisattva, for we should imagine both the Bodhisattva and the two gods who receive him, to be so deeply-rooted in the tradition that it was impossible to leave them out of the picture. This is the more striking because in other Indian art, all three, or at least the new-born infant and one of the gods, appear, and while, in other respects, the Barabuḍur sculptor so evidently adheres to the existing tradition, even where the text omitted the particular in question: for example, the presence, known also in Gandhāra art, Representations of the birth in the Gandhāra art, generally with a good deal of resemblance among them, are to be found Foucher, L’art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra, I fig. 152 p. 301, 154 p. 306, 158 p. 311, 164 p. 321, 208 p. 412, the seven steps fig. 155 p. 307, and the bath fig. 156 p. 309, 157 p. 310. Also Burgess, The Gandhāra sculptures, Journ. of Ind. Art. and Industry 8 (1898) pl. 10; Grünwedel-Burgess, Buddhist Art in India (1901) fig. 64 and 65; Burgess, The ancient monuments, temples and sculptures of India (1897) pl. 98, 126, 134. of the standing woman who supports the young mother, and that of the attendant holding a water jug. In connection with my remarks on No 13 it is noticeable that at Amarāvatī too the child is sometimes left out and the two gods Śakra and Brahmā are replaced by four gods all alike, who nevertheless hold a cloth and are therefore not reduced to the role of spectator, like the five divine persons on the Barabuḍur scene. T.S.W. pl. 65 and 91; Burgess, The Buddhist stūpas of Amaravati and Jaggayyapeṭa, pl. 32 (= 91). From Amarāvatī is also Foucher, L’art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra, Il fig. 506 p. 563. Also as regards the placing of these three incidents on one relief, the Javan artist is not as original as might be thought, examples of two, the birth and seven steps, are known in Gandhāra; and when we see there just below the Bodhisattva coming out of Māyā’s side, another image of him making the seven steps, the Barabuḍur scene is surely to be preferred, that represents the child only once. Even with the lotuses the Javan sculptor has not been original for this is to be found in Magadha, See Foucher, Etude sur l’Iconographie bouddhique de l’Inde I (1900) fig. 28 p. 160; also from Magadha Foucher, L’art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra, II fig. 500 p. 545. but the way in which they are shown is a vast improvement on that of his colleague in Hindustan who piles the lotuses stupidly on top of one another; the most sensible way is the later Tibetan manner of placing the lotuses in a cross towards the points of the compass. Finally it is curious that neither does the bath incident exactly imitate the Indian examples. As above quoted, the text describes first that the nāgas let the streams of water fall and afterwards Śakra, Brahmā and other gods pour out their water and flowers. It is known that the Gandhāra art adheres to the latter and shows the bath being performed by the gods, while the later Indian art prefers to give it to the nāgas. On Barabuḍur there are no nāgas, nor either any signs of the two gods who pour water over the Bodhisattva in Gandhāra. There is nothing to be seen but the gods as spectators who have no hand in the bathing, though perhaps the shower of blossoms may be an indication that the sculptor intended the bath by the gods, not the nāgas, the flowers being mentioned in the text only for the gods. The impression of the whole is, that in spite of being bound by text and tradition, the artist of the Barabuḍur exhibits a surprising amount of originality.
In other Buddhist art as well, the birth of Śākyamuni remains a favorite subject, in that of Sāñchi, Foucher, L’art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra, II fig. 474 p. 387. Sarnāth, A.M.I. fig. 67, 68; Foucher, L’art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra, I fig. 209 p. 413; II fig. 498 p. 539; fig. 507, p. 563; I.B.I. fig. 29 p. 163; Journ. Roy. As. Soc. 19071.1. pl. 4. Ajaṇṭā, Foucher, Lettre d'Ajantâ, p. 223; comp. Paintings pl. 28. Cambodia, Foucher, L’art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra, I fig. 153 p. 303. Pagān, Seidenstücker, Süd-buddhistische Studien, abb. 12-18, p. 29, 84-86, 90.
the Indian miniatures, I.B.I. pl. X, 3. the Serindian, Grünwedel, Altbuddh. Kunstst. Turkest. fig. 383 (Foucher, L’art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra, II fig. 523 p. 605); Stein, Serindia II p. 855 foll. and pl. LXXIV (Tun-Huang). the elder Chinese, Chavannes, Mission archeologique dans la Chine septentrionale, Publ. Ec. franc. d’ Extr. Or XIII, 2 (1915) fig. 275 and pg. 319 (Yun-Kang), fig. 1735 and pg. 555 (Longmen); fig. 432 and pg. 590. In all three of these cases the bath (by the nāgas) and the seven steps follow immediately. the later Tibetan See ill. in Grünwedel, Buddhistische Kunst in Indien (1900) abb. 50 on p. 105, or Mythologie des Buddhismus in Tibet und der Mongolei (1900) abb. 7 pg. 16; more modern Hackin 1.1. pl. I; compare above pg. 9. art. As Barabuḍur by the singular combination of three incidents is so exceptional, there is no reason for comparing with the other examples. With all the variations, one chief thing has remained the same: the tree and the queen holding it with one hand (later always the right, in the older art sometimes the left hand) in the middle, with her attendants on her left side and the gods on her right; if necessary the two groups are reduced to one representative for each. As for the rest, this scheme could be combined in various ways with whatever text was followed by the sculptor.
29. The congratulations and feasting of ṛṣis and brahmans
Then all the ṛṣis from other parts, who were present in India and acquainted with the five-fold knowledge came flying through the air to king Śuddhodana, set themselves before him and gave utterance to their wishes for health and prosperity. And all the troops of Śākyas gathered together and uttered cries of joy, gave gifts, performed meritorious deeds, and every day satisfied two and thirty hundred thousand brahmans; whatever each of them needed, it was given unto him. Śakra, the king of the gods, and Brahmā took the foremost seats in that conclave of brahmans, after assuming the human form, and pronounced these verses of congratulation (96:17,21).
On the extreme right, in front of a very much damaged building, are sitting armed guards and unarmed servants of the king who sits on his throne a little to the left, in a pĕndapa. According to Wilsen’s drawing this little building was a gateway, but there may be some imagination about that. Opposite to the king also on a dais in the same pĕndapa, is a ṛṣi to be recognised by his untidy, done up-high mass of hair but otherwise rather dilapidated; between them a dish of food(?). The left hand of the relief gives the feasting of the brahmans; These are sitting in the left hand corner under a small pĕndapa-roof, one of them is seated a little higher, a second sits on the ground, a pupil stands behind with an umbrella, the (very indistinct) head and arm of a fourth seem to be sticking up above the seat. Both the first-mentioned have each a meal set before them, among which the large balls of rice and dishes with sambalans and other things can be discerned. Between this group and the pĕndapa of the king the distributors of food are sitting or standing, they look just like servants, not at all like Śākyas of distinction as given by the text. The sitting ones have in their hands a water-jug with a spout, a box, and a bowl; the first of the standing ones is ready to serve out from a basin, with a spoon, while those behind him are bringing dishes and bowls. A tree in the background.
30. Gautamī undertakes the care of the Bodhisattva
Seven days after the birth of the Bodhisattva, his mother, queen Māyā died. After her death she was born again among the three and thirty gods. Thereupon five hundred Śākya-women spoke each to herself in this wise: “I shall take on myself the care of the prince.” But the eldest Śākyas, both men and women, said: “All these women are young, beautiful, well-formed and proud of their youth and beauty; they are not suited to bring up the Bodhisattva as it befits. None other than Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī here, the sister of the prince’s mother, is able to bring up the prince in a wholly satisfactory manner, and to assist king Śuddhodana.” As soon as they were agreed upon this, they encouraged Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī. Therefore she brought up the young prince. And two and thirty nurses were appointed to the Bodhisattva, eight to carry him, eight to give him milk, eight to bathe him and eight to play with him.” (97:3; 100:10).
The middle of the relief is taken up by a large pavilion; within sits king Śuddhodana with his son on his knees, on each side of him a group of women. The Bodhisattva again has the half-moon ornament behind his head. Among the women a few hold a bowl or dish and must be servants as can be noticed by their dress; the one sitting directly in front of the king has nothing to distinguish her from the others, so there would be no reason to think she is the princess Gautamī. Although it is most probable, considering the position of the relief between the feasting of the brahmans and the visit of Asita, that the choice of a foster-mother is here intended, there is still a good deal of doubt, because also the old Śākyas of the text are omitted. Right and left of the pavilion, servants are sitting under a palm-tree, armed guards only on the right. In connection with the possibility that we may have here before us some other scene than the text suggests, I must mention that the return from Lumbinī to Kapilavastu, a favorite scene in sculptured art, at least in that of Gandhāra, Foucher, L’art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra, I pg. 310-314 and fig. 157-160. On the contrary the journey to Lumbinī, (No. 27 of this series) has not yet been found in Gandhāra. that should have found a place here, is altogether missing on Barabuḍur, notwithstanding the elaborate description in the Lalitavistara.
31. The visit of Asita
At that time there lived on the slopes of the Himālaya, the king of the mountains, a great ṛṣi, named Asita, learned in the five-fold knowledge, with his sister’s son Naradatta. Now this Asita saw at the birth of the Bodhisattva many miraculous and supernatural apparitions. He rose up with his sister’s son Naradatta into the air as a royal swan and flew to the great city of Kapilavastu.
And Asita, the mighty ṛṣi, spoke thus to king Śuddhodana: “Unto thee great king is born a son, and I am come hither desirous to look upon him”… Thereupon king Śuddhodana took up prince Sarvārthasiddha gently and carefully in both hands and brought him to Asita, the great ṛṣi. And when he saw that the Bodhisattva was marked with the thirty two signs of the Great Being, he wept, shedding tears and sighing deep. King Śuddhodana… spake unto Asita, the great ṛṣi: “Wherefore, o ṛṣi, doest thou weep and shed tears, and heave deep sighs? Is there any danger for the prince?” At these words spake Asita, the great ṛṣi, to king Śuddhodana: “I do not weep for the prince and no danger threatens him. Nay I weep for myself. And for what cause? Great king, I am old, full of years and worn with age… This prince shall without doubt attain the highest and most perfect Wisdom and save a hundred thousand million koṭis of beings from the ocean of life’s circle to the other coast and help them to attain immortality. And we shall not see that jewel of a Buddha. Therefore I weep, great king. (101:1; 102:1; 103:1,8,21; 104:3; 105:3).
Asita points out the thirty-two chief signs and eighty additional signs of the future Buddha, he is feasted and departs.
The fullness of detail with which the text relates this Simeon episode, compels me to curtail the quotations and refer the reader to the text for the whole tale.
The king and his visitors are sitting in a pĕndapa on the left of the relief with a dish full of wreaths between them, on a wide seat with cushions. The king has his son upon his knee, the child holds a stem, probably of a flower in his hand; behind him some female servants are standing and sitting. The bearded ṛṣi Asita sits in front making a sĕmbah; behind him Naradatta without a beard. Both have their hair in the usual fashion of ṛṣi fastened up in a large coil, and both wear the necklace customary for ṛṣis as well as ascetics. The ṛṣi is evidently lost in contemplation of the Bodhisattva; no trouble has been taken to show his sadness, as for instance is done on a Gandhāra-relief by putting him with his hand to his head. Foucher, L’art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra, I fig. 161 p. 305. On the right of the pĕndapa three female attendants are coming with garments, etc. as gifts for the guests, but this part of the relief is not very distinct. Further, there is a building in the background, possibly a guard-house, the usual guard seated, and finally on the extreme right three horses and an elephant, with his mahout holding the aṅkuśa. These animals have nothing to do with the Asita episode, so they must have been put in as decoration. The representations of Asita’s visit in the Gandhāra art, Foucher, L’art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra, I fig. 160 p. 313, 162 p. 131, 165 p. 323, and the one already mentioned. differ in so far from those on Barabuḍur, that the queen is also present and Asita, not the father, is holding the child. The last is also the case on the painting at Ajaṇṭā, of which only the one ṛṣi figure with the child is known to us, Fergusson-Burgess, The cave temples of India (1880) p. 308; Burgess, Notes on the Bauddha rock temples of Ajanta, Arch. Surv. West. Ind. 9 (1879) pl. 14; Griffiths, Paintings in the Buddhist Cave temples of Ajaṇṭā, pl. 45; Foucher, Lettre d'Ajantâ, p. 224. so that we can form no idea of the further design of the scene. The old Chinese art gives only Asita with the child; Chavannes, Mission archeologique dans la Chine septentrionale, fig. 432, p. 590. on the contrary at Pagān the king holds his son, that is if the interpretation if the relief is correct. For Cambodia see Foucher, L’art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra, II fig. 518 p. 589. Seidenstücker, Süd-buddhistische Studien, abb. 20 and p. 31 and 91.
32. Maheśvara and other gods’ sons do homage to the Bodhisattva
As soon as the Bodhisattva was born, the gods’ son Maheśvara turned to the Śuddhāvāsakāyika gods’ sons and spake thus: “The Bodhisattva, the Great Being, has appeared in the world and will in a short time attain the highest and most perfect Wisdom. Come, let us go and greet him, do him homage, honor and praise him.” Then the gods’ son Maheśvara surrounded and followed by twelve hundred thousand gods’ sons, after filling the whole great city of Kapilavastu with radiance, came to the place where king Śuddhodana’s palace stood… and after saluting the Bodhisattva’s feet with his head and throwing his upper garment over one shoulder, he walked round him some hundred thousand times, keeping his right side towards him, took the Bodhisattva in his arms and spoke encouraging words to Śuddhodana. After the gods’ son Maheśvara with the Śuddhāvāsakāyika gods’ sons had thus performed the ceremony of the great homage, he returned to his own dwelling. (112:3,13; 113:1,4,11,13).
On this relief too the royal pĕndapa is on the left, here with triśūla ornaments on the roof, king Śuddhodana still sits with his son on his knee on a cushion with some female attendants behind him. The gods also sit on cushions, three of them; the nearest, making a sĕmbah, must be Maheśvara. Nothing is to be seen of the homage to the feet of the Bodhisattva or of a pradakṣiṇā; the gods’ son is sitting just like the ṛṣi on the last relief. The right is occupied by the king’s suite, servants standing, some of them with the usual bowls of flowers, and seated ones, the front ones only bearing swords and shields, while in the background, as well as the king’s umbrella, bows and arrows are to be seen. Perhaps this homage is also represented at Pagān, Seidenstücker, Süd-buddhistische Studien, abb. 21, p. 32 etc., 81 and 92. According to the latter, the passage, not preserved in the Avidūrenidāna, might be borrowed from the Lalitavistara.
33. The Śākyas request that the prince may be brought to the temple
Then the oldest Śākyas, men and women, gathered together, came to king Śuddhodana and spake thus: “O king, this thou should know, the prince must be brought to the temple.” And he answered and said: “It is well, let the prince be brought there.” (118:3).
Here again the king is sitting with his son on his knee, he is placed quite in front because those with whom he converses are outside the pĕndapa. Behind him and inside the building some female attendants are kneeling; the front one who has nothing in her hands and on whose hip the king rests his hand, might be Gautamī, but according to the text, she was not present at the conversation, as the king informs her later, on his return to the palace, of his commands for the procession to the temple. On the right, outside the pĕndapa, are sitting servants and guards. On the left stand and sit a number of persons, men and women, whom we must consider the Śākyas and their followers; the front one, who has a vase in the hand, seems to be a brahman. This group is very much damaged; but it is still clear that in any case those sitting at the back, as well as the three figures standing, the last ones with a fly-whisk and gifts in their hands, belong to the staff of attendants. In the background there are some trees.
34. The procession to the temple
Thus, while praise and rejoicing sounded everywhere and the streets, crossways, markets and gateways were dressed with innumerable adornments, king Śuddhodana set forth after decorating the carriage of the prince within the palace, accompanied and followed by brahmans, teachers of the vedas, chiefs of the guilds, heads of families, councillors, rulers of the frontier, guardians of the gateways, followers, friends and relations, with the prince along the road, that was sprinkled with perfumes, strewn with blossoms, filled with horses, elephants, carriages and troops: on foot, where umbrellas, flags and banners were planted and all kinds of music resounded. A hundred thousand gods drew the carriage of the Bodhisattva and many hundred thousand millions of koṭis of the gods’ sons and apsaras scattered showers of blossoms in the air and made melody upon instruments of music. (119:11).
Comparing the text with what is represented on the relief, it is interesting to notice the way in which the Barabuḍur sculptors worked. Here they had to depict the procession of Śuddhodana and his son with attendants, and that the sculptor has given, but he has passed over all the details in the description. To begin with the gods are left out, those who were to draw the carriage as well as those who enlivened the journey with music and flowers. No notice has been taken of the selection of the king’s company according to the text, or of the appearance of the road. What remains is as follows: A large four-wheeled carriage and four, with canopy, in which are sitting the king, the Bodhisattva, with his usual crescent ornament, and two female attendants. The driver is seated on the shaft, behind the carriage crouches a soldier. In front and behind are servants and guards, the last of whom in the front group carry bow and arrows, in the back one, swords. In this way the sculptor carried out the instructions.
35. The gods of the temple do honor to the Bodhisattva
Then king Śuddhodana and the prince entered the temple, with great royal ceremony, great royal splendor, and great royal magnificence. As soon as the Bodhisattva placed the sole of his right foot upon the floor in that temple, the lifeless images of the gods, of Śiva, Skanda, Nārāyaṇa, Kuvera, Candra, Sūrya, Vaiśravaṇa, Śakra, Brahmā, the Guardians of the world and other images, stood up each from its pedestal and threw themselves at the feet of the Bodhisattva. And all the gods of whom these were the likeness, showed their own shape and spake these verses. (119:19; 120:7).
The text places the doing homage inside the temple but the relief gives it outside the building. The temple is on the left side of the scene. It is of two storeys, a double door with a kāla-makara ornament, next to that panels of so-called wallpaper-design and pilasters; above, the same pilasters and windows ornamented with a reversed triśūla. The roof slopes straight up; in the centre it is crowned with a cakra between two banners; on the right side of the temple a porch projects supported by columns, and here sits a rākṣasa as temple-guard with the usual short sword. Two persons look out of the window, probably gods; a third is coming out of the half-open door. Four gods are already outside the temple; three are kneeling, one standing, all make a reverent sĕmbah to the Bodhisattva advancing on the right. Among the gods the one standing and not wearing the usual style of high hair-dressing, but merely a tied-up coil of hair, is probably Brahmā, who is also represented elsewhere as Śikhin. The Bodhisattva is standing next to his father, both with haloes and an umbrella over their heads; behind them the suite, sitting and standing servants with the ordinary objects and soldiers armed with swords or bow and arrows. It is curious that the Bodhisattva here all at once has no halo, which he was given in the last relief in the carriage. Observe that here he is for the last time represented as a child, that is to say with a low diadem on his head: on the following reliefs he wears the ordinary royal headdress.
36. The offering of jewels and their loss of brilliance
Then king Śuddhodana caused five hundred ornaments to be made by five hundred Śākyas, namely, ornaments for the hand, the feet, the head and the neck, ornaments with seals, rings for the ear and arm, girdles, silk-stuffs woven with gold, gauze woven with bells and jewels and ornamented with the maṇi-stone, shoes embellished with all kinds of precious stones, pearl necklaces, bracelets and diadems.
And when the night was past and the sun had risen, the Bodhisattva went to the park called Vimalavyūha, and there was received into the arms of Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī. Eighty thousand women came there and beheld the face of the Bodhisattva, and ten thousand girls came and five thousand brahmans. Then the ornaments that the fortunate Śākya-king had caused to be made were placed upon the Bodhisattva’s body. As soon they were put on, they were dimmed by the radiance of the Bodhisattva’s body, they glittered no more, sparkled no more, they ceased to shine.
Whereupon Vimalā, the goddess of the park, appeared in heavenly person, stood before them, and spoke to king Śuddhodana and the great company of Śākyas, these verses: “He shines with his own glory, and is adorned by a hundred virtues; on him whose body is without blemish, jewels will lose their lustre; the radiance of the sun and moon, the stars and the glitter of the maṇi-stone, the brightness of Śakra and Brahmā grows dim in the effulgence of his splendor. He, whose body is embellished with tokens, the signs of his former good deeds, what should he do with worthless adornments made by the hands of others?” (121:5,16; 122:10,21).
Two episodes of the above-quoted story are depicted on this relief, the offering of the ornaments and Vimalā’s explanation of their loss of brilliance. In the middle of the relief and giving the mise-en-scene for both pictures, are the trees of the park. On the right, on a throne in a pĕndapa sits the Bodhisattva, to be recognised by his nimbus; contrary to the text he is not shown on Gautamī’s knee; she herself is not there, and the many thousand women are represented by one solitary attendant with a fly-whisk standing quite on the left, the brahmans are nowhere to be seen. Here too the sculptor has neglected the circumstantial details. In front and behind the Bodhisattva sits a servant, quite to the right, an armed soldier. On the left the Śākyas are advancing with the ornaments to be presented, they are dressed like ordinary courtiers, the front one is holding a headdress, those following, trays with rings and other trinkets.
On the left part of the relief, also a pĕndapa in which is seated a person in royal robes. The space behind him is filled with standing women, sitting servants and soldiers. In front of him sits a courtier and just under the last tree of the park, the female figure, who by her attitude must be addressing the seated royal personage. This woman can be no other than Vimalā the goddess. The chief figure according to Pleyte (p. 59) should be the Bodhisattva and though it is not impossible, as proved by the relief following, that the same person is depicted twice on the same panel, I am not able to agree with him about this, not only because the figure in question in contrast to the Bodhisattva wears no halo (compare the following relief), but because the text states expressly that it is Śuddhodana to whom the goddess speaks. In my opinion the figure in the left hand pĕndapa is the king who is being told the cause of the miraculous occurrence.
37. The arrival at school
When the prince had grown up in this way, he was brought to the school with hundred thousands of good wishes, surrounded and followed by ten thousand boys and ten thousand carts filled with delicious food and things good to eat and filled with gold and silver.
As soon as the Bodhisattva had entered the school, Viśvāmitra the schoolmaster, fell with his face to the ground, for the majesty and radiance of the Bodhisattva was greater than he could bear. When a Tuṣitakāyika gods’ son named Śubhāṅga, saw him lying thus, he took him by the right hand and raised him up. (123:15; 124:9).
We have ventured to omit the further description given in the text of the procession that escorted the prince to school, the instruments of music, the strewing of flowers, the young girls on the balconies and galleries of the houses, the gods’ daughters and other demi-godlike beings who joined the troop; because the relief shows nothing of all this. Instead, the sculptor gives him a rather misplaced military escort, the more unsuitable, because he leaves out the boys with the carts of good things for distribution etc. that are mentioned in the first place by the text. The procession advances from the left. In front come two men in full dress, one with an umbrella over him, doubtless the king and his son, who has no halo. Behind them, kneeling and standing servants with the usual objects and soldiers with sword, bow and arrows. In front of the royal persons kneels the schoolmaster and behind him stands a second very much damaged figure. This reception takes place before the entrance to the school: just behind the master the school gateway can be seen next to which a palisade begins. On the gateway a pair of peacocks are perched; a third is flying towards them. Inside the palisade a pĕndapa can be discerned, which according to the next relief is used for a school building. At the door are two figures, one holding a book, who will be a pupil, while on the extreme right the schoolmaster has sunk down overcome and is being assisted by the gods’ son in brahman dress who holds his right hand. This part is very much damaged and worn away. On this relief we see represented two consecutive episodes showing the same person twice.
38. The teaching in the school
When the Bodhisattva had taken a writing-tablet made of uragasāra-sandalwood of a rich color edged with gold and encrusted with jewels, he spake thus to the master Viśvāmitra: “Well, teacher, what kind of writing wilt thou teach me? Brāhmī or Kharoṣṭī or…?” etc. And Viśvāmitra the master replied smiling with a cheerful countenance and without any pride or self-conceit: “Marvellous it is, how the pure Being, having come to the world follows the world’s uses; learned in all Śāstras, yet he comes to the children’s school. Writings of which I know not even the name, learned in these, yet he comes to the children’s school.” And there, ten thousand boys learned writing with the Bodhisattva. While the boys spelled the alphabet, whenever the letter A was spoken, by the power of the Bodhisattva the sound was uttered: “All appearance is transitory” etc. (125:17; 126:13; 127:3).
The teaching goes on in two adjacent pĕndapas. In the largest, on the right, sits (left) Viśvāmitra, here, for some curious reason, beardless though bearded in the last relief, and on the right the Bodhisattva with his knee held in the sling like a real prince, and just behind him two attendants in brahman-dress very much dilapidated; the rest of the servants and soldiers are next to the pĕndapa quite to the right. In the left-hand pĕndapa, on the roof of which four doves are perched, and at the side of it under a tree, the schoolmates are sitting, many with palm-leaf rolls in their hand. This writing material commonly-used in Java has taken the place of the writing tablets found, according to the text, on the Gandhāra-reliefs. Foucher, L’art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra, I fig. 156-167 and pg. 322-326. On one of these tablets fragments of one of the verses known from the text, that was uttered at the spelling of the alphabet, could be recognised; so the Gandhāra sculptor will have had the same passage from the Lalitavistara in mind. On these Gandhāra reliefs only the Bodhisattva is sitting, the others stand round him. The school is also to be seen at Ajaṇṭā, Foucher, Lettre d'Ajantâ, p. 224, Griffiths, Paintings in the Buddhist Cave temples of Ajaṇṭā pl. 45. and in Serindia. Stein, Serindia II p. 856 and pl. LXXVI (Tun-Huang).
39. The journey to the village
When the prince had grown older, he went once with other youths, sons of councillors, to see a village of farmers. (128:15).
The procession that accompanies the prince to the country begins with a horseman armed with bow and arrows, whom Pleyte (p. 62) thinks to be the king. Considering that in the text the king does not accompany the expedition and that the horseman in question is followed by a troop similarly armed, it seems more probable that he is only the captain of the body-guard. Next comes the prince in a carriage-and-pair of the ordinary covered four-wheeled sort. The coachman is mounted on one of the horses (though probably meant to be on the shaft); a soldier at the back; in the carriage, the Bodhisattva with a lotus in his hand and three companions. Next to the horses walk a couple of servants, behind the carriage another troop of soldiers, armed most of them with sword and shield.
So as we see, the text does not describe the manner of the journey; and for want of other representations we cannot find out whether the sculptor followed his own fancy or some actual tradition in making this a carriage-expedition.
40. The Bodhisattva under the jambu-tree, homage by ṛṣis
While the Bodhisattva roamed about here and there aimless, alone and without a companion, he saw a lofty and splendid jambu-tree and sat down, his legs crossed, beneath its shade. Sitting there, he fixed his thoughts upon one subject.
About that time five strange ṛṣis skilled in the five-fold knowledge and possessed of supernatural power, flew through the air from South to North. When they came above that part of the forest, they became as it were held back and could go no further. Filled with anger and impatience, they spoke this verse: “We, who have been able to fly through the air, above the city of the immortals and over the dwellings of yakṣas and gandharvas, are held back at this part of the forest. Whose is the might that can destroy our supernatural power? “And there answered the deity of that part of the forest and spoke to the ṛṣis this verse: “The offspring of the race of the king of kings, the son of the Śākya-king, radiant with the brilliance of the morning sun, shining with the color of the unfolding lotus flower, lovely as the face of the moon, the lord of the world, the wise one, has come here into the forest, his thoughts given only to meditation, honored by gods, gandharvas, nāga-princes and yakṣas, having accumulated his merit in hundreds of koṭis of lives; his might destroys your supernatural power.” And when the ṛṣis heard these words of the deity, they flew down to the earth and saw the Bodhisattva in meditation, pure of body and glittering like a heap of brilliance. Turning their thoughts towards the Bodhisattva, they praised him with verses.
When the ṛṣis had praised the Bodhisattva with these verses and walked three times round him turning their right-side towards him, they vanished through the air. Meanwhile king Śuddhodana found no content, not seeing the Bodhisattva. He said: ‘‘Where is the prince gone to? I see him not.” Then many people went out on all sides to seek the prince. And a councillor not belonging to them, saw the Bodhisattva sitting in meditation in the shade of the jambu-tree, his legs crossed. By that time of day the shadows of all trees had shifted, but the shade of the jambu had not deserted the person of the Bodhisattva. (128:18; 129:12,19; 131:1,19).
Though in some of the well-known events in the life of the Buddha, the sculptors have followed certain ancient traditions from the continent, as well as the text, this is not the case with the equally well-known scene of the “first meditation” under the jambu-tree. In the old-Indian art, the lakṣaṇa that distinguishes this event, is the presence of a farmer behind his ox-drawn plough, to make it clear that the meditation is the one of the village and no other. Foucher, L’art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra, I p. 346. On the Barabuḍur there is no sign of the farmer-ploughman. The Bodhisattva sits in the prescribed attitude with crossed legs in dhyāna-mudrā, on a slope between two trees. To the right are more trees, and to show that this is a forest and not a pleasure-garden or such-like, two deer are lying near the Bodhisattva. We can appreciate the impossibility of doing justice to the faithful shadow, in sculpture! The episode of the ṛṣis is represented. With hair dressed in the knotted fashion usual among ascetics and the accustomed necklace, all wearing beards, they are kneeling on the left of the relief making a respectful sĕmbah; the front one bows so far forward that his hands rest on the ground. Two heavenly ones are hovering above the ṛṣis, also making a sĕmbah, according to Pleyte (p. 63) the wood-god and a companion; in my opinion more probably (why should the wood-god be floating in the air, and whence comes the never-mentioned companion?) a couple of not-specially described heavenly beings who witness the miracle. Also rather obscure is the identity of the large group sitting on the right under the trees, that consists of servants and soldiers. Here too, I cannot agree with Pleyte, who looks upon them as the minister and his suite, who, when the king had become anxious, found the prince (p. 63). The text distinctly states that the councillor, as soon as he discovered the Bodhisattva, hastily informed the king, who at once set off for the jambu-tree to do homage to his son. There is no accommodation here for the councillor and his (nowhere mentioned) suite; it would be more likely that this is the king doing homage, as in fact is to be met with on Gandhāra-reliefs. Foucher, Les basreliefs du stūpa de Sikri, pl. 10; Foucher, L’art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra, I fig. 175 pg. 342; li fig. 353 p. 95; cf. fig. 434 p. 251. But on the Barabuḍur scene, the objection to that is, besides the difficulty of the ṛṣis having taken flight before the king arrives, that the figure sitting in the foreground is an umbrella-bearer, and that this umbrella, judging by the attitude of the bearer, belongs to the Bodhisattva, while nowhere in the group is a person in royal robes to be found. The simplest explanation seems to be that it is after all only the Bodhisattva’s ordinary retinue, that the sculptor cannot resist inserting even where the suite is not present in the text.
The representations of this episode in other Indian art are recognisable, as already mentioned, by the figure of the farmer ploughing. The ancient relief of Mahābodhi Cunningham, Mahābodhi or the great Buddhist temple at Buddha-Gayā (1892) pl. 8, 11; as well as Foucher, L’art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra, I fig. 177 p. 347. shows him next to the empty throne under a tree, on which the Lord is supposed to be sitting; in Gandhāra he is never omitted Besides the already-mentioned, Foucher, L’art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra, fig. 176 p. 345; J.I.A.I. 8 pl. 25. On this last, the companions are present on the right. and in the same way he is found at Ajaṇṭā. Foucher, Lettre d'Ajantâ, p. 224. The ṛṣis on the contrary are nowhere pictured. Maybe perhaps Foucher, L’art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra, II fig. 489 p. 521 (Mathurā). Points of similarity with Barabuḍur are therefore not found elsewhere, except of course the Bodhisattva himself seated in dhyāna-mudrā. On the relief at Sarnāth, Journ. Roy. As. Soc. l.l. pl. 4, if rightly recognised for the same scene, the farmer and his plough are omitted. Wholly different is the scene at Pagān; Seidenstücker, Süd-buddhistische Studien, abb. 23 and 24; p. 35 etc. and 92.
The next chapter begins with a conversation between Śuddhodana and the Śākyas who warn the king that, according to the prophecy, the prince will become either a Buddha or a ruler of the world, and that as the latter is the more desirable, it would be well to bind him to this world by marriage.
41. The Śākyas request the Bodhisattva to marry
Then spake king Śuddhodana and said: “If that is so, then look around which maiden would be suitable for the prince.” Thereupon, the five hundred Śākyas said each to himself: “My daughter is suitable for the prince, my daughter is worthy of him.” And the king answered: “The prince is not easy to please. Therefore we must inform him and ask: which is the maiden that finds favor in your eyes?”
Then they assembled all together and explained the matter to the prince. And the prince answered them and said: ‘‘In seven days shall ye know my answer.” (137:5).
The Bodhisattva sits, leaning against the cushions and with his right leg in the support, in a pavilion-shaped niche with a pĕndapa adjoining it on both sides. Above the roof of the pĕndapa, trees can be seen. On the right, behind the Bodhisattva, sit his servants; left, where there is more room, the Śākyas are placed. The nearest who has a beard and is clearly a brahman, is their spokesman.
The king then orders all kinds of ornaments to be made for the prince to distribute among the maidens on the seventh day.
42. The Bodhisattva offers the ring to Gopā
Then all the young maidens of the great city of Kapilavastu gathered together in the assembly-hall where the Bodhisattva was seated, to be looked at by him and receive the magnificent ornaments. The Bodhisattva gave unto all the maidens that had come the magnificent ornaments; the maidens could not endure the majesty and radiance of the Bodhisattva and hastened away as soon as possible after receiving the magnificent ornaments. Then came the daughter of the Śākya Daṇḍapāṇī, the Śākya-maiden Gopā, surrounded and followed by a retinue of slave-girls, to the assembly-hall, to the presence of the Bodhisattva and stood next to him; and she looked on the Bodhisattva without closing her eyes. By that time the Bodhisattva had given away all the magnificent ornaments. Then she came to the Bodhisattva and spoke with a merry look: “Prince, what have I done that you despise me?” And he said: “I despise thee not but thou comest last of all.” And he took from his finger a ring of many hundred thousands in value and gave it to her. (142:1).
In the middle of a pavilion with two wings, the Bodhisattva is sitting on a throne, holding in his hand the ring which he offers to Gopā kneeling before him and making a sĕmbah. On the right, behind the Bodhisattva, inside and outside the pavilion, sit his servants and quite in the corner even two horses with their groom. In a pĕndapa adjoining the pavilion on the left Gopā’s slaves might be sitting, if the sculptor had here followed the text; but as they are far too well dressed for slaves and none of them hold anything in their hands, it is much more likely that they are meant for the Śākya maidens who, in spite of the text, have not yet quit the apartment. Outside the pĕndapa two guards are seated. The roof of the pavilion is decorated with flower vases, and peacocks perch there as well as on the pĕndapa; a dove is flying out of the left corner.
Gopā therefore is the bride selected for the Bodhisattva, but her father objects to give his daughter to a man who has never shown any skill in learning or athletics.
43. The Bodhisattva proclaims himself willing to show his proficiency in learning and sport
The Bodhisattva heard what was going on, he went to king Śuddhodana and spake unto him thus: “King, why art thou so sad of heart?” And the king replied: “Youngman, say no more.” The prince spoke: “King, yet is it better we should speak”; and the Bodhisattva repeated this question to king Śuddhodana three times. Thereupon the king told him of the matter. Then said the Bodhisattva: “King, is there here in the city any man who can compete with me in skill?” At this king Śuddhodana spoke to the Bodhisattva with a cheerful countenance: “Art thou able then to show thy skill, my son?” And he answered: “That I am, king; therefore let all those exercised in all skill assemble together, that I may show my skill in their midst.” Therefore king Śuddhodana proclaimed in the great and beautiful city of Kapilavastu, with ringing of bells: “In seven more days shall the prince show his skill. Let all those exercised in all skill assemble together.” ( 143:13).
On a seat in a pĕndapa with a projection on both sides, sit father and son, a bowl with undefinable contents between them. Both wear haloes, to which as regards the king there is not the least reason. In the projections of the pĕndapa, on the roof of which are peacocks, both inside and outside the retinue of both princes are seated; in the background, on each side, a tree.
44. Devadatta kills the elephant
Now on this occasion prince Devadatta set forth first from the city. And there was being brought into the town a white elephant of great size, intended for the Bodhisattva. Then prince Devadatta, beside himself with jealousy and proud of his Śākya strength, laid hold of the elephant by the trunk with his left hand and killed it with one blow of his right. (144:10).
The elephant advances on the left, and his mahout Text: kornak. with the aṅkuśa in his hand is kneeling behind it; then follow a number of men, probably those who conduct the animal, perhaps only spectators. Devadatta, to be known for a Śākya-prince by his lofty headdress, comes from the right, followed by several servants, part of them armed with swords, or bow and arrows. The prince is on the point of giving the death-blow, the right hand raised and open; his left arm is broken off, but enough is left to show that it was stretched towards the animal’s trunk. Both hands are thus in agreement with the text; what is not mentioned there is the position of the left leg, which is lifted pressed against the elephant’s tusk. Also on the rather damaged Gandhāra-relief with this episode, Foucher, L’art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra, I fig. 169 p. 331. Devadatta stands opposite the elephant, his right hand raised, and seizes the animal by the trunk with his left. The elephant there appears half out of the gateway and there are no onlookers.
45. The Bodhisattva hurls the elephant away
Then after him came prince Sundarananda out of the city. He saw the elephant lying dead by the gateway and asked: “By whom was it killed?” Then the multitude answered: “By Devadatta.” And he said: “It is an evil deed of Devadatta.” And laying hold of the elephant by the tail, he drew it outside the gates of the city. Immediately after that came the Bodhisattva out of the gate, in a carriage; he saw the dead elephant and asked: “Who has killed it?” And they answered: “Devadatta”, and he said: “This is an evil deed of Devadatta. And by whom was it dragged outside the gate?” They replied: “By Sundarananda.” Then said the prince: “This is a good deed of Sundarananda. Yet this beast hath a great carcase that when it rots will fill the whole city with stench.” Then standing on the carriage, he put out one foot to the ground and with his great toe lifted up the elephant by the tail and hurled it over seven walls and seven moats, till it was a krośa distant beyond the city. (144:15).
This relief is unfortunately very much damaged and the Bodhisattva as well as the elephant are missing. On what is left of the right side, we can see a fragment of the carriage particularly mentioned in the text, with some of the retinue armed like those of Devadatta in the preceding relief. As the next scene brings us into the midst of the trials of skill, and as it is hardly likely that Devadatta’s wicked deed should be depicted and the still-mightier show of strength given by the Bodhisattva left unrecorded, the left half of the relief must surely have portrayed the hurling away of the elephant. Both episodes are shown on the before mentioned Gandhāra-relief; and there the incident of Nanda dragging the animal away, is inserted between them. In Tun-Huang the scene is different, the Bodhisattva lifting the elephant on his hand. Stein, Serindia II p. 856 and plate LXXVI. This incident and other contests are not connected with the prince’s betrothal. If we may trust our eyes, two of the elephant’s feet can be descried on the left-hand lower corner of the dilapidated Barabuḍur relief.
46. The arithmetic competition
Then five hundred young Śākyas journeyed out of the city and came to another place where they exhibited their accomplishments. King Śuddhodana and the oldest Śākyas with a great multitude of people came also to the place, desirous to see how the Bodhisattva and the other young Śākyas excelled in accomplishments… And the Śākyas said: “Let the prince be the best in calligraphy, he must now show his skill and knowledge of arithmetic.” Now there was a cipherer among the Śākyas named Arjuna, a great arithmetician, a master of calculation; he was chosen as judge: “Examine which of the young men here excels in arithmetic.’’ Then the Bodhisattva gave a problem, one of the young Śākyas calculated it, but he could not solve it, etc. Then spoke king Śuddhodana thus to the Bodhisattva: “Can’st thou, my son, compete with the great calculator Arjuna in skill of the calculations of arithmetic?” and the Bodhisattva replied: “I can, o king.” Then said the king: “Well then, begin”… And when the Bodhisattva explained this chapter of arithmetic, Arjuna, the great reckoner, and the whole company of the Śākyas were satisfied, delighted, cheerful, full of joy and great admiration.” ( 145:15; 146:8; 147:14; ISO:19).
The extensive description the text gives of the arithmetic competition, allows only a fragmentary quotation from the passages referring to it, but the relief requires little explanation. On the extreme right sits the king on a high seat wearing a halo, with another nearly-vanished figure beside him, evidently holding a fly-whisk in the hand, therefore a female servant. Below the seat are a number of attendants; and near the king three more maid-servants. Then, more to the left, the unpretentious seat of the Bodhisattva, and under his chair a chest. The prince, of course with halo, by his gesture is explaining something, to which the Śākyas listen respectfully; they sit on a platform, some of them making a sĕmbah. Their position is to be recognised by the lofty headdress of the mighty ones, worn by the whole group. The scene is closed on the left by some sitting and standing guards.
47. Continuation of the contests
Here we have one of the very rare instances where the text followed by the sculptor differs from that of the Lalitavistara. We can only state that the scene must belong to the contests, for we find on No 49 the archery tournament, and that in any case the wrestling-match is not depicted, though separately described in the text and not unknown in sculpture, Foucher, L’art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra, I fig. 171 and 172, p. 334 etc. Neither do the other contents, jumping, swimming, running get any notice. On p. 156 of Lefmann’s edition the full list will be found. so that its omission on Barabuḍur is the more noticeable.
On this relief we see the Śākyas on the left in a group under a roof in a sort of pĕndapa, while in front of it one of them stands making a sĕmbah to the Bodhisattva. On the right are the king and his suite; the king is now sitting alone on his high throne and has a halo; two female servants with fly-whisks stand next to him, some attendants are kneeling near. In the centre of the relief the Bodhisattva stands on what looks like a cushion; two followers, one with an umbrella, stand behind. He holds with his right hand the stem of a large knob-shaped lotus, which grows out of a decorative plant. The lotus plant, on this as well as the following relief, prevents me agreeing with Speyer (Onze Eeuw 1902, III, p. 89) who explains these scenes as the moment when the Bodhisattva wins fame in further arithmetical problems, and the one where he proclaims himself ready for the wrestling match. This part of the relief is very much worn-off so that the figure we think is the Bodhisattva seems to have no halo, and we can’t be quite sure about him, though he looks so likely, in the middle of the picture, taking an active part in the proceedings, in contrast to the figure looking on from his right-hand throne.
This relief joins on directly to the preceding one. The chief business is the same, though the details vary a little. The principal person who by accident has lost both his headdress and aureole, still stands on his cushion in the centre, with his umbrella-bearer; he now has the lotus plant on the other side and holds it with his left hand. The haloed king is again on a throne to the right, but this time in a pĕndapa; there are also a pair of kneeling attendants and the handmaidens standing, only more of them. On the left too are the Śākyas, now all on their feet; the furthest left, holds a large padma. Above this group, clouds are introduced. Although the presence of the Śākyas was to be expected, these figures as far as their costume is concerned, might as well be gods, who the text says 151:9; 153:4. were also present at the contests.
49. The archery tournament
Then Daṇḍapāṇī spake to the young Śākyas and said: “This is what we desired to know and we have seen it; come now and show us the shooting with the bow.” Then Ānanda put up an iron drum at two krośas as target and Devadatta at four krośas, Sundarananda at six krośas, Daṇḍapāṇī at two yojanas. The Bodhisattva set up an iron drum at ten krośas, behind that seven tāla-trees and an iron boar on a pedestal. Then Ānanda hit the drum at two krośas but could not get further, Devadatta the one at four, etc. But the Bodhisattva broke each bow that was handed to him. Then said the Bodhisattva: “Is there herein the city, o king, any other bow suited to my reach and power of body?’’ And the king replied: “There is, my son.” “Where is it, o king?”, asked the prince. The king answered him: “Thy grandfather, my son, was named Siṁhahanu; his bow is preserved in a temple, honored with perfumes and garlands, but never has another man been able to bend the bow, let alone to draw it.” The Bodhisattva said: “Let the bow be brought, o king, let us make trial of it.” And the bow was brought immediately. Then the young Śākyas, though they put forth their utmost strength, were none of them able to bend the bow, let alone draw it… At last the bow was brought to the Bodhisattva; and he took it with his left hand, and without rising from his seat, or uncrossing his legs, he drew it with the tip Text: point. of one finger of his right hand.
When the Bodhisattva had drawn the bow and fixed the arrow, he shot it off with the same strength. The arrow shot through the drums of Ānanda, Devadatta, Sundarananda and Daṇḍapāṇī, all of them, and beyond that, at the distance of ten krośas, his own iron drum, the seven tālas and the iron boar on the pedestal, then pierced the ground and vanished utterly. (153:20; 154:10,22; 155:14).
On the right, the king still sits on a throne under an awning, watching the contests; a servant, here too, kneels before him and there are two attendants maids with fly-whisks. Quite on the left are the seven tāla-trees in the rocky ground, the other objects used as targets are not shown, We might suppose that the rock closing in on the extreme left is a target, but this is not very likely. while it is noticeable that on the corresponding Gandhāra reliefs, the targets figure prominently in the foreground. Foucher, L’art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra, I fig. 170 p. 332, 171 p. 334; J.I.A.I. 1.1. pl. 11. The fragmentary Serindian representation (Tun-Huang; Stein p. 857) is recognisable by the row of drums. Between the king and the trees are the Śākyas, standing, nearly all armed with bow and arrows, with some kneeling and sitting servants holding more arrows. The Śākya furthest to the left is drawing a bow; in the foreground stands another one, perhaps the Bodhisattva, with the bow in his right hand and the left in the attitude of having just shot, and we can see the arrow speeding in the direction of the trees. It does not agree with the text, that one Śākya is just bending his bow and a second stands in the pose for shooting at the same time as the Bodhisattva; for it is written that he took his turn last of all. It is of course possible that the sculptor may have had a variation of the text for this scene, and still more probable that the Bodhisattva is not the figure actually shooting, described here above, but the one with an arrow in one hand and the bow in the other, who is waiting his turn more to the right, and over whose head an umbrella is being held. Yet it seems strange that the sculptor did not prefer to depict the Bodhisattva giving his decisive shot, rather than the archery trials in general. The Gandhāra reliefs show only one person shooting, of course the Bodhisattva; while the old Chinese art of the rock-temples at Yun-Kang Chavannes, Mission archeologique dans la Chine septentrionale, fig. 204 and p. 306. gives a version that resembles this of Barabuḍur: on the left, three men shooting As all three are wearing a halo, Chavannes supposes that the Bodhisattva has tripled himself to hit the three targets at once. at the same time, and right, three or more trees to which here the metal drums are attached. The scene at Ajaṇṭā, that is to represent the archery-trials, C.T.I. p. 308 and Burgess, Notes pl. 14. gives only one man bending the bow; the surroundings are not to be seen. The series of reliefs at Pagān show too, only the Bodhisattva with bow and arrows in the midst of spectators, Seidenstücker, Süd-buddhistische Studien, abb. 29 and p. 37 and 93.
while another scene also depicted at Pagān from the Sarabhaṅga-jātaka shows four more competitors. To be found as fig. 8 in Seidenstücker, Süd-buddhistische Studien, p. 36.
50. Gopā defends herself against the reproach of going unveiled
At this same time the Śākya Daṇḍapāṇī gave his daughter the Śākya-maiden Gopā to the Bodhisattva and she was accepted by king Śuddhodana for his son.
The Śākya-daughter Gopā did not veil her face in the presence of anyone, not for her mother-in-law, nor for her father-in law nor for the people of the palace. And they condemned her for this and spoke their disapproval: “This young woman is surely not modest for she remains always unveiled.” Then when Gopā, the Śākya-daughter, became aware of this, she stood before all the people of the palace and spoke these verses: “Though those whose mind knows no cover, who have no shame or decorum, who have no such virtues and do not speak the truth, should cover themselves in a thousand garments, yet do they walk the earth more naked than nakedness. While those who veil their minds, have always their senses under control, are satisfied with their spouse, having no thought for anyone else, whose unveiled countenance is as the sun and moon, why should they cover their faces?”
King Śuddhodana, when he heard these verses of Gopā the Śākya daughter and understood the discernment thereof, was pleased, cheerful, satisfied, delighted, happy and joyful in spirit and gave unto Gopā, the Śākya-daughter two pieces of wearing-apparel sewed with many jewels and worth a hundred thousand koṭis, with a necklace of pearls and a golden wreath set with genuine red pearls. (157:3,10; 158:19; 159:10).
It is very strange that neither the wedding nor the bridal procession are portrayed; subjects elaborated elsewhere by the sculptors, Foucher, L’art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra, I fig. 172-174, pg. 335-337. and we are all at once plunged into an episode, that according to the text comes after the marriage. In addition to this the sequence of the Lalitavistara and the monument do not quite agree, as the text gives the scene following this, before the episode of the veil-wearing.
The king sits on his throne, right, under a canopy; on the left a pĕndapa adjoins it, beneath which Gopā is seated on a cushion on a dais, making a sĕmbah towards the king. In the right hand corner of the relief sits a man with a moustache, his hair under a wreath, brushed smoothly back and twisted up, he has a flower in his hand. Two similar persons sit between Gopā and the king. They are rather like brahmans; if they represent the “people of the palace” (antarjana) on this relief, it is not easy to make out why they are so unlike the usual members of the royal household; probably the version has been followed that the plaintiffs were brahmans. Behind Gopā some handmaidens are sitting, the nearest one has a lotus flower, the next one a garment, another holds a wreath, evidently the gifts Gopā is to receive from her father-in-law. Quite on the left is another remarkable figure, a man whose face has been knocked off, and whose hairdressing is in the brahman style; he stands dipping a brush into a bowl held in his left hand. This figure makes us inquire, if our reading of this relief is correct and if this scene may have something to do with the wedding ceremony; then it might be the giving-away of the bride to her father-in-law (or perhaps to the unhaloed bridegroom) and the man with the brush would remind us of the sprinkling with holy water as part of the ceremony. All the same it would be very queer if the sculptor in depicting the marriage, should omit the joining of hands and the walking round the fire and be satisfied with representing a ceremony of secondary importance. For this reason I have kept to the episode of the veil-wearing as title for this relief on account of the elaborate description in the text, while the actual marriage ceremony is treated of in a couple of lines. Finally, it is not impossible that this might have something to do with the passage quoted below i.e. the installation (abhiśeka) as principal spouse.
51. Gopā as spouse-in-chief
Then came the Bodhisattva in the midst of eighty-four thousand women, and showed himself occupied, according to the usage of the world, with amusement and play. Among the eighty-four thousand wives, Gopā, the Śākya-daughter, was installed as spouse-in-chief. (157:6).
The explanation of this relief too is very uncertain. It consists of two parts, that apparently have to be taken separately. The left half is clear. Gopā we recognise by her lofty headdress as chief spouse, leaning on the shoulder of a attendant; she is going towards a pĕndapa where a number of other women, by their attitude and attire not servants, but fellow-spouses, wait for her. This must be her first appearance as chief spouse of the Bodhisattva. But we are not able to explain clearly what happens on the right. The scene plays out-of-doors, there are trees in the background. The Bodhisattva is there on a throne in the middle, with his halo, the left leg in the sling. On the left some men sitting on the ground, not servants in appearance, some of them making a sĕmbah. On the right, three female attendants with the usual trays and a fourth, with a fly-whisk in her hand, next to the Bodhisattva. I cannot agree with Pleyte’s idea (p. 79) that this last woman should be Gopā being presented by the Bodhisattva to the Śākyas as his chief wife; the idea of the first of all the spouses holding a fly-whisk, the emblem of servants, seems to me absurd; but I have no better explanation to offer.
52. The gods visit the Bodhisattva in the women’s apartments
Then there came, proclaiming the satisfaction of their hearts with cries of joy, to the Bodhisattva who was in the midst of the women’s apartments, Śakra, Brahmā and the Guardians of the world, among other gods, nāgas, yakṣas, gandharvas, asuras, garuḍas, kinnaras, mahoragas and showed their desire to honor the Bodhisattva.
They greeted the Bodhisattva with respect and devotion, with hands held in sĕmbah, gazing intentionally upon him and with this wish: “When shall the time come that we may behold the most perfect Pure Being set forth and afterwards having placed himself at the feet of the king of the great trees and vanquished Māra with his hosts, attain the highest and most perfect Wisdom?” (159:19; 160:10).
This scene closes on the right with a gateway. Immediately adjoining comes the interior of the women’s apartments. First under an awning, a wide bench; at the end, left, the Bodhisattva on a throne (without his halo) and in the space between a concert being given by women seated on the bench and some in a row, lower down, who are probably women too, but the relief here is rather damaged. The vīṇā, a zither with tassels, hand-drum, flute and cymbals are clearly to be seen; the music is quite in accordance with the text that alludes expressly to the concert in the women’s apartments in reference to something else (163:6). In front of the Bodhisattva, two women are standing, one of whom offers him something, then comes a pĕndapa in which the gods are seated; the front one makes a sĕmbah. Outside the pĕndapa, left on the relief, we see a row of standing and a row of sitting attendants with the usual accessories, and guards with swords. Most of them surely belong to the Bodhisattva’s suite, but one figure in the front, with a sword and his wild yakṣa-looks and moustache might be one of those semi-divine creatures whose presence is mentioned in the text. This supposition is not quite probable, as we see on No 53 and 55 a kind of yakṣa doing duty as gate-keeper.
This scene of the Bodhisattva in the women’s apartments, agrees with representations elsewhere of the same episode; the great difference is that there the aim of the sculptors was a picture of life in the harem Text: zenana. giving not only the Bodhisattva in the midst of his wives but also Gopā; while at Barabuḍur, the combination of this scene with the visit of the gods required Gopā to be left out and the other ladies pushed a bit to one side. It is not certain whether a relief at Amarāvatī T.S.W. pl. 65. can be accepted as the scene in the women’s apartment; we see an eminent personage with a lady on a large throne under a canopy, with women musicians and other attendants next to them and in front on the ground. But the identification of a couple of Gandhāra-reliefs A.M.I. pl. 127 or J.I.A.I. pl. 12; Foucher, L’art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra, I fig. 178 p. 350. In the same way the scene is treated anesun-Huang (Stein p. 857). is certain, where this scene forms a pendant to that of the women asleep before the Great Departure; a couch with the Bodhisattva and his spouse, surrounded by slaves, many with musical instruments: a drum and zither are to be seen. On the Chinese relief at Yun-Kang, Chavannes, Mission archeologique dans la Chine septentrionale, fig. 205 and p. 306. on the contrary, the Bodhisattva is first alone in a pavilion, then with his arm round a woman, and finally, lying on the ground beside a woman, maybe intended for Gopā, maybe for one of the others.
The text follows with a long passage about the adjuration to the Bodhisattva by the Buddhas of the ten winds, who remind him of his great deeds in former lives, and about a lecture he holds in the women’s apartment.
Photographs and Text by Anandajoti Bhikkhu
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