The Life of Gautama Buddha
Meetings & Striving
a complete collection of high-definition creative commons photographs from Borobudur, Java, illustrating the Life of the Buddha as told in the Lalitavistara, together with further information.
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70. The Bodhisattva at the hermitage of a brāhmaṇī
And when the Bodhisattva had thus given his kāśika robes to the gods’ son in hunter’s dress and received from him his russet garment, he made himself a wandering monk, for the sake of the world, in pity for its living beings and to achieve their ripening.
The Bodhisattva then went to the place where was the hermitage of the brāhmaṇī Śāki, who asked him to stay and partake of food. He then went to the hermitage of the brāhmaṇī Padmā; and there also he was asked to stay and take food. (238:1).
It is not possible to make out which of these visits may be here depicted. The dwellers of the hermitage sit under a group of trees; on the rocks to the left is a water-jug. They wear their hair done in a plait, held together by a band round the forehead, the same as their masculine colleagues, with necklace, bracelet and a cloth fastened round the waist by a plain belt. They also have a brahman thread and some of them hold a rosary as well. On the right stands the head of the hermitage with a dish of food and an incense burner on the ground in front of her, opposite to the Bodhisattva who approaches, with his right hand raised towards her, holding his garment with the left. There is still room on the right for a tree and a deformed sort of animal sitting on the rocky ground, it looks like a calf with ears too long, and might be a hind or perhaps after all, a hare.
71. The Bodhisattva comes to Raivata or Ārāḍa Kālāpa
After that he came to the hermitage of the brahmarṣi Raivata, and he also gave the same invitation to the Bodhisattva.
Thus the Bodhisattva came gradually to the great kingdom Vaiśāli. Now at that time Ārāḍa Kālāpa had fixed his dwelling in Vaiśāli and lived there with a great company of Śrāvakas, three hundred scholars. And he taught them a creed that enjoins poverty and the subjugation of the senses. When he saw the Bodhisattva from afar, full of wonder he said to his disciples: “Behold! see the noble appearance of that man!” And they said: “Truly we see it. It is very marvellous.” Thereupon I went The tale here slips suddenly into the 1st person. to the place where Ārāḍa Kālāpa was and spoke thus to him: “I seek to become a brahman-scholar of Ārāḍa Kālāpa.” He answered: “Do so, Gautama, according to that teaching of the law by which a devout son of good family may acquire the knowledge with little trouble.” (238: 9, 14).
It is not possible to make out if this relief is the visit to Raivata or the arrival at Ārāḍa Kālāpa’s hermitage, it might do for either. In favor of the former, it may be said that in design this relief very much resembles the one preceding, described in the same manner in the text and besides that the scenery here differs from that in the following which we can certainly be sure takes place at Ārāḍa Kālāpa’s. In the second case we can plead that such variations of scenery are not at all uncommon with the Barabuḍur sculptors, who are careless about details, while on the contrary the arrival at Ārāḍa Kālāpa’s is treated with some importance in the text and its representation here seems more appropriate than the casually-mentioned visit to Raivata’s establishment.
A Gandhāra-relief probably also depicts the arrival; Foucher, L’art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra, I fig. 191 and p. 377 etc. the ascetic is sitting before his cell as the Bodhisattva advances with Vajrapāṇi. On Barabuḍur the Bodhisattva is coming from the right holding a tip of his garment in the left hand; as on the preceding relief he appears out of a rocky landscape with trees and a den with two wild animals, apparently apes. In front of him, with an incense-burner on the ground between them, stands the head of the hermitage, welcoming the visitor with a lotus in his left hand. Behind them under the trees are some scholars. The front one holds out a water jug towards the visitor; a second jug can be seen on the left on the rocks that are on the same side. The costume worn is the usual one; hair done up in plaits, necklace and loin-cloth. One of them has a rosary.
72. The Bodhisattva with Ārāḍa Kālāpa
Alone and quiet, living in penance and solitude, I pondered over this doctrine with little trouble and acquired insight therein. Then I went to the place where Ārāḍa Kālāpa was and said: “Hast thou till thus far, Ārāḍa, pondered over this doctrine and acquired insight therein?” And he said: “That is so, Gautama.” Then said I unto him: “I also have pondered over this doctrine and acquired insight therein.” He spoke and said: “Then, o Gautama, thou knowest the doctrine that I know, and I know that which thou knowest. Let us then together instruct this company of scholars’’. Thus Ārāḍa Kālāpa honored me with the highest honor, placing me in the midst of his scholars for a common purpose. (239: 4).
In agreement with this last sentence, the Bodhisattva is sitting on a seat of honor, a round bench on feet with his lotus cushion on top, so that he sits higher than the others; to judge by his right hand held in vitarka-mudrā he is busy lecturing. The Bodhisattva is put quite on the right between two trees; next to him on the left is Ārāḍa Kālāpa on a stone, turning towards him, he sits higher than the pupils but not as high as the Bodhisattva. The scholars fill up the rest of the relief to the left; they are not sitting under trees as they do in the preceding scene, but against a background of rocks, with trees, among which each is set in a small niche. A similar scene from the paintings of Ming-Oi (Kara Shahr) is to be found in Stein, Serindia pl. CXXV. They wear the same dress as those on the last relief and have rosaries; the one furthest to the left is turning away. Also at Pagān the Bodhisattva’s stay with Ārāḍa Kālāpa is to be seen; there it follows after the visit to Rājagṛha. Seidenstücker, Süd-buddhistische Studien, abb. 56 and p. 46 and 99. Both are busy talking, while three scholars are present.
As Ārāḍa’s doctrine does not entirely satisfy the Bodhisattva, he moves on, first to Magadha and then to Rājagṛha where he settles on the slopes of the Pāṇḍava mountain.
73. The Bodhisattva at Rājagṛha
Then one morning, having clothed myself, I entered with begging-bowl and monk’s frock through the Tapoda-gate into the great city of Rājagṛha, to beg, with peace of mind in my forward steps and in my backward steps, in my looks, in the bending and stretching of my body; with peace of mind in the wearing of my coat, begging-bowl and monk’s frock, not allowing my senses to become excited, or my mind to contemplate exterior things, as an automaton, as he who carries a cask of oil, seeing no further than the length of a yoke. When the dwellers in Rājagṛha saw me, they marvelled. People ceased buying and selling, the drunkards no longer drank strong drink, and people amused themselves no more in their houses, or in the streets, but gazed only on the person of the most perfect of men. One man came quickly to the palace and spoke joyfully to king Bimbisāra: “O king, behold the greatest of favors hath fallen to thee, Brahmā himself walks here in the town to beg.” And others said, etc. While others again said thus: “This is he who lives on Pāṇḍava, the king of mountains.” On hearing these words the king standing before a round window in the highest cheerfulness of mind, saw the most perfect of men, the Bodhisattva, shining in his radiance as the purest gold. King Bimbisāra gave alms and said to this man: “Look where he goes.” And seeing that he went towards the excellent mountain he spoke thus: “King, he has gone to the mountain-slope.” (240:1,19; 241:4).
The Bodhisattva is coming again from the right, still holding the tip of his garment with the left hand; he has no begging-bowl, as mentioned in the text, but stretches out his empty right hand towards a woman kneeling before him with hands on the ground. On his other side sit three of the citizens looking on, and above on a cloud are two heavenly ones, who bring their homage. In our text, we hear nothing about them or about the incident with the woman, so that on this relief possibly some other version of the tale has been followed. On the left side of the relief we see a palace and between that and the kneeling woman, a group that is quite clear but does not coincide with the text. Foremost, on the right, is the king in royal robes and with a globular gift, probably the bowl just filled with food, in his hands, which he evidently comes to offer to the Bodhisattva. Next to him stands the queen, behind them sits the suite, some kneeling; they carry the well-known royal insignia.
Thus while the text describes the king looking through his “oeil de boeuf” A small round window. at the monk who is in the street, sending him a gift – that the “give” really means “sent” is seen by the context – and then ordering the monk to be followed (which would not be necessary if he had spoken to him himself), the sculptor of Barabuḍur brings the king in direct contact with the Bodhisattva. Possibly this is the result of a deviating text. At Ajaṇṭā in agreement with the text, the Bodhisattva is begging in the market-place opposite the palace and the king is not present, Foucher, Lettre d'Ajantâ, p. 224; Griffiths, Paintings in the Buddhist Cave temples of Ajaṇṭā pl. 50. at Pagān the Bodhisattva is standing between two almsgivers. Seidenstücker, Süd-buddhistische Studien, abb. 53 and p. 45 and 98.
74. King Bimbisāra visits the Bodhisattva
Now when king Bimbisāra saw that the night was past, he went, with a great concourse of people, to the foot of the king of mountains Pāṇḍava and saw that mountain shining with radiance. After dismounting and proceeding on foot over the ground, he gazed with the greatest respect on the Bodhisattva who, after spreading grass on the ground, had seated himself with legs crossed, immovable as the Meru. After saluting the feet of the Bodhisattva with his head, and having discoursed of several matters, the king spake: “I will give thee the half of my whole kingdom; disport thyself here with the various kinds of things desirable and cease from begging’’. And the Bodhisattva answered him with a gentle voice: “O king, may thou live long and rule thy kingdom! As for me I have departed from a desirable kingdom and putting aside all thought thereof am become a wandering monk in order to find peace.” (241: 9).
The whole left side of the relief is taken up by the rocky landscape with the Bodhisattva. On the left are the rocks with trees growing on them that give shelter to a variety of animals; a cockatoo, a peacock, a pair of doves billing, and some squirrels playing in the branches; then a tiger or jackal in a den and a couple of deer on the ground. On the right of all these, a sort of niche has been made in which the Bodhisattva sits with a water jug on one side of him and an incense-burner on the other; he is sitting not on grass but on a lotus cushion on a mat, with an ordinary cushion at his back, in conversation with king Bimbisāra on his right, who makes a sĕmbah. The king with one servant is on a piece of rock, his other followers are sitting under the trees on the right-hand of the relief, the umbrella-bearer is of course among them.
This same episode is also found at Ajaṇṭā combined with the preceding one, and is probably the subject of a Gandhāra-relief Foucher, L’art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra, I fig. 188 p. 373. where the Bodhisattva sits under a tree with a king kneeling before him, who also has a group of followers with him. At Pagān we see him first alone, partaking of his food and again in conversation with Bimbisāra. Seidenstücker, Süd-buddhistische Studien, abb. 54 and 55 and p. 45 etc. and 98 etc.
75. The Bodhisattva with Rudraka
At that time Rudraka, the son of Rāma, had set himself in the great city of Rājagṛha and dwelt there with a large company of scholars, seven hundred in number. He gave them instruction in a doctrine that taught of the not conscious and yet not unconscious by the suppression of the senses. The Bodhisattva saw this Rudraka, son of Rāma, the leader of the community, the teacher of many, well-known, celebrated, honored by many people, valued by learned men…
Thus spake the Bodhisattva to Rudraka, son of Rāma: “I too, my friend, have meditated on this doctrine that thou hast attained.” And he said: “Come let us instruct this company together.” Then with a common purpose he placed the Bodhisattva at the teacher’s place. The Bodhisattva said: “This path leadeth not to aversion, From worldly things. neither to freedom from passion, nor to prevention, Of reincarnation. nor to peace, nor to knowledge, or wisdom, neither to the state of śramaṇa or brahman nor to nirvāṇa.” (243:15; 245:8).
Mountain scenery in the same style as the last relief decorates the right hand of this picture; rocks and trees with birds and squirrels, a lizard, a den with two tigers and a hollow with a couple of deer. On the left of the rocky part sits the Bodhisattva, again on his lotus cushion, with a mat under it, but not otherwise raised above the ground; he is talking to the front one of four persons dressed as hermits who fill the left part of the scene alternately with trees growing on the rocks. The first man is certainly Rudraka. The one furthest to the left has a water jug and a covered pot beside him; in the left hand bottom corner again a hollow with a deer.
The visit to Rudraka is also given at Pagān. Seidenstücker, Süd-buddhistische Studien, abb. 57 and p. 46 and 99. The representation is the same as that of the dispute with Ārāḍa Kālāpa.
76. The Bodhisattva with his first disciples on the Gayā-mountain
At that time, the five men of the blessed company In this interpretation of bhadra-vargīyāḥ I follow Foucher, Foucher, L’art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra, I p. 380. were brahman scholars with Rudraka, son of Rāma. They bethought themselves of this: “That which we give ourselves so much time and trouble to attain, what we strive without end or pause to discover, even that hath the śramaṇa Gautama with small effort pondered over and acquired. Yet this did not satisfy him, therefore he sought higher things; without doubt he will become the teacher of the world. The knowledge he acquires for himself, he will surely share with us.” After consulting together, the five men of the blessed company, went away from Rudraka, the son of Rāma, and attached themselves to the Bodhisattva. Now when he had dwelt in Rājagṛha so long as he thought well, he set out for Magadha with the five of the blessed company.
When the Bodhisattva journeyed through Magadha, he went towards that part of the land where Gayā is and arrived there. There dwelt the Bodhisattva in order to meditate on the Gayāśīrṣa mountain. (245:16; 246:6).
The Bodhisattva sits in a niche among the rocks, on the left, on his lotus cushion in the dhyāna-mudrā attitude; he is occupied as the next passage of the text tells us, in meditation on three resemblances. There are trees round the niche, with peacocks and other birds. The mountain scenery stretches further to the right; on the upper part of the relief are rocks with trees and doves perched in them while squirrels and armadillo’s run about; below, the five are seated, in ordinary ascetic costume. It is plainly to be seen here as well as on the adjacent reliefs that the sling is not omitted in spite of all the scarcity of clothing. On the right, a river runs between the rocks and trees, with some fish swimming in it.
[The instruction of the five first scholars is also found at Pagān] [Editor: the gist of this sentence is moved here from end of 75 above.] Ibid. abb. 58. In design the reliefs at Pagān differ entirely from those at Barabuḍur.
77. The Bodhisattva by the Nairañjanā
And when the Bodhisattva had dwelt at Gayā upon the Gayāśīrṣa mountain as long as he thought fit, he went forth walking in the direction of Uruvilvā, a village where a captain of soldiers had his post, and arrived there. There he saw the river of Nairañjanā, with clear water, good landing-places, beautified with fine trees and thickets and set on all sides with meadows and villages. Then the mind of the Bodhisattva was greatly pleased: “Behold, fair is this land, pleasant and suitable to dwell in; it is most fitting for a man of good family, who desires to meditate; and as I do so, here will I remain”…
We shall not dilate on the account of the Bodhisattva’s penance here and later on, for the sculptor, mindful of the fundamental rule to avoid all painful scenes, sees fit to omit showing us the Bodhisattva with the emaciation of his superhuman privations upon him. He does look slightly thinner on the next relief but not much, and only by chance, for on No. 79 and 80, also in the years of privation, he has recovered his usual contour. We have therefore no chance of comparison with the remarkable images of the emaciated Gautama during those six years that are found in the Gandhāra art. Foucher, L’art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra, I fig. 192, 193, 200; II fig. 439, p. 296; fig. 440 p. 273; Journ. As. 8: 15 (1890) pl. 2; Spooner, Handbook to the sculptures in the Peshawar Museum (1910) pl. opposite pg. 67. The sculptors of Pagān have also no objection to such kind of portrait; see below No. 80. For Serindia (Tun-Huang) see Stein II p. 859 and pl. LXXV and LXXVII.
This relief somewhat resembles the last one; the Bodhisattva on the left, a river on the right, the five in the middle. The scene is no longer a rocky landscape, but the peaceful region of the river banks shaded by trees. Rocks come into sight only here and there, especially on the left where the Bodhisattva is sitting, not now on a lotus cushion, only an ordinary mat. He is talking to the front one of the five towards whom he makes a gesture with the right hand. The two front ones of the five wear their hair on this relief done up very high with a flower at the top. Beside the one most to the right, stands a peculiar jug, much more like a Greek lekuthos than a Javan gĕndi. The river is well supplied with fish; on the opposite bank we see trees and birds.
78. Māyā, as goddess, visits the Bodhisattva
And when they saw the condition of the Bodhisattva, I.e. that of complete exhaustion brought on by excessive penance. some of the gods spake thus: “Alas, prince Siddhartha is surely dead.” Then these gods’ sons betook themselves to the three and thirty gods and told Māyādevī thereof: “The prince is dead.” Then Māyādevī accompanied by a following of apsaras came at the hour of midnight to the place, on the banks of the Nairañjanā, where the Bodhisattva was and saw him with his body all withered away. And when she saw that he was like dead, she began to weep so that her tears choked her.
Then spake the Bodhisattva to her and comforted her: “Fear not for love of thy son; thou shalt pluck the fruits of thy labor. Not in vain doth a Buddha renounce the world. I shall fulfil the prophecy of Asita and make plain the prediction of Dīpaṅkara. Though the earth should fall into a hundred fragments, and Meru droop with his radiant brow into the waters, though sun, moon and stars should be smitten to the ground, yet I, the only human being, should not die. Therefore be not sorrowful, for soon wilt thou behold the Wisdom of a Buddha.” (252:5,13; 253:13).
Quite to the left on a mound of rock, within a niche of the rocky wall planted with vegetation as usual, sits the Bodhisattva, again only on a mat. He addresses his comforting words to Māyā seated on the same eminence in the scene, she is in the attitude of sĕmbah and has evidently brought the offering of flowers and wreaths that is between them on a large dish. Above the dish, a flame can be seen, as elsewhere indicating the incense smoke; though here we might take it for a lamp placed behind the dish, it being midnight. The figure of the goddess is very much worn-away. Behind her on the ground-floor kneel the apsaras of her suite; the front one with incense-burner and fan in her hand; among the others, some carry a tray with garlands or some loose flowers or a fly-whisk and others a lotus stem. The goddess still wears the halo assigned to her during her mortal life.
79. The gods honor the Bodhisattva
All those gods, nāgas, yakṣas, gandharvas, asuras, garuḍas, kinnaras and mahoragas, who had witnessed the virtues of the Bodhisattva, stayed with him by day and night, showed him honor, and gave him service. There, through the Bodhisattva, while he underwent the six years of penance so difficult to endure, full twelve ten thousands of gods and men were brought to maturity by means of the three Vehicles. (257:13).
Here too, the Bodhisattva sits on the left in his rocky niche, with foliage round him, and now once more upon his lotus-cushion. With the right hand he makes a gesture to the gods, sitting in a large company before him; they fill up the rest of the relief to the right. The background is again trees. The attitude of the gods at this moment is not that of paying honor; they evidently are listening to the Bodhisattva’s lecture, that is to bring them to “maturity.” The sculptor has not thought worth while to give us anything of the demi-gods the text speaks of.
The text continues with a passage not illustrated on the monument, where Māra, the Evil One, tries to tempt the Bodhisattva to forsake his life of penance. This suggestion is of course dismissed with scorn. Meanwhile the Bodhisattva begins to see the uselessness of his fasting and penance, and to look round for something to eat.
80. The gods request the Bodhisattva to absorb nourishment through his pores
The gods’ sons who felt compassion for the exhausted one and who with their minds had knowledge of my mind, came to the place where I was and said unto me: “Most noble being, thou needest not partake of such abundance of food; we will infuse the strength thereof through thy pores.” Then I thought in my mind: “I can give myself the air of not taking food, and my neighbors, the people of the villages near by, would believe that the śramaṇa Gautama did not eat. And meanwhile the gods’ sons who have compassion with the exhausted one would infuse the strength of the nourishment through my pores. But it would be a very great lie to do so.” Thereupon the Bodhisattva to avoid this lie, refused the offer of the gods’ sons and turned his thoughts to taking abundant food. (264:4).
The fact that there are five equally-important persons all dressed in divine costume conversing with the Bodhisattva, is my reason for not agreeing with Pleyte’s opinion who considers this to be the above mentioned conversation between Māra and the Bodhisattva (pg. 116). I think it can be nothing else but a collective appearance of gods and then only the above-quoted passage can be intended, which has immediately connected with the Bodhisattva’s decision to stop his fast, in every case deserves to be represented in the sculptured text. The Bodhisattva still sits on the lotus-cushion in his niche in the rocks with the trees round it, on the left of the relief; he is in the vitarka-mudrā pose. The five divine visitors are seated more to the right, and come into the middle of the picture with a tree behind them. The right hand side of the relief is taken up by the conventional rocky landscape we have had already several times: rocks and trees with squirrels and birds and other creatures. On the ground a couple of pigs, and some birds in the air. We must not think of reproaching the sculptor for placing us here among a mountain scenery, while the Bodhisattva is still, as in the preceding reliefs, on the banks of the Nairañjanā or in its neighborhood. Let us rather praise him for the skill with which he did introduce variety into scenes that are so very much alike.
The visit of the gods will also be found at Pagān, where the Bodhisattva shows distinct signs of emaciation. Seidenstücker, Süd-buddhistische Studien, abb. 59 and p. 46 and 99; on the following relief he is seen recumbent and wholly exhausted.
As soon as the Bodhisattva declares his intention of breaking his fast, the five disciples are very much shocked; they lose faith in their master, take leave of him and retire to the deer-park at Benares.
81. The Bodhisattva receives food from the maidens of Uruvilvā
Now from the time that the Bodhisattva began his penance so difficult to endure, there came to him ten young maidens, daughters of the village chief, to look at him, greet him and offer their services. These maidens prepared all kinds of porridge Text, here and elsewhere, reads pap. and offered all to the Bodhisattva. And when he had eaten thereof, gradually while he was going through the village to beg, his color, his beauty and his strength returned to him. Since that time the Bodhisattva was called “the beautiful śramaṇa” or “the great śramaṇa.” (265:1,6).
A handsome building, on the left, shows that the scene is changed to the village; it is built on a high foundation, has a niche with a monster’s head, a vaulted roof towards which a pair of doves are flying and a wing on the right, so richly decorated, that it would do for a palace if on another relief; here it is used for the dwelling of the village chief. One of the maidens stands in the left corner behind the building with a flower in her hand; the others sit right in front under a palm tree; the first one of these also has a flower. Their spokeswoman is offering a bowl of food to the Bodhisattva facing her. Between the two on the ground is a large dish of flowers above which is an umbrella, a detail not given by the text; there is a single lotus next to it also on the ground. The Bodhisattva is reaching out his right hand towards the dish of flowers and holds the tip of his garment with the left; he has come from the right where the scene closes in with the traditional rocky landscape and trees; a squirrel is climbing up one and a lion looks out of his round den.
Perhaps this episode is to be found on a Gandhāra-relief Foucher, L’art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra, I fig. 193, pg. 381. that otherwise differs entirely from Barabuḍur; the Bodhisattva sits quite alone in the appearance of an ascetic and a female figure with a bowl stands next to him. There are two gods present beside Vajrapāṇi, it may be Śakra and Brahmā, as his usual companions in the Sambodhi-cyclus, but there may be a special reason for their presence in connection with the request, recognised on the preceding Barabuḍur scene.
82. The Bodhisattva washes the hempen-garment
Now while I continued these six years, my russet garments had become threadbare and I thought: “It would be a good thing had I something to cover my privy parts.” At that time, a slave of Sujātā, the daughter of the village chief, had died, her name was Rādhā; she had been wrapped in a hempen cloth, carried to the graveyard and left there. Then I saw that rag and drew it towards me with my left foot, stretched out my right hand and bent to pick it up.
Thereupon the Bodhisattva thought thus: “I have got a piece of rag; now it would be good if I had water’’. Then the gods struck on that place with their hands on the earth and a pond appeared. Again the Bodhisattva thought: “Now have I water; if I could obtain also a stone wherewith to wash the cloth, it would be well.” Then at that moment on that place Śakra caused a stone to appear and the Bodhisattva began to wash the cloth. Thereupon spake Śakra, king of the gods, unto the Bodhisattva thus: “Give it unto me, noble being, that I may wash it.” Yet the Bodhisattva, to show that a wandering monk does his own work, gave not that ragged cloth to Śakra, but washed it with his own hands. Heavy and faint of body after stepping into the pond, he would have stepped out again. But Māra, the Evil one, possessed with the sin of envy, caused the banks of the pond to increase greatly in height. At the side of the pond grew a great kakubha-tree; and the Bodhisattva spoke unto the goddess thereof to please her according to the custom of the world: “Let a branch of thy tree bend towards me, o goddess.” And she let down a branch of the tree and holding it fast the Bodhisattva came up out of the water. When he was come out, he made under that kakubha-tree a coat of the ragged cloth and sewed it. (265:16; 266:12,16).
The Bodhisattva stands nearly in the middle of the relief on the large flat stone the text speaks of. He has the cloth in his left hand, evidently about to wash it in the pond shown on the left, surrounded by trees and adorned with lotus flowers and plants, some of them with waterfowls on them. Behind the Bodhisattva kneels an umbrella-bearer; further to the right stand a group of gods, the front one makes a sĕmbah to the Bodhisattva who holds his right hand in vitarka-mudrā: so this is clearly the moment when the Bodhisattva refuses the offer for washing his cloth. The god who makes the request should be Śakra, and here the sculptor has been good enough to confirm the fact, for the first of the four followers of the god wears a headdress arranged in the style of a trunk, has elephant ears and holds the aṅkuśa in his hand; so he can be no other than Airāvata, Śakra’s faithful companion. Quite to the right we see a rocky landscape with trees and some animals, and on the extreme left next to the pond is the kakubha-tree that plays its part at the end of the episode. The goddess of the tree is already kneeling under the tree and makes a respectful sĕmbah to the Bodhisattva.
83. The Bodhisattva receives the russet monk’s dress
A Śuddhavāsakāyika gods’ son named Vimalaprabha offered the Bodhisattva divine monks’ garments reddish of color, fitting and suitable for a śramaṇa. The Bodhisattva took them and having dressed himself betimes in the morning and having put on the coat went his way to the village. (267:9).
Both sides of the relief show a wooded landscape, but of a milder sort than in several preceding reliefs; the rocks are reduced to mere surface projections in the ground. Some animals are included to enliven the scene, especially to the left, two elephants, two monkeys in the trees and one peacock. The Bodhisattva advances from the wood on the left, holding out his right hand to accept the present. In front of him stand three gods, the first of whom is handing over a garment of small size while the third holds a larger garment, the two pieces needed to complete the three-piece dress of a monk, with the coat that has just been made. On the ground, behind these standing figures, are three gods sitting.
84. Sujātā entertains the Bodhisattva
Then the gods, in Uruvilvā, the village where a captain of soldiers was posted, made known to Sujātā, the daughter of the village chief Nandika, at midnight: “He for whose sake thou makest a great sacrifice, is about to make end of his penance and partake of good and abundant food. In former time thou hast prayed: May the Bodhisattva after accepting food from me, attain the highest and most perfect Wisdom. Do then what thou hast to do.” On hearing these words from the gods, Sujātā, daughter of the village chief Nandika, hastened to take the milk of a thousand cows, and after taking off the cream seven times obtained cream of the best and strongest. Then she set that milk with fresh rice in a new pot on a new stove and cooked it.
And when the porridge was ready, Sujātā placed it on the ground, strewed it with flowers, sprinkled it with perfume and placing and preparing a seat, she said to a slave named Uttarā: “Go, Uttarā, fetch hither the brahman, I will care for this sweet porridge.”
Then came the Bodhisattva to the house of Sujātā, daughter of the village chief, and set himself down on the seat prepared for him. Then Sujātā offered him a golden bowl full of the sweet porridge. And this thought came into the mind of the Bodhisattva:
“When such food has been offered to me by Sujātā, I shall surely this day after partaking thereof attain the highest and most perfect wisdom.” And after partaking of this food the Bodhisattva then spake to Sujātā, daughter of the village chief: “Sister, what is to become of this golden bowl?” And she answered: “It is thine.” Then said the Bodhisattva: “I can make no use of such a bowl.” Sujātā spake: “Do with it what thou wilt; I give no one food without the dish.” (267:13; 268:6,18).
When we compare this relief with No. 81, we might suppose that the sculptor has made a mistake. At that point in the text, a meal is spoken of prepared by ten maidens collectively, while on the relief only one dish appears offered by one maiden. Here on the contrary the text mentions specially one bowl, offered by Sujātā, while the relief gives us several dishes in the hands of several women, and still more food is being prepared. It is not easy to find out if this is merely the sculptor’s carelessness, or if there is more in this than meets the eye; anyway it is noticeable that our text too shows signs of disorder: the communication that the gods make to Sujātā, in the beginning of our quotation, that the Bodhisattva will break his long fast, is here rather misplaced, for the Bodhisattva has already taken food a few pages earlier and besides, Sujātā was one of the young ladies who provided the meal on which he breakfasted. I can offer no elucidation but merely call attention to this coincidence of irregularity in the text known to us, with what, according to that text, is an inaccuracy on the monument.
We find the Bodhisattva, quite in agreement with the text, on a throne, one that consists of a pedestal with a triangular roof resting on columns, on the left of the relief. Next to that is a roomy pĕndapa, and adjoining that again on the right of the scene a building on which is a heavy roof with an upper-storey, but where the ground-floor is left open to show the persons sitting in it. Inside the pĕndapa in the foreground, next to the Bodhisattva, is a large covered dish placed on a slab on the ground, with steam rising out of the flower-bedecked lid. Next to that stands Sujātā, offering a round dish to the Bodhisattva; it too has a lid but is not decorated with garlands. He reaches out his right hand to take it. This is surely the golden bowl of the story and the vessel on the ground is probably the new cooking-pot. Behind Sujātā kneel some women, of whom the front one holds a fan and probably used to have an incense-burner now knocked off as well; two others are holding dishes. The background of the pĕndapa is adorned with flags. In the building, on the right, we see first, some more women with a fifth dish and finally in the corner a larger pot on a wood-fire with two women busy over it, one with a large spoon in her hand, the other with a short stick, probably, in agreement with other cooking scenes, a blow pipe to rouse the fire, possibly only something to stir with. Perhaps this is the new pot on the new stove, but what are we to think then about the large dish next to the Bodhisattva?
Also at Ajaṇṭā the Sujātā episode Foucher, Lettre d'Ajantâ, p. 224 etc. will be found as well as at Pagān. Seidenstücker, Süd-buddhistische Studien, abb. 63 and p. 49 and 100.
85. The Bodhisattva goes to the Nairañjanā
Then the Bodhisattva went out of Uruvilvā with that bowl and came in the morning to the river of the nāgas, the river Nairañjanā, laid that bowl and his monk’s dress on the bank and stepped into the river Nairañjanā to refresh his limbs. (269:9).
The river is well-supplied with fish, it flows to the right between rocky banks planted with trees; on one side we see a couple of deer, on the other two squirrels. To the left of the river is the Bodhisattva with Sujātā’s offering in his right hand. The wooded scenery is continued on the other side, to the left a couple of birds are flying. Four gods are kneeling on this side of the relief in front of the Bodhisattva and do him homage; on Wilsen’s drawing, the second is a nāga but at this moment he has lost his headdress and we have little chance of judging the correctness of the drawing. A nāga would not be out of place beside this nāga river, but on the following relief we find no nāga among the kneeling figures.
86. The Bodhisattva takes a bath
And while the Bodhisattva bathed himself, many hundred thousands of the gods’ sons filled the river with divine aloe- and sandalwood-powder and ointments and threw divine flowers of various colors into the water to do honor to the Bodhisattva. At that moment the river Nairañjanā was filled with divine perfume and flowers and where the Bodhisattva had bathed in that sweet-smelling water, there hundred thousand millions of koṭis of the gods’ sons scooped up the water and carried it each to his dwelling, there to make a caitya for it and adore it. (269:13).
A good part of the lower part of the relief is taken up by the river. On the right, the rocky bank rises steeply up with only an occasional tree; on this side a pair of snakes push up their heads out of the water, adorned with the traditional jewel, and on the edge is the food-bowl of the Bodhisattva. His clothes are not laid beside it, for the sculptor has decorously kept them on and he is not in the water but appears on a very narrow flat lotus cushion in the middle of the river with, as usual, the tip of his garment in his left hand. The artist at Pagān has taken still less trouble and seats the Bodhisattva simply on his lotus cushion in dhyāna-mudrā without any water, in the scene which the inscription describes as a bath! See Seidenstücker, Süd-buddhistische Studien, abb. 64 and p. 49 and 100 etc.
Left, and separated from him by some trees on the bank, some figures of gods are kneeling on the water, scooping it up with small bowls. Still more to the left, the other river-bank is depicted with bushes growing on it, where are a pair of deer grazing, a tree with a peacock in it and in the corner a rock, in front of which glides a snake. In the river can be seen not only fishes but many flowers floating and still more blossoms and garlands are falling from the sky, dropped by the gods who hover on the clouds with bowls of flowers, one on the right and five on the left hand; the two last of this group are evidently inhabitants of the Brahmā-heaven in the dress of earthly ascetics and hermits. The relief is very well-executed but unfortunately some of the heavenly ones are rather damaged. The bathing scene is also to be found in the Serindian art. Stein p. 859 and pl. LXXVII (Tun-Huang).
87. The Bodhisattva accepts a seat from a nāga-maiden
Now when the Bodhisattva had stepped out of the river, he looked about along the bank desirous to be seated. Then appeared the nāga-maiden of the river Nairañjanā from out of the earth and offered the Bodhisattva a stately seat made of precious stones. (270:1).
This relief too has suffered a good deal but is still quite distinct. The throne is in the centre, wide, the back carved at the sides with makara-heads; it has a large oblong cushion on it, nothing else. On the right next to it under a tree kneels the nāga-maiden with her hands on the ground in front of her, before her stands the Bodhisattva with the food-bowl in his right and the tip of his garment in the left hand, still on the same flat lotus-cushion of the last relief. The water still ripples round it and in front of the nāginī and the seat; the Bodhisattva has evidently not yet stepped out of the water as the text required him to do, although the rocks next to the cushion show that he is near the bank. On the left of the seat some more nāginīs are kneeling with flowers in their hands, evidently the servants of the one who provides the seat. The whole background here and behind the throne is decorated with banners.
88. The Bodhisattva partakes of the rest of the milk-food
Then the Bodhisattva seated himself and partook of the sweet porridge, as much as he desired, for the sake of Sujātā, daughter of the village chief. (270:3).
Here we have a striking example of the little that can be expected from the Barabuḍur sculptor’s accuracy in details. The throne that plays an important part in the tale, and therefore in this episode has more meaning than the thrones and seats elsewhere, is quite a different one on this relief to the one before, where it was presented. It is much lower, the panel-decoration on the front of the base is gone and the back has a different shape. The Bodhisattva now sits on it, not on the round cushion that was put ready, but on a lotus-cushion. Next on the right is a rocky scene with a lion in his den, a peacock, and the usual trees; on the left on a small pedestal the food bowl, to which the Bodhisattva reaches out his right hand and next to that a vase of flowers; still more to the left kneel three nāga-maidens under the trees. Behind these, the left of the relief is occupied by rocks with an armadillo and trees in which a pair of apes are sitting, in the left hand corner some bamboo-plants. Between these rocks flows the river, well-stocked with fish. The corresponding relief at Pagān again gives no adornment in the mise-en-scene, see Seidenstücker, Süd-buddhistische Studien, abb. 65 (comp. 66) and p. 49 and 101.
89. The food-bowl is carried away by Sāgara and then by Śakra
When he had finished eating he threw that golden food-bowl in the water without looking at it. And when it was thrown away, Sāgara, the nāga king, respectfully carrying out his thought, took it up and turned towards his dwelling thinking “this is worthy to be honored.” Thereupon the thousand-eyed Purandara (Śakra), assuming the form of a garuḍa, tried with the lightning in his beak to take the golden food-bowl from Sāgara, the nāga king, but when he was not able to do that, he begged courteously for it in his own person and carried it away to the heaven of the three and thirty gods, in order to make a caitya for it and adore it. (270:5).
Two consecutive episodes from this tale are represented on the relief; the throwing away of the bowl and its being handed over to Śakra. The first scene is on the right; the Bodhisattva still sits on his lotus-cushion on the rocky bank, but his throne has been still more reduced and has a back of the plainest style. He has just thrown away the food-bowl with his right hand into the river flowing past the chair, the precious object is already in the hands of the kneeling Sāgara, who has lost his headdress but unmistakably preserves his identity by his attitude and the company of the two nāgas kneeling behind him. Just behind these two the second scene begins. A pĕndapa quite on the left, enclosed in a palisade; there inside a female nāga is sitting with two servants; this will be the nāga dwelling. On the right, outside, is another seat with a row of jewel-pots underneath it that also indicate the domain of the nāgas. On this seat is Sāgara with a servant behind him and the bowl in his hand that he is on the point of handing over to the god sitting opposite, who holds out his hands for it. Behind this god sits also a companion; no other than Airāvata with his elephant-ears, the trunk-headdress and (indistinct) the aṅkuśa. So his master, in accordance with the text, is the god Śakra, already in his own person again to receive the bowl.
90. The Bodhisattva, on the way to Bodhimaṇḍa, receives grass from Svastika
After the Bodhisattva had bathed in the river Nairañjanā and had renewed his strength of body with food, he set forth to the land of sixteen forms, to the foot of the great king of trees, the Tree of Wisdom. And from the river Nairañjanā to Bodhimaṇḍa, there between, was all cleared by the gods’ sons of wind and clouds and sprinkled with perfume and strewn with flowers by the gods’ sons of the rainclouds… From the river Nairañjanā to Bodhimaṇḍa, there between, the road was decorated after one model for the distance of a krośa by the Kāmāvacara gods’ sons. On the left and on the right side of this road an altar of seven kinds of precious stones was made to appear, seven tālas high, and adorned above with jewelled gauze and heavenly umbrellas, banners and pennons etc.
Then the Bodhisattva thought: “On what did the former Tathāgatas The word Tathāgata, not yet satisfactorily explained, I leave untranslated. Chalmers came to the conclusion that it means “who has come at the real truth.” (Actes du onzième Congrès intern. des orient. Paris 1897; p. 150); Kern gives: “the infallible one” (Gesch. v. h. Buddh. I, 1882, p. 77); Foucher translates it as “Predestine” and compares it with the Greek “Erchomenos” (Foucher, L’art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra, II p. 567). who attained the highest and most perfect Wisdom seat themselves”? And he remembered: “On grass that was spread.”
Then the Bodhisattva saw on the right side of the road the grass-cutter Svastika, who was cutting grass, green, soft, young, pleasant grass, growing in tufts, bent to the right, like the necks of peacocks, agreeable to the touch as kācilindi-stuff, A kind of soft down. sweet-smelling, bright and making glad the heart. And when he saw that, the Bodhisattva stepped off the road, went to the place where Svastika was and spake to him with a sweet voice: “Quick, Svastika, give me grass, to-day I am greatly in need thereof; when I have overcome the Evil One with his army, I shall attain the perfect rest-giving Wisdom”… And when he heard the gentle and sweet words of the Leader, Svastika rejoiced and was cheerful, full of joy and gladness, he took up a handful of grass, pleasant to the touch, soft, fine and bright, he stood before the Bodhisattva and spoke to him glad of heart. (272:8; 273:9,16; 285:17; 286:3; 287:3,13).
The first part of this quotation accounts for the presence of the great number of gods on this relief: they are the gods who prepare and adorn the route. We can’t suppose them to be anything else, though this scene does not show them hard at work and there is no sign of the altars with umbrellas etc. spoken of in the text; the further description of the road decoration does not in the least correspond either, so that I have not quoted the whole of the elaborate passage. We do not see any result of the divine labor until the following relief. The important episode for the moment is the conversation between the Bodhisattva and Svastika. This passage occurs in the text after the homage by Brahmā and Kālika given on the following relief.
Arbitrary alteration seems of course improbable; the sculptor has evidently had a text before him with another sequence, the more likely as we know of another text with the same alteration i.e. the Chinese translation of the Mahābhiniṣkramaṇasūtra. Beal, The Romantic Legend of Śakya Buddha (1875) p. 196 etc. Nor is the inclusion of the gods in this incident anything original; it is found as well on the Gandhāra-reliefs, Foucher, Les basreliefs du stūpa de Sikri, pl. 7; Foucher, L’art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra, I fig. 197 and 198, p. 391 etc. where the Bodhisattva, accompanied by Vajrapāṇi, stands opposite the grass cutter with his bundle. At Pagān we see, first the Bodhisattva on the road between two gods with banners, and then the offering of the grass by the grass-cutter on the left, but no witnesses. Seidenstücker, Süd-buddhistische Studien, abb. 68 and 69 en p. 50 and 101.
On the Barabuḍur scene we have, on the left, the field shaded by trees and Svastika on his knees; with his right hand he plucks a bundle of grass, the left has a sort of stick, to the end of which the Bodhisattva stretches out his right hand (that is broken off), while he stands holding the tip of his garment with the left hand, on the lotus cushion, in the road that is indicated by a bit of rock with a bush on each side of the cushion. The text is thus deviated from by the Bodhisattva here not leaving the road for the conversation; that Svastika kneels instead of standing as on the Gandhāra-reliefs need not be a divergence but may merely be the result of Svastika not having yet risen from his knees to give his answer. The meaning of the object in his left hand is not clear; it does not look like the bamboo that is used by the natives to beat the grass. The round-shaped little object in the left-hand bottom corner is probably a bird’s nest in the grass from which the birds hovering above have flown; by looking carefully another little bird can be seen inside it. The scene between the Bodhisattva and Svastika does not occupy more than a third of the relief; the remaining two thirds is all gods with a background of trees, in four groups: one standing, one kneeling, another standing and then one kneeling. Some carry flowers. There are no attributes to distinguish one sort from another.
91. The Bodhisattva honored by Brahmā and Kālika
During the night in which the Bodhisattva became desirous to attain the Wisdom, in that night the Vaśavartin-named lord of three thousand great thousand (worlds) Brahmā Sahāpati turned to the Brahmā-congregation and spake thus: “This, o worthy ones ye must know. This Bodhisattva, the Great Being, will go forth to Bodhimaṇḍa to conquer the armies of Māra, desiring to attain the highest and most perfect Wisdom. Therefore must ye all, o worthy ones, hasten to honor the Bodhisattva respectfully.”
By the radiance that shone from the body of the Bodhisattva the dwelling of the nāga-king Kālika was illuminated. He rose up accompanied by the female nāgas, and looked out towards the direction of the four winds. There he saw him, resembling the Meru, shining in his own radiance, surrounded by a multitude of gods and dānavas, by Brahmā, Indra and yakṣas, who delighted to honor him and show him the way. And the nāga-king glad and joyful of mind, honored the best one of the world, fell at his feet and stood humbly before the Monk. Also the nāga-maidens enraptured and joyful, came to do honor to the Monk, strewed flowers, perfume and ointments, and did resound instruments of music. (274:16; 275:9,14; 281:9; 282:9).
What caused the sculptor to unite the homage by Brahmā and that by Kālika on one relief, is unknown to us; but the result is that the nāgas only get a very small place in the scene, much less important than the popularity of this episode in the Buddhist world leads us to expect and very much less characteristic than the curious scene on the Gandhāra-reliefs See Foucher, L’art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra, I fig. 194-196 p. 384-387, II fig. 400, p. 193. Also given A.M.I. pl. 99. with which Barabuḍur has no other similarity than that Kālika and his spouse appear on the same scene with some figures of gods, among whom in Gandhāra is Brahmā too, not however as the chief figure in a company but only as one of the two more or less passive gods who accompany the Bodhisattva on the whole of his journey from the Nairañjanā to [the] Bodhimaṇḍa.
Possibly this may account for the appearance of a group of unemployed gods on No. 90 and for the fact that on the relief we are now describing, besides the group with Brahmā, several other gods are to be seen who apparently do nothing but form a sort of guard of honor for the Bodhisattva. According to the passage quoted above, the text also makes mention, though incidentally, of this divine escort. On the relief it quite gives the impression of being the Bodhisattva’s company. He stands, with the right hand in vitarka-mudrā and the tip of his garment in the left, on a lotus cushion; the suite is on the right, all standing, except a kneeling umbrella-bearer. On the stick of this is attached only the usual pennon, while the umbrella itself for want of space is pushed a bit to the right and in that way gets a curious bend in the handle.
On the left, separated from the Bodhisattva by a vase of flowers, kneels Brahmā, to be recognised by his tied-up hair; he makes a sĕmbah and his followers carry flowers. In the background we have here, besides an umbrella, three flagstaffs with cakras and more to the left, many more banners and pennons, possibly brought by the company that comes to do homage, but maybe intended for the road decoration, mentioned on page 97; of this decoration there are more traces in the garlands with pendant lotus-flowers all along the top edge of the relief. On the left, behind the group of Brahmā, the nāgas are sitting; Kālika with a company of three, two of them maidens with flowers. The nāga-king himself holds a stick fixed in a knot-shaped pedestal, with a large jewel at the top and the usual pennon fluttering round the staff; Entirely wrong in Wilsen’s drawing, see Pleyte p. 129. this is certainly meant for a mark of honor to the Bodhisattva. On the before-mentioned reliefs at Gandhāra the design is quite different; there the nāga and one spouse rise up from behind the balustrade that is supposed to surround their lake.
92. Decoration of the Bodhi-trees
And as the Bodhisattva came near to the Bodhi-tree, eighty thousand Bodhi-trees were decorated by the gods’ sons and the Bodhisattvas [thought]: “While here seated, shall the Bodhisattva attain the wisdom and become Buddha.” At the foot of all these Bodhi-trees suitable lion-thrones were placed covered with all kinds of heavenly stuffs; beneath some a lotus-throne was prepared, under others a perfume throne and again under others a throne made of various precious stones. The Bodhisattva fell into the meditation called Lalitavyūha and as soon as he had attained this Bodhisattva-meditation, he became visible under all the Bodhi-trees, sitting on the lion-throne, his body showing all the signs and tokens. And every Bodhisattva and gods’ son thought: “On my lion-throne sits the Bodhisattva and not on another’s.” (288:11,20).
Although this relief very plainly indicates the adornment and honoring of different trees, there is very little else that agrees with the passage in the text. Not because there is nothing to be seen of the various appearances of the Bodhisattva, for that is a later phase of the story to the actual decoration; but because there are no thrones at all depicted to give the spectator any notion of what the decoration is for. In the foreground we see three trees and in the background some more; they are richly decorated with an umbrella, bells and jewels and of course in a stylised design. The three first ones have an incense-burner on each side, and in front of the left and right hand one is a shell filled with flowers, on a pedestal; the middle one has a pot with a lid. On both sides of each tree sits or kneels a god in various attitudes, either making a sĕmbah, or with a water jug or bowl in the hand, or looking after the incense-burner. It is noticeable that these figures are alternately male and female, while the text speaks only of gods’ sons and Bodhisattvas.
93. The Bodhisattva seated under the Bodhi-tree
Now the Bodhisattva betook himself with the bundle of grass to the place where the Bodhi-tree stood and walked round it seven times keeping it on the right, spread out himself an excellent layer of grass with the points inwards and the roots outwards, and set himself thereon with legs crossed, turned to the East, the body upright, holding his memory active and made a firm resolve thus: “May my body wither on this seat, my skin, bones and flesh decay; until I have attained the Wisdom so hard to achieve in many aeons, my body shall not be moved from this chair!”
And while the Bodhisattva was seated at Bodhimaṇḍa, at that time he spread a radiance called the Bodhisattva-stimulation. From out the East, that part of the universe called Vimalā, from the Buddha-field of the Tathāgata Vimalaprabhāsa, came a Bodhisattva, a Great Being called Lalitavyūha, roused by that light, surrounded and followed by Bodhisattva’s without number, to Bodhimaṇḍa where the Bodhisattva was, etc. (289:11,16; 290:5,9).
In a most diffuse description we are told how similar companies of Bodhisattvas gather together from the nine other points of the compass and how they render homage in various superhuman ways. We will not follow the text any further, any more than the sculptor has done, who has lightened his task by just representing Bodhisattvas coming to do honor to the Bodhisattva seated under the Bodhi-tree. We shall merely notice that the Bodhisattva is already sitting and therefore the well-known scene of the spreading of the grass Foucher, L’art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra, I fig. 199 p. 393 and 200 p. 397. At Pagān, not less than four reliefs are given to the ascending of the throne on each of which the Bodhisattva holds the grass in his hand; see Seidenstücker, Süd-buddhistische Studien, abb. 70-73 and p. 50 and 101 etc. On the following reliefs he is then seated to take the vows.
in the Gandhāra art is not here given.
In the middle of the relief the Bodhisattva now sits in dhyāna-mudrā on a plain seat, the back ornamented with makara-heads, above which a triangular space is left out for background to the head and halo. On both sides of that space leaves and branches of the tree appear. On the right of the throne is a vessel with high lid on a pedestal, left, a dish of flowers with smoke rising from it. Further, right and left, we see the Bodhisattvas; one standing in front on the right makes a sĕmbah, the left one has probably had an incense-stand and fan (now knocked off) and behind, the rest of them is seated, some holding flowers. In the background as well on both sides a staff with pennon and a tree. The woman who puzzled Pleyte (p. 131) is only a mistake in Wilsen’s drawing of one of the two standing Bodhisattvas.
94. Māra’s unsuccessful attack
Then while the Bodhisattva was seated at Bodhimaṇḍa, he thought as follows: “Here in the kingdom of desire, Māra, the Evil One, is lord and ruler; it would not become me to attain the highest and most perfect Wisdom without his knowledge. Let me then provoke Māra, the Evil One.”
And Māra, the Evil One, made ready a great army of four weapons, by great strength strong in the battle, fearful of aspect, causing the hair to rise, such as never before were seen or heard of by gods or men, who could alter their faces in many ways and change into other forms a hundred thousand ten thousand kotis of ways, their persons surrounded with a hundred thousand serpents twisting round their arms and legs, and armed with sword, bow and arrows, spear, lance, axe, pike, blowpipe, bat, stick, noose, club, quoit, lightning etc. etc.
All kinds of missiles they hurled at the Bodhisattva, and rocks as big as the Meru, yet when they were thrown on to him, they were changed into pavilions with a roof of flowers. And the masses of fire that they blew out of their eyes, of their snakes and from their breath, these became a circle of fire like an aureole round the Bodhisattva. Swords, bows, arrows, spears etc. as soon as they were hurled, became various garlands of flowers, as it were a tent of flowers; like fresh flowers strewn upon the ground and like wreaths that were hung up they adorned the Bodhi-tree.
The Bodhisattva spoke in a firm, deep, serious, gentle and sweet voice to Māra, the Evil One: “By thee, o Evil One, the kingdom of desire was acquired by one voluntary sacrifice, but I have offered many million kotis of willing sacrifices, arms, legs, eyes, the best limbs cut off and given to those who desired them, houses, riches, grain, couches, garments, pleasure gardens, many times given to those who asked for them, because I strove for the Salvation of all beings.”
Then said Māra, the Evil One, to the Bodhisattva: “That I have made a sacrifice, willing and unimpeachable in a former life, thou art here my witness; but for thee, here is none as witness even with a single word; thou art conquered!” Then said the Bodhisattva: “I appeal to this mother of creatures, o Evil One.” And as soon as she was touched by the Bodhisattva, this mighty earth trembled in six manners. Then the goddess of the great earth named Sthāvarā appeared, surrounded by [a] hundred kotis of earth-goddesses, and while the whole earth shook, having split the surface near to the Bodhisattva, half of her person rose up, adorned with all her ornaments and bowing to the place where the Bodhisattva was, making a sĕmbah, she spoke to him thus: “It is so, great being, it is so as thou hast declared, we all are witnesses thereof.” (299:19; 305:4; 317:6,15; 318:1,20; 319:3).
Both the two consecutive chief incidents of this episode, the attack of Māra’s army and the appeal to the Earth for witness, are put into one scene on this relief. The Bodhisattva, on whose throne the grass is plainly visible, sits in the middle of the relief in bhūmisparśa-mudrā and immediately on the left the upper part of a female figure appears out of the ground with a vase in her hand; though not strikingly divine to look at, this can be no other than the earth-goddess. The pose of the hand above-mentioned being assumed beforehand, during the attack, is not unusual; but the appearance of the earth-goddess is a logical conclusion that has very seldom been depicted; for instance on a relief at Cambodia. Foucher, L’art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra, I fig. 205 p. 407. According to Foucher (1.1. p. 402) it is one of Māra’s daughters. Comp. II p. 628.
Behind the Bodhisattva, a round piece is left open; the upper half of which is surrounded by the foliage of the Bodhi-tree, the lower half is outlined by flames as the text describes. The enemies’ arrows come on both sides, their points already changed into flowers just like the Cambodia relief and above hover more loose flowers, the metamorphosed projectiles. The sides of the relief are filled in with the armies of the Evil One. Above we see, on both sides, a many-armed figure, carried on the shoulder of another figure and holding many and various weapons; the many-armed figure is most unusual at Barabuḍur. The other warriors have a fearful and warlike aspect, although there is hardly any actually monstrous figure (above, right); they mostly wear swords and shields, but also bits of rock and other weapons and even a blowpipe can be seen. Two are seated on misshapen horses; and a hog’s head is there too.
On the left below is Māra, seated on an elephant – this occurs too on the representations elsewhere as we shall see – in the dress of a god, just shooting off an arrow. Probably the Evil One is put in a second time, he may be the figure in god’s dress below on the right, sitting with head on his hand in dejection and surrounded by male and female followers, one of whom stands with both hands on his master’s headdress, to put it on or take it off. According to Pleyte (p. 135) this is Māra defeated and though a little previous while the battle still rages, this is not improbable, as there is a corresponding scene at Ajaṇṭā.
Also I may call attention to a remarkable detail that proves how the sculptor in famous scenes like this, follows not only the text but some actual tradition as well. I refer to the three small figures that support the throne as atlantes. The text does not mention them and their presence is only to be accounted for by the imitation of a motif known on the continent. The famous vajrāsana of Mahābodhi is supported by these little figures as well as lions, Cunningham, Mahābodhi, pl. 13. and the later Buddhist iconography, as appears from a sādhana, requires their presence. There is no reason here to trace the history of these supports, we can refer to Foucher’s explanation; Iconographie bouddhique II (1905) p. 19 etc. its interest for us is in the proof it gives of the dependence of the Barabuḍur sculptors on the traditions of the art of Hindustan, in conjunction with what the text gave them.
We find elsewhere fewer representations of Māra’s onslaught than might be expected, that is to say of the attack by itself. The reason is that the artists who were depicting the defeat of the powers of evil, preferred to combine the military attack with the defeat of the allurements of Māra’s daughters. These combined scenes will be discussed with the following relief. The attack alone, is found in the Gandhāra art Foucher, L’art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra, I fig. 201 p. 401, fig. 202-204 p. 405; II fig. 306-307 p. 15, fig. 402 p. 197, fig. 403 p. 201, fig. 498 p. 539, fig. 500 p. 545. and in connection therewith in some of the reliefs at Amarāvatī See Burgess, The Buddhist stūpas of Amaravati and Jaggayyapeṭa, pl. 32 (monsters in front of the throne; Māra ·on the elephant on both sides, the right hand one turns away); same pl. 36 and 38. as well as in the Serindian art Grünwedel, Altbuddh. Kultst. Turk. fig. 383 (Foucher, L’art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra, II fig. 523 p. 605). and in the Chinese caves of Yun-Kang. Chavannes, Mission archeologique dans la Chine septentrionale, fig. 228 and p. 311. Single warriors of Māra’s army are found at Pagān; compare Huber, Bull. Ec. franç. d’Extr. Or. 11 (1911) p. 4. The female figure is depicted on an earlier relief, of the taking seat on the throne, see Seidenstücker, Süd-buddhistische Studien, abb. 74 and p. 82 and 102.
95. The daughters of Māra attempt to seduce the Bodhisattva
Then Māra, the Evil One, spake unto his daughters: “Go now, ye maidens, to Bodhimaṇḍa and tempt the Bodhisattva, if he be subject to passion or free therefrom, if he be wise or foolish, blind or quick sighted, faithful to his resolve, weak or strong.” Hearing these words these apsaras betook themselves to Bodhimaṇḍa, where the Bodhisattva was, and they came before him and displayed the two and thirty kinds of female allurement. And what are those two and thirty? These following: some veiled the half of their face, others uncovered their firm round breasts, others etc. etc. But not with all their ten thousand arts of rousing desire could they tempt the Sugata with the mien of a young elephant. Then spake the daughters of Māra these verses unto their father: “The female allurements, father, that have been spread before him, that should have bent his heart to passion, not one moment on seeing these was his mind moved; as the king of the mountains he remained firm. (320:1; 329:11; 330:9,18).
The Bodhisattva is still sitting in bhūmisparśa on a plain seat with makara-back and the tree spread above him; the grass is not there, he has a lotus cushion again. On both sides, Māra’s daughters are displaying their enticements. On the right two are dancing, while, as is often the case, an old gentleman dressed like a brahman beats time with a pair of bells; several other women are here standing and kneeling, some of them with similar bells, and one in the corner has some drums to make up the music. On the left, in front, one of the daughters seated, makes a respectful sĕmbah; still more stand behind with flowers in their hands. The Bodhisattva, as behoves him, takes no notice of it all. Quite on the left the defeat of their efforts is being announced; Māra in ordinary god-like costume sits quite dejected under a tree, his sitting mat laid on the knees of some of his daughters who kneel there, evidently telling him their tale of disappointment. My explanation therefore differs from Pleyte’s (p. 136); the left-hand group according to him is the giving directions for the temptation. Misled by the drawing he considers the dance to be the retreat of the maidens after their attempts fail. On the photo the dance is quite distinct, and my explanation of the left group is grounded on the very dejected aspect of all the persons.
As I mentioned by the last relief, the temptation scene is often combined with the attack of Māra’s army. Probably representations like that at Amarāvatī belong to this same sort, where according to what the Old-Indian art dictated, the throne under the tree is empty and only the footprints of the Master indicate his presence; what is going on seems quite clear from the female figures next to the throne and the misshapen monsters coming and going in front of it. T.S.W. pl. 98, 67. At other places the Bodhisattva himself is depicted but the design remains the same. Burgess, pl. 16, 41, prob. also 31; Foucher, L’art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra, II fig. 508, p. 565. Maidens only on fig. 506 p. 563? Sarnāth gives the same combination in a rather different form.
The example at Ajaṇṭā is remarkable; Foucher, L’art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra, I fig. 209, p. 413, II fig. 507 p. 563; A.M.I. pl. 67, 68. while the future Buddha sits in the middle, the upper part of the scene is given up to the attack; the monsters advance from the left (most of them with heads of animals and faces on the belly) with Māra on his elephant, and they disappear with their master on the right. Below this stands left the Evil One with bow and arrows, giving instructions to his daughters, and more to the right, they are standing and dancing, but in the right-hand corner Māra sits vanquished and dejected on the ground just as at Barabuḍur, with some of his daughters round him after their defeat.
On a South-Indian relief at Ghaṇṭaśālā Rea, South Indian Buddhist Antiquities, Arch. Surv. New Ser. 15 (1894) pl. 28. the same scene can be recognised; Hultzsch in Journ. Roy. As. Soc. 1912 p. 409 etc. the throne has only a cushion on it and the old tradition is so far followed; but for the rest we see, just as at Ajaṇṭā, in the upper half, Māra and his troops attacking and retreating, while below on the left, Māra is encouraging his daughters and the dancing is going on on the right. The disheartened figure of Māra is not there, so it is important to notice that Ajaṇṭā and Barabuḍur in contrast to others, agree in this point. At Pagān only the dance is given; Seidenstücker, Süd-buddhistische Studien, abb. 78 and p. 55-57, 83 and 102 etc. in Gandhāra the scene is represented too with Māra and his daughters already present when the Bodhisattva arrives. Foucher, L’art gréco-bouddhique du Gandhâra, II fig. 401 p. 193. The Bodhisattva’s reflections that follow in the text are of course passed over by the sculptor, who at once comes to their conclusion.
Photographs and Text by Anandajoti Bhikkhu