The Reclining Buddha
The largest reclining Buddha statue in India was to be installed at the ‘Buddha International Welfare Mission Temple’ in Bodh Gaya on the occasion of Buddha Jayanti on 26 May, but the ceremony has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The meaning of the reclining Buddha statue
- From this mudra (posture) of the reclining Buddha, we get to know the condition of the Buddha and his last phase and before the Parinirvana (salvation).
- ‘Parinirvana’ is the state of attaining salvation after death; this state is attained only by enlightened souls.
- It may be noted that Buddha died at the age of 80 during meditation at Kushinagar in eastern Uttar Pradesh.
Buddha Sculpture Style:
- The first recumbent Buddha was depicted in ‘Gandhara School’. The time of this sculptural style goes back to the middle of 50 BCE and 75 CE and was at its peak during the Kushan period from the first to the fifth century AD.
- In the sculptures of the ‘reclining Buddha’ he is shown lying on his right side. In this, their head rests on a pillow or their right elbow.
- Thismudra(posture) states that, all beings have the power to become enlightened and free from the cycle of death and rebirth.
Statues of reclining Buddha installed outside India:
- The reclining Buddha postures are more prevalent in Thailand and parts of Southeast Asia. The largest statue of the reclining Buddha in the world is ‘WinseinTawya Buddha’. This statue is 600 feet long; it was built in the year 1992 in Mawlamyine, Myanmar.
- Located in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, built in the second century BCE, ‘Bhamla Buddha Parinirvana’ is considered to be the oldest statue in the world.
The Reclining Buddhain India:
- In Ajanta’s cave number 26, there is a statue of a reclining Buddha 24 feet long and nine feet high. It was built in the 5th century AD. It may be noted that Ajanta caves have been included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
- A 6 meter long, red sandstone monolithic statue of Buddha is installed inside the Parinirvana Stupa at Kushinagar, the Buddha’s Parinirvana site.
Other Mudras(postures) of Buddha in India
Dharma chakra Mudra:
- It is also called as the gesture of ‘Teaching of the Wheel of Dharma’ that describes one of the most important moments in the Buddha’s life as he performed the Dharma chakra mudra in his first sermon in Sarnath after he attained enlightenment. It is performed with the help of both the hands which are held against the chest, the left facing inward, covering the right facing outward.
- It is also known as Samadhi or Yoga Mudra. It is performed with the help of two hands, which are placed on the lap and place the right hand on the left hand with stretched fingers (thumbs facing upwards and other fingers of both the hand resting on each other.) This is the characteristic gesture of Buddha Shakyamuni, Dhyani Buddha Amitabh and the Medicine Buddha.
- This gesture is also known as ‘touching the Earth’, which represents the moment of the Buddha’s awakening as he claims the earth as the witness of his enlightenment. It is performed with the help of the right hand, which is held above the right knee, reaching toward the ground with the palm inward while touching the lotus throne.
- This mudra represents the offering, welcome, charity, giving, compassion and sincerity. It is performed with the help of both the hands in which palm of right hand is facing forward and fingers extended and left hand palm placed near omphalos with extended fingers.
- It signifies the warding off of evil which is performed by raising the index and the little finger, and folding the other fingers. It helps in reducing sickness or negative thoughts.
- This gesture denotes the fiery thunderbolt that symbolises the five elements—air, water, fire, earth, and metal. It is performed with the help of right fist and left forefinger, which is placed by enclosing the erect forefinger of the left hand in the right fist with the tip of the right forefinger touching (or curled around) the tip of the left forefinger.
- It signifies the discussion and transmission of the teachings of the Buddha. It is performed by joining the tips of the thumb and the index fingers together while keeping the other fingers straight, which is just like the Abhaya Mudra and Varada Mudra but in this mudra the thumbs touch the index fingers.
- It is a gesture of fearlessness or blessing that represents the protection, peace, benevolence, and dispelling of fear. It is performed with the help of right hand by raising to shoulder height with bent arm, and the face of palm will be facing outward with fingers upright whereas the left hand hanging down while standing. This gesture is characteristic of Buddha Shakyamuni and Dhyani Buddha Amoghasiddhi.
- This denotes the supreme enlightenment through connecting oneself with divine universal energy. It is performed with the help of both the hands, which are placed at the heart with the index fingers touching and pointing upwards and the remaining fingers intertwined.
- It is also called Namaskara Mudra or Hridayanjali Mudra that represents the gesture of greeting, prayer and adoration. It is performed by pressing the palms of the hands together in which the hands are held at the heart chakra with thumbs resting lightly against the sternum.
Source – The Hindu