Karma-vibhanga, Deeds and their Results
160 public domain photographs from Borobudur, Java, showing the reliefs the results of good and bad deeds, together with a translation of the Karma-vibhanga text and further information.
Health and Wealth
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The Analysis of Deeds
… herein the Gracious One said this to the young man Śuka, the son of Taudeya: I will teach you the explanation of the Dharma known as the Analysis of Deeds, young man, listen to it well, apply the mind, and I will speak.”
“Yes, Gracious One,” replied the young man Śuka, the son of Taudeya, to the Gracious One, and the Gracious One said this:
“A person’s deeds are his own, young man, I say, he inherits his deeds, it is deeds that he is born from, deeds are his refuge.
A person’s deeds, young man, can be analysed, such as: this is low, this is excellent, this is middling.
This is the deed that leads to a short life,
this is the deed that leads to a long life…
1-14 Health and Wealth
The first section follows closely the teaching as it is known in the Pāḷi texts, but the deed in the early text is simply stated to be the killing, or refraining from killing, of living beings, and so on. The specific types of actions, and their approval are not mentioned. In the Sanskrit text we get a list of normally around ten causes that lead to the same result, and many of which are illustrated on the reliefs.
In the Pāḷi the template reads like this: Here, a woman or a man is a killer of living beings, fierce, with blood on his hands, devoted to hitting and killing, merciless towards living beings. Because of establishing and undertaking that deed, at the break up of the body, after death, he is reborn in the lower realms, in a bad destination, having fallen into hell. But if, at the break up of the body, after death, he is not reborn in the lower realms, in a bad destination, having fallen into hell, but comes to the human realm then wherever he is reborn his life is short (MN 135). The others deeds and their results are stated in a similar way.
Herein, what is the deed that leads to a short life? It is said:  Killing living beings.  Rejoicing in the killing of living beings.  Speaking in praise of the killing of living beings.  Greatly enjoying the death of enemies.  Encouraging the death of enemies.  Speaking in praise of encouraging the death of enemies.  Destroying what is in the womb.  Speaking in praise of destroying what is in the womb.  Causing a place to be established where many animals are killed – buffalos, cattle, pigs, chicken and so on – during the course of a sacrifice for sons, grandsons, or for other people or advantages.  Destroying people while acting out of fear and fright.
1. Killing Living Beings
The first relief depicts  the killing of living beings as the fishermen have their traps at the ready. It may be the one with a slightly raised trap is entrapping a crab. On the left we see musicians, who are presumably  rejoicing in the killing, and the characters on the right might be  speaking in praise of the killing. The result however, a short life, is not shown on this relief.
The relief is a fine start to the series, with good balance, interesting characters, and a good illustration of the teaching. Besides those that entrap and rejoice, we also see others in the centre carrying away the produce. Particpation in killing also leads to a short life.
2. Rejoicing in Killing leads to a Short Life
In this relief we do not see any killing, but we do see a hunter on the right, holding his bow and arrow. He appears to be speaking and his interlocutors are at least interested, and may be  rejoicing in his yarn.
In the middle we see servants preparing to boil fish for the meal of those who sit on top. On the far left we see the consequences of these acts: a young child is dying in his parents arms after a short life.
3. Destroying what is in the Womb leads to a Short Life
On the right someone is dying and is surrounded by others. They do not seem to be actively killing, but this may be  enjoying the death of enemies. Next to them are two people talking together, perhaps  encouraging or  praising, the death of enemies is intended.
In the centre we have what appears to be  an abortion, and the people standing behind may be  speaking in praise of abortion. The result is shown on the far left: a child once more lies dying, surrounded by his family. The panel has not been finished, and shows us somewhat how the sculptors proceeded: outlining, then carving out the main scene, before adding the telling details.
4. Killing and Encouraging Killing leads to a Short Life
Another unfinished panel. It appears to illustrate  the killing of living beings, and  rejoicing in it. A man is held on a leash as an executioner gets ready to decapitate him. Other executioners sit around, either  encouraging or  praising the death.
On the left we see two children in what appears to be a charnel ground, with bones and a skull strewn around and small animals who have come for the pickings. One person walks away, but who he is is not clear. Perhaps it is a parent.
5. Destroying People while acting out of Fear and Fright leads to a Short Life
In the centre of the relief we see two groups fighting with swords, shields and javelins, so although we don’t see any  killing living beings, this inevitably is what it will lead to. The people on the right appear to  encouraging the fighters. In any case they appear  to be acting out of fear and fright.
On the far left a child is dying in the arms of his parents again. A man stands above them and seems to be whispering to his companion, maybe they are discussing the reason for the child’s short life.
Herein, what is the deed that leads to a long life? It is said:  Ceasing from killing living beings.  Speaking in praise of ceasing from killing living beings.  Encouraging the ceasing from killing living beings.  Speaking in praise of ceasing from killing living beings.  The release of those due to be slaughtered, whether men, cattle, pigs, chickens and so on.  Having thoughts of compassion in the midst of beings and giving fearlessness to frightened beings.  Having thoughts of loving-kindness in the midst of people who are sick.  Giving food to others, whether young and old, and having thoughts of loving-kindness towards those who receive them.  What was said previously, on the side of wholesomeness, regarding the spectacle of war, etc.  Restoring broken living quarters, temples, and stūpas.
6. Speaking in Praise of Restraint from Killing leads to a Long Life
Here we have three scenes. On the right clearly someone is speaking about restraint as his posture shows. We can infer he is  speaking in praise of ceasing from killing living beings. In the centre we may have one wise man  encouraging this restraint.
The sculptors seem to have had a harder time depicting those of long life, though it is not clear why this would be so. However, the result is normally shown as a wealthy couple enjoying the fullness, rather than strictly the length, of life.
7. Encouraging Restraint from Killing leads to a Long Life
Again there are three scenes. On the far right we see one person gesticulating, and presumably  teaching about the need for restraint. His companions sit quietly and listen. In the centre again one person holds his hands in the teaching gesture, either  encouraging or  praising restraint from killing.
On the far left the result is that a young couple sit comfortably and are being served dishes and given offerings from those in front of them. They are enjoying a long and prosperous life.
8. The Release of Men due to be Slaughtered leads to a Long Life
The people on the right of the relief are now hurrying away, and it is presumably  away from their imprisonment. They are holding something in their hands, but it is not clear to me what. The person on the left of them is presumably the person ordering their release.
On the left we see again a scene of success and prosperity. A couple sit with their children on a dais, and in front of them people stand around with offerings in their hands, or sit on the floor and watch.
9. The Release of Animals due to be Slaughtered leads to a Long Life
On the right we see people  releasing animals and fish due to be slaughtered. One leads what looks like a boar, another releases fish into a pond, and above that scene we see chickens who are free to roam about.
The result on the left, as expected, is prosperity and the respect of other people. A prince sits together with his consort and child, while other nobles sit in front of him.
10. Giving Fearlessness leads to a Long Life
On the right one man intervenes and stands over another who has fallen to the floor, and is about to be killed by his enemies. He is  giving fearlessness to a frightened being. The men on the right seem to be assisting his effort.
On the left a young prince sits on a throne with two consorts and before him an elderly man or brahmin offers his respects. On the far left a lady-in-waiting points to the scene in front of her.
11. Giving Loving-Kindness leads to a Long Life
On the far right we see a sick man, and others who have gathered around him  with thoughts of loving-kindness. In the centre we see a food distribution is taking place with poor people eagerly receiving.
On the right is the result: a prince sits with his consort and three children. Attendants wait on him, and on the floor again we seem to see someone speaking intimately to his partner, perhaps telling her why the man is so well-off.
12. Giving Food to Others in Need leads to a Long Life
On the right we see a large group of people have come and are giving drinks to what is quite possibly a monk or holy man who sits on a platform, but without the usual signs of wealth.
To the left of the separating tree we see a wealthy man sit with two consorts on a throne while visitors and attendants stand and sit nearby. This is the result of his generosity.
What is the deed that leads to much illness? It is said:  Slapping, or giving a beating with open hands.  Rejoicing in slapping.  Speaking in praise of slapping.  Being satisfied with slapping them.  Annoying mother and father in body and mind.  Similarly, afflicting the minds of others, such as virtuous ones who have gone forth.  Being satisfied with the illnesses of enemies.  Being dissatisfied with the slow development of the illnesses of enemies.  Giving what is not really medicine to those who are sick.  Similarly, giving indigestible food to those who are sick.
13. Slapping leads to Much Illness
On the far right two men tower over another who lies on the floor and they are  giving him a beating. Next to that group is another one where one man relaxes on a dais while others are fighting, he is  rejoicing in the beating he is watching. The third scene is not so clear, but I am inclined to think the two boys are  annoying their parents.
On the far left we see the outcome of this sort of behaviour: one man holds his leg; another his wrist; a third holds his head. They are suffering from various type of illnesses owing to their bad behaviour.
14. Giving what is not Medicine leads to Much Illness
On the far right two men again stand over another who raises his hands to protect himself, they are  giving him a beating. The adjoining scene is hard to interpret, someone is pouring from a jug into a pot. Maybe it is  giving him what is not really medicine?
Similarly the third scene in which a man points past his wife to the people on the other side of the tree could be  being satisfied with the illness of enemies. On the far left we see a couple with their two children: all of them look quite wretched, a result of their deeds.
15. Giving Indigestible Food leads to Much Illness
On the right we see someone cooking and a ladle being held in a cooking pot. It is not quite clear if this is  not really medicine or  indigestible food. In the middle someone lies back in the arms of another, evidently in distress, presumably after having consumed something not suitable.
It may be that the text available to the sculptors differed from the Sanskrit text we have now and might have been closer to one of the Chinese texts which lists overeating as a cause of much illness. Beyond the tree on the far left two people sit, they are very emaciated.
What is the deed that leads to little illness? It is said:  Ceasing from slapping, or giving a beating with open hands.  Herein, encouraging others to cease from slapping.  Speaking in praise of ceasing from slapping.  Greatly rejoicing in ceasing from slapping.  Attending to mother and father when they are sick.  Also attending to others, such as those gone forth who depend on one’s household.  Not being uplifted by the illnesses of one’s enemies.  Not being uplifted by the development of these illnesses.  Giving effective medicine to those who are sick.  Giving digestible food to those who are sick.
16. Praising Ceasing from Beating leads to Little Illness
There are three scenes. On the right someone is sitting in an elevated position and teaching his companions, he must be  encouraging them to refrain from beating others. In the middle scene what looks like a group of wise men sit and discuss affairs, they are  speaking in praise of restraint from beating.
The result on the left is that a couple are seen reclining on comfortable cushions and evidently enjoying the best of health, while their friends look on.
17. Praising Ceasing from Beating leads to Little Illness
The two scenes again appear to be of conversations, and therefore must be variations of the previous reliefs where  encouraging others to refrain from beating others, and  speaking in praise of such restraint are the causes.
Left of the tree which separates the actors on these reliefs we see another scene of prosperity. A prince sits with his right leg dangling. His consort attends to him assiduously, and other attendants sit nearby.
18. Attending to Sick Renunciants leads to Little Illness
There are only two scenes on this relief: the action and the result. On the right we see a group of people attending to someone who is lying in their arms, they must be  children attending to a sick parent.
On the left is the result: a prince once again is sitting in the midst of friends of high rank enjoying his freedom from illness. Two boys seem to be playing a game under the dais.
Kaspian took his photographs in black and white, which was all that was available to him in the late 19th century. At present at Borobudur the next four scenes are exposed to the public, so it has been possible to get colour photographs of these reliefs.
19. Giving Effective Medicine leads to Little Illness
Again we have just two scenes. On the right we see a number of people attending to someone who is sick, one is massaging his head, another applying oil and others are again massaging various parts of his body. They are  giving effective medicine, or treatment, to someone who is sick.
On the left the result is shown, the man sits while his consorts similarly massage him, and others stand and sit around worshipping him. He is enjoying his healthy life as a result of his good deeds.
20. Giving Digestible Food leads to Little Illness
This relief is harder to interpret that most we have seen so far. Normally a tree separates the cause from the result. If that is so here then the only cause shown in on the far right, but what exactly it represents is hard to say. Perhaps it is  giving digestible food, or maybe it follows one of the Chinese texts and is moderation in food and drink.
The rest of the panel again causes problems in interpretation. On the dais we see three people sitting, obviously in good health. But around them are seen what look like brahmins revelling and dancing, with legs raised. The person in the middle is possibly being  given effective medicine. On the far right we see someone sitting with his consorts. This is the result, but it is not really separated from the middle scene however.
What is the deed that leads to ugliness? It is said:  Anger.  Enmity.  Hypocrisy.  Contentiousness.  Speaking in dispraise of mother and father.  And speaking in dispraise of others, such as those gone forth who depend on one’s household, whether young or old.  Not keeping clean the monastic living quarters, temple grounds, and the area around stūpas.  Breaking lights and statues at stūpas.  Deriding ugly people.  Similarly, deriding those who are pure at heart.
21. Anger leads to Ugliness
Judging by the placement of the trees on this panel it would seem we have three scenes. On the far right we see three men, one with a stick raised, and before them are two men standing and another two sitting. The three must be  acting out of anger. In the middle we see two people who are standing in front of two people who are portrayed as ugly, it suggests they are  deriding them.
On the left we see the result, many ugly looking people sit and stand together. Their anger and derision having caused their present condition. Although it is not clear on the photograph there are two inscriptions on the panel, both of which read virūpa, meaning ugly in Sanskrit.
22. Hypocrisy and Contentiousness leads to Ugliness
The sculptors must have been pressed at times to mould abstract concepts like hypocrisy and contentiousness into concrete forms. From the scene on the right it appears this must be [3, 4] what the people are engaged in.
On the right we see what happens when you have ugly thoughts and ugly words, you are reborn as an ugly person, and have the company of those who are ugly.
23. Speaking in Dispraise of Parents leads to Ugliness
There are three scenes on this panel, but unfortunately the one on the right is not finished. It seems to show a couple sitting on a dais, and four others in front of them. One holds his hands in añjali, but another points indecorously at the couple. Perhaps he is  speaking in dispraise of mother and father.
The second scene shows two monks sat on a dais, and a man in front of him wielding a sword or a stick. Obviously he is  not respecting those gone forth. On the far left the result: ugly people crowd together.
24. Breaking Lamps at Temples leads to Ugliness
At least  breaking lights and statues at places of worship can be easily depicted. The group of the right are evidently attacking a temple and one seems to be using his stick to break it down. To the left of the temple another man stands with stick raised about to break the lamp.
The result is shown left of the separating and fruitful tree: people have been reborn and are now ugly and only have each others’ company.
25. Deriding the Ugly leads to Ugliness
The writers of the text were always very careful not to encourage people to despise those suffering from the results of their deeds, and counsel again and again not to despise those who have done wrong. On the right we see some people pointing accusingly at others and  deriding those who are ugly.
On the left a misshapen mother is carrying her child and is being pointed at by others. According to the pattern set up we would expect this to be the result, so perhaps in the future life she is being tormented in a way that she tormented others.
What is the deed that leads to beauty? It is said:  Lack of anger.  Lack of enmity.  Lack of hypocrisy.  Giving of clothes.  Giving of whitewash in the area around stūpas, temples and housing.  Giving golden bowls.  Giving incense and creams.  Giving decorations.  Speaking in praise of mother and father.  Speaking in praise of virtuous noble ones.  Sweeping the living quarters and the area around stūpas.  Constantly sweeping the housing there.  Not deriding ugly people, or others, young or old who are living a pure life.
26. Distributing Clothes leads to Beauty
On the far right we can understand that the wise man sitting on a dais with the open palm on his knee [1-3] has no anger, enmity or hypocrisy. In the middle we see  a distribution of clothes is ongoing to those in need.
On the left we see the result, the royal couple sit in a decorated pavilion, while others in front of them offer gifts. The couple are evidently meant to be the embodiment of beauty.
27. Praising Parents leads to Beauty
On the right a married couple sit in a pavilion, the wife holds a child and there are other children around. In front of the father stands a young woman who is  speaking praise of her parents.
The elaborate scene on the left, which is bigger than usual shows the result: a young and beautiful royal couple sit on a throne, while around them many attendants await their pleasure, or make offerings.
28. Praising Noble Ones leads to Beauty
On the far right the three men sitting atop a dais are Śaivite wise men (ṛṣis). In front of them are gathered a large group of people, the foremost of whom must be  speaking praise of the noble ones.
On the left again we have a young couple who are good looking and in the best of health. They are surrounded by attendants who enhance the sense of well-being and affluence.
29. Giving Decorations leads to Beauty
A male figure on the far right, and a female left of the temple building, seem to be attending to the building. Perhaps we can understand them as  giving decorations. The buildings themselves are very finely drawn.
The usual scene is on the left: a young and handsome couple sit atop a raised seat, while all around attendants are bringing offerings and waiting on their pleasure.
30. Decorating Temples leads to Beauty
On the right an oversize man with an axe sits in front of a building which has many people scurrying around and at work inside it. This is presumably the  giving of whitewash at the housing near stūpas. The housing itself is much plainer than the temples seen elsewhere.
On the left a handsome young man sits with two consorts inside a pavilion, and appears to be teaching the five young men who gather in front of him.
31. Giving Gifts leads to Beauty
In the text there is no specific mention of the giving of flowers, but it is clear that [6-8] the giving of gifts has the result of leading to beauty in a future existence. A monk sits in front of the temple, seemingly in meditation, and is therefore pictured as a worthy recipient.
On the left a handsome young man holds forth. By the look of his posture, with his left hand extended, he is teaching restraint to his interlocutors. Behind him are members of his household.
32. Not deriding the Ugly leads to Beauty
Again we are cautioned in the text not to despise or deride those who are suffering from their own deeds. Someone who is old and perhaps is meant to be a dwarf are approached by a royal couple, who are showing signs of respect. It seems to be the same couple who are sitting on the throne near the centre of the relief.
Unusually there is no tree separating the cause from the result here, and some of the women left of centre appear to be connected to the couple on the throne on the right of them, while others turn to the couple sitting with their children on the throne on the far left, who are enjoying the fruits of their good deeds.
33. Caring for Temples leads to Beauty
The people on the right have brought water and presumably other offerings to the temple in front of them. Though not mentioned specifically, this does fit in with [6-8] the giving of gifts to stūpas and temples that is praised in the text.
On the left we see again the result of these good deeds, in a future life there is a prince with his two consorts sitting on high cushions, while in front of him some visitors hold up offerings to make to him.
What is the deed that leads to being undistinguished? It is said:  Jealousy.  Selfishness.  Being dissatisfied with the gains of others.  Being dissatisfied by the speaking of praise of others.  Contempt of mother and father.  Contempt of virtuous noble ones.  Similarly, contempt of others who are ill, both young and old.  Speaking in praise of unwholesome roots, and of low things that are outside the Dharma.  Hindering the establishment of Bodhicitta.  Greatly rejoicing in hindering the establishment of Bodhicitta.
34. Jealousy leads to being Undistinguished
Near the centre we see a couple sitting together in their house, with signs of wealth all round: pots filled with goods, and a servant with a sword. On the far right we see a couple sat in their home with their attention on their neighbours and gesticulating as they express  their jealousy of the couple’s prosperity.
On the left we see two men and a woman with hardly any clothes and evidently suffering from lack of resources, the result of their previous jealousy.
35. Selfishness leads to being Undistinguished
This panel is not as clear as we would like, working backwards from later, and more surely identified, panels, I think this must be meant to show  selfishness. It should have been easier to express it than this, but perhaps we are supposed to understand that the affluent man on the right is refusing to share with the holy men before him.
The result is one gets reborn in a poor and undistinguished family, and have few possessions, and as the old man shows, may live one’s whole life in poverty.
36. Being Dissatisfied with the Gains of Others leads to being Undistinguished
Again it is not as clear as it could have been, but it probably shows the couple on the far right  being dissatisfied with the gains of the group in the centre of the panel. It is not clear what stands between the two men in the centre that they are so intently looking at.
The result portrayed on the left is being reborn in poverty and having to beg from others to be able to sustain their lives. They are unclothed from the waist up and hold their hands out in hope of support.
37. Contempt of Noble Ones leads to being Undistinguished
Fortunately this panel is much clearer. On the right we see two wise men (ṛṣis) sitting in the wilderness, with birds and trees around. One man sits in a pavilion and his two friends sit on the ground, and point their fingers at them, obviously blaming them and their lifestyle.
On the far left we see the result of this disrespectful behaviour, three poor men with water pots are standing and sitting around. One of them again has his hand extended as though begging.
38. Speaking in Praise of Unwholesome Roots
We have two scenes on this relief, but exactly how to interpret them is not clear. Normally we have an action of the right leading to a result on the left. Here we seem to see deeds portrayed on both left and right, and perhaps the result in the centre with the man carrying the child and leading his half-clothed wife along.
The man with the beard on the right is evidently teaching, and it would seem therefore he is  speaking in praise of greed, hatred and delusion, the unwholesome roots. Again on the far left, the same, or a similar man, is also teaching, and it must be the same misguided view.
39. Despising the Undistinguished leads to being Undistinguished
This cause is not listed in the Sanskrit text, but the relief is very clear and contempt for the poor must be the cause meant here, which is quite in line with what we would expect. Some street musicians have performed for the elegant couple sitting in the pavilion and proffer a collection bowl, but the downturned hand of the man indicates he is not giving to them.
The result is that in a future life he is himself reborn in a poor family and has to work as a street musician and suffer indignities similar to those he meted out previously.
What is the deed that leads to being distinguished? It is said:  Lack of jealousy.  Lack of selfishness.  Being satisfied with the gains of others.  Being satisfied by hearing of the glory, praise and fame of others.  Being uplifted by the praise spoken of others.  Building stūpas and temples for the Gracious One.  Hindering unwholesome roots, and low things that are outside the Dharma.  Encouraging the wholesome roots of the distinguished.  Establishing Bodhicitta.  Establishing Bodhicitta and all the wholesome roots of the distinguished. This is the deed that leads to being distinguished.
40. Approving Praise of Others leads to being Distinguished
A large section of this panel in the middle is destroyed. Fontein seems to think it has been done deliberately. Anyway, it leaves the panel less easy to understand, but as the characters on the left are obviously affluent and happy the actions of the right must suit.
Therefore, as someone is speaking and another listening, we might understand this as  hearing of the glory of others approvingly, or  being uplifted by the praise spoken of others.
41. Giving Parasols leads to being Distinguished
This unfinished panel again makes for difficulties of interpretation, but it appears that the person on the right is giving parasols to the people in front of him, who may be monastics. This is not mentioned in the paragraph here, though something similar is mentioned later in the text. But again it shows that the text the sculptors had in front of them differed from the Sanskrit text we now know.
On the left we see a prince sitting with his two consorts and in front of them are a group of attendants, though the sculpting is not finished here. This is the result of his generosity.
42. Establishing Bodhicitta leads to being Distinguished
The group of characters semi-kneeling on the right hold their hands together in affirmation of their vows. They must be  establishing Bodhicitta. The teacher who oversees their vow again appears to have been partly destroyed.
On the left we see the result on these vows: a prince and his consort sit on a raised dais. Six young men sit in front of them, one of whom holds a book. And behind them are three young women with offerings.
43. Building Temples leads to being Distinguished
In the centre we see a representation of a temple and on the right people approach carrying offerings. We can understand that they are  building a temple, or at the least, making offerings at one.
On the left top we can clearly see an inscription, which reads Maheśākhyaḥ, a Sanskrit word written in Old Javanese script. It means distinguished and is a guide to the sculptors. It seems that at Borobudur short inscriptions were carved into the walls as a guide, and removed once the relief was complete. As the work on this section was abandoned and then covered up so was the need to remove the guiding word in some places.
44. Encouraging Wholesome Roots leads to being Distinguished
As the male figure on the right appears to be teaching we may presume that he is either  hindering unwholesome roots, or  encouraging wholesome roots to those who sit and stand reverentially in front of him.
The main figures in the result are again partially destroyed, apparently intentionally. We can see they featured a prince surrounded by his consorts, who are maybe as numerous as they are on the next panel. Two maids bring two children to him, and others on the floor have offerings.
45. Being Distinguished
The cause on the right has been almost entirely erased for some reason, we can only see two people and part of a tree which acted as separator. We cannot really know what good deed they were engaged in therefore.
The result though is clear: a prince sits amongst a group of consorts while two men bring him offerings to enhance his wealth. Under his seat are two large containers further signifying his wealth.
46. Establishing Wholesome Roots leads to being Distinguished
On the right we see two monks sitting in front of a layman. Unexpectedly they are positioned on a lower level, and seem to be listening. Perhaps the layman is a Bodhisattva. I think this is probably  establishing Bodhicitta and all the wholesome roots.
Much of the centre of the panel has been destroyed, though we see one more person in discussion with two others, the detail is missing. I think this must have been another cause. The result is on the far left, a couple sit on a dais, and they probably had visitors or attendants in front of them.
47. Building Temples leads to being Distinguished
We see two very crowded residences on the right, with monks sitting round or lying down. Although we don’t see the builders they must be implied, and this would then be a case of  building temples for the Sangha.
The result is very nicely portrayed. A couple sit on a high dais. Before them are standing four females, with five males sitting on they floor. They are either attendants or visitors.
What is the deed that leads to rebirth in a low family? It is said:  Stubbornness.  Great conceit.  Not acknowledging mother and father.  Not being devoted to ascetics.  Not being devoted to brahmins.  Not respecting the elders of the family.  Not attending to mother and father.  Not attending to virtuous noble ones.  Not attending to teachers and preceptors and other advisors.  Contempt of people of low family.
48. Stubbornness and Conceit lead to Birth in a Low Family
If we didn’t have a text to guide us, and identifications of some of the other panels to help with the process of elimination, we would be hard put to know what bad deeds this panel is representing. It seems however it must be either  stubbornness or  great conceit.
The result of being born in a low family is also not clear, though no doubt that is what is intended. Three people are illustrated and they do look indigent, but perhaps older than anticipated.
49. Not being Devoted to Brahmins leads to Rebirth in a Low Family
Here we are on surer ground, as the two fellows under the tree are signalling their disinterest in listening to the brahmins who approach. They are certainly  not devoted to brahmins, and even their dog barks at them. Similarly in the middle of the relief someone points his finger at his visitor, which is always a sign of disrespect at Borobudur. He is  not attending to noble ones, or maybe  not attending to his teachers.
Much of the result on the far left has been destroyed, unfortunately. We can see enough to understand the men are carrying great weights on their backs with straps around their foreheads. They clearly have rebirth in a low family and are engaged in hard manual work.
50. Not Acknowledging Parents leads to Rebirth in a Low Family
In the pavilion on the far right sit a couple with a child, which shows they are parents. In front of them a woman partially restrains a man who is not paying due respect to them. He is  not attending to his parents. Another person sits under the tree and gathers fruits.
Much of the result has been damaged. We can see one person carrying something on his shoulder, perhaps he has been hunting or fishing. Two other sit near a grinder, and are evidently distressed by their rebirth in a low family.
51. Badly Damaged Panel
Virtually the whole panel is destroyed. As it really looks like it has been chipped away at, both here and in other places, it seems the sculptors or others must have been told to destroy the relief work before it was covered. Why this would be though is not clear to me. Fortunately it was never completely accomplished and most of the panels are intact.
52. Not Attending to Noble Ones leads to Rebirth in a Low Family
Again the only real sign that the cause represents  not attending to noble ones, or perhaps,  not attending to teachers, is that the listener seems to turn away from them, and shows no sign of respect.
The resulting rebirth in a low family of street musicians, dancers and jugglers who live very precarious lives financially is the result. Entertainers in our society are often highly paid, but it was considered low work in the society of the sculptors.
53. Contempt of those of Low Family leads to Rebirth in a Low Family
The three people under the tree on the far right are of low family, and the way they are treated by the well-dressed visitors, with one of them placing his hand on one of the heads shows that they have  contempt for people of low family.
On the left one man blows what maybe a conch, or something similar, another beats a wood-block. They are again musicians. Around them are soldiers, who also come from low families.
What is the deed that leads to rebirth in a high family? It is said:  Lack of stubbornness.  Lack of great conceit.  Acknowledging mother and father.  Being devoted to ascetics.  Being devoted to brahmins.  Respecting the elders of the family.  Attending to mother and father.  Attending to virtuous noble ones.  Attending to teachers and preceptors and other advisors.  Not having contempt of people of low family.
54. Acknowledging Parents leads to Rebirth in a High Family
On the far right we see someone deeply bowing at the feet of his mother, thereby  acknowledging her. Standing in front is another child who bows deeply, holding his hands in añjali. In the middle section one person is worshipping and another bringing gifts for what must be their father. They are  acknowledging him.
On the far left we see the result: a prince sits at ease with his three consorts, while a brahmin addresses him, and attendants bring whatever he needs. He has been reborn in a high family.
55. Being Devoted to Ascetics and Brahmins leads to Rebirth in a High Family
Three monastics sit on a high dais on the right, and before them people sit attentively and pay their respects. They are  devoted to ascetics. In the middle two young men kneel before a pair of brahmins, showing their  devotion.
The result is clear: he has been reborn in a high family and people pay attention to what he says. He lives a life of comfort and ease owing to his past good deeds.
56. Attending to Parents leads to Rebirth in a High Family
The couple sat on the dais on the right must be the parents of those in front of them. Their children sit on a lower seat and show other signs of respect as they  attend on mother and father.
The result is a birth in a high family where others now attend on them. Of the six people portrayed beneath the fruiting trees, one has a gift, and another holds his hands in respectful salutation.
57. Attending to Noble Ones leads to Rebirth in a High Family
A noble couple approach from the right, and in front of them a male and a female pay their respects and indicate the empty dais behind them with their raised hands. They are  attending to the nobles ones.
On the left is the usual result: a prince sits at ease with his consorts around him while attendants hold fly whisks, and other people bring him offerings.
58. Attending to Teachers leads to Rebirth in a High Family
A couple are sat on a dais on the right. The man holds out his hand demonstratively. His pupils in front of him  are attending to their teachers. One of them holds a book. Others raise their hands in respect.
On the left we see the expected result. A prince lounges on the cushions with his consorts, half sitting on one and lounging back on her shoulder. In front are attendants and visitors.
59. Not having Contempt for those of Low Family leads to Rebirth in a High Family
On the right we see a couple offering bananas to the four men in front of them. They are dressed in the clothes of the poorer classes. This shows that the couple  do not have contempt for those of low family. The recommendation not to despise the unfortunate is something emphasised over and over again.
On the right is the result, by having respect for others they are now in a position of being held in respect by others. They have a good rebirth in a high and prosperous family, as their deeds deserve.
What is the deed that leads to poverty? It is said:  Taking what is not given.  Encouraging taking what is not given.  Speaking in praise of fraud.  Greatly rejoicing in fraud.  Cutting off the means of subsistence of mother and father.  Similarly, cutting off the means of subsistence of others who are ill, both young and old.  Being dissatisfied with the gains of others.  Making obstacles to the gains of others.  Greatly rejoicing in famine.
60. Taking what is not given leads to Poverty
On the far right we can see that two men are prevailing over a smaller man and  taking what he holds under his arm without it being given. To the left of the first tree someone is evidently  encouraging his seated companion to do likewise.
The result is shown on the far left, he is reborn and lives in poverty for his past deeds. I am not really sure what the people between the first and third trees on the left are doing, perhaps they are  speaking in praise of fraud.
61. Taking what is not given leads to Poverty
It is not exactly clear how to read this panel. The man with the raised leg looks like he might be attacking, and perhaps  robbing the couple before him.
On the left where we would expect the result to be, the man and two women do not look like they are particularly poor. Although scantily dressed they do have necklaces and earrings, etc. It is also difficult to know what the couple under the tree represent.
62. Encouraging taking what is not given leads to Poverty
I think the couple on the far right are probably encouraging their interlocutors to take what is not given, and in the middle they carry out their instructions by robbing two others.
But again the expected result on the far left doesn’t really fit expectations. Scant clothing, yes; but also jewellery is seen. And the fruiting tree also indicates an unexpected abundance.
63. Cutting off Subsistence for Parents leads to Poverty
Given the few choices we have for the deed that could be portrayed here I think it must indicate  cutting off the means of subsistence of parents. Presumably the rich man at the centre of the relief is holding his hand in a show of refusal, something repeated by the man under the tree who sits before another couple, who must be his parents.
Again, as with the last two, is not clear that the result is actually being shown on the panel, as the couple of the left do not look impoverished at all. But they also do not appear to be part of the action in the other scene either.
64. Cutting off Subsistence for Others leads to Poverty
There are the same sorts of difficulties with this panel. The way some of the characters hold their hands up as though to ward off what is not wanted makes me think this is probably  cutting off the subsistence of others.
The result does not appear to be shown. It is curious, to say the least, why the results of bad deeds appear to have been avoided on the past few panels. I have no explanation for why that would be so.
65. Rejoicing in Famine leads to Poverty
As the crop seen left of centre is being destroyed by rodents we can only presume that those on the right are  rejoicing in it, despite being surrounded by wealth themselves.
The result does seem to be portrayed this time on the far left, as not only the people huddled in the house, but even the dog below it looks impoverished.
Herein, what is the deed that leads to riches? It is said:  Ceasing from taking what is not given.  Hindering the taking of what is not given by others.  Approving of the cessation of the taking of what is not given by others.  Giving the means of subsistence to mother and father.  Giving the means of subsistence to virtuous noble ones.  Similarly, giving the means of subsistence to others who are ill, both young and old.  Being satisfied with the gains of others.  Being dissatisfied with the losses of others.  Approving of the gains of others.  Greatly rejoicing in abundance.
66. Ceasing from taking what is not given leads to Riches
By the way the man in the pavilion is holding his hand up in teaching posture and the man on his knee in front of him is expressing his determination we may presume that they have  ceased from taking what is not given, or perhaps  are hindering theft.
The result on the left is an expected picture of wealth and luxury. A man sits inside a pavilion with two consorts, and lots of bags of riches around. Before him are attendants and others who look on from afar.
67. Hindering the taking of what is not given leads to Riches
We cannot really make out what the scene is meant to portray, and without a clue from the text we would be lost to describe it, but as the next relief is clear, this must be either  hindering theft, or  approving of not engaging in it.
On the left a wealthy individual relaxes on his dais, with three beautiful young women behind him. In front of him people pay homage or point to him as an example of riches earned.
68. Giving the Means of Subsistence to Parents leads to Riches
The couple sitting in the pavilion on the far right must be parents, and those bringing gifts for them are  giving them the means of subsistence, and paying due respect as they do so.
On the left we see the result: a man sits before rich offerings that are being presented to him. Perhaps the man with the water pot is pouring the waters of donation, a cultural way of making an offering.
69. Giving the Means of Subsistence to Noble Ones leads to Riches
On the far right three monastics sit inside a pavilion while in front of them lay people have come with many offerings as they intend to  give subsistence to virtuous noble ones.
On the left, the result is the usual scene of prosperity, surrounded by attendants and signs of wealth, a prince sits atop his seat with his consort.
70. Giving Support to the Ill leads to Riches
In the centre of this panel we see a distribution going on. We can’t exactly see what is distributed but we can presume it is  giving subsistence to the poor or needy. It may be that the sculptors understood the word bāla (young) in the Sanskrit as having its alternative meaning of weak or poor.
The result is as expected. A man sits on a very finely drawn throne with his hand draped over his consort’s shoulder, while people line up to offer various gifts. This is the first of four panels showing this virtue.
71. Giving Support to the Ill leads to Riches
This is a very similar scene to the previous panel, and if they were following our text then must have reproduced the same act twice, which is odd. On the far right a very wealthy man sits with his wives and above signs of prosperity in the money bags below his seat.
In the middle meanwhile his officers are  distributing food to the poor and ill. The result in his next life is that he is once again rich, and is a respected member of the community.
72. Giving Support to the Ill leads to Riches
A third similar scene in which a rich couple sit on the right and their attendants  dole out food to the poor and indigent on the centre.
On the left a prince sits with his knee supported in the strap while an attendant stands behind him. Another holds a fan and a dancer entertains him at his court. He is wealthy because of his past deeds.
73. Giving Support to the Ill leads to Riches
A small variation on the theme that seemed to have pleased the sculptors and their monastic guides so much, we again see  a distribution of food to the needy. The rich man making the donation sits on a very large cushion and looks on.
The result is, as always, that he gets reborn in a wealthy family as a reward for the untiring help to those who were in need. He sits on a beautiful throne with his consort nearby, and attendants ready to help him.
Herein, what is the deed that leads to having little wisdom? It is said:  Not questioning others here, be they the learned, ascetics or brahmins, saying: ‘What is Dharma, why does Dharma make for happiness?’  Associating with those of little wisdom.  Avoiding those who are wise.  Expounding what is not Dharma.  One reviles true Dharma.  One cuts off support for those who are skilled reciters of the true Dharma.  One does not congratulate those who are intent on being reciters of the true Dharma.  One congratulates those who are reciters of the what is not true Dharma.  One praises wrong view.  One reviles right view.  Similarly, one cuts off the means of subsistence of the reciters and the writers of books.
74. Not Questioning the Wise leads to having Little Wisdom
On the far right a wise man sits atop a large cushion and is ready to teach, but the man in front of him is busy dallying with his wife Obviously  he is not sufficiently interested in the Dharma. Meanwhile a man actually spears a boar in front of the teacher.
In the middle it is the woman who turns away from the brahmin, and towards her husband, again she is  uninterested in receiving instruction. The lazy fellows on the left, sitting and lying under the tree are people of little wisdom, wasting their lives away.
75. Not Questioning the Wise leads to having Little Wisdom
This probably illustrates the same  failure to question the wise even though having the opportunity. The five young nobles who sit on the floor are evidently holding forth on their own favourite topic, rather than listening to the teaching on the dais.
The result is that the five are reborn and are dimwittedly sitting under a tree. It is a fine representation of dullness, which comes as a result of lethargy and indolence in the presence of the wise.
76. Expounding what is not Dharma leads to having Little Wisdom
A difficult subject to convey in stone, I believe this is trying to show the teachers in the pavilion as  expounding what is not Dharma. The body language of their interlocutors is interesting, one crosses his arms in front as though to protect himself. Others look in argumentative mood.
The result is not so clear this time, but we may presume that the people sitting under the tree are dull-witted and wasting their time. A result of teaching what is not true or righteous.
77. Reviling what is Dharma leads to having Little Wisdom
This is not very clear, but I take it the four men sitting under the tree are either  not listening to the wise, or the man sitting in the pavilion  is reviling true Dharma. Many times we seem to have reliefs which are very open to interpretation like this.
The result is shown in the indigent and lazy fellows on the left. I am somewhat surprised that the sculptors didn’t make their lack of wit clearer by having them drinking alcohol or playing games of chance somewhere.
78. Cutting off Support to Reciters leads to Little Wisdom
This is probably illustrating either  cutting off support to skilled reciters, or  cutting off the means of subsistence to reciters and writers of books. It seems the latter may have been added to the list as  was not clear enough for the writer. In any case a man restrains a male and female from giving gifts to those on the dais, who we may take it is a reciter or writer.
The people on the left look sufficiently dull to portray the result of such bad behaviour. I think myself the men with their hands on the heads of others are part of the result scene. As it was considered insulting to touch the head of another, this is the sort of indignity one must face for their deeds.
Herein, what is the deed that leads to having great wisdom? It is said:  Questioning those here who are wise.  Associating with ascetics and brahmins.  Avoiding those of little wisdom.  One expounds the true Dharma.  One reviles what is not true Dharma.  One praises those who are skilled reciters of the Dharma.  One congratulates what is spoken beneficially.  One avoids what is spoken that is unbeneficial.  One praises right view.  One reviles wrong view.  One gives gifts of ink and written books.  Not drinking alcohol.
As many of the scenes on the left mirror those on the right in the following reliefs it is somewhat unsure if they are causes or effects that are shown. I am treating it here as though they follow the usual presentation with right side = cause, left side = result.
79. Associating with Brahmins leads to Great Wisdom
On the far right we see a wise brahmin holding forth on Dharma while those in front of him  listen attentively and one massages the teacher’s feet.
The result is that one is wise oneself in the next life and, as we see here, may have many disciples who learn from you. We see the students holding palm-leaf books while at their studies.
80. Expounding the True Dharma leads to Great Wisdom
We may read this as the teachers under the pavilion are  expounding true Dharma. One of them is holding a palm-leaf book and shows his authority due to his teaching. Two laymen listen while sat under the tree.
On the left the result is that he is again wise in the present life, and has a number of students who he is teaching. The result of teaching the wisdom teaching to have great wisdom when reborn.
81. Praising the Reciters of Dharma leads to Great Wisdom
Assigning the titles for the next few reliefs is again not as clear as we would like. We may presume that the distinguished looking man on the dais on the right is a reciter of Dharma, and those around are  praising him in various ways with worship and offerings.
On the left we see what looks like the same person in his new life where he is holding forth again on Dharma, and his peers are paying attention to him.
82. Avoiding what is Unbeneficial leads to Great Wisdom
The relief is not at all clear. If it is following the textual sequence it should be either  congratulating what is spoken beneficially, or  avoiding what is unbeneficial. Perhaps the man on the dais having his hand to his ear suggests the latter.
On the left the result shows a well-respected brahmin sitting with his students and, judging by the way they hold their hands, in discussion about finer points of Dharma.
83. Praising Right View leads to Great Wisdom
We are probably on surer ground here, as the portrait of a monk sitting on a Dharma teaching seat most likely indicates he is  teaching and praising right view.
On the left the teacher sits on an elevated seat and there are five disciples sitting under the trees in front of him. They have come with offerings which is a traditional way of showing respect to a teacher.
84. Reviling Wrong View leads to Great Wisdom
If we have the sequencing right, then would be  reviling wrong view. There is nothing particularly to show that though, and it may be the sculptors or their advisors just wanted more reliefs illustrating  teaching right view!
On the left we see that in the next life the teacher is again teaching, and he has many students to attend to. A number of them are carrying books, and one may have a stylus in his hand. If this is two causes, rather than cause and result, it may be an illustration of  giving gifts of books and ink.
85. Explaining the Faults of Alcohol leads to Great Wisdom
We certainly see a saint on the right, as he is marked by a halo, and he is clearly teaching. What he is meant to be teaching though we cannot know. Any of the causes from [9-12] would indeed fit here.
In the resulting rebirth he is again portrayed as a teacher, and he had what was probably a student sitting before him, though that part of the relief is now destroyed.
The following twenty or so reliefs show various rebirths and examples of what deeds have led to these various results. As the deeds are explained much more abstractly in these teachings, we sometimes have to infer the concrete action they are illustrating.
It appears that on many of these panels we now have two pairs of causes and results. The close correlation we saw on the previous panels is now lost. It may be the sculptors were following a somewhat different text, and it may be they wanted to be more plastic about the deeds that lead to these various results. Below I try to identify various hells that are resultant.
Rebirth in Hell
Herein, what is the deed that leads to rebirth in hell? It is said:  Wrong living in body, speech and mind through having severely corrupt thoughts.  A deed based on annihilationist view.  A deed based on eternalist view.  A deed based on nihilistic view.  A deed based on inconsequence view.  A deed based on a selfish doctrine.  A deed based on ungratefulness.  Bad deeds having immediate results.  Making false accusations against virtuous noble ones.
86. Killing Humans and Animals leads to Rebirth in Hell
Although the characters on the right are largely destroyed we can see they were fighting, one has a raised sword, and is chopping the other down. They have been reborn in the Reviving (Sañjīva) hell and again attack each other.
Left of centre a butcher kills a sheep, while a baby lamb looks on. The gruesome result is shown on the far left. Someone is reborn in hell, and is having his head sawn in half by his tormentors. This is the result of his violence in a previous life.
87. Execution and Entrapping leads to Rebirth in Hell
On the right a queen looks on as someone is executed by having an elephant trample on him. In the Crushing (Saṁghāta) hell mountains close in on the victims and crush them to death. The rocks are shown in stylised fashion at Borobudur.
Just left of centre we see a man is smoking out small animals after which he will no doubt kill them. The punishment is rebirth in the Fearful (Raurava) hell. Here two scenes from that hell appear to be given, in the first he is being executed by a man with a sword. In the second two men are pierced through with sharp thorns from the trees.
88. Wrong Speech and Action leads to Rebirth in Hell
We can infer from the punishment shown right of centre that the deed must be one of trickery or deception, i.e. a form of wrong speech. He is then reborn in a hell where he has his lips burned through with a hot iron.
Left of centre we see one man about to slap what is probably his father, or at least someone of good standing. Later he is reborn in the Burning (Tapana) hell, where he will suffer being burned, and by the look of it, being pulled apart by birds and dogs.
89. Killing Animals and Humans leads to Rebirth in Hell
Two men preparing a fish and turtle stew, the creatures being dropped into the boiling water alive. A similar fate awaits the perpetrators in hell, they will be boiled alive as we see, and beaten with clubs for their deed.
Left of centre a man prepares to kill a defenceless woman on the floor before him. He suffers rebirth in the Great Burning (Mahā Tappana) hell on the far left, where he is thrown into the burning flames.
90. Drinking and Whoring leads to Rebirth in Hell
On the far right we see a group of revellers who are drinking liquor and then engaging in drunken whoring. The result seems to be rebirth in a hell where they are plunged up to their knees in what must be hot water.
The scenes left of centre are mostly destroyed and we cannot make out the deed properly. But the result is something very similar, perhaps exaggerated by being plunged up to the waist in boiling waters.
91. Encouraging Violence and Killing Birds leads to Rebirth in Hell
Although it is not quite clear what the cause on the far right is, it is probably encouraging violence of one sort or another. The result is he is reborn in a hell where the grass is like swords and it cuts through his feet.
Left of centre we see hunters using blow pipes and sticks to kill birds and animals. The result is the trees have leaves like swords that cut through the victims reborn there.
92. Adultery and Murder leads to Rebirth in Hell
The man sitting under the tree on the far right is evidently asleep, while his wife is in the arms of another as they engage is adultery. The hell the adulterer is reborn into has dogs trying to rip him apart, and trees that have blades on their trunk, so either way he gets ripped apart.
Left of centre we see a murder scene as one man with raised sword attacks another who is falling away. Again on the far left the hell is hot waters, this time up to the neck. As they try to escape their tormentors push them back in. This is the last of the rebirths in hell.
Rebirth as an Animal
Herein, what is the deed that leads to rebirth as an animal? It is said:  Wrong living in body, speech and mind through having intermediately corrupt thoughts.  Deeds arising from various types of lust.  Deeds arising from various types of hatred.  Deeds arising from various types of delusion.  Causing regret to those gone forth, mother or father.  Deriding animals.  Similarly, it is said endeavouring in deeds like the cow-vow and dog-vow offerings; and endeavouring in preparing this.
93. Wrong Living in Speech or Body leads to Rebirth in the Animal Realm
It appears that the scene on the right must portray a verbal deed of medium wrongness. The result that is shown as retribution for this is rebirth as a bird.
Left of centre we see someone beating another with a stick. The victim’s hands are tied. There does seem to be an attempt to distinguish between the deadly attacks portrayed previously, and this one which causes harm, but not death. The result is being reborn as a quadruped. A horse, sheep and cattle are shown as examples.
94. Unknown Deeds leading to Rebirth as a Garuḍa and Nāga
It is clear the text the sculptors knew had extra rebirths not seen in our Sanskrit text. It must have been quite normal to add to the text when something was thought to be missing. We do not know the deed on the right, but whatever it was it led to rebirth as a garuḍa, as three are seen under the trees.
Similarly we cannot make out the deed left of centre, but its outcome: rebirth as a nāga, is clearly shown on the far left. As we seem to be moving from deeds of more to less severity, presumably these were deeds of minor wrong-doing.
Rebirth in Yama’s World
Herein, what is the deed that leads to rebirth as a preta in Yama’s world? It is said:  Wrong living in body, speech and mind through having a mind of revenge and anger.  Greed.  Dishonest greed.  Wrong livelihood.  Dying of hunger, thirst or anger.  Dying with a mind attached to possessions.
95. Wrong Living leads to Rebirth in Yama-loka
The Yama-loka is the world where Yama is king, and those reborn there are pretas, sometimes referred to as hungry ghosts. As we will see this is also an appropriate designation here. On the right the standing couple are offering a seat to the brahmin, below them someone obstructs this offer, and we can understand it is his rebirth we are dealing with.
Left of centre three men are trying to offer a gift, while the prospective recipient turns away preventing it. The result of these obstructions of good deeds is to be reborn as a preta, who is figured on the far left, with protruding belly, and wasted rib cage.
Rebirth in the Asura World
Herein, what is the deed that leads to rebirth in the Asura world? It is said:  All wrong living in body, speech and mind that is mild.  Conceit.  Great conceit.  Conceit regarding attainments.  The ‘I’-conceit.  Wrong conceit.  Well-performed deeds having wholesome roots but which ripen in birth in the Asura worlds.  Everything arising from excessive passion and having a bad character, but having wisdom as a cause.
96. Conceit and Wrong Deeds lead to Rebirth in the Asura World
Two causes are depicted on the right. On the far right we again see someone refusing a request from those who sit in front of him, maybe out of conceit or another bad mental state. In between the trees two people fight, but only with their bare hands, not with sticks or swords as before.
The resultant birth on the left is as an asura. Asuras were originally gods (sura) until out of conceit they fought against the gods, became anti-gods (a-suras) and were thrown out of heaven. As conceit describes well the asura it is probably one of the causes as well.
Rebirth in the Human World
Herein, what is the deed that leads to rebirth in the human world? It is said: The ten wholesome deeds that are either well-practiced or poorly practiced. What ten? [1-3] The threefold deeds by way of body: not killing, taking what is not given or sexual misconduct. [4-7] The fourfold deeds by way of speech: false, malicious and rough speech; and frivolous talk. [8-10] The threefold deeds by way of mind: being without avarice, having good will and right view.
97. Restraint leads to Rebirth in the Human World
On the far right, just left of centre, and on the left we see men hold up their hands in gestures of refusal. This has to be different from the preceding paragraphs, of course, and it appears in each case to signal that they are refusing to over-indulge in food and drink.
It is this sense of moderation that marks them out for rebirth in the human world, though it appears this was not illustrating on this panel.
98. Refraining from Verbal Misconduct leads to Rebirth in the Human World
We see five scenes. The four from the left probably illustrate  restraint from verbal misconduct, although the only thing we can really make out is that the main character is being demonstrative.
On the far right we see someone making an offering to a teacher, perhaps this indicates  being without avarice. Again it seems the result is not illustrated.
99. Being without Avarice leads to Rebirth in the Human World
On the far right we see people have brought offerings for a brahmin and it may be that this cause is once again  being without avarice here.
The great wealth that is being offered by the merchant standing over the large jar of jewellery may indicate the same thing. I think we must presume it is the king who is the recipient here. Others sit under the trees with smaller offerings in their hands.
100. Generosity and Restraint leads to Rebirth in the Human World
We have a clear case of doing good deeds by helping the poor on the right as a distribution of money or food takes place. It may be the brahmin is a teacher, and the rich man making the distribution is his disciple following his instruction.
On the left a prince has his hand around his consort’s shoulder protectively, and turns away from the four women on the right. This is probably illustrating  restraint from sexual misconduct.
Rebirth in Heavenly Sense Worlds
Herein, what is the deed that leads to rebirth in the heavenly sense worlds? It is said: The fully complete ten wholesome deeds which are the same as the previous list, but to perfection.
101. Wholesome Deeds lead to Rebirth in the Sense Heavens
I would think that this panel shows children paying respect to parents by making offerings and giving them support, which is not specified, but is a generally good deed. It may just be there is no family relationship though, and it is again a panel about  lack of avarice.
The way we know the reward is set in heaven is through the celestial tree in the middle, with kinnaras on either side, and bags of riches underneath. Otherwise the depiction on the left of a man meeting a woman and taking her by the wrist would not tell us very much about the meaning.
102. Ten Deeds lead to Rebirth in the Sense Heavens
The tree and kinnaras again give us the clue that the result is rebirth in one of the sense heavens. On the left a person with a halo is surrounded by consorts and attendants. He is now a deva, following his good deeds. Notice the heavenly musician playing a large lute.
The deed which caused this rebirth is not so clear, it is perhaps an act of generosity, if we note the servants carrying the cask. Or perhaps the main figure is teaching restraint.
103. Wholesome Deeds lead to Rebirth in the Sense Heavens
The deed on the far right appears to be twofold: one monk is sat in a pavilion teaching three of his students, and two men are distributing alms to the poor.
The result is rebirth in a vimāna or celestial palace in heaven. What I take is meant to portray a vimāna looks very much like a temple as we see on other reliefs, and there may have been thought to be a correlation between the two. A temple being a heavenly mansion on earth.
Rebirth in Heavenly Form Worlds
Herein, what is the deed that leads to rebirth in the heavenly form worlds? It is said: The fully attained four concentrations, and from that, full excellence in the ten wholesome deeds.
104. Complete Concentration leads to Rebirth in the Form Worlds
In the middle, between the two trees, we see someone sat in meditation on the form concentrations (jhāna levels 1-4). On the right we see three people led by a lady giving alms to two brahmins, earning themselves a great reward.
The six figures on the left are once more gods in heaven, but not in the sense worlds, as a distinct lack of barely clothed females indicates. They are rather the sexless brahmā gods of the form worlds.
Rebirth in Heavenly Formless Worlds
Herein, what is the deed that leads to rebirth in the heavenly formless worlds? It is said: The four formless attainments:  The sphere of endless space  The sphere of endless consciousness.  The sphere of nothingness.  The sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception There is the developing and making much of these attainments.
105. The Formless Attainments leads to Rebirth in the Formless Worlds
We see four monastics sitting in the wilderness, where trees, grasses, and animals abound. This must represent the four formless attainments, although we cannot see any difference in the meditators of course as it is all internalised.
The formless worlds being exactly that: without form, they are not depicted by the sculptors. From some of these worlds, in the pure lands (śuddhāvasa), the beings will never return but attain nirvāṇa during their heavenly existence.
It seems that the first two paragraphs and the fourth one in this section, which concern deeds not done, were beyond the ingenuity of the sculptors to portray. The next three reliefs can be explained as belonging to the third section. The illustration of this section is much less systematic than we saw previously. It is also possible, of course, that the text the sculptors had to hand omitted some of these teachings.
Deeds Done that do not bring Success
Herein, what is the deed that, when done, does not bring success? It is said: Whatever deed, which, once done, leads to being grieved, distressed, reviled, disgusted, confessed, announced and made manifest; which he promises to restrain himself from in the future, and not do again.
Deeds that bring Success when not Done
Herein, what is the deed that brings success when not done? It is said: Whatever deed which is yet to be completed by way of body. Herein, speaking a word with corrupt mind, and saying: ‘Like this I will do to you, i.e. threatening another’.
Deeds that bring Success when Done
Herein, what is the deed that brings success when done? It is said: Whatever good deed that is intentional.
106. Giving Food leads to Rebirth in the Sense Heavens
On the right we see a group of people offering bananas to the monastics sat on the far right, evidently a good deed which will bring a good result. Notice that they stand under parasols, indicating their high status.
The halos behind the heads of the devas indicate that the result of this good deed in rebirth in heaven, where they are also respected and brought bananas. Perhaps the tree in the middle with the money bags underneath further indicates that this is a heavenly scene.
107. Giving Clothes leads to Rebirth in the Sense Heavens
On the far right a group of princes are bringing clothes that they intend to distribute to these in need. Another kind of good deed that has good consequences.
The money bags under the tree in the middle indicate this is again a heavenly scene on the left. One of the givers sits on a seat with many money bags in front of him indicating his wealth in his new life, and there are, as always, many attendants and respectful visitors.
108. Giving Gifts leads to Rebirth in the Sense Heavens
The same sort of scene presents itself again here: a large group from the nobility are distributing gifts to those in need. It is possibly food, and maybe fruits that they are offering.
The result is success: a rebirth in heaven where life is comfortable, and wealth is abundant, and consorts and attendants abound.
Deeds not really Done
Herein, what is the deed that is not really done, nor brings any success? It is said: Whatever deed is intentionally done or effected, but in a dream.
Hell for a Full Time
Herein, what is the deed, provided with which, a person is reborn in hell, and only falls away after a full hell life is completed? It is said: That deed that is done here and is successful and through which he goes to hell. That deed, which, once done, one is not grieved, distressed, reviled, disgusted about, and it is not confessed, announced and made manifest; which he does not promise to restrain himself from in the future. But through which he is exceedingly happy and joy arises.
109. Unrepented Wrong Deeds lead to Rebirth in Hell for a Long Time
As we can see the people in this scene are involved in the bad deed of catching and killing fish. It is interesting to see the nets being used. Surprisingly no one is shown shooting at the animals on the far right, who now only signify this is a wilderness. In the centre the fisherman carry their kill off.
We have to presume that they were unrepentant, and are now being boiled in hell for their bad deeds for a long time. A guard stands next to the tub with a club in his hand making sure they don’t escape their fate.
Hell for a Half Time
Herein, what is the deed, provided with which, a person is reborn in hell, and falls away after half a hell life? It is said: That deed that is done here and successful and through which one goes to hell. That deed, which, once done, one is not grieved, distressed, reviled, disgusted about, and it is not confessed, announced and made manifest; which he does not promise to restrain himself from in the future. But through which he is not exceedingly happy and joy does not arise.
Hell for a Short Time
Herein, what is the deed, provided with which, a person is reborn in hell, and falls away a short time after rebirth? It is said: That deed that is done here and successful and through which he goes to hell. That deed, which, once done, leads to being grieved, distressed, reviled, disgusted, confessed, announced and made manifest; which he promises to restrain himself from in the future. Not having done it again, he is reborn in hell, and falls away a short time after rebirth.
110. Repented Wrong Deeds lead to Rebirth in Hell for a Short Time
On the far right we see two people, one holding a sword, pointing at a third, who is being protected, perhaps by his son, or a friend. The pair are evidently very angry about something. Perhaps the middle scene is meant to portray repentance of the men engaged in the attack.
In any case the result is they are reborn in hell, and are being boiled as a result of their bad deeds, but they are quickly emerging from the torture owing to their repentance.
It appears the following three paragraphs find no representation at Borobudur, probably because of the very abstract nature of the concepts written about.
Herein, what is the deed that leads to a specific rebirth? It is said: Whatever deed, when done, after declaring ‘May this ripen in rebirth in such and such a place’, and in that place he is reborn.
Herein, what is the deed that leads to a non-specific rebirth? It is said: Whatever deed, when done, without declaring ‘May this ripen in rebirth in such and such a place’, and he is born according to his deeds.
Rebirth in Another Country
Herein, what is the deed that results in rebirth in another country? It is said: Whatever deed, in this life, that matures in rebirth in another country, whether good or bad, and that deed results in rebirth in another country.
Happy then Unhappy
What is the deed, provided with which, a person is at first happy, and later unhappy? It is said: Being asked for a gift here, someone first happily approves, and rejoicing gives it. But after giving he has regret. When he is reborn amongst humans, he is reborn into a family which has great riches, great wealth, but later that wealth is lost and exhausted, so that he later is poor.
111. A Good Deed Regretted leads to Wealth then Poverty
As with the previous panel regret plays its part in the outcome of the deed on this panel also. On the far right we see a member of the nobility giving a gift to the two brahmins who approach him. Behind them he is portrayed again, obviously regretting his good deed.
The result is that he is first reborn in a wealthy family, and all the normal signifiers are shown. But on the far left we see him left in poverty and walking away with few possessions carrying his child on his shoulders.
Unhappy then Happy
What is the deed, provided with which, a person is at first unhappy, and later becomes happy? It is said: Being asked, someone takes a gift, and approving of the same, then gives it to another with difficulty. But after giving the gift, joy arises later. When he is reborn amongst humans, he is reborn into a family which is poor, but later his wealth increases.
112. A Good Deed done with difficulty but rejoiced in leads to Poverty then Wealth
Here again a couple are seen to give gifts to brahmins, but this time rather than regret it they rejoice in their good deed. Their difficulty in giving the gift is marked by how small the gift is.
But in the rebirth scene on the left we first see that the man has been reborn in poverty, and sits under the trees holding his head. Later though he is richly rewarded for his good deed and is seen with the usual signs of wealth.
Happy and Happy
What is the deed, provided with which, a person is at first happy, and later is also happy? It is said: Being asked for a gift here, someone first happily approves, and happily gives it. After giving he is also joyous. When he is reborn amongst humans, he is reborn into a family which is well off, having great wealth, great riches.
113. A Gift given Happily and Rejoiced in leads to Great Wealth
We see two men giving gifts to a pair of brahmins sat under a tree. We presume they are giving happily, but nowhere does it really show them rejoicing in the deed done.
The result also is just one scene of a good and luxurious rebirth with all the normal signs of wealth: consorts, bags of money and attendants.
Unhappy and Unhappy
What is the deed, provided with which, a person is at first unhappy, and later is also unhappy? It is said: Someone here is bereft of spiritual friends, and does not give a gift. But he also does not commit any wicked deed. When he is reborn again amongst humans, he is reborn into a family which is poor, that has little food and drink to enjoy.
114. Unfinished Relief
This relief was never finished, and indeed hardly started. The very little we can see though would suggest it is following the text, as we see what looks like a poor person sitting on the far left. Left of centre someone is on their knees and worshipping a couple who approach.
Well-off and Selfish
What is the deed, provided with which, a person is well off but selfish? It is said: Someone gives a small gift in the bowl here to someone who is virtuous, but he does not repeat the generous practice again. When he is reborn amongst humans, he is reborn into a family which is well off, having great wealth, great riches, through that special gift. But because he does not repeat that generous practice again, his deeds become selfish.
115. The Person who gives a Gift but does not Repeat It
On the right we see a man leading a group who are giving gifts to the four monks sat under the pavilion. He appears to give robes, and others have varying gifts.
In his rebirth, as we can see, he is wealthy, and has all the indicators of that status, but because he only gave once he is miserly now and when the brahmins come and ask him for something he turns them down.
Poor and Generous
What is the deed, provided with which, a person is poor but generous? It is said: Someone gives many a gift here, but to animals and to men without virtue who do not live the spiritual life. Again and again he repeats his generosity. When he is reborn amongst humans, he is poor, but because of repeating that gift he is generous. Whoever gives a gift into the bowls of those without virtue, because of that becomes poor.
Well-off and Generous
What is the deed, provided with which, a person is well off and generous? It is said: Someone gives many a gift here into the bowls of those are virtuous, and he repeats the generous practice again and again. Through that when he is reborn amongst humans, he is reborn into a family which is well off, having great wealth, great riches. And because he repeated that gift again and again he became generous.
116. The Person who gives a Gift and does Repeat It
On the right a group of people gather with many gifts for a monk who sits in a pavilion, they seem to have robes, food and incense. In the centre one of them is repeating his gift, but this time to a brahmin.
On the left is the rebirth scene where an evidently rich person is again giving gifts in his present life. He is so well practiced he is rich and generous in this life too.
It seems there may have been another paragraph here in the text before the designers of the reliefs at Borobudur, which had a rich man who does not give a gift, and is reborn in poor circumstances. That anyway is what is illustrated on the following relief.
117. The Person who does not Give a Gift
Rather emphatically the rich man on the far right is holding out an obstructing hand, and also turning away from his visitors who are asking for help. He has also, by the look of it, asked his servant to prevent them from getting too near.
The unfortunate result of this refusal is that is he reborn in poverty in his next life. He sits with his back to a tree, and his wife also has her back to the tree, and to him. Their child is suffering from poverty also. Two poor musicians stand in front of them.
The following twelve paragraphs found in the Sanskrit text have not been illustrated at Borobudur, and may not have been included in the text the organisers knew. It is also possibile that they were running out of space and had to drop some material.
Life Exhausted not Deeds
For which person is life exhausted, but not his deeds? It is said: Whatever person who, falling from hell is reborn in hell; falling from the animal realm is reborn in the animal realm; falling from the Yama world is reborn in the Yama world; falling from the gods is reborn amongst the gods.
Deeds Exhausted not Life
For which person are deeds exhausted, but not his life? It is said: Whatever person is happy at first and later is unhappy; or unhappy at first and later happy.
Deeds and Life Exhausted
For which person are deeds exhausted and his life? It is said: Whatever person falling away from hell is reborn amongst animals; falling away from animals is reborn in the Yama world; falling away from the Yama world is reborn amongst humans; falling away from humans is reborn amongst the gods.
Merits Exhausted and Life
For which person are merits exhausted and his life? It is said: [Text is missing here].
Life not Exhausted nor Deeds
For which person is life not exhausted, nor his deeds, but some defilements are exhausted? It is said: The stream-enterer, the once-returner, the non-returner, the Independent Buddha.
Happy in Body not in Mind
Which is the person who is happy in body, but not in mind? It is said: An ordinary person who has done merit is happy in body, but not in mind.
Happy in Mind not in Body
Which is the person who is happy in mind, but not in body? It is said: Whoever is a worthy one (arhat) but is without merit is happy in mind, but not in body.
Happy in Body and in Mind
Which is the person who is happy in body and in mind? It is said: The worthy one, who has destroyed the pollutants, and made merit.
Happy neither in Body nor in Mind
Which is the person who is neither happy in mind nor in body? It is said: An ordinary person who has not done anything meritorious, with a family lineage fallen into oblivion, being bereft of food, drink and clothing, and who wanders amongst the houses, i.e. is homeless. Because of that he is afflicted with diseases like leprosy, tuberculosis, consumption, fever, jaundice, infirmity, skin disease, scab and so on, is missing hands and feet, or has loss of eyesight.
Lower Realms and Handsome
What is the deed, provided with which, a person is reborn in the lower realms and is handsome and pleasant, with an agreeable body, agreeable skin, delightful eyes and is good looking? It is said: Whatever person who is endowed with lust, provided with a lack of virtue and is reborn in the lower realms.
Lower Realms and Ugly
Herein, what is the deed, provided with which, a person is reborn in the lower realms and is ugly, with a harsh body and terrible looking? It is said: Whatever person who is endowed with hate, provided with a lack of virtue and is reborn in the lower realms.
Lower Realms and Undeveloped
Herein, what is the deed, provided with which, a person is reborn in the lower realms and is foul-smelling, with faculties that are crooked and undeveloped? It is said: Whatever person who is endowed with delusion, and provided with a lack of virtue, and is reborn in the lower realms.
51-61 Unwholesome Deeds
The fourth section is simply a common list of ten unwholesome deeds, along with illustrations on the reliefs of some of them. In the early texts karma was regarded as simply a personal deed and that had results for only the actor; but in this teaching we see how it was presented as having consequences beyond the perpetrator. Indeed at Borobudur the personal result does not seem to be illustrated in this sequence.
From midway through this section we have many inscriptions that help us understand the panels. They are written in the Sanskrit language, and in Old Javanese script. They usually consist just of just a single word, which is sometimes a compound, enough to indicate to the sculptors what was meant to be shown. Having these inscriptions also shows us how carefully the directors had planned the reliefs.
Ten Unwholesome Deeds
There are ten unwholesome deeds. Which ten? The threefold deeds by way of body, the fourfold deeds by way of speech, the threefold deeds by way of mind. These ten unwholesome deeds have ten results externally that increase through development.
With the unwholesome deed of killing living beings there is the result in the environment that the vitality and strength of the earth disappears. Because of this deed the result for the perpetrator is a short life.
118. Killing results in the Vitality of the Earth Disappearing
On the right we see many people involved in fishing and hunting, which appears to be for birds in this case. We again see the fish-traps we saw on the first relief in this series. And others wield bows and arrows as they shoot at the bird life.
The disastrous result is seen on the left: the crops are poor and failing as the vitality of the earth has been destroyed. A man and woman stand on the left and the man is inspecting the withered seed.
Taking what is not Given
With the unwholesome deed of taking what is not given there is the result in the environment that lightning, parrots, locusts, rats and insects rush in and destroy the crops. Because of this deed the result for the perpetrator is his wealth goes to destruction.
With the unwholesome deed of sexual misconduct there is the result in the environment that grasses on the earth produce a bad smell. Because of this deed the result for the perpetrator is that housing that has been established is destroyed.
With the unwholesome deed of false speech there is the result in the environment that there are diseases of the mouth, teeth and throat; and also a foul smell from the mouth and so on appear. Because of this deed the result for the perpetrator is that untrue stories about oneself appear.
119. False Speech leads to Mouth Diseases
It seems we have two causes here, on the far right we see a couple engaged in adultery. The cuckolded husband is only half drawn on the far right. In the middle it is clear that one woman is speaking bad of another whom she points to.
The result on the left is probably mouth diseases, though it could also indicate that the breath smells bad, and the people have to cover their mouths. It is odd that the result for sexual misconduct does not appear to be shown.
With the unwholesome deed of divisive speech there is the result in the environment that on the earth gravel, shards and so on causing painful feeling appear. Because of this deed the result for the perpetrator is that life goes to ruin, friends go to ruin and there is division amongst one’s followers.
120. Divisive Speech
Only a small section on the right of this panel was ever completed, it is clearly indicating a form of wrong speech. As the man who is standing is pointing at someone behind him, it is probably divisive speech.
There is no result, though we can be pretty sure what that would have shown. It may have been that this was another illustration of false speech, and the following divisions of wrong speech were not in the text the sculptors followed.
With the unwholesome deed of harsh speech there is the result in the environment that mud, dust, pollen, winds and rains appear. Because of this deed the result for the perpetrator is that they experience unpleasant sounds and sights.
With the unwholesome deed of frivolous speech there is the result in the environment that mountains, ravines and pits appear. Because of this deed the result for the perpetrator is that there are words that are hard to accept.
With the unwholesome deed of avarice there is the result in the environment that the rice, barley, wheat and other crops appear as chaff, straw and so on. Because of this deed the result for the perpetrator is that his wealth is desired by others.
With the unwholesome deed of ill-will there is the result in the environment that the corn that is scattered is barren. Because of this deed the result for the perpetrator is that adversity is seen.
121. Avarice and Ill-Will
This panel has two inscriptions, one above middle right reading: abhidhyā, avarice, and middle left reading: vyāpāda, ill-will. On the far right the relief work is unfinished. The result, however, is a poor crop shown right of centre.
It may not be obvious that the next scene represents ill-will, but if we look closely we can see the man who is sitting is pointing an accusing finger. The result is not so clearly illustrated.
With the unwholesome deed of wrong view there is the result in the environment that bitter and pungent fruits such as neem, bitter gourd and poisonous cucumber appear. With the deed of wrong view there is the result for the perpetrator that he becomes a nihilist. Annihilationism and materialism is also evident amongst the teachers.
122. Wrong Views results in Bitter Fruits
Again we have an inscription in Sanskrit to guide us. It reads miṭṭhyā-dṛṣṭi, wrong view. It is difficult indeed, however, to see how the relief on the right illustrates this. What we do see is a rich man being served a drink, so maybe it is supposed to be liquor? That would mean he is not keeping the precepts, and may be how we should read it.
The result is that bitter fruits and vegetables appear in the world. Again it is not really clear that they are bitter, but perhaps the expression on the bearded man’s face is meant to indicate this.
123. Refraining from Wrong Deeds results in the Vitality of the Earth
The inscription reads: kuśala, wholesome (deeds). Although this paragraph is missing from the Sanskrit text we know, it does seem that parallelism would require it, and that the text the organisers knew had it also.
It seems the character sitting high on the right is giving money to the brahmins holding out their hands in front of him. In the centre the same person is seen teaching, and presumably explaining the ten right courses of action. The result is healthy and abundant crops.
62-80 Wholesome Deeds
The last section is illustrated in the last 35 reliefs on the hidden base at Borobudur. There are some additional deeds illustrated that are not found in the text we receive in Sanskrit. The order of the deeds is also somewhat different, and it is clear the text the sculptors knew differed more in this section than anywhere else.
Although many different results are listed, there is a decided preference for illustrating the same good result over and over again, particularly rebirth in a wealthy family, and rebirth in heaven, which the sculptors and their directors never seemed to tire of.
Saluting Caityas in the Middle Country
What are the ten advantages of saluting with reverence the memorial buildings of the Realised One in the Middle Country, the four great memorial buildings in Lumbinī, Mahābodhi and so on? It is said:  One obtains a birth in the Middle Country.  One obtains excellent clothes.  One obtains an excellent family.  One obtains an excellent age.  One obtains an excellent voice.  One obtains excellent intelligence.  One obtains excellent faith.  One obtains excellent virtue.  One obtains excellent fame.  One obtains excellent generosity.  One obtains an excellent memory.  One obtains excellent wisdom.
Saluting Caityas (Elsewhere)
What are the ten advantages of worshipping the memorial buildings of the Realised One somewhere else? It is said:  One becomes handsome.  Has a good voice.  Has acceptable speech.  Walking into an assembly one propitiates the assembly.  One is dear to gods and men.  One is distinguished.  One has the society of distinguished people.  One has the society of Buddhas and the Buddha’s disciples.  One has great wealth.  One is reborn in heaven.  In a short while one attains final Nirvāṇa.
Whereas at the beginning of the reliefs we had ten deeds giving a similar result. Here we have one good deed giving a variety of results. The deed is normally shown only once in this section, while the various results may continue over a number of panels.
124. By Worshipping the Memorial Buildings one becomes Handsome
The inscription on the right reads: caitya-vandana, worship of the Caitya, or religious edifice, and that is exactly what is shown. We cannot tell if the worship takes place in the Middle Country or elsewhere, but the result suggests the latter.
Above the result is the word: suvarṇa-varṇa, golden complexion. The closest we have to this in the Sanskrit text is being handsome (abhirūpa), as clearly the main figure on the left is meant to be.
125. One gains a Good Voice and Good Company
The inscription reads susvara, good voice. This is not easy to indicate, and the sculptors show a man in a pavilion surrounded by consorts and listening to music. We would not be able to infer the meaning without the inscription.
The inscription on the left reads: mahaujaska-samavadhāna, meeting with one of great might, which is probably sufficiently close to the maheśākhyaiḥ samāgamo, having the society of distinguished people, of our text.
126. One has Wealth and is Reborn in Heaven
On the right the inscription reads a word that is broken: bho- from which we can infer bhogī, a wealthy man is intended, and as we see that is what is portrayed, a man sits with all the usual signs of riches and comfort.
The inscription on the left is svargga, heaven, being reborn in which is one of the results of worshipping the memorial buildings. The place is indicated, as always, by the kalpa-vṛkṣa, a wish-fulfilling tree, and the kinnaras.
Giving a Parasol
What are the ten advantages of giving a parasol? It is said:  One has the nature of being a parasol for the world.  One is not overheated in body.  One is not overheated in mind.  All blameless deeds done that lead to sovereignty accumulate.  Again and again one becomes a Universal Monarch.  One is distinguished.  One has the society of distinguished people.  One has the society of Buddhas and Buddha’s disciples.  One has great wealth.  One is reborn in heaven.  In a short while one attains final Nirvāṇa.
127. By Giving a Parasol one is not overheated in Body and Mind
The inscription on the right is chatra-dāna, giving of parasols, and that is exactly what we see below it. Other gifts are also being presented, which shows how hard it is to isolate the intent without an inscription. We may have taken it as gifts in general.
The left hand side of the panel was only partly carved, and we do not know how they would have illustrated such a thing, but the inscription reads: nirupatapta-kāya-citta, not having an overheated body or mind.
128. One has the Society of Distinguished People
In this panel we rather unusually see just one result of the good deed of giving a parasol, as the inscription informs us, we will have: maheśākhya-samavadhāna, meetings with distinguished people.
A large pavilion is shown on which two wealthy men and their consorts sit together and enjoy the benefits of each other’s company. Signs of wealth abound. On the far right and left we see others who sit outside under the trees.
129. One becomes a Universal Monarch
Even if we didn’t have the inscription here, which reads Cakravarttī, Universal Monarch, we could infer it, or read it from the panel itself, which shows the elephant, jewel, horse and wheel on the right.
The lady with the halo is the queen, though the minister and treasurer do not seem to be shown. On the left we see the parasol. There are also the normal signs of wealth from fruiting trees to bags of money, and plentiful attendants.
130. Rebirth in Heaven
The inscription again reads svargga, heaven, as it did on 126. This time though the scene takes up the whole panel. On the left is one of the most elaborate wish-fulfilling trees we find at Borobudur, where they do in fact abound. Underneath are kinnaras and many money bags.
The main character is unfortunately incomplete and partially erased. He sits on a throne with his consort, and on right and left are the usual array of attendants, including one brahmin at bottom right.
Giving a Temple Bell
What are the ten advantages of giving a temple bell? It is said:  One becomes handsome.  One has a good voice.  One has pleasing speech.  One has speech like a cuckoo.  One has acceptable speech.  One always has causes for joy.  Again and again one hears sounds that are joyous.  One is reborn in heaven.  One has great wealth.  In a short while one attains final Nirvāṇa.
We have an interesting series of mismatches coming up between what the inscriptions clearly tell us was intended, and what we may have guessed working solely from the text(s). This shows how precarious we often are in our guesswork at what a particular scene represents at Borobudur, and cautions us to be careful in our assertions.
131. By Giving a Bell one has the Society of the Distinguished
The inscription on the right reads: ghaṇṭā, a bell, and that is what we see below. Five people have assembled and they are offering a bell and other gifts at a religious edifice.
The inscription on the left reads: maheśākhya-samavadhāna, meeting with the distinguished. This isn’t actually mentioned as a result in the Sanskrit text, or in any of the parallels we know of, but we have heard of this as a result of good deeds earlier.
132. A Universal Monarch
The inscription in the middle reads: Cakravarttī, Universal Monarch. and even without the inscription we can recognise the result portrayed easily enough as we see the horse, the elephant, the wheel, the jewel and the woman. Unfortunately once again this is not mentioned as a result in any of the texts.
The monarch sits with three consorts in a pavilion, the woman-jewel stands left of centre. We also see other signs of kingship, such as the parasol and the peacock-feather fan. Attendants and visitors sit nearby ready to oblige.
133. Pleasing Speech and Knowledge of Former Lives
There is no inscription to guide us to the scene on the right. It may have been some form of pleasing speech that was intended. But the scene is so similar to 131 that it may also have been another meeting with distinguished people.
On the left we do have an inscription, and I dare say we would never have known what it was meant to be without it. It reads pūrvābhijñā, deep knowledge of former (lives).
134. Great Wealth and Rebirth in Heaven
The last two results of giving a bell are in fact mentioned in our text. Above the relief on the right is written: bhogī,  one having wealth, and that is exactly what we see in the scene below, which has the usual array of signifiers.
Above the scene on the left is the word svargga,  heaven. Although we do see a great spreading tree, it is rather different from other scenes of heaven in which kinnaras sit near the tree. Here the central characters themselves sit under the tree, and we may not have known this was heaven without the inscription to guide us.
What are the ten virtues of giving clothes. It is said:  One has soft skin.  One has smooth skin.  Dust does not stick to the cloth on his body.  One is endowed with conscience and shame.  One is pleasant looking.  One has abundant clothing.  One receives clothes and spreadings that are delicate.  One has great wealth.  One is reborn in heaven.  In a short while one attains final Nirvāṇa.
135. By Giving Clothes one becomes Handsome
We can hardly make out what is being offered in the scene on the right, and might have guessed something else, but the inscription reads: vastra-dāna, giving clothes. A brahmin sits under a tree and a devotee kneels at his feet.
The inscription reads: prāsādika, handsome. It is synonymous with  priya-darśana, pleasant looking. We may not have guessed it though from the panel itself, as it looks more like a scene of great wealth.
136. Great Wealth
This is another result of giving clothes:  he has great wealth. There is no inscription, but that this is the normal portrait of a wealthy man means that we don’t really need one this time.
Parts of the panel are unfinished, it seems they were waiting for the tree carver to finish elsewhere. As with all of the Karma-vibhaṅga reliefs there is great balance in the composition.
137. Reborn in Heaven
The inscription reads svargga, heaven, which confirms what is clear to the eyes:  he is reborn in heaven. The wish-fulfilling trees (kalpa-taru) on far left and right, with their kinnaras, tell us that much anyway.
In the centre the main character sits inside a heavenly palace (vimāna) with three consorts, while around the usual batch of attendants wait to serve him.
What are the ten advantages of giving vessels? It is said:  One becomes a vessel for the Dharma.  One’s virtues are smooth and uninterrupted.  One does not have great thirst.  When suffering from thirst, water appears.  One is not reborn amongst the pretas.  One has a sufficiency of containers.  One has great wealth.  One is reborn in heaven.  In a short while one attains final Nirvāṇa.
139. By Giving Vessels one becomes a Vessel for Dharma
The inscription on the right, above the cause reads simply dāna, gift, and as we can see it is a gift if vessels in this case, although we may have taken it for a gift of whatever was in the vessels.
On the left the long inscription reads: kuśala-dharma-bhajana, he is  a vessel for the wholesome Dharma. I presume therefore that he is now a monk in his new life, and is bringing Dharma to the people who sit and reverentially listen to his teachings.
139. Great Wealth
There is an inscription here, but I can’t read it properly, it may say bhogī, wealthy man. In any case it seems the result being depicted here must be something like  having great wealth.
There are an unusual array of attendants in the relief, and as always the Borobudur sculptors really excelled as ensembles like this. The main character has four consorts and multiple bags of money under his couch.
140. Reborn in Heaven
The inscription reads svargga, heaven. On the right the man, his four consorts and bags of money looks very much like the previous panel.
It is not quite clear whether there is one or two scenes intended. In any case the left hand scene shows a very wealthy person standing in front of a temple and receiving gifts. His wife holds a giant lotus in the centre of the relief.
141. Giving Banners
The gift of banners is missing from the present Sanskrit texts, though it is found in the Chinese translations. As an inscription identifies the gift, we can be sure what was intended.
The inscription reads patākā, banners. Three men sit before a well-drawn temple and give gifts of banners, while others who are supporting them stand behind them.
On the left four more people sit under a tree who are also giving gifts, though it is not clear what they are offering.
142. Great Wealth
The result of giving banners in shown on this relief, which has the inscription adhyabhogī, great wealth. It is the usual scene with a man and his four consorts and bags of money.
To right and left his attendants line up to serve his every need, and as a further sign of his wealth and luxury.
143. Reborn in Heaven
Although there is no inscription we don’t really need one, as we can see the kalpa-taru (wish-fulfilling tree) and the kinnaras, and we know this is set in heaven (svargga).
A rather satisfied and rotund looking man sits with his consorts having an arm round one, and the other arm across the front of another. Signs of wealth abound.
What are the ten advantages of giving food? It is said:  One becomes strong.  One becomes beautiful.  One becomes happy.  One becomes intelligent.  One has long life.  One is visited by the populace.  One is pleasant looking.  One has great wealth.  One is reborn in heaven.  In a short while one attains final Nirvāṇa.
144. By Giving Food one becomes Handsome
Apparently the inscription above the right side of the panel reads: bhojana, and we can then identify the gifts as one of food and drinks.
On the left is the result. Being wealthy is probably presented later, so this might be  one becomes handsome. It could conceivably also be  one becomes happy.
145. One is visited by the Populace
There is no inscription, and the central characters are badly damaged, so it is hard to know for sure what is being shown in this relief. However, as there are many characters all sat at the same height it may be that one is  visited by the populace.
Four very different trees are shown, and on the far left and right we see the usual female attendants.
146. Great Wealth
Again we lack an inscription, but judging from other reliefs it is pretty clear that we again have someone reborn in a wealthy position and enjoying his new found riches.
He sits inside a pavilion with three consorts while around him sit and stand attendants and visitors. Underneath his pavilion are the signs of his wealth, though they are very plain, and perhaps unfinished.
147. Reborn in Heaven
The sculptors seemed to never tire even when asked to reproduce basically the same scene over and over again. There is an inscription reading svargga, heaven. So much is clear anyway by the kalpa-taru and the kinnaras.
On the left we see a splendid lotus pond and three trees behind it, and in the middle stands a temple. The man approaches it while seemingly leading his consorts by the hand.
What are the ten virtues of giving vehicles? It is said:  One has tender feet.  One stands firm on his feet.  One doesn’t get exhausted on the road.  One doesn’t have many enemies.  Again and again one attains the bases of success.  One has a sufficiency of vehicles, elephants and horses and so on.  One has great wealth.  One is reborn in heaven.  In a short while one attains final Nirvāṇa.
What are the ten virtues of giving drinks? It is said:  One is endowed with all the faculties.  Has a clear face.  A pure forehead.  Smooth skin.  One has agreeable speech.  One is never greatly thirsty.  When one is thirsty water appears.  One is not reborn amongst the pretas.  One has great wealth.  One is reborn in heaven.  In a short while one attains final Nirvāṇa.
148. By Giving Drinks one has Great Wealth
On the right we see two very sage looking characters sat on a pedestal while devotees come forward to give them drinks. The inscription reads pānaka, drinks.
On the left is the usual result. A wealthy man sits surrounded by beautiful consorts and attended on by many servants. Parts of this scene are unfinished.
149. Reborn in Heaven
The two most common illustrations of rewards for giving are great wealth and rebirth in heaven, and here again we see a heavenly scene. On the far left is the wish-fulfilling tree, the kinnaras and the money bags.
In front of that there is a music and dancing scene. They are entertaining the man who has done good deeds, as he sits in relaxed posture with two of his consorts, next to his vimāna, or heavenly palace.
This is another donation that is not recorded in the Sanskrit text, but the inscription makes it clear that this was one of the gifts included in the text before the builders at Borobudur.
150. By Giving Sandals one has Enough Vehicles
On the right we see a group of people approach and make donations of sandals to the two distinguished looking sages sitting inside the pavilion. The inscription reads: upānaṭ, sandals.
The result is that he has enough vehicles, as we can see from the relief on the left. He is being carried on a litter, and further there is a horse and an elephant. The inscription Lévi reads as vāhanāvaikalya, a sufficiency of vehicles.
151. Great Wealth
The two sections that are unfinished are a tree on the left and a vimāna on centre-right. The tree does not look like kalpa-taru to me, and therefore I think we must identify this as a scene of great wealth.
A man sits with his consorts as usual, one of whom is dressing her hair, unusually. One attendant sits near the heavenly mansion and plays a lute. Guards sit under the dais and guard his wealth. While many others stand and sit under the tree.
Giving Loose Flowers
What are the ten virtues of giving loose flowers? It is said:  One becomes like a flower to the world.  The faculty of smell is purified.  Bad odour of the body disappears.  Good odour appears.  The sweet fame of one’s virtue blows in all ten directions.  One is sought out by others.  One receives all desirable things.  One has great wealth.  One is reborn in heaven.  In a short while one attains final Nirvāṇa.
152. By Giving Loose Flowers one is Reborn in Heaven
Giving loose flowers comes after the next paragraph, giving garlands in the Sanskrit text, so clearly there were many variations towards the end of the text the sculptors knew.
The scene is simple: on the right a couple of men approach with loose flowers collected on a dish and present it at a temple. The inscription reads: puṣpa-dāna, gift of flowers. On the left the inscription reads svargga, heaven. If it wasn’t for the inscription it would have appeared to be rebirth in a family of great wealth. The main character has two consorts, bags of riches and attendants.
What are the ten virtues of giving garlands? It is said:  One becomes like a garland to the world.  Bad odour of the body disappears.  Good odour appears.  There is always a pleasant smell and ornaments.  One’s following is undivided.  One is dear to all people.  One has great wealth.  One is reborn in heaven.  In a short while one attains final Nirvāṇa.
153. By Giving Garlands one has Great Wealth
According to Lévi there is an inscription somewhere on this panel reading gandha, incense. I cannot see it myself. If so, it means it is displaced, as the gift is of garlands, that are being given to brahmins.
The result is shown on two scenes in the centre and on the left. The first is the usual great wealth scene: three consorts this time, bags of money and attendants. Again I cannot see it, but there is an inscription reading svargga, heaven above the scene on the far left.
What are the ten virtues of giving incense? It is said:  One becomes like incense to the world.  One’s faculty of smell is purified.  Bad odour of the body disappears.  Good odour appears.  The sweet fame of one’s virtue blows in all ten directions.  One is sought out by others.  One receives all desirable things.  One has great wealth.  One is reborn in heaven.  In a short while one attains final Nirvāṇa.
154. By Giving Incense one has Great Wealth
The giving of incense, which is shown here, and of lights, which is shown next, occur in reverse order in the Sanskrit text. Again we have a displaced inscription, which reads: mālā-dāna, a gift of garlands. Fontein suggest the sculptors, or their supervisors, changed the order for some reason, and this does seem to be the case.
On the right we see the presentation of what is probably incense. In the middle there is an inscription, bhogī, a wealthy person, and we also see the normal things that accompany this result. On the far left the inscription reads svargga, heaven, and that is what we see.
What are the ten virtues of giving lights? It is said:  One becomes like a light to the world.  The worldly eye disappears.  The divine eye appears.  The blindness of ignorance is destroyed.  Knowledge of the world arises.  One quickly understands with wisdom what is wholesome and unwholesome.  There is no blind ignorance regarding the running on of the round of births and deaths.  One has great wealth.  One is reborn in heaven.  In a short while one attains final Nirvāṇa.
155. By Giving Lights one is Reborn in Heaven
We have a most beautifully decorated temple in the middle of this relief with very fine detail. On the right we see people have approached and are offering lights.
On the right we see the wish-fulfilling tree, the kinnaras and the bags of money, which indicate that the donor has been reborn in heaven. There are no inscriptions.
What are ten advantages of giving seats? It is said:  One stands firmly in the world.  One is pleasant looking.  One is amiable.  One is visited by wise people.  One’s fame and renown increase in the world.  One has much happiness and satisfaction.  One delights in his own country.  One has a sufficiency of seats.  One has a sufficiency of servants.  One has great wealth.  One is reborn in heaven.  In a short while one attains final Nirvāṇa.
156. By Giving Seats one has Great Wealth
According to Krom – and following him, Fontein – this is a giving of a seat. If that is so, then the paragraph in the Sanskrit text is very much out of place, as it occurred before the giving of vessels above.
The results are, in the centre, rebirth in a wealthy family, with all the usual signs thereof; and on the left rebirth in heaven, though in fact it looks like another great wealth scene.
157. By Giving Reverence one has Great Wealth
The inscription reads: añjali, reverence. Paying reverence at caityas was mentioned at the beginning of this section but that is not what is illustrated here, so this is perhaps a general scene of paying respects to someone worthy, perhaps a Bodhisattva, who is holding the flower.
The result is illustrated in the centre, where we see the usual signs of wealth; and on the left, which would be a heavenly scene, as is indicated by the ladies holding the stick zithers.
What are the ten virtues of giving refuge? It is said:  One becomes king of the district.  One becomes king of the province.  One becomes king and lord of Jambudvīpa.  One becomes king and lord of two continents.  One becomes king and lord of three continents.  One becomes king, lord and Universal Monarch of four continents.  One has great wealth.  One is reborn in heaven.  In a short while one attains final Nirvāṇa.
158. By Giving Refuge one becomes a King
Again this paragraph is out of place from the Sanskrit text, where it occurs before the giving of drinks. It appears the refuge in this case is being given in a temple, and we see several people huddled up under the main building.
The result on the left in this unfinished relief is that of kingship. It looks very similar to the great wealth scenes we have seen so many of, and they may even have been thought of as synonymous in many ways.
159. A Universal Monarch
Another result of giving refuge is illustrated in this penultimate panel: one becomes a universal monarch. On the far right we see the elephant and the horse jewels. On the left we see the wheel, and standing alongside the monarch is the woman-jewel.
The throne is very unusual as it shows a recess for the pendant leg, which I don’t remember seeing anywhere else at Borobudur. The foot then rests on a cushion.
What are the ten virtues of going forth? It is said:  One doesn’t crave for wealth, daughters, wife or sons.  One is not possessed by sensual pleasures.  One gains joy by living in the wilderness.  One associates with the way of the Buddha.  One avoids the way of fools.  One avoids things which lead to a bad rebirth.  One associates with things that lead to a good rebirth.  The devas envy him.  One always gains the going forth in the word of the Fortunate One.
Living in Wilderness
What are the ten virtues of living in the wilderness? It is said:  One avoids society.  One associates with seclusion.  One’s mind achieves concentration.  One doesn’t have a lot of work to be done.  One has mindfulness of the Buddha.  One doesn’t abandon bodily joy, happiness and satisfaction.  One has no obstacles.  One achieves concentration with agility in the spiritual life.  Every word and syllable one recites is remembered.  Just as one has heard, one knows every detail and meaning of things.
Living on Alms food
What are the ten virtues of living on alms food? It is said:  One acquires a walking path.  One pounds his resort.  One’s pride is lowered.  One urges oneself on with gains.  One sets up the merit of others.  One expounds the Teacher’s dispensation.  One makes the way shine forth for the next generation.  One does no harm to his fellows in the spiritual life.  One establishes humility in the mind.  The monk who has a mind set on alms is able to go in all directions without adversity.
160. Going-Forth leads to Rebirth in Heaven
The last of the panels in the hidden base at Borobudur shows four monks meditating in the wilderness. The cause here appears to have been shown, for the only time, on the left.
The result is not mentioned in the Sanskrit text in any of the results related to renunciation, but it is clearly rebirth in heaven, as we see from the wish-fulfilling tree and the kinnaras. On the far right we see someone sat with his two consorts, and the attendants line up once again to serve him.
The last of the paragraphs in the text does not, for once list causes and results, but ten confidences. Although we know of the four confidences of the Buddha, these concern monastics, and as far as I know this list only occurs in this text.
There are ten confidences. What are the ten? It is said:  One is confident when entering the village.  One is confident when leaving the village.  One is confident when making use of his alms food.  One is confident when teaching Dharma in the assembly  One is confident when entering into the midst of the Sangha.  One is confident when approaching his teacher and preceptor.  One is confident when teaching his students with loving-kindness.  One is confident when making use of the requisites of robes, alms food, dwellings and medicine for support when sick.  One’s speech is readily accepted.
Health and Wealth
Photographs by Anandajoti Bhikkhu
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