The Stone Sculptures in the Ānanda Temple at Pagan
high-definition creative commons photographs from Bagan, Myanmar, showing the architecture, statues and terracotta reliefs in this famous temple, together with a floor plan and further information.
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Editor: What follows is a transcription of an essay written by Duroiselle in 1917 and published in the Archaeological Survey of India’s Annual Report 1913-14. Duroiselle had limited space and did not reproduce about 20 of the 80 photographs of the Life of the Buddha scenes, but here I have included them all and adjusted the text to reflect this.
Duroiselle chose to use mainly Sanskrit forms for the names, etc. when writing this essay. It is noticeable, however, that from around Fig 39 onwards the author uses many more Pāḷi forms of the names, as though this section was written at a different time. My own view is that he should have been using Pāḷi all the way through, as the story follows the Pāḷi traditions, but for some reason he chose to mainly use Sanskrit.
For the final section Duroiselle had printed photographs I do not have access to, so I have included some others to illustrate the scenes described, where I could find them. I have occasionally edited the text for consistency, and italicised foreign words; and have included some notes where necessary – Ānandajoti
The Ānanda Temple
Many and valuable as are the works on Indian Art which have appeared in recent years, it is a surprising fact that practically no mention is made in any of them of the intimately connected art of Burma. This neglect of so important a branch of the subject is due not so much to geographical consideration as to the fact that no materials, except a few bas-reliefs on terracotta, have yet been made available for the study of Burmese Art. See Taw Sein Ko’s “The plaques found at the Petleik Pagoda Pagan,” Report of the Archaeological Survey, India, 1905, pp. 127 ff; Chas. Duroiselle’s “Pictorial illustration of the Jātakas in Burma,” ibid, 1912-1913, p. 87. A few Mōn terracotta plaques in Temple’s “Antiquities of Rāmaññadesa” and in “Bulletin de l’Ecole Française de l’Extréme-Orient,” 1911, pp. 1 ff. In order to fill this want it is now proposed to publish a series of preliminary studies on the several branches of fine art in Burma, which it is hoped, will help to determine in each case the probable origin of the works discussed, to appraise their artistic value, and to trace out the influences under which they have been evolved. Subsequently, these studies will pave the way for a more complete and comprehensive history of the whole subject – a history which cannot be essayed with an approach to success until the ground has been cleared by systematic spade work of this kind. The present paper is the first of the projected series, and I have chosen the stone sculptures in the Ānanda temple at Pagan not because they come first in chronological sequence (for they are all of the late medieval period) but because I happened to have at my disposal a set of photographs to illustrate them which I was able to supplement and complete without undue loss of time.
The Ānanda temple, in its dazzling garb of white and with its gilt spire glittering in the morning sun, is the first of the great temples to arrest attention and excite the wonder of the visitor as he draws near the ruined city of Pagan, the old Buddhist metropolis of Indo-China. It is situated about two hundred yards outside and to the east of the city walls, which are now rapidly crumbling to decay. As it is the most venerated and the most frequented of all the temples of Pagan, so also it is one of the very few which have been in continuous occupation as places of worship from the day of their erection. The reason of its popularity among the faithful is not far to seek; for apart from its imposing proportions and the beauty of its architectural design, it possesses a singular attraction in the stone sculptures, Dr. E. Forchhammer, who was the first professor of Pali at the Rangoon Government College noticed, in his too little known Report the interesting and important stone and rock-cut images of Arakan; but unfortunately he merely mentions them, and the photographs he gives of some are very inferior. At Thaton, Vaishnavaite and Mahāyānist sculptures have also been discovered, which most probably antedate the 11th century A.D.; they are among the best I have seen in Burma. Other sculptures again have been found at Sarekkhettara or Old Prome. The Mareura of Ptolemy, which are probably the most ancient in Burma excepting perhaps a few from Arakan. Sir John Marshall, who has examined them is of [the] opinion that they belong to the Gupta school, and are not later than about the fifth century. Further excavations will probably bring more to light, in Arakan, Thaton and Prome. It may be noticed here that Tagaung mentioned in Ptolemy’s Geography and one of the oldest cities in Burma, colonised by Indians from the North, has practically not been explored, and might yield most interesting finds. illustrating the career of the Buddha, which ornament one of its corridors, and which vividly recall to the mind of the devout visitor, better than any sermon or any book could do, the principal events in the life of the Master. Thanks to its uninterrupted use, tradition and the chronicles have preserved to us in the case of the Ānanda more abundant historical facts than in the case of the majority of the other temples of the same period at Pagan. Many of these facts, it is true, are overgrown by fantastic fables such as emanate only from the exuberant fancy of Oriental nations; but in this case it is not difficult to sift the true from the false. Moreover, evidence from lithic records, though very meagre, corroborates to a great extent the facts which tradition has handed down in the form of legend or of fable.
Setting aside the stories of divine help given by Śakra, Viśvakarma, the four Mahālokapālas and even Sarasvati in the building of this structure – the history of the Ānanda, reduced to its simplest form, is as follows. Some Buddhist monks, who were Arhats, came from India to Pagan, whether on a visit or to settle there is not certain, though in view of the rapid decline of Buddhism in India at that time and the growing fame of Pagan as a great Buddhist centre, the latter surmise is the more probable. The then king of Pagan, Kyanzittha (1084-1112 A.D.) happened to see them while they were begging for alms and, being struck with their deportment, fed them, and enquired whence they had come. They answered that they came from India, where they lived in a cave on the slopes of the Nandamūla Hill. The king then asked them to give him a description and plan of their cave-monastery. This they did, and Kyanzittha struck with admiration for its design, conceived the idea of building a temple which, if not planned on exactly the same lines, would, at any rate, reproduce the general features and arrangements of the Nandamūla Cave. And so it was that the splendid Ānanda temple came to be erected. There is no reason to doubt the statement of the coming over of these Buddhist monks from India; for it is a well-established fact that at that period, and indeed for at least the two centuries previously, there was between Pagan and Northern, Central and South-Eastern India, a very active intercourse, both religious and commercial. The Ānanda temple itself is a striking witness to this, and the evidence of the sculptures in its corridors is irrefutable.
Written sources as well as tradition agree that it was completed and consecrated in 1090 A.D. There is no epigraph exactly corroborating this date, which is probably based on some contemporary record that has since disappeared. Nor, indeed, has any inscription at all been found in the Ānanda – a fact which is all the more remarkable seeing that Kyanzittha, who erected this famous edifice, appears to have been exceptionally fond of recording contemporary events on stone. On the other hand, it seems likely that the Ānanda Pagoda is referred to in some Mōn Editor: At the time of writing Duroiselle used the word Talaing for the Mōn people. As that term is now considered derogatory, I have replaced it with Mōn throughout. inscriptions that were discovered near Pagan and which record the consecration of a great religious foundation. Following Mr. Blagden’s précis of these epigraphs, Mr. Taw Sein Ko writes in his provincial Report for 1912, page 14: “The Mōn epigraphs numbered 1, 2, 6 and 7 record a great function – the consecration and dedication of a great religious building. The function lasted a number of days, and the precise moments of time, when particular objects were treated in particular ways, are carefully recorded by Nadi (and sometimes Pat), occasionally the weekday, Nakṣatra, Lagna and month being also given. Kyanzittha is mentioned by name (Tribhuvanāditya-dhammarājā) as the king, who presides in person over this great ceremonial. He arrives riding on an elephant, and the Brahmin astrologers, Buddhist monks and the rest attend on him and carry out their several duties under his personal supervision. The sacred white elephant (who has a long name beginning with Erawan) is also present, fully caparisoned with every kind of ornamental trappings, which is gilt and adorned with gems of various kinds, and there is also a riding horse with trappings similarly gilt and jewelled. It is noteworthy that, within the precincts of the Ānanda Pagoda, no inscription, either in the Burmese or Mōn character, has been found in situ. The ceremonial described in the Mōn epigraphs can refer to no other building but the Ānanda Pagoda at Pagan, whose architectural beauty and collection of sculptures and terracotta tablets bearing Mōn legends constitute one of the chief glories of the undivided rule of Kyanzittha over the Burmans of the Upper reaches of the Irrawaddy and the Mōns of the Delta. According to a Burmese oral tradition, when the Ānanda Pagoda was completed, Kyanzittha inspected it riding on a white elephant and he had the architect put to death lest any similar edifice should be erected by any of his successors.” This trait shows well how far the spirit of Buddhism had penetrated the Burmese mind and habits.
In the epigraphs themselves the name of the building which was the object of this great ceremony is not mentioned, but I cannot but agree with Mr. Taw Sein Ko’s concluding remarks that the building could be none else but the Ānanda, my reason being that this temple was not only the first and the greatest erected by Kyanzittha after his accession to the throne, but that, of the other great monuments, some had already been consecrated many years before and the rest were built by his successors. While the only other religious foundations of Kyanzittha himself are comparatively small and insignificant and would not call for such an elaborate and magnificent ceremony as here shortly described. Moreover, the fact that Kyanzittha came to the Ānanda on a white elephant to consecrate it is not only, as stated in the above extract, an oral tradition, but is found in the history of the Ānanda written in Burmese, as well as in some old ballads found in palm-leaf manuscripts. Mr. Blagden does not, unfortunately, mention the date of the epigraphs; which would settle definitively the date of this temple. But there are no reasons to doubt the traditional date of 1090 A.D. which, moreover, seems to fit in well with subsequent events recorded in the chronicles, and in the course of which this temple is mentioned. This gives us the approximate date of the sculptures which are described further on.
Several derivations of the name ‘Ānanda’ have been given. Henry Yule, quoting a note sent him by Colonel Phayre, thinks that the Nandamu or Nandamūla, the hill in which was the cave-dwelling of the monks who supplied the plan of the building, is most probably the Nandadevī peak in the Himalaya regions, and that “the term Ānanda, by which the temple is now known is a corruption, arising from the name of Ānanda, the cousin and favourite disciple of Gotama, being so well known to the people.” Yule’s “Mission to the Court of Ava in 1865,” p. 36 Phayre gives another origin, for the name, deriving it from the Sanskrit Ananta, which means ‘The Endless’, and which seems to be supported by the fact that another great temple close at hand is called Thapinyu ‘The Omniscient.’ Ibid. Both these derivations are plausible; the former particularly so, inasmuch as the monks are said to have come from the Himalaya regions. Moreover, the Ānanda temple is sometimes in contradistinction to another smaller but older edifice, called the “NandāNgnê,’’ the Small Nanda; the other, being older, is called the “Nandā-Gyī” or the Older Nanda. Originally, however, there may have been no connection between the two, and their distinguishing epithets of ‘Small’ and ‘Elder’ may well have been due to the very close similarity of the names Nanda and Ānanda. The other derivation from ‘Ananta’, recalls at once to mind the famous Ananta Cave in the Udayagiri Hills, in Orissa, and suggest that it may have been from this place that the monks came. The historical legend, it is true, says that they came from the Himalayas, but it adds that they came flying through the air, an accomplishment common to all Arhats, whose abode, when not residing among men, is in the Himalayas, that fairyland of the old Indians. If they came flying, they could not, according to Burmese idea, but have come from there; and being Arhats, they would certainly not employ any other mode of locomotion to cover so great a distance. The Himalayas have probably been pitched upon simply because they are the traditional abode of Arhats and devas and of all fabled beings, and to bring the whole story into harmony with popular preconceived ideas.
It is true that the name ‘Nandamūla’ still remains; but is it the Nandadevī peak? The similarity of names is indeed striking; but this very similarity has not seldom, as Orientalists well know, proved a snare; and the equation Nandamūla=Nandadevī may be nothing more than a mere guess; a guess which, after all, is not without plausibility, if the legend, and the legend alone, be considered. Moreover, the date when this edifying legend was created and became, in the popular mind, inextricably mixed up with sober historical fact, is not known; but it must have arisen some considerable time after the foundation of the temple, as is always the case in legendary lore. If, on the other hand, we examine the monument and, above all, its stone sculptures, the inevitable conclusion forces itself upon us that the strongest influence it betrays comes from Southern, Eastern, Central and Northern India. Orissan influence, though far from being alone yet has left its mark in Pagan; the Ānanda itself bears some signs of it, and its sculptures show no less traces of it. If these influences, preserved to us in stone and brick are taken into consideration, the proposition, that the archetype of the Ānanda temple should be looked for in the Ananta Cave of the Udayagiri Hills, rather than in the remote Himalayas, will not, I think, seem too far-fetched. This does not naturally imply that this temple was built on the plan of the Ananta Cave; this would be a difficult thing to accomplish; but there can be little doubt that the Ānanda and the other temples at Pagan in the same style are imitations of the cave-temples of India; they resemble vast masses of bricks in which the corridors, pillars and mysteriously lit recesses of the chapels have been hewn out; in fact, buildings of this kind are practically considered as caves by the peoples, who often describe them as kū. (=gū from Pāli guhā, a cave); and this very word is a member of the compound word which forms the name of some of them.
The Ānanda stands unique in the whole of Burma for its lavish ornamentation, the most striking feature of which is the crowd of terracotta bas-reliefs and stone sculptures. In plan it is a square of about two hundred feet on each side with, on each face, a gabled projecting portico, which gives to the whole the form of a Greek cross. The lower square mass or basement of the building, is surmounted by several terraces successively set back and diminishing, and on the last of which the Śikhara rears itself surmounted by the finial crowned by the hti. The basement as well as the terraces are ornamented with glazed terracotta tiles. The plaques of the basement represent the principal phases of the Buddha’s attainment of Omniscience. Drawing an imaginary line in the middle of the building, through the northern and southern entrances, the plaques on the west represent the hosts of Māra assailing the Buddha, and those on the south his glorification by the gods after his victory, each plaque being explained by a short legend in Mōn. I hope soon to be able to publish a selection from these plaques. The tiles around the next story illustrate the 537 shorter Jātakas, each of which is numbered and the title in Pāli given. But the most interesting, and unique feature which, so far as I am aware, is found only at the Ānanda, is the splendid series of nearly four hundred bas-reliefs illustrating the last Ten Great Jātakas, there being an average of 38 to 40 plaques to each Jātaka story; each scene is explained by a legend in Mōn of the 11th century. The decipherment of these interesting plaques has already been begun. This beautiful collection ornaments the upper terraces. From the basement to the uppermost terrace, the number of these bas-reliefs is 1,472.
The visitor, on entering into this imposing building, might almost fancy himself to be in a cave hewn out of the slope of a hill; for the sun never penetrates within, and the subdued light skilfully admitted from without strengthens this impression. The interior of the temple is divided by two narrow corridors running parallel to each other and connected by still narrower passages in front of the windows; it is through these passages that the soft light is admitted; they are further intersected by other somewhat larger passages to which access is obtained at the projecting porticoes. This intersection of passages and corridors gives the impression that the superstructure rests upon enormous pillars. At the end of these latter four passages, directly opposite each portico, is a niche lighted from above in which is a colossal standing figure about thirty feet in height; these four figures represent the four Buddhas who have already made their appearance in this bhadrakalpa. Yule, in his Mission to the Court of Ava, in a footnote to page 39, refers to Cunningham’s “The Bhilsa Topes,” p. 191 and remarks that, in the Ānanda as well as in No. 1 Tope at Sāñchī, the Buddha to the north is Sākya Siṁha, that is, Buddha Gotama. What may have induced Yule to think so is that the principal entrance to the temple is now on the north; it does not seem to have struck him that this entrance faces directly the village of Pagan and was naturally chosen by the villagers because it is the most direct and shortest way; it is also the side of the temple to which one arrives when coming from Nyaung-Ū, where the steamers stop, five miles away. But when the old city of Pagan was at its zenith some seven hundred years ago, it was not the northern but the western gate that was the principal one. The reason for this was that this gate faces not only the old city near by, but also the holy hill, known as Tan-Kyi Hill, on the other side of the river, and on which the Buddha stopped (tan) and looked (kyi) towards the spot whereon, many centuries later, the great city was to be built, and gave a prediction to that effect. Sākya Siṁha, the Buddha Gotama, is consequently on the west and not on the north; this is further indicated by the image being flanked by the statues of King Kyanzittha, the founder of the temple and of the Mōn monk Shin Arahan, the apostle of Southern Buddhism at Pagan; both lived during the dispensation of Gotama, and to have placed them beside a previous Buddha would have been meaningless. These four Buddhas have to be identified by beginning at the north and turning on the manner of the pradakṣiṇā: north, Kakusandha; east Koṇāgamana; south, Kassapa and west, Gotama. The Ānanda is not the only temple in which the principal entrance faces west. About two hundred yards to the north-west of it are three small temples, about twenty yards apart, in each of which the only Buddha image at the principal gate faces west; another, near the Mi-ma-laung Kyaung near by also looks west. It is the same also with another very interesting old temple at Ywāthā, eight miles away from Pagan, and known as the “Chin Paya.” The enormous pile of bricks in the face of which the niches have been cut occupies the exact centre of the temple and is immediately under the upper terraces supporting the Śikhara.
It is in the first corridor, the one formed by the outer and the inner walls, that are found the stone sculptures illustrating the principal events in the Buddha’s career until his attainment of the bodhi. The side of this corridor further from the central pile of the building and which therefore is the inner face of the outer wall, is divided into two parts by a frieze running all round the building; it is in the space below this frieze that these sculptures are found; they are placed in two rows of niches, forty in each row; the stones have an average height of 3' 10" and the figures in the groups sculptured on them vary from three feet to four inches in height, the less important personages being always smaller than the others.
The succession of scenes follows the pradakṣiṇā; the series begins with the request of the gods in the Tuṣita heaven asking the Bodhisattva to be reborn in his very last existence and to become the Buddha. This is placed at the beginning of the lower row as one enters the temple by the western portico and turns to the left into the first corridor. In this position, the visitor has the sculptures to his left, and the Buddhas in the niches of the central pile to his right; thus getting at first the impression that he is not turning to his right, in the direction of the pradakṣiṇā, but rather, to his left, in the direction of the prasavya. A very interesting paper on this ancient and almost universal practice, with a great many useful resources is found in Goblet d’Alviella’s “Croyances, Rites, Institutions,” Vol. I, Hiérographie p. 1 ff. Roues magiques et circumambulations.
But these are not the only sculptures, for the walls of both corridors are honeycombed with numerous small niches in which are Buddha figures, either seated or standing, in various attitudes. Besides these, in each of the four porticoes are sixteen other sculptures, mostly repeating themselves, but among which are a few interesting scenes, such as the Pālileyya incident, the descent from the Trayastriṁśa heaven, the subjection of the Nālāgiri elephant, etc., which will be explained in their proper place. All these – in the corridors and the porticoes – properly belong to the last existence of the Master. In the small vaulted passages facing the windows and which intersect the two corridors, are also found more stone sculptures, four in each passage; they are smaller than the other, the height of the stones being only one and a half feet. These belong mostly to the dūrenidāna cycle and illustrate some of the anterior lives of the Buddha, that is the jātakas. Some of these niches, eighty in number, are empty; others contain a seated or standing Buddha. On the whole, probably not more than about half this number, perhaps even somewhat less, illustrate scenes from the jātakas, for most of the niches are filled with Buddhas. Of those that are left, about fifteen, the majority cannot be identified easily, for they represent personages so very common in those stories – a king and an ascetic, for example, form a frequent group – without anything else to help identification, that it is impossible to refer them with any certainty to any particular birth-story. But perhaps the two most important of all these numerous figures, are the likeness, in stone, of King Kyanzittha and of Shin Arahan, a Mōn Buddhist monk, and the great apostle of Upper Burma, who did much to implant and strengthen Hīnayānism of the Mahāvihāra School of Ceylon in Pagan.
The numerous Buddhas, large and small (there are about 1420), which adorn the corridors and passages, are not invested with any special interest; they are all, though in different attitudes, of the same type, and do not call for any particular remarks. But the other sculptures are interesting in some particulars and before describing and explaining them, I shall offer a few general remarks on some of their details.
A glance at the accompanying plates will show that these sculptures are late medieval and that they were executed by Indian artists, possibly imported for this purpose. Medieval characteristics are clearly stamped on them, and cannot escape even the superficial observer. What strikes one most at first sight is the rigid conventionality apparent in almost all of them. All the personages, excepting a few are cast in the same mould and are standing or seated in a very few conventional attitudes, the iteration of which as one walks along the corridor, becomes monotonous. It is clear that the artists did not display any originality of their own or try and infuse life and naturalness into those stiff and uncompromising actors in the great Buddhist drama; they merely copied conventional forms and attitudes such as they had been familiarized with in India and which had become rigidly stereotyped since the seventh or eighth century.
That the sculptors who worked at the Ānanda were of an inferior order and not artists in the higher sense of the word is manifest from their lack of originality and inspiration and from their slavish imitation and endless repetitions as well as from the poorness of their technique. On the other hand they were good copyists and evince a great amount of skill in the details. According to the ancient Indian formula, all the limbs are perfectly smooth, and there is no attempt to represent any of the muscles of the arms and legs; in this they were merely following the conventions of the Schools in which they had been trained, and this does not indicate a real lack of ability in working the details; this will be apparent on examining the elaborate ways of dressing the hair, the head-gear and the ornaments shown in [Figs 18-34], Editor: The original publication referred to Plates XXXIII & XXXIV, which is meaningless here. Where necessary I have replaced these references with references to the figures shown, or removed them altogether leaving only the reference to the figure. and the decorative designs of the thrones and temples found in almost every one of these sculptures. The general expression of the countenance is one of dispassionate calmness and impassiveness, but in some figures the delicately formed nose and lips show a high degree of skilful workmanship, and happily relieve the monotonous uniformity of grave and ascetic expression.
It is by thus attending with care to the details that the artists have to a certain degree redeemed their want of originality; but their work is almost entirely devoid of imagination. The principal personages of a scene, such as the Buddha, a Bodhisattva or a king, were in India often represented seated on a cloth or carpet spread over the seat. Our artists naturally were acquainted with this detail (see figure 1), but, in their anxiety to introduce decorations everywhere, they spread the carpet where we would the least expect it; for instance (figure 26) under the feet of the Bodhisattva’s horses when taking a drive to his pleasance, and of his steed Kanthaka, when riding forth into the moonlight night; again we see the same carpet (figure 49) in the jungle near Bodh-gayā, when the Buddha accepts the eight handfuls of grass from the grass-cutter.
Another detail of great frequency which shows the lack of artistic discrimination of these sculptors, is the often occurring temple or palace in the background of the scenes, principally behind the Buddha. We meet with it in the most extraordinary places; for example, on the bank of the river Anomā when the Bodhisattva, cuts off his hair, and then throws it into the air (figures 37, 38), when Ghaṭika brings him the ascetic garb, and when he takes leave of the faithful Channa (figures 39, 40). A few trees in the background would, in these scenes, have located the events in their proper surrounding; but the artists do not seem to have thought of this very simple and appropriate device and the result is an incongruous unreality. But it may also be perhaps that they had in mind, for two of these scenes – the throwing up of the hair and the farewell to Channa – the shrines which are said to have been built in commemoration of the events they picture: The Receiving-of-the-hair shrine (Cūḍā-pratigrahaṇa Caitya) and the Return-of-Channa shrine (Chandaka-nivartana Caitya); but this is not probable, seeing that they have also placed palaces at temples in other scenes when their presence is in no way needed.
The above reflections do not detract from the real worth and merits of these sculptures which, after all, are not much worse than the majority of late medieval works. That these artists could raise themselves, had they so wished, above the general level of artistic skill displayed in the Ānanda sculptures is evident from figure 1, figure 12, and a few others, but above all, from the two statues, made from the life, of King Kyanzittha, and of the Apostle of Upper Burma, Shin Arahan (figures 57, 58) which will be described further on. These two figures, notably that of the king, evidence no little mastery in the art of statuary.
Description of Scenes
The scenes which are in the corridor are connected solely with the Bodhisattva’s progress to supreme Illumination, from the request of the gods in the Tuṣita heaven to the attainment of the bodhi at Bodh-gayā; the very few scenes illustrating events that took place after the Illumination are found within the porticoes. Unfortunately the corridor in which they are set, is narrow, affording barely room enough for standing the camera at a suitable distance and the stones themselves ensconced in deep and dark niches have been covered with coat after coat of red lacquer paint and gold leaf – all of which makes it singularly difficult to obtain good photos of the sculptures.
When speaking of the lack of imagination of our sculptors, I might have added that it is further evidenced by the frequent repetition of the same scene to illustrate different events. This repetition has enabled me to discard some twenty photographs or more [in the original publication], the reproduction of which would have been superfluous [they are included in this online publication as we no longer have space restrictions]. These discarded scenes will be briefly touched upon in the course of the explanations. The succession of the events is based on the Nidānakathā. The preface to the Jātaka, Fausböll, Vol I, pp. 47-77. The Nidānakathā has been translated by Rhys Davids in his “Buddhist Birth Stories.”
Fig. 1 The Request of the Gods in the Tuṣita Heaven
To make the comprehension of the sculptures more easy to the pious visitors, a devout Buddhist had, some ten years ago, a short explanation of each, in Burmese verse, painted on wooden boards which were placed in the first row above, and in the second row below, the scenes represented (40 of these can be found here). In the main, the events are rightly described; and indeed it would have been difficult to make a mistake; for the majority of the pictures speak for themselves. The very first scene, however, has been mistaken by the writer of these explanations. We are told that the principal figure is King Śuddhodana, the Buddha’s father, seated in his palace at Kapilavastu, and flanked, on his right by Mahāmāyā and on his left by Mahāprajāpatī her sister. This is supposed to be just before Māyā’s dream; but, if this were the case, it would amount to nothing more than a meaningless family scene for the purpose of formally presenting to the visitor the Buddha’s father, his mother and his foster-Mother just before the Āṣāḍha (P. Āsāḷha) festival. In reality what we have before us is the Bodhisattva Śvetaketu giving, in the Tuṣita heaven, his consent to the request of the devas that he should now be reborn on earth and become at last the Buddha. The two figures flanking him represent the innumerable heavenly hosts in the act of presenting their request.
From the position of the Bodhisattva’s hands it is evident that he is speaking and granting a request or boon, his right hand being in the vara-mudrā; had he been meditating, he would have been represented in the dhyāna-mudrā; or had he been preaching, in the dharmacakra- or vitarka-mudrā. That the Bodhisattva should have been mistaken for King Śuddhodana is easy to understand, when it is borne in mind that neither the attitude in which be is sitting (mahārāja-līlā) nor his dress, give any clue as to his identity; for both are common to Bodhisattvas, gods and kings, and in fact, as is well known, a king in India, as in Indo-China, was little less than a god in the estimation of the people.
It will be remarked that the personages in their attire, headgear and cast of countenance are altogether Indian; this is the case with all the other sculptures, and is readily comprehensible, if they were executed by artists from India. Had the Burmese had anything to do with them, the faces would have had a strong Mongolian cast, with high cheek-bones and slanting eyes. The mansion of the Bodhisattva is remarkable; it is evidently a wooden building, with superimposed roofs curving up at the ends. This style of construction with multiple roofs was, as far as has been ascertained, unknown in Southern, Eastern and Central India; but it was familiar in Nepal, as well as in Burma. In the Inner country monasteries are still built in the same style, and so were the palaces, pavilions and the residences of certain high officials up to the annexation of Upper Burma by the British in 1885.
For other characteristic models see figure 6; figure 16; also figures 18, 19. Such buildings, as they appear in the Ānanda sculptures, are the only typically Burmese features and were no doubt copied by the sculptors from the models they had before their eyes in the city. This style is seen also in numerous terracotta bas-reliefs of the same period (end of 11th century A.D.), illustrating the jātakas, which ornament the terraces of the Maṅgalazedi (Maṅgalacetiya) and Shwezigon pagodas as well as the Ānanda temple; and these were not made by Indians, but by Mōns or by the Burmese See “Pictorial Illustration of the Jātakas in Burma” in Report of the Archaeological Survey, India, for the year 1912-13. under the supervision of the latter. The Siamese copied the Burmese after the 14th century A.D.; and there are traces of such buildings at Bayon, in Cambodia as early as the 9th century. Chinese influence is clearly discernible in these wooden edifices but they were not introduced into Burma directly from China, but more probably by way of Nepal. There are several brick buildings at Pagan in the same style, amongst others a small pagoda near the Shwezigon, and the Mi-ma-laung kyaung. This scene properly belongs to the dūrenidāna, for Śvetaketu had not as yet been reincarnated as the Bodhisattva Siddhārtha.
Fig. 2 The Dream of Māyādevī
It will be seen that although the descent of Śvetaketu from the Tuṣita heaven in the form of a white elephant, is not represented in the Ānanda, the other incidents of Māyādevī’s dream which are not represented either at Amarāvatī or in the Gandhāra sculptures, occupy six panels (Nos. 2-7).
The people of Kapilavastu had yearly a great festival during the month of Āṣāḍha (June-July), in which Māyā duly participated. On the seventh day she fell asleep and dreamed the dream developed in the panels which follow. The figures in this relief must have been badly damaged; for, as will be seen on inspection, they have been repaired by some very unskilful hand with cement. The faces of the three figures are now barely human, so badly have they been renovated, and the dress is no longer Indian, but purely Burmese. It covers the lower part of the breast and falls to the feet. This style of feminine dress which, being cleft in front, allows the whole of the women’s legs to be seen, is now slowly going out of fashion. The two figures below are female attendants, who appear to be conversing in a room contiguous and opening on to the royal bed-chamber which owing to restricted space, has been placed below the other. It will be remarked that the folds of the Queen’s dress are not so badly executed or devoid of taste. The curved lines over Māyā represent the tester or canopy over her couch.
Fig. 3 The Four Mahārājas carry the Queen to the Himalayas
In her sleep Māyā dreams that the four Mahārājas or guardians of the world of men, take her up in her couch, and carry her to the Himalayas and deposit her on the Manosilā Manaḥśilā. plateau, not far from the Anotatta Anavatapta. lake, under a large sal tree. Owing to the lack of perspective, the arrangement of this scene is not a little awkward; we should have expected the couch to be, according to the texts, at the foot of the sal tree which, be it noted, is very much stylized; but, as a fact, we find it perched near the top, immediately under the branches, with the four Mahārājas standing under it, the intention of the artist being apparently to show in full the Queen and the four Guardians of the world. The four figures below, in groups of two, are in precisely the same posture. This is the first example of a rigid symmetry which mars many of these sculptures, deprives them of movement and life and renders them monotonous.
Fig 4 Māyādevī is adorned with Celestial Garments and Flowers
The four Mahārājas, having placed the couch under the tree, stood respectfully aside; then came their four queens who in turn took up the couch and carried Māyā to the Anavatapta lake; where they bathed her and washed away all human stains and impurity.
The Queen is here represented after the bath, dressed in celestial clothes and decked with celestial ornaments by the wives of the four Lokapālas. The lake is indicated in the background by two pericarps of the lotus, the seeds of which two parrots are pecking. It will be remarked how well these parrots are executed, especially the one on the left. Indian sculptors were very generally skilful in the representation of animal and vegetable life, and the artists of the Ānanda were no exception to the rule, though too often they mar their work either by carelessness or by a too strict adherence to stylized forms, particularly when trees are concerned. See figures 12, 13, and above all figure 35, in which the trees are very well executed. Of animals, three only are represented: the elephant in figure 6, the horse in figures 25, 26 and 33-36 none of which are successful, and monkeys in figure 54.
According to an ancient Indian device, the principal personage in a scene is given a stature and size out of all proportion and keeping with the other actors. This gigantic stature assumes sometimes ridiculous proportions as for example in figure 31, where the horse Kanthaka barely comes up to the knee of the future Buddha; and in figure 56, where the elephant of Pālileyya is not much higher than the Buddha’s ankle. This was a rather crude and inartistic device for drawing attention to the most important figure. In India it was applied mostly to the Buddha or the Bodhisattva; but in the Ānanda it is used indiscriminately to distinguish whatever personage is, for the moment, the principal one.
The dress of the figures, both men and women, in this scene is well worthy of remark. It is the dress commonly seen on medieval sculptures in North-Eastern and Central India. In a few figures, as for instance in plates XXVI and XXIX of Rajendralala Mitra’s “Buddha Gaya,” a light scarf is thrown across the breasts, and sometimes indications of a short and very close fitting bodice are visible; but as a rule the upper part of the body, from below the navel upwards, is nude, an abundance of ornaments taking the place of clothing for the bust. It is the same with the sculptures of the Ānanda. All the female figures are nude to the navel which is generally well marked, and the breasts are completely uncovered and very developed, as in the medieval Indian school. This feature may have been due to South Indian influence; for woman in some parts of Southern-India still go about with the breasts exposed. Cf. “Buddhist Art in India,” p. 35.
The neck is heavily adorned with necklaces of different patterns, and the upper arm and forearms with armlets and bangles. The lower limbs are clad in a long loin-cloth which reaches to the ankles; the artists seldom portray any folds or drapery, as those of Gandhāra did with such success; with the result that the vestment appears to be transparent and the legs bare, the edge of the garment being indicated only by a line at the ankles or by lappets hanging stiffly on the sides of the legs; or occasionally by both line and the lappets, as in the central figure of the present scene. This loin-cloth is at times so very clinging, that the women, as for example the wives of the four Mahārājas who are dressing Mahāmāyā, seem to be quite nude save for their ornaments. The middle of the body is adorned with an elaborate girdle Text: zone, now obsolete. Pāḷi: mekhala. from which depend no less elaborate ornaments. In male figures, the loin-cloth or dhoti is as a rule somewhat shorter, often not reaching below the knees, though sometimes it falls to the ankles (cf. figure 13), and is on the whole very like those seen at Sāñchī, Amarāvatī, Ajaṇṭā, in Orissa and elsewhere. It is the most common dress seen on the terracotta bas-reliefs at Pagan. For detail of bracelets, armlets, necklaces, breast and waist ornaments, see plate XXXIX.
The huge ear-ornaments, which so much distend the lobes of the ears, are met with in old Indian sculptures, and seem to have been particularly affected in Southern and South-Eastern India; thence, the custom was adopted by women in Burma, who still retain it; some are shown on Plate XXXVIII.
The fashions of dressing the hair were not many though in some cases elaborate; they are illustrated in plate XXXVIII and are evidently of South-Indian origin; they are also constantly met with in all the terracotta plaques at Pagan. Plates XXXVIII and XXXIX exhibit several kinds of headgear, which are very much the same as those found in medieval sculptures of Central and North-Eastern India.
For general comparison, as to dress, headgear, etc., with the sculptures in the Ānanda temple see: Raj. Mitra’s Antiquities of Orissa, plates IV, XIX, XXII, XXVI; Mitra’s Buddha Gaya, plates XX, figures 1 and 4; XXV, XXVIII, XXIX; Journal of Indian Art and Industry, Vol. XIII, No. 1020, plate CXLLLL, a Sūrya from Santal Parganas, Bengal, the original of which is in the Indian Museum at Calcutta; another Sūrya from Gaur, Bengal, and a large number of medieval sculptures in the Indian Museum. Sir John Marshall, Director-general of Archaeology in India, has kindly sent me a set of very interesting medieval sculptures in the Indian Museum, for comparison.
Fig. 5 Māyādevī is anointed with Celestial Perfumes
After being bathed, dressed and adorned, the mother of the future Buddha was anointed with divine perfumes. We see her seated on a stone bench with her left hand resting softly on her lap; two of the four Lokapālas’ queens, kneeling near her, are dressing her hair in the elaborate fashion, of which details are given on plate XXXVIII, figure 2 (see above); they, and Māyā herself, hold in one hand small receptacles containing unguents and perfumes taken from the larger vases held by the other two queens seated below. The latter were made of wood, of which see plate XXXIX (above). Whether these Burmese vessels were copied from Indian prototypes consisting of a stand, a bowl and a cover, or from those actually in use at Pagan, is not easy to determine; but the Burmese of to-day manufacture and use extensively receptacles such as those delineated on plate XXXIX (except figure 14 and perhaps figure 15) making them of wood heavily lacquered both within and without. The hair of the two queens kneeling near Māyā is tied up in a large knot near the shoulders and falls down far below the waist – a mode of dressing the hair which is not uncommon in Southern and South-Eastern India.
[Fig. 6 The Buddha’s Mother sleeps on a Divine Couch] Editor: Titles whose photographs were not reproduced in the original publication have been placed in square brackets.
The photograph which follows [was omitted in the original], because the scene represented is an exact duplicate of that in figure 2; and it has been repaired in the same unskilful manner. This scene represents Mahāmāyā sleeping in the Golden Grotto of the Silver Mountain, not far from the Anavatapta lake, into which the four queens had carried her. As in figure 2, two only of the latter are visible, owing, no doubt, to lack of room.
Fig. 7 The Conception
Not far from the Silver Mountain was the Golden Mountain. The Bodhisattva in the form of a pure white elephant descended from the Golden Mountain, and coming from the north direction, and holding a white water lily in his trunk, he came to the place where Māyā was slumbering, trumpeted, circled three times round his mother respectfully keeping her to his right, cleaved her right side and thus penetrated into her womb. It must be remembered that all this is, after all, but a dream, and that in Burma the Conception under the form of a white elephant has never been conceived or thought of as a reality: the case might perhaps have been different, for the Burmese are an imaginative people and prone to the miraculous had not the Nidānakathā, the standard life of the Buddha in Pāli, been particularly clear and explicit on this point. Jātaka, Vol. I, p. 50. All the biographies of the Buddha in Burmese naturally have the Nidānakathā as their principal basis, filling up from aṭṭhakathās, ṭīkās and other Pāli works; they are all very explicit as to the whole occurrence being but a dream. Cf. for instance, the Jinatthapakāsanī Kyam – the standard life in Burmese, p. 8. This probably explains why in this scene Mahāmāyā is seen sleeping in her own bed room in the palace, and not in the wondrous grotto of the Himalayas. It is thus also that the Gandhāran artists represented her.
The canopy over her bed is indicated by two faint curved lines. Her girdle here has been omitted and owing to the fashion – which recalls that of the Gupta period – of indicating the loin-cloth only by a line near the feet, she seems to be perfectly nude; but this omission must be due to forgetfulness, for in figure 3, Māyā has her girdle Text: zone, now obsolete. Pāḷi: mekhala. . If the allegory of the dream has been adhered to, the four females in the side-room below, are the wives of the four Guardians of the world; but I incline to think that they are merely four attendants watching over the Queen’s slumber in the palace; for the four queens, whenever represented (figures 4, 5), have no chignon as the women here have, their hair being simply knotted and falling between the shoulders.
Māyā is lying on her right side, and in this the artists have followed the tradition of the old sculptors of Sāñchī and Bharhut. According to the orthodox story Māyā was lying on her left side and this the Gandhāran artists rightly understood, for they always portray her sleeping on her left side, and presenting her right side to the elephant. In conformity with the practice of exaggerating the size of the principal figure we should have expected the elephant to be unduly large, as we see him in fact in the same scene at Sāñchī and Bharhut. As a fact he is, as in the Gandhāra reliefs, of a diminutive size; and seated on the floor at the side of the bed, near its head, with his two forelegs raised in the act of creeping up and entering his mother’s right side. It is here that the awkwardness of making Māyā recline on her right side is apparent. But was it after all really a mistake on the part of the old sculptors, and did they not purposely represent her so?
It was the belief in ancient India, that exalted persons always slept on the right Aṅguttara Nikāya, I, 114; Dīgha Nikāya, II, 134; the gloss of the latter, Sutta-Mahāvagga Aṭṭhakathā, enumerates three ways of lying down: i, on the right side (sīhaseyyā); ii, on the left (kāmabhogiseyyā) which was resorted to by persons addicted to carnal pleasures; and iii, on the back (petaseyyā), the usual way of sleeping of ghosts or demons owing, it is said, to their extreme thinness. Also the Burmese works, Jinatthapakāsinī p. 621, and Mālālaṅkāra Vatthu, p. 305. and never on the left side: for example the Buddha, the arhats, and those highly devout persons whose mind was free from the grosser passions, and if we are to believe the texts, Queen Māyā was a very exalted person, not only from the worldly point of view of position and power, but also spiritually, and after her dream and conception, her mind was absolutely free from all low and carnal desires. Nidānakathā, p. 51 It may have been due to this current idea of the peculiar sanctity attached to lying on the right side, that the old Indian artists represented Māyā thus, notwithstanding the awkwardness of the position in this particular scene. The artists of Gandhāra may not have been acquainted with this time-honoured Indian idea as to the most dignified and exalted manner of sleeping; or if they were aware of it, they were not men to sacrifice artistic effect and reason to such a notion. The above possible explanation is offered merely for what it may be worth.
Fig. 8 Māyā relates her Dream to the King
The day after the conception, Mahāmāyā goes to the King and relates her dream to him.
Śuddhodana, in full regal dress is seated on a throne, with the white umbrella, emblem of royalty, above his head; the halo behind his head will be remarked, the more so, as it is out of place here. The artists do not seem at all particular about the use of the nimbus; they sometimes place it, as here, where it is in reality not needed, and on the other hand omit it where they should have put it in; or, again, place it wrongly, as for instance, in figure 46 where it is the deva instead of the Bodhisattva who is adorned with it.
In the terracotta plaques at Pagan, the same thing happens with the umbrella, which is used to designate the being who shall be the Buddha; but not infrequently, it is placed over the wrong person. On the King’s proper right is seen Māyā with folded hands, relating her wondrous experience; to his left is a female attendant with a fan; below four other females attend on the King with betel, etc., in vases in their midst; the last on the right is holding what appears to be a fan.
Fig. 9 The Four Mahārājas guard Māyādevī
During the time of gestation, the four great guardians of the world, sword in hand, were constantly mounting guard near the Queen, to protect her and the child from any possible accident. Queen Māyā is in a rather stiff attitude, seated on a throne, with all her ornaments, and her feet resting on a lotus pedestal. The lotus is probably a device symbolizing the divine child reposing in her bosom, and perhaps the nimbus around her head serves the same purpose. The wood-carving on the top is of the pattern still very commonly found at the present day in wooden monasteries and imitated in plaster in small religious edifices. It will be seen here that the sculptors do not rigorously follow the Nidānakathā; for, immediately after the scene where she relates her dream, should have come the Interpretation of the Dream, which took place on the morrow of the conception. For the prophecy of Kāladevala see figure 17, and for the horoscope of the Brahmins and prediction of Kauṇḍinya, five days after the birth, figure 18.
Fig. 10 Māyādevī begs leave to visit her Parents
When the time of her confinement drew nigh, Queen Māyā, feeling strong desire to visit her parents at Devadaha, communicated her wish to her royal husband who immediately granted her request. Māyā is kneeling in an attitude of supplication before the King on his throne; below, on the floor the usual four female attendants. The coiffure of the Queen is that still in fashion in Southern India.
Fig. 11 Māyādevī sets out on her Journey
King Śuddhodana immediately had the route from Kapilavastu to Devadaha beautifully decorated; and sent his queen to her parents. Māyā is seen here on a litter carried by sixteen men, of whom only the eight on the near side are visible; behind her an attendant holds an umbrella over her head. The details of her head-dress and of her ear-ornament are given in figure 2, plate XXXIX. The ear-ornament may be compared with the one shown in figure 122 plate XXVII of Mitra’s Antiquities of Orissa.
Fig. 12 The Birth of the Bodhisattva
Between the two cities is a magnificent sal (shorea robusta) park, known as the Lumbinī (Rummindei) Park. As she approached it, the trees put forth beautiful flowers, and legions of birds of every hue sang joyously among the branches. Seeing the beauty of the park, Queen Māyā felt a desire to enter it. She was carried there to the foot of a large tree and raised her right hand to grasp one of the branches. The branch bent down of its own accord, and, even as she held it, she was delivered of the child in a standing position.
In the Gandhāran sculptures, the birth and the incidents that immediately follow are depicted in four scenes: (a) as the child is born, the god Indra receives him in swaddling-clothes (Foucher, Art Gréco-bouddhique, figure 152); (b) again the child is seen already born, and being received by Indra and making his first seven steps (ibid, figure 154); (c) making the seven steps flanked by Brahmā and Indra (ibid, figure 155); and (d) receiving his bath (ibid, figure 150).
In the corridor of the Ānanda, the sculptors have preferred to spread all these incidents over seven scenes (figures 12 to 18 in the corridor; nos. 14, 15, 17 are not reproduced [in the original publication]); but in two of the sculptures from the porticoes (figure 12), everything is depicted in a single scene; moreover, in the corridor, the bath is altogether omitted. In figure 12 will readily be recognized the nativity as conceived in Gandhāra, whence it spread over India, Indo-China and Java. In figure 12 the two central figures are in a very graceful attitude and among the best sculptures of the corridor. Māyā’s right hand is stretched out, holding the sal branch; with her left she embraces her sister Mahāprajāpatī, who supports her. It will be remarked how the stature of the several personages follow the scale of their importance; Māyā is taller by a head than her sister, and the latter is, in turn, much taller than the female attendant who, on the right, holds a fly-trap in one hand and in the other the vase of lustral water. According to the tradition, the child is seen issuing from the right side of his mother; but while in India, he emerges in a seemingly natural and easy manner, in our sculpture he is in an extraordinary attitude for a new-born babe, being seated with his legs curled up under him, yogi fashion, and with his hands in the teaching, or dharmacakra-mudrā; this goes directly against the Nidānakathā (page 53), which states that he came out from his mother’s side with hands and feet stretched out: dve ca hatthe dve ca pāde ṭhitako… nikkāmi. In this scene Māyā is usually represented in a very graceful attitude, standing, with one leg crossing the other in an easy and comely manner; but here, she is represented standing in the ordinary way. With this representation may be compared that at Angkor, in which her legs are in the same position. Compare also fig. 3, pl. X in Foucher’s “Iconographie Bouddhique.”
The two following photographs are not from the corridor, but from the porticoes, of the Ānanda. They are interesting in that most of the events immediately connected with the nativity are grouped in the same stele.
In figure 11A (not reproduced), the artists have, I think, made a mistake in the respective attitude of the two sisters: Mahāprajāpatī with her right leg crossing the other, is in the position which tradition attributes to Māyā and not to her. On the right is a female attendant with a fly-flap in the left hand; with her right hand stretched out, she gives a vase of lustral water to Mahāprajāpatī.
In figure 12, this attendant is much more distinct, and she has usurped the attitude which rightly belongs to Queen Māyā in the nativity. It is but natural that lustral water should have been at hand on this occasion, but considering it is also brought by a deva on the other side, that offered by the attendant becomes superfluous. Here, the Nidānakathā is strictly followed.
As soon as the child is born, he is received by four Mahābrahmās in a golden net; no part is taken by Indra, as in the Gandhāra sculptures. The sculptor was apparently hampered by the size of the stele and the number of scenes and persons he had to represent on it, which explains the smallness of the figures on the proper right. Of the four Mahābrahmās only two are visible, the other two being concealed behind them; they are easily recognizable by their triple head. They have just received the child (in the dharmacakra-mudrā) and are holding him. As he is in their hands, the artist has, quite rightly, not thought it necessary to represent him issuing from his mother’s side; but the author of the next stele (figure 12), has evidently thought otherwise; for there we see him gliding down on to the Mahābrahmās’ hands. It was then that two streams of water came down from the sky and washed mother and child, although the latter was born undefiled. This is symbolized in both representations by a deva coming down from the heaven and holding in his hands a vase of water which was probably for our artists the simplest way of indicating the celestial origin of the lustral water. This figure, though not intended to represent them, calls to mind the Nāga kings Nanda and Upananda of the Lalitavistara. Below the Mahābrahmās are two figures representing the four Mahārājas receiving the child in a soft antelope’s skin from the hands of the former; below these again are seen two men receiving the Bodhisattva on a soft piece of cloth. Between them and Māyā the child is seen standing on the ground; this represents him as, after leaving the hands of the men, he stood, facing the east and the other quarters, and then made his first seven steps.
In the corridor, as already said above, each of the incidents here described is pictured on a different slab. This method recalls that of the Greco-Buddhist school while that followed in the two slabs of the porticoes, recalls rather the device of the old Indian school of bringing together several scenes on one panel.
Fig. 13a The Four Mahābrahmās receive the Child
This photograph and the two follow, numbered in the corridor 13, 14 and 15 respectively, depict the Bodhisattva being received after his birth by the Mahābrahmās, the four Mahālokapālas and men, as has just been explained. These scenes are so very much alike that the two last have not been inserted [in the original publication]. In the present scene three heads of each of the four Brahmās are visible. The simplicity of their dress is remarkable; they have no ornaments beyond large ear-drops; the bust is completely naked and the loin-cloth is quite plain. The Bodhisattva is in the attitude of the dhyāna-mudrā, his two hands resting one upon the other, palms upwards, in his lap. Behind him are three trees very much stylized, the trunks of which can be seen between the Mahābrahmās, representing the Lumbinī Park.
As before stated, the scene of the bath which, according to the Nidānakathā should come immediately after the present scene, has been omitted in the sculptures of the corridor.
[Fig. 13b The Four Mahābrahmās receive the Child]
[Fig. 13c The Four Mahābrahmās receive the Child]
Fig. 14 The Child stands and faces the East
As soon as the child was transferred from the black antelope’s skin of the four Guardians of the universe on to the fine cloth of the human beings he escaped from the latter’s hands and stood on the ground looking towards the east. Thousands of spheres lay open in front of him as a great vista and the gods and men in those spheres praised him; saying “None is greater than thee in this world.”
Although this took place in the Lumbinī Park, the sculptor has placed the child at the entrance to a mansion or temple, where he appears almost taller than the building itself. To his right is the Brahmā Catur-mukhaḥ holding an umbrella over his head; to his left, Śakra, distinguished from Brahmā by his tiara, holds his conch. This is the first time we have intimation that Śakra assisted at the birth, although, in the Gandhāra sculptures he is practically the principal personage at this great event. In the Nidānakathā he does not figure at all in this scene, his place being taken by the god Suyāma.
[Fig. 15a The First Seven Steps]
Fig. 15b The First Seven Steps
Then, the child faced the other cardinal points and not perceiving his equal, There is a sculpture representing this inspection of the four quarters, but as it is in every way identical with the one reproduced here showing the seven steps, it has not been included in the [original publication]. he walked seven paces flanked by Brahmā holding the white umbrella on his right and by the god Suyāma holding a fly-flap on his left; at the seventh step, he stopped and, facing north exclaimed: “The chief am I in the world, the most excellent and the greatest!”
Fig. 16 The Child at Kapilavastu
Soon after his birth the child and his mother were taken back to Kapilavastu by the inhabitants of this city and those of Devahrada.
The scene of the “return from the Lumbinī Park” is not represented at the Ānanda; had it been, considering the inclination of the artists to make the same scene do for several events, it is probable, we should have had again something very much like figure 10, the child being substituted for his mother. We see here the child after the return from Lumbinī, in his room at the palace in Kapilavastu; he is in the teaching attitude, and appears to be delivering a discourse to his mother, who is on his right, and his aunt Mahāprajāpatī on his left; these two ladies of highest rank are distinguished from the attendants below by their head-gear, details of which are given in figure 14, plate XXXVIII.
Four gods, who no doubt stand for a whole host, are in the air, in a flying posture, near the Bodhisattva and are listening reverently to the sermon; the fact that they are in the air being indicated by wavy lines under them representing clouds. These flying figures are interesting, for they show a decided South-Indian influence. This kind of figure was unknown in the earliest period of Indian art, but it became quite common at Amarāvatī, and later on spread over Southern India and thence into Burma and the adjacent countries. On the other hand, as previously stated the style of house or temple seen here is Nepalese modified by Chinese influence; such buildings must have been common enough at Pagan at that time.
The reader will perceive that, in this sculpture, the child-Bodhisattva, the only person who should properly have a nimbus, is without it, while those inferior to him, the gods and the two queens, are each provided with a nimbus, although strictly speaking they ought not to have it.
Fig. 17 The Visit of Kāladevala
Now in the Trayastriṁśa heaven, the hosts of devas rejoiced and sported waving their turbans and saying “In the city of Kapilavastu, a son has been born unto king Śuddhodana; one day, sitting upon the Throne of Wisdom, he will become a Buddha.” The ascetic Kāladevala, who was endowed with super-human powers, and the spiritual adviser of Śuddhodana, after his meal, repaired to the Trayastriṁśa heaven and was not a little astonished to perceive the gods delirious with joy. Having learnt the reason, he went straightway to Kapilavastu and asked the king to show him the child. The king ordered the child to be brought, took him and held him towards the hermit so that he might salute the holy man; but the child, than whom none was greater, turned up his feet and placed them on the ascetic’s head. Kāladevala understood, rose from his seat and saluted the future Buddha by bringing his joined hands to his forehead. The king, seeing this marvel, himself did reverence to his son. It was then that the hermit predicted that the child would become the Buddha.
The hermit is readily recognized by his emaciated state, evidenced by his sunken stomach, though otherwise his limbs are plump enough. How different in treatment from the Ascetic Gautama of the Gandhāran school whose emaciation is so poignantly shown. See the photograph, page 67 of D.B. Spooner’s Handbook of the Sculptures in the Peshwar Museum, 1910. The beard and still more the hair, are also typical of the Brahman ascetic, the latter being tied up in two knots, one on each side of the head, which have at first sight the appearance of horns. This is an old way for ascetics to arrange their hair and it must have been common already before the 5th century A.D.; for, according to Grünwedel, Glasuren aus Pagan, p. 7. it is mentioned in a gloss on the name Isisinga, in the Alambusajātaka, Fausböll, Vol V, p. 153. where it is said that the hermit was so called because “on his head there were two top-knots resembling the horns of an antelope.” This coiffure is still met with among Indian ascetics, and it was known also in Cambodia, where a hermit with his hair tied up in this fashion is represented on a bas-relief at Angkor-vat. See Delaport’s “l’Architecture Khmer,” p. 226. Śuddhodana is in fall regal dress, wrapped almost completely in a mantle: and in this scene one is astonished to see him with moustache and ascetic beard, whereas in the next figure, No. 21, as well as in figures 7 and 9, he is represented without any hair on the face. In these cases it looks as if the hair was added later by some repairer; but if this was so, the addition is a very clever one.
Fig. 18 The Horoscope
Five days after the birth, the child was, according to custom, given a name – that of Siddhārtha (P. Siddhattha). On this occasion, 108 Brahmins had been invited to attend the ceremony, eight among whom were especially clever in the art of predicting the future from the signs of the body. Having carefully examined those signs, seven of them came to the conclusion that, if the child remained in the world, he would become a universal monarch; and that, if he left it, he would become the Buddha. The youngest, Kauṇḍinya (Koṇḍañña), who became afterwards one of the Master’s greatest disciples, asserted that, of the two alternatives, the second would prove true, and that the child would certainly become the Buddha.
Śuddhodana, on his throne, is holding in his hands the young prince Siddhārtha, who seems to take an interest in what is going on. On the king’s right is Mahāmāyā, on his left, Mahāprājapatī. The four figures below represent the Brahmin fortunetellers foretelling the future of the prince. From what we are accustomed to in Indian sculptures, we should have expected them to be bearded. The two on the proper right have their right hands raised before their breast, palm outwards, as if in the act of conversing; the two middle fingers of the left hand are closed, and the index and little finger open thus symbolizing the two alternatives that the child would either be the Buddha or a universal monarch. Those on the other side have their left hands placed on the breast, in the act of making a decided statement, in this case to the effect that the child could only become the Buddha, while the fingers of their right hands are all open, as if rejecting a statement. These two figures represent the other opinion, although, as a matter of fact, only one, Kauṇḍinya, gave it as his own. But had he alone been represented in this attitude the symmetry of the scene would have suffered.
Fig. 19 Siddhārtha’s Infancy
The scene depicted in this figure is not easy to identify because there is nothing particular to give a clue to its meaning. It is true, the short legend in Burmese verse above the slab informs us that it depicts king Śuddhodana just before the Ploughing Festival, when, having passed in review his four-fold army, he awaited the beginning of the ceremony in the field. But I am rather inclined to think that this scene is intended merely to represent, in a general way, the first few weeks of the infancy of the young prince in the palace, surrounded by innumerable nurses and female attendants. The lotus cushion on which he is sitting, and the lotus flower on which his right foot is resting, indicate that he is none other than the Bodhisattva. The woman on his proper left holds something indistinct, which appears to be a bud, perhaps a lotus. It may also very well be that this sculpture is not in its original place. Had it come after figure 21, it could have been more readily understood, and would represent, as it no doubt does, the boyhood of the prince.
Figs. 20 and 21 The Ploughing Festival
Some time after the birth of the child, king Śuddhodana, according to an immemorial custom, went out in great pomp to celebrate the Ploughing Festival. In the field where the ceremony was to take place, was a large rose-apple tree (jambu), with thick, magnificent foliage. Under this tree the king had a bed prepared for his son covered over with a canopy studded with golden stars and surrounded by rich cloth. Guardians were set to watch and the king went to open the ceremony. The nurses, anxious to see the festival, left the child, who, looking around and seeing no one, sat up on his bed with his legs crossed under him and his hands in his lap, and entered, for the first time, into a profound meditation. The nurses were a long time away and the shadows of the other trees had shifted round, but that of the jambu remained stationary. The nurses returning and beholding this wonder and perceiving the child meditating on his bed, informed the king of the miracle. The latter came in haste and prostrated himself before his child. This was the second time that Śuddhodana reverenced his son.
All authorities do not agree as to the time when this first meditation of the Bodhisattva took place. The northern sources generally place it late, when he is an adolescent or even an adult. The Mahāvastu, (ii, 45), however, places it, like the Nidānakathā, soon after the prediction of Kāladevala; but while in the Nidānakathā the child is still a babe, in the Mahāvastu he is a boy roaming about the garden. The Jinatthapakāsanī (p. 15) on the other hand places it when the child is a month old, but does not give any reference. Spence Hardy (Manual of Buddhism, 150) says the wonder took place five months after the birth.
Our sculptures follow, of course, the Pāli tradition. They have divided the event into two scenes. In the first (figure 20), the child is represented lying on his bed, with eight nurses attending on him. No attempt has been made to indicate either the canopy or the cloth surrounding the couch. The infant is already lying down as all eminent persons do, that is, on his right side, with his head resting on the palm of his hand (see [discussion at Fig. 7 The Conception above]); the roseapple tree is seen inclining somewhat on the right; and the nurses have not yet left him.
In the second scene, figure 21, the nurses have come back and informed the king of the two miracles: the motionless shadow and the meditating babe. We see Śuddhodana on the right of his son, prostrated in adoration. Here also, his face has been retouched and he has again been given an ascetic beard. The female on the left of the child is his foster mother Mahāprajāpatī; for Mahāmāyā, we are told, had died seven days after the birth. The child is no longer on his bed, as he should be, but on a throne with a nimbus surrounding his head. Behind is the jambu tree, the branches falling on both sides of the future Buddha, to show the miracle of the shadow. An interesting fact to be noticed in these sculptures is, that the place of honour was always on the right; in Gandhāra it was on the left.
[Fig. 22a The Adolescence of Prince Siddhārtha]
The southern tradition passes over the incidents of the boyhood; and that is why the scenes at school are not represented here. Immediately after the first meditation at the Ploughing Festival, the Nidānakathā (p. 58) tells us that the Bodhisattva grew and in due course attained the age of sixteen. His father built for him three palaces in each of which to pass one of the three seasons of the year: the hot season, the rainy season and the winter, one having five storeys, the second seven and the third nine. The magnificence of these palaces is described in glowing terms and with greath wealth of imagery on the Jinacarita verses 128-132. The Jinatthapakāsanī has an interesting note to the effect that the storeys were not habitable; that is, they were formed of superimposed roofs merely; the author must have been influenced by what he saw in Burma. The Bodhisattva resided therein in great splendour and worldly enjoyment, surrounded by thousands of fair damsels and dancing girls.
Our artists, no doubt anxious to impress on the mind of the devout onlooker the sublime abnegation and self-sacrifice of the Bodhisattva when, some years later, he abandoned without regret his worldly pleasures and power, have represented the three multiple-storied palaces, with the prince surrounded by beautiful young women; but as usual, they have shown a curious lack of imagination; for these three sculptures – numbered in the corridor, 25, 26 and 27 – are practically the same; the number of storeys in each palace, that is, 5, 7 and 9 alone being scrupulously adhered to. Accordingly, I have chosen for reproduction only the slab depicting the sevenstoried palace, as being fairly representative of this kind of structure, still so common all over Burma.
Fig. 22b The Adolescence of Prince Siddhārtha
Here the Prince Siddhārtha is represented in conversation with two ladies of the palace, who are seated on what is intended to represent the floor of the room, each with one hand raised and the other on the breast. On the prince’s right, an attendant presents him with betel in a lacquered box, and on the other side another holds a fly-flap. Siddhārtha himself is seated on a lotus cushion, with a nimbus, and over his head, a white umbrella, symbol of royalty; for, according to the Nidānakathā, he had just been married to the princess Yaśodharā, the daughter of Suprabuddha, King of Koli, and according to the Burmese work, Tathāgata-Udānaṁ, which Bishop Bigandet follows, had, at the same time, been consecrated Crown Prince. Technical difficulties prevented the sculptor from placing the prince in the palace and showing at the same time the seven storeys of the latter; and accordingly the palace is merely indicated behind him.
[Fig. 22c The Adolescence of Prince Siddhārtha]
Fig. 23 Siddhārtha is prepared for the Athletic Match
According to the Nidānakathā (p. 58), the athletic sports which took place about this time, have no connection with the young prince’s marriage, which had taken place some time before. The Tathāgata-Udānaṁ, cited in the explanation of the preceding figure, follows in this the Nidānakathā; it is interesting to remark that the Jinatthapakāsanī connects the sport directly with the marriage, as does Spence Hardy, p. 152 of his “Manual of Buddhism.” But these two versions are slightly different; in Hardy, Śuddhodana first asks Suprabuddha for his daughter Yaśodharā in marriage for his son; Suprabuddha finds him effeminate, hence the athletic contest. In the Jinatthapakāsanī, Śuddhodana sends an order to all the chiefs to send their daughters for the prince to choose; they refuse, objecting to his effeminacy; then the match takes place and Siddhārtha is easily first; all the damsels are brought and he chooses Bhaddakañcanā, a daughter of Suprabuddha, to whom he gives the name of Yaśodharā Bimbādevī. But it is related that the influential Śākyas, discontented at seeing young Siddhārtha lead a life of effeminacy in his harem, murmured, saying that, in case of war, it would go hard with him, for he did not train himself in any of the arts of which a young prince should be master. On his being told this by his father, the Bodhisattva answered that he needed no training and that on the seventh day thereafter he would show the Śākyas what he could do, and so set their minds at rest.
Fig. 23 shows us the Bodhisattva being prepared for the great athletic contest. That this is really the scene intended to be depicted can be deduced only from the position of the sculpture which intervenes between the scene of his life of enjoyment in his palace and that of the actual contest; for there is nothing distinctive about it, and taken from its position and examined by itself, it would be difficult to identify. The Jinatthapakāsanī (pp. 18-19) tells us that before entering the arena, he was accoutred in armour of priceless value. Nothing of the kind, however, is seen in the sculpture, in which he is represented wearing the common, short dhoti, a more likely costume for sports, and one which recalls the Gandhāran scenes, in which he is shown similarly dressed on this occasion. Cf. “Art Gréco-bouddhique,” Vol I, figs 170, 171, 172. The attendant on the proper left holds a casket containing either articles of dress, or, perhaps more probably, betel; the one on the other side has a fan. By some strange oversight – not rare in the Ānanda – these two attendants have a nimbus like the future Buddha.
Fig. 24 The Athletic Contest
On the day appointed, prince Siddhārtha proves to the Śākyas, by wonderful feats of archery and diverse arms, and by a marvellous display of strength, his ability and mastership in those arts of which he had been reproached for his supposed ignorance. Here the sculptors had a splendid opportunity of showing their technical skill and ingenuity by depicting in a striking fashion the several phases of this Homeric contest: the shooting of the unerring arrows, the extraordinary elephant and horse riding and the like. See Jinatthapakāsanī pp. 19, 21. Instead of this, we have a very tame and spiritless scene. The Bodhisattva is standing stiffly, adorned with an elaborate headdress, and holding in one hand the terrible bow which none but himself could string; and in the other a sword. Everything about him is lifeless and conventional. On his right is his father Śuddhodana with a nimbus; on his left, another figure in exactly the same position, who, I venture to think is Yaśodharā. Although nothing differentiates her from the seven spectators, who are in the same position as the two uppermost figures. Thus out of the ten personages in this scene nine are in identically the same posture, producing [a] most monotonous effect.
[Figs. 25a The First of Four Omens]
The four omens which appeared to the prince and shattered his father’s hopes of seeing a universal monarch in his family, are represented in the Ānanda by four scenes, or rather by one scene repeated four times. This was perhaps unavoidable, as, on all four occasions the prince was in his chariot with his charioteer, and both of them with the chariot, had to appear in each scene. Thus the sculptures numbered 30-33 in the corridor are in all respect the same, except as regards the omens themselves, and even this is true only of the last two, for the two first, an old man and a sick man, are exact replicas of one another. For this reason only two scenes have been chosen for reproduction; namely the second and the third. The only attempt to remedy the monotony of these scenes has been by modifying slightly the attitude of the charioteer and that of the umbrella-bearer.
The first omen (see figure 25b, to which it is similar) was that of a very old man whom the Bodhisattva perceived on his way to his pleasance, when escorted by a great retinue. None but the prince and the charioteer saw him, for he was no mortal, but a deva, who had assumed this appearance.
Figs. 25b The [Second of] Four Omens
In figure 25b, we see the Bodhisattva meeting with a sick old man who is helping himself along with a stick. Never before had the Bodhisattva seen a sick person for, to keep such objects from his sight, the king his father (knowing they would induce him to adopt the life of a recluse), had from the time of the horoscope, when the baby was but a few days old, posted numerous guards all round the palace to prevent such persons coming near it. On learning from his charioteer what this person was, and that he too might any day become sick, the Bodhisattva felt a great disgust for the world and turned back dejected to his palace. The chariot is in the form of a makara, from the top of which a flag flaps in the breeze. Channa the charioteer, is seen driving the vehicle, although the two horses drawing it are right under it and apparently well secure from his whip; the two wheels of the chariot are full and placed at the very back instead of in the middle of the vehicle. This peculiar position of the wheels and horses may have been due to the narrowness of the slab; it could have been avoided by making everything much smaller, but then the four sculptures would have been out of proportion to all the others; and so the artists have preferred sacrificing correctness to symmetry.
Figs. 25c The Third of Four Omens
ln figure 25c, we have the prince meeting a corpse. The latter is carried by two men in the manner still common in India. Did we not know what they are carrying, we should never have guessed that the almost round bundle on their stretcher was a dead body. Nor should we have expected it to be wrapped in a shroud for the texts, particularly the later ones, delight in describing the horror of the object upon which the eyes of the future Buddha suddenly fell, and the emotion it produced in him.
[Figs. 25d The Fourth of Four Omens]
As for the fourth time the prince set forth for his pleasance, the devas made to appear before him a Buddhist monk, decently robed and carrying his alms-bowl. The prince inquired what he was, and inasmuch as the Buddhist order of monks did not as yet exist, the charioteer might well have felt embarrassed for an answer, but, inspired by the devas, he was able to explain the kind of life led by these holy men and their ultimate aim and aspiration. Editor: This shows a rare ignorance of the texts by Duroiselle. The ascetic the Bodhisattva saw was a wandering monk (parivrājaka), such as were common in his time (and indeed today), not a Buddhist monk. The prince was delighted and felt himself strongly drawn towards monastic life. On this occasion he did not turn back, but proceeded to the gardens. This sculpture, numbered 33 in the corridor, [was] not reproduced [in the original].
Fig. 27 Siddhārtha in his Pleasance
Having seen the fourth omen, and his mind being filled with the desire to leave the world, the prince leisurely went on to his gardens. There, he disported himself, took a bath in a lotus-pond, and, after sunset, sat on a marble slab, round about him stood his attendants with costly stuffs, jewels and perfumes.
In this scene it is not easy to discriminate whether some of the attendants are men or women; but the Nidānakathā (p. 59) is clear in stating that they are men and we must assume therefore that this is the case, though the rather developed breasts of one or two suggest the opposite. The Bodhisattva is seated in the dhyāna-mudrā, and seems to be meditating deeply on the four sights he has lately seen. This is little in the spirit of the Nidānakathā which conveys the idea that he had been and was still disporting and enjoying himself. The Jinacarita is somewhat more explicit (verses 135, 136):
sudassanīyaṁ viya Nandanaṁ vanaṁ
surindalīlāya tahiṁ narindo
ramitvā kāmaṁ dipadānam-indo.
“He, the Famous, went to the beautiful park, as enchanting as the Nandana grove in Indra’s heaven, resounding with the noise of peacocks and other birds, and adorned with groves of various lands of well-blossomed trees.
There, with the grace of a Śakra, the chief and lord of men took delight, indeed, in the pleasant dances and songs of women as beautiful as celestial nymphs.”
This attitude of intense meditation while he is enjoying himself amongst his women does not harmonize with so gay a scene.
Fig. 28a Viśvakarman arranges the Bodhisattva’s Turban
As his attendants were about to dress his hair and arrange his elaborate turban, the seat of Indra became hot, a sure sign something unusual was about to happen in the world of men. Indra looked down and perceiving what was going on in the royal gardens at Kapilavastu, he called Viśvakarman, the architect, and matchless artist of the gods and said: “Go, Viśvakarman, unto the presence of prince Siddhārtha; at midnight he will leave his palace and go into the wilderness; this is the last time he will be decked in all his fineries; go thou, therefore, and array him in celestial ornaments.” The divine artist came to earth in the guise of a barber, took from the hands of the prince’s barber his turban and arranged it in an exquisite manner on the Bodhisattva’s head. About barbers in ancient India, see Rhys Davids’ Buddhist India, p. 94, and R. Ficke’s “Die Sociale Ghede rung im Nordostlichen Indien zu Buddha’s Zeit,” p. 210.
In the background are three highly stylized trees representing the park. The prince is still in the dhyāna-mudrā; on his right, Viśvakarman is arranging the turban; on his left, an attendant is holding up a vase containing perfumes, below are two attendants, one holding a fan and the other what appears to be an article of dress; or perhaps he is the barber from whom the celestial artist took the headdress. For details of the way men of eminence dressed their hair, see figures 3, 13, 14, plate XXXVIII.
[Fig. 28b The Prince returns to the Palace]
Here follows a sculpture (No. 36 in the corridor) representing the prince returning to the palace and meeting the messenger who was sent to tell him that a son had just been born to him. As the scene is the same as those shown in figures 25 and 26 it has not been reproduced [in the original]. The only difference consists in the presence of a man, the messenger, who is kneeling before the chariot.
Fig. 29 The Women play and sing to the Prince
Having heard the news of the birth of his son, Siddhārtha proceeded in great pomp to the palace and, entering his apartments, lay down on his couch. A bevy of fair damsels, skilled in music, dance and sing before him.
The Bodhisattva is reclining on his bed in the sīhaseyya attitude […]. The numerous musicians and dancers are represented by four young women; four being in the Ānanda scenes the usual number by which a crowd or a throng is represented. One plays the harp, another the flute; the third an instrument very common in Burma, used for accompaniment. It consists of a bamboo cleft longitudinally from one extremity, to within a few inches of the other; one of the halves being drawn back with the right hand and released sharply into the other. The fourth is singing some love song; for her left hand is feelingly placed on her heart. But the prince whose mind was bent upon retirement from the world and whose heart had become free from all earthly desires cared nought for song or music, and fell asleep.
Just before this scene in the royal bed-chamber we should have expected the charming incident of Kisā Gotamī, the Mṛīgī of the Mahāvastu (ii, p. 157); for the words uttered by the young lady had a decisive effect on the prince’s mind, already released from passion and did much to decide him to leave his palace on that very night. But this incident, like a good number of others, has been omitted.
Fig. 30 The Slumber of the Women
The artists perceiving Siddhārtha had fallen asleep, ceased their performance and they, too, fell asleep. The prince, after a short while, awoke, and seeing the revolting spectacle presented by the slumbering women, conceived an instant disgust for the pleasures of this world and resolved to leave then and there and to go into the wilderness in search of escape from sorrow, or Nirvāṇa.
The women are seen, with their instruments thrown aside, sleeping on the floor, in most voluptuous pose.
Fig. 31 The Prince calls his Charioteer
The prince then rose up, went to the door and calling his charioteer Channa, who was watching there, bade him saddle his horse Kanthaka for immediate departure. The prince is seen at the door of his apartment, giving his orders to Channa, who is kneeling on his right. The horse Kanthaka is represented here merely to determine the scene for he was not at that moment in the palace, but in his stable. But cf. “Art Gréco-bouddhique,” Vol I, p. 353. The strange device of exaggerating the size of the principal figure in a scene, is here carried to the point of absurdity. Kanthaka, a horse said to be of gigantic proportions comes up only to the Bodhisattva’s knee and is even somewhat smaller than Channa kneeling. This fault is repeated in figures 36, 38, 39 and 40.
Fig. 32 Prince Siddhārtha wishes to see his Child
As soon as Channa had gone to execute the order, the prince felt a strong desire to see his newly born babe. Accordingly he went into the room of Yaśodharā, Rāhula’s mother, but perceiving that his wife slept with a hand on the babe’s head, he dared not take the child from her side, for fear of waking her and thereby frustrating his own intentions. He stopped therefore at the threshold, beheld for a few moments the two in their peaceful slumber and descended from the palace.
Rāhula’s mother is sleeping, as will be remarked, on her right side. Probably the sculptors were not given exact instructions by the monks who superintended their work; for they do not follow the Nidānakathā (p. 62), according to which Yaśodharā had her hand on the child’s head. In this sculpture she has her left hand on the right side as if apprehensive, even in her sleep, that he might fall off the bed; while the child has his right hand on her breasts. Below are two female attendants watching over the mother; their hair is undone, tied in a knot close to the back of the head and falling low between their shoulders.
[32b The Prince mounts Kanthaka]
The scene following (No. 41 of the series) shows the prince about to leave the world. Having gone forth from the palace, he made his way straight to his steed Kanthaka and addressed him thus: “Kanthaka, save me on this night: having become a Buddha, I shall save the worlds of gods and men from the misery of rebirths.” The spirited horse seems to understand his master’s exhortation, and appears to be impatient to start on the memorable journey. Channa is kneeling behind the horse. This plaque has been so badly damaged and so unskilfully repaired that it [was not reproduced in the original].
Fig. 33 The Bodhisattva leaves Kapilavastu
The prince then mounted his faithful steed, and ordered Channa to take hold of the tail and accompany him. Kanthaka was so powerful an animal that his neigh and his footfalls could be heard all over the city. The devas, by their power, prevented his neigh being heard and four of them placing their hands beneath the feet of the horse bore him noiselessly along and so prevented the city from awaking and hindering the Bodhisattva in his flight.
This scene is perhaps the most animated of all in the corridor, the animation being due not to any artistic elaboration, diversity or realism in the figures themselves, but rather to their number. The love of symmetry already referred to above mars what might otherwise have been a really artistic creation. The four devas placing their palms under Kanthaka’s feet are all in exactly the same position, like schoolboys practising drill; while on the proper left, on each side of the horse’s head, are a deva torch-bearer and Channa, holding the tail, in the same attitude. So, too, the flying gods carrying flowers and perfumes, are restricted to one posture. The best figure is that of the horse himself, though he is far from perfect. Among the few animal figures found in this series of sculptures this horse is the most successful.
Fig. 34 Māra tempts the Bodhisattva
It was during the full moon of the month of Āṣāḍha (Āsāḷha = June-July) that the future Buddha left his palace, at midnight. A deity opened for him the city gate and he escaped into the moonlit night. At that moment Māra, the evil one, appeared to him, poised in the air, and endeavoured in vain to make him relinquish his quest for nirvāṇa by promising him, within eight days, universal rule over the world.
Māra Vaśavartin is seen on the proper left of Prince Siddhārtha, a little ahead of him, poised in mid air on a comfortable cushion and in the act of exhorting the prince to abandon his resolution. The flying figure with flowers opposite Māra is the god who presides over the destinies of the Moon and guides its course through the sky; the full moon is represented by a scroll design encircling him. It has just been said that the prince fled during the night of the full moon. Had this lunar god not held flowers in his hands and been placed in a circle of light, one might have taken him for a repetition of Māra who, from that moment, followed the Bodhisattva like his shadow, maliciously awaiting an opportunity to make him fail of his purpose.
[Fig. 35a The Bodhisattva arrives at the River Anomā]
Siddhārtha went on his way, accompanied by multitudes of gods bearing torches, scattering on his way celestial flowers and perfumes and discoursing heavenly music. Having thus crossed three kingdoms, he arrived at the bank of the river Anomā, which Kanthaka crossed at a jump. The trees, a cocoanut-tree and two fan-palms, so admirably executed, represent the jungle along the river bank. Had there been any indication of a city or palace in the background, this scene might just as well have represented the scene when, the Bodhisattva being anxious to behold Kapilavastu once again, the earth turned on itself like a potter’s wheel and thus enabled him to gaze upon the city. Indeed, perhaps it was the turning round to see the city that the artist meant to represent here, for the next sculpture, exactly the same as the present one but without the trees, and therefore not reproduced [in the original], purports to show Kanthaka crossing the river.
[Fig. 35b The Bodhisattva crosses the River Anomā]
Fig. 36 The Bodhisattva makes over his Jewels to Channa
Siddhārtha alighted from his horse, took off his jewels, gave them to Channa and told him to depart; for to become a monk was not his vocation. Channa puts up his hands to receive his master’s jewels, here represented by two pendants. The two very schematized trees indicate the wilderness. In this and most of the following scenes the locale of which is in the jungle, the Bodhisattva is placed at the door of a palace or temple, Ayyā Tathāloka perceptively notes that these represent the shrine erected at this place. which strangely enough appears at every step in these lonely spots. Apparently the sculptors saw nothing incongruous in it, or else they worked without thinking of the matter at all.
Fig. 37 The Bodhisattva cuts off his Hair
Then, prince Siddhārtha reflecting that long hair was unbecoming to a monk, and that it was not to be cut by anyone but himself, took his sword and cut off his hair together with his bejewelled turban. The gesture of the Bodhisattva as portrayed in this scene is exactly in accord with the Nidānakathā (p. 64) and other authorities which state that he cut his hair with the turban “moḷiyā saddhiṁ cūḷaṁ.” The Gandhāran artists do not appear to have depicted this scene, nor does it seem to have been a favourite in India. To the Burmese on the contrary, it seems to have appealed from the first, if we are to judge by the frequency with which it is reiterated.
Fig. 38 The Bodhisattva throws up his Hair
Siddhārtha then took his hair with the bejewelled crest and saying: “ If I am to become a Buddha, let my hair remain in the air; if not, let it fall back to the ground,” he threw it up.
The Bodhisattva is in the act of throwing up his hair. The Jinatthapakāsanī (p. 28) adds that, as it went up, it appeared as if it were a magnificent garland of flowers. This is not mentioned in the Nidānakathā; but the Jinatthapakāsanī drew upon many sources and the compiler no doubt had before him some work that was already known to the Mōn monks who superintended the work of the sculptors at the Ānanda. On the proper left, we see Śakra receiving the precious hair, in the form of a garland and, on the other side, the same person carrying away to the Trayastriṁśa heaven, in a casket, the holy relic, over which he erected the Cūḷamaṇi Cetiya. Below are Channa and Kanthaka, witnessing all the phases of the transformation of the prince into a monk.
Fig. 39 The Bodhisattva changes his Dress
The prince further reflected that the dress of fine and costly cloth which he was then wearing was little in accord with the poverty and simplicity of a monk. Straightway the Mahābrahmā angel Ghaṭikāra who had been a friend of his in the time of the Buddha Kassapa, perceiving his friend had entered upon the great renunciation, brought down the eight requisites indispensable to a monk, the three robes, the alms-bowl, etc., and offered them to him. The future Buddha thereupon changed his dress.
The Mahābrahmā Ghaṭikāra is at once recognizable by his three visible heads; he is holding a casket in which are placed the monk’s requisites. The Bodhisattva is now transformed into a monk; his career has begun in earnest, and the humble yellow dress will, henceforth, never be put off. The charioteer and the devoted horse behold with sorrow the momentous change.
Fig. 40a The Farewell
Having donned the yellow garb, the Bodhisattva addressed Channa saying “Go, Channa, salute my father and mother in my name, and tell them I am well.” Channa respectfully passed three times round his master, keeping him to his right, and departed with Kanthaka; but the latter, hearing the words spoken to the charioteer, could not repress his sorrow and, passing from the sight of the Bodhisattva, died of a broken heart.
ln this scene, Channa is kneeling reverentially bidding adieu to the Bodhisattva: we should have expected to see on or near him the bundle containing prince Siddhārtha’s ornaments, which he was to take back to Kapilavastu. Apparently, Ghaṭikāra was loath to depart, for our artists have placed him on the other side, also taking his leave. On this point the Nidānakathā is silent, but other sources state that he threw ‘his princely clothes into the sky, and that Ghaṭikāra catching them up took them to the Brahmā world, where he built over them the Dussa Thūpa shrine. The farewell to Channa really takes place after the departure of Ghaṭikāra only. Cf. Jinacarita, verses 192-193; Jinatthapakāsanī, p. 28.
[Fig. 40b The Bodhisattva in Meditation]
The scenes numbered 51 and 52 in the corridor [were not reproduced in the original] as there is nothing remarkable in them and they might serve to represent many an event in the Buddha’s life.
The first portrays the Bodhisattva in the Anupiya grove; he is seated in the bhūmisparśa mudrā on a lotus throne, and is an exact counter-part of figure 51, with the omission of the ornaments at the back and the small figure on the right hand.
[Fig. 40c The Bodhisattva walking to Rājagṛha]
The second one represents him proceeding from the Anupiya grove to the capital of Magadha, Rājagṛha; he is in the same attitude as in figure 53.
Fig. 41a The Bodhisattva enters Rājagṛha
Having walked in one day the thirty yojanas separating Anupiya from Rājagṛha, the Bodhisattva entered the city in quest of food. As he was going the round of the houses for alms, his appearance struck the inhabitants with wonderment; they knew not whether he was a mortal, a god, or some other being. King Bimbisāra was apprized of the great man’s arrival and having seen him from the terrace of his palace, sent messengers to ascertain who and what he was.
The messengers of Bimbisāra are seen at their task. They watch him beg his food with a bowl in his hands, and they follow him to the Pāṇḍava rock where, having seated himself, he makes heroic efforts to overcome his dislike of the food he had received. The latter is depicted in the next sculpture, No. 54, not reproduced [in the original].
[Fig. 41b The Bodhisattva takes his Alms Food]
Fig. 42 King Bimbisāra visits the Śramaṇa Gotama
The messengers went back and related to the king what they had seen. Bimbisāra hastened into the presence of the sage and offered him his kingdom, but the Bodhisattva refused, saying that he looked only for supreme wisdom. Bimbisāra then begged that, when he had become the Buddha, he would be pleased to reserve his first visit for his kingdom; and this the Bodhisattva promised.
The king is seated below, in regal dress and with his crown; in front of him is his queen; the two other female figures are ladies from the palace. The future Buddha is wrongly represented in the dhyāna-mudrā; he should have been in an easier attitude, since he was then holding converse with the king.
Fig. 43a The Bodhisattva with Āḷāra Kālāma
After Bimbisāra’s visit, the Bodhisattva went from place to place in Magadha and in due course met with the famous Āḷāra Kālāma, the great teacher of philosophy, under whom he learned the several degrees of abstract meditation.
The ascetic Āḷāra is on the right, distinguished by his two top knots, and his sunken stomach – the result of fasting. Opposite him is the Śramaṇa Gotama, learning from his master. They are discussing some knotty point. Below, are three disciples of Āḷāra. The stylized trees represent the jungle.
[Fig. 43b The Bodhisattva with Uddaka Rāmaputta]
The next scene, numbered 57 in the corridor, portrays the Bodhisattva under the tuition of Uddaka, the son of Rāma, another famous ascetic teacher of the time, to whom he went after leaving Āḷāra. It is almost the same as the previous scene, the two trees alone being somewhat different; and inasmuch as it has been very badly repaired, it is not reproduced [in the original].
Fig. 44 Gotama and the Five Mendicants
Gotama was dissatisfied with his two masters’ teaching and convinced that it was not the true path towards enlightenment. So, resolved to attain his object by his own unaided exertion, he repaired to Uruvilvā (P. Uruvelā). There he met with the Pañcavaggiyas, the five mendicants who were some years later to become his first five disciples and form the nucleus of his Order. Persuaded he would become the Buddha, they remained with him.
In the sculptures of Gandhāra, the place of honour is always on the left, but in the Ānanda it is regularly on the right; so that the personage on the proper right is Kauṇḍinya, that on the left, Aśvajit; and the other three [placed at the bottom, are] Vāśpa, Mahānāman and Bhadrika.
Fig. 45 The Fast of Gotama
The Bodhisattva thus spent six years in abstract meditation. Then he resolved to practise severe penance; and beginning to fast, carried it so far that he came to eat only one grain of rice a day. Then he went a step further and ate nothing at all. He could not have long withstood such a strain, but devas came who nourished him with ambrosia by rubbing it into the pores of his skin.
A glance at “The Ascetic Gautama” published by Spooner in his Handbook to the Sculptures in the Peshawar Museum, p. 67, and at the one in the British Museum, published by Foucher in his Art Gréco-bouddhique, Vol. I, p. 381, will show how inferior in skill and technique were the Ānanda artists. But for the ribs that stand out somewhat prominently, a few wrinkles on the forehead and his wasted stomach, our Ascetic Gotama is apparently in excellent condition – nay, even corpulent – for one who had undergone so extreme a penance. On both sides, the devas are busy distilling ambrosia into his body. The deva on the proper right has been retouched by a mason.
Fig. 46a Gotama falls in a Swoon
While Gotama was undergoing this severe penance, one day, when absorbed in deep meditation, his strength failed him and he fainted and fell. Some of the gods thought that he was dead.
The unreflecting conventionality which characterises these sculptures is especially conspicuous in this scene. The Bodhisattva is here portrayed perfectly composed and lying on his right side in the sīhaseyya. This is scarcely the posture in which a person weak and fainting from exhaustion would naturally fall. The fact is that the sculptor has shown him in the parinirvāṇa attitude, which was familiar to him, without giving further thought to his subject: sufficient to him that the Bodhisattva be neither standing nor sitting; but perhaps he was also guided in this by the overseers who may have thought it little edifying to present to the eyes of the faithful the future Buddha lying in a heap on the ground.
Two mistakes again have been committed: on the one hand, the great ascetic has suddenly lost all his emaciation, and is in perfectly normal condition; on the other, the deva on the right who stands for the host of gods who came to see whether he was dead or not, has the nimbus instead of the Bodhisattva, although the latter himself could scarcely be given one, since it is said that, owing to his extreme weakness, all the signs of his grandeur and glory had disappeared.
[Fig. 46b The Bodhisattva breaks his Fast]
The next two sculptures, Nos. 61 and 62 in the Ānanda [were not reproduced in the original]; both are identical, the Buddha being seated in the bhūmisparśa-mudrā as in figures 44 and 51, with the only difference that he is, in both, holding an alms-bowl in his left hand which is resting on his lap. In the first (No. 61) he has recovered from his faint, and the bowl shows that he is determined to eat food now, since fasting and penance do not lead to emancipation from sorrow. He is alone, the pañcavaggiyas having left him in disgust at what they thought was his return to ease and comfort.
[Fig. 46c The Bodhisattva with Pūrṇā]
In No. 62, at the Bodhisattva’s feet is the servant girl Pūrṇā and behind her a small banyan tree. Pūrṇā had been sent by her mistress Sujātā to clear a space beneath the banyan tree for her yearly offering. On this very day Gotama was destined to become the Buddha, and the radiance issuing from him illuminated the whole tree; the girl thought it was the spirit of the tree and went back to tell her mistress what she had seen.
Fig. 47a Sujātā offers a Meal to the Future Buddha
In the latter part of the night Gotama had five dreams, from which he knew he was to become the Buddha on that day. At daybreak, while in quest of food, he stopped at the foot of a holy tree, and it was there that Pūrṇā, as stated above, saw him. On hearing what her servant had seen Sujātā poured her offering of milk in a golden vessel, covered it over with another, repaired to the tree with Pūrṇā and herself offered the milk to the great sage. On the proper right – the place of honour – Sujātā presents the milk which will sustain the Buddha for seven weeks; on the other side is the servant girl Pūrṇā.
Above Gotama, who now has the nimbus, is the holy banyan tree. The four scenes which follow (Nos. 64, 65, 66 and 67) represent the Bodhisattva in the same attitudes; namely in the dhyāna-mudrā and the bhūmisparśa-mudrā. Accordingly they are not reproduced [in the original].
[Fig. 47b The Bodhisattva after his Bath]
No. 64 shows him after his bath in the Nairañjanā on the bank of the river.
[Fig. 47c The Bodhisattva takes Milk-Rice]
No. 65 purports to show him taking the meal offered by Sujātā.
[Fig. 47d The Bodhisattva throws the Bowl in the River]
In No. 66 he is supposed to throw the golden bowl in the Nairañjanā, as all his predecessors had done. In the above three sculptures he is in the dhyāna-mudrā, and it is left to the imagination to guess at the scenes meant to be represented. The utter lack of imagination and originality displayed here is striking.
[Fig. 47e The Bodhisattva seated by the River]
No. 67 shows him after his meal seated on the river bank. But it may be added that, in all these scenes there are gates of temples in the background without a single indication of river or jungle.
Fig. 48 The Bodhisattva proceeds towards the Bodhi Tree
On the evening of the same day, the Bodhisattva began his progress towards the Tree of Wisdom, along a path beautifully prepared by the devas and accompanied by the latter. Two devas carry banners, a third, unseen, being behind the great man, holds a white umbrella over his head.
Fig. 49a The Bodhisattva meets with the Grasscutter
As he was thus proceeding, he met with Svastika, the grasscutter. The latter, inspired as to what was going on and guessing what the Bodhisattva required, offered him eight handfuls of grass, which the sage accepted. The grass was destined to be his seat under the Tree of Wisdom.
The four numbers that follow, 70-73 are again repetitions of the same attitude as that in figure 49, the Bodhisattva holding his two hands in front of his chest in the act of holding the grass.
[Fig. 49b The Bodhisattva approaches from the South]
In No. 70, he approaches the Bo tree from the south, but perceives that it is not the proper direction.
[Fig. 49c The Bodhisattva approaches from the West]
Similarly in Nos. 71 and 72 in which he approaches from the west and north.
[Fig. 49d The Bodhisattva approaches from the North]
[Fig. 49e The Bodhisattva approaches from the East]
In No. 73 he approaches from the east, the proper quarter. In all these again, richly ornamented gates of temples are seen in the background.
Fig. 50a The Bodhisattva sits under the Tree of Wisdom
Having approached the Bo tree from the east, he held the grass by one end and shook it, and a throne of fourteen feet appeared, on which was strewn the grass. It was then that he took the unshakable resolution not to leave his seat until he had become a Buddha, and that Māra came with his mighty army. There were then near him, Śakra blowing his conch, Mahābrahmā holding the white umbrella, the Nāgarāja Mahākāla singing the praise of the great sage, and an innumerable throng of devas.
It will be remarked that the Nāga-king Mahākāla is conspicuous by his absence, there was no room left for him and so he was crowded out. His absence, perhaps, may be symbolical of the fact that he was one of the first of all the gods to take to flight on the approach of Māra’s army. The holy one is seen in the bhūmisparśa-mudrā attitude, the fingers of the right hand pointing towards the ground: he is calling Mother-Earth to witness that this seat of Wisdom belongs to him. On no other occasion prior to this event ought he to have been represented in this attitude, as is rather often the case in this series of sculptures.
The charming legend of how Mother-Earth answered the Buddha has taken root all over Burma, and the statue of the Earth bearing witness is found on almost all important pagodas. She is represented as a woman either kneeling or standing, but generally the latter, with the tresses of her hair falling in front of her breast, while with both hands she is wringing the water from it. Thus is symbolized the water which is poured on the ground on an act of asseveration being performed.
Above the Sage a very much stylized tree represents the sacred banyan tree (ficus religiosa) under which he attained Supreme Enlightenment.
[Fig. 50b The Bodhisattva sits under the Tree of Wisdom]
[Fig. 50c The Bodhisattva sits under the Tree of Wisdom]
[Editor: Through some curious oversight Duroiselle makes no mention of these two sculptures]
Fig. 51 The Contest with Māra
This sculpture is chiefly interesting in that, it seems rather to go back to the oldest texts, which are mostly very sober, than to the Nidānakathā and other later works. There is nothing here of the monstrous warriors and horrible figures which formed an essential part of this scene in India. Māra is here seen on the right of the Bodhisattva. There is nothing warlike about him; he appears, as the principle of evil, to be murmuring temptations of worldly power and enjoyments in the Bodhisattva’s ear, and here, the word ‘temptation’ would have been more appropriate than ‘contest.’
The gruesome warriors who assaulted the Sage were, no doubt, known to our sculptors, as well as to the Mōn monks who supervised their work; for they are found represented on terracotta plaques in the basement of the Ānanda itself. Cf. my Provincial Report for 1913-14, p. 14. Evidently therefore the monks who directed the artists must have given explicit instructions as to how they desired the scene to be presented.
Fig. 52a The Temptation
Māra failed in his endeavours and his three daughters, seeing him dejected, resolved to retrieve his defeat, and repaired to the Goatherd’s Banyan Tree (Ajapāla) where the Buddha, in the fifth week after his Perfect Enlightenment was seated investigating the Law. But their blandishments and wiles proved as ineffectual as their father’s efforts and they had to retire, beaten and crestfallen. Māra’s three daughters are seen dancing before the Buddha, while two other apsaras, on the right hand, are kneeling down, holding what appear to be flowers and garlands. The Ajapāla Banyan tree, which should have been placed behind the Buddha, is seen behind one of the two seated apsaras.
The last two sculptures (Nos. 79 and 80) in which the Buddha is seated in the bhūmisparśa-mudrā are not reproduced [in the original]; they do not appear to be in their original places.
[Fig. 52b The Buddha is worshipped by the Gods]
No. 79, which purports to show the throngs of the devas honouring the Bodhisattva under the Tree of Wisdom should have come immediately before or after figure 50; for, as was said there, besides Śakra, Mahābrahmā and the Nāga-king Mahākāla, the devas also were present from thousands of worlds, and they, too, fled at the approach of Māra.
[Fig. 52c The Perfect Enlightenment]
No. 80 shows us the Mahāpurisa just as he emerges from the last stage of his Bodhisattvaship into the state of the perfectly enlightened Buddha, after his victory against Māra’s hosts; cf. Nidānakathā, pp. 75-76. To be correct, therefore, it ought to have come immediately after figure 51, and before figure 52, since the temptation by Māra’s daughters took place in the fifth week after the Perfect Enlightenment. But it may be that this scene was purposely placed last of all, with the pious intention of leaving on the mind of the devout visitor an indelible impression of the fortitude and majesty of the Great Being who, to open wide the doors of salvation from death and sorrow, practised the highest virtues during countless ages.
The Sculptures in the Porticoes
It will be seen from the foregoing, that the purpose of the eighty scenes in the outer corridor of the Ānanda was solely to represent the salient events of the Bodhisattva’s last existence, from the time of his birth to that of his attainment of Buddhahood only. Only a few of the subsequent events up to the mahāparinirvāṇa are found represented in the Ānanda. These with others are in the four porticoes, each of which as has already been said contains sixteen sculptured stone slabs. Unfortunately, most of the scenes are mere reduplications of a few types. For instance, in each portico are two or three exact copies of the “Birth of the Bodhisattva,” of the “Descent from the Trayastriṁśa,” of the “Submission of Nālāgiri,” etc.; so that, out of sixty-four reliefs there are only five scenes which are not repetitions of one or other found in the corridor and which refer to the Buddha’s and not to the Bodhisattva’s career. A few of these scenes are also to be seen in the Nagāyon temple at Pagan, but these are exactly the same in conception and execution as those in the Ānanda porticoes and possess therefore no particular interest.
There is every reason to believe that this arrangement is not the original one. As the events subsequent to the attainment of Buddhahood under the Bo tree must certainly have been represented in the sixty-four scenes of the porticoes. It has already been remarked several times that not a few of the steles in the corridor showed unmistakable signs of having been broken or damaged and crudely repaired. Probably most of the sculptures in the porticoes met with an even worse fate, and were damaged altogether beyond repair. The empty niches being afterwards fitted with similar sculptures taken from other temples, of which a great many have long since disappeared, not a few having been dismantled for building fortifications at the time of the Tartar invasion at the close of the 13th century A.D. How, otherwise, can we explain, within the circumscribed area of each portico, the multiple repetition of the same scenes, often side by side. For it is well known how rich a mine the legendary history of the Buddha is. and what an abundant harvest of pictorial illustrations it may yield even to an artist endowed but with little imagination.
Fig. 53 The Descent from the Trayastriṁśa Heaven
[Editor: this image is the one mentioned as being in the Archaeological Museum at Pagan, from Buddhist Art of Myanmar, Asia Society Museum catalogue]
This scene represents the well-known incident of the Buddha’s descent from the heaven of the Trayastriṁśa devas, whither he had gone to deliver a series of sermons. When he came down again, the architect of the gods, Viśvakarman, built three stairs of precious metals the feet of which were at Sāṅkāśya, the middle one being intended for the Buddha, the two others for Śakra and Brahmā. The conception of this scene is in no way original; the general outlines are, as was but to be expected, copied from sculptures of the same event in India, but, as is almost always the case in the Ānanda, Brahmā is on the Buddha’s left holding the umbrella and Śakra on his right, holding his conch; in India their respective positions are reversed. The sculptor has made here a capital mistake: he has placed Śāriputra, the small kneeling figure between the Master and Śakra, at the top of the stairs, that is, in the Trayastriṁśa heaven itself, instead of at the bottom, at Sāṅkāśya, where the great disciple was waiting to receive him after his long absence. There is in the Archaeological Museum at Pagan a beautiful wood-carving showing the same scene; but in it, the stairs are rightly placed behind the three principal personages, with Śāriputra in exactly the same position as in the present scene.
Fig. 54. The Sojourn at Pārileyyaka
[Editor: this image is of a similar scene to the one described, but from Kubyauknge Temple, Myinkaba village in Pagan, 1198, from Buddhist Art of Myanmar, Asia Society Museum catalogue]
This interesting episode took place shortly after the arrival of the Buddha at Kauśāmbī. It originated in the dispute between a discipline-master Text: divine, which does not ring true. (vinayadhara) and a propounder of the dharma (dhammakathikā). “The latter, it is said, had committed a fault on a point of discipline; the former accused him publicly; the propounder of the dhamma protested. Thus arose a dispute in which most of the monks in Kauśāmbī took part on the one side or on the other and two camps were formed, between which the dispute and wrangling became daily more violent.
The Master was advised by one of the monks of what was going on, but all the efforts of the Buddha to reconcile the two parties were fruitless. It was on this occasion that he told the touching story of Dīghīti king of Kośala. See my translation of it “The Story of Dīghāvu from Burmese sources” in Buddhism, Rangoon, 1905, Vol II, No 2, pp 280 ff. Annoyed and disgusted with the obstinacy of the monks, he left Kauśāmbī alone and in due course arrived in the wilderness of Pārileyyaka. There, a noble elephant, also disgusted with the doings of his herd, separated from them, came to the same spot, met with the Buddha and served him, carrying his alms-bowl, bringing water, making fire by rubbing sticks, etc. A monkey saw him at his tasks and thought that he, too, would obtain great merit by serving the Master. So perceiving a hive from which the bees had gone forth he broke off a piece of the honey-comb and brought it on a plantain leaf to the Master. The latter ate, and the monkey was so rejoiced that he climbed a tree and gambolled about; but the branches broke and he fell and was killed and was reborn forthwith among the Trayastriṁśas.
The Pārileyyaka incident is given in the Vinayapiṭakaṁ, Vol. I, Mahāvagga, pp. 352-353, where no mention of the monkey is made. The Tathāgata-Udānaṁ on which Bigandet is based, ignores also the monkey, which however, is mentioned in the Commentary on the Dhammapada, Published by the Pali Text Society, 1906. Vol. I, part 1, which gives the complete story, pp. 53 ff, Kosambaka-vatthu, which is reproduced in extenso in the Jinatthapakāsanī, pp. 433 n. With the story of the monkey as briefly narrated above, may be compared also “L’offrande du singe” as given by Foucher in his Art Gréco-bouddhique, p. 512 ff. Although in the several sources the scene of this event is laid in different places; namely in Vaiśālī; Śrāvasti, Kauśāmbī, it will be observed nevertheless that the monkey invariably comes to an untimely end immediately after his offering, in the one story by falling into a hole or well, in the other by being impaled on a sharp stump. In both cases the lesson is the same: he is enabled through his sudden death to receive the instant reward of his deed. Despite the different settings, there can be no doubt that the story is essentially the same.
Here, we see the Buddha, seated European fashion, his hands on his lap, receiving the monkey’s offering of honey. The figure of the latter is repeated, first, on the extreme right where he is standing up and offering with both hands the honey-comb (madhupaṭalaṁ); then, after the Buddha has partaken of his gift, gambolling with delight and running joyfully to the death and reward which await him. On the other side is the Pārileyyaka elephant. His fate too was sealed; for, when the monks of Kauśāmbī were at last reconciled and came to fetch the Master, the noble elephant, at his departure, died of a broken heart and was reborn among the Trayastriṁśas. In the Gandhāran sculptures the Buddha is represented seated in a monastery in which, some northern sources say, this episode took place, and he is surrounded by monks, which in such a place is quite natural. In the southern texts the scene is laid in a wilderness, but in spite of this we see the Buddha seated at the gate of a temple, although trees in the background indicate the wilderness. Ayyā Tathāloka perceptively notes that this represents the shrine erected at this place. The two monks at his side should not have been present, as the monkey incident took place long before the two reconciled parties came to make their submission.
Fig. 55 The Yakṣa Āṭavika
[Editor: I could find no suitable image from Pagan to illustrate this story]
The story of the conversion of the yakṣa Āṭavika is too well known to need repetition here. As in the case of many other legends, so in this one there are two versions: an older and a later one, of which the former is as usual, the more sober and restrained. The old version is found in the Suttanipāta, Edited by Fausböll, London, 1885. Uragavagga, 10, Āḷavakasutta, p. 31, where it is simply said that the yakṣa went to the place where the Buddha dwelt at Āḷavī, and ordered him in and out of it several times, and the Buddha meekly obeyed his commands. Then the yakṣa put him several questions to be rightly answered under pain of a dreadful death. The questions were answered and Āḷavaka was converted. The later version Cf. Jinatthapakāsanī p. 479 ff; Hardy’s “Manual of Buddhism,” pp. 261 ff. introduces the king of Āḷavī, who, while on a hunt, is caught by the terrible yakṣa and obtained his freedom and life on condition that he should send a human being daily to the monster to be devoured. After a few years there remained no one to be sent but the king’s little son, and he too was sent. But the Buddha came from Śrāvasti to Āḷavī, entered the dwelling of the yakṣa, and when, the latter propounded his usual questions, answered them and so converted the yakṣa and gave back the little prince unhurt.
From the sculpture it appears that the artist followed the older version of the story; otherwise, the little babe would have been depicted. The Buddha, his two hands raised in front of his chest, in a position resembling the vitarka-mudrā, is answering the subtle questions of the yakṣa Āḷavika, and the latter, on the Master’s left, with his hands joined over his chest in the attitude of adoration is signifying his conversion. The monk on the proper right represents the Buddha’s disciples who were then with him in his dwelling, the latter presumably indicated by the elaborate gate in the background.
Fig. 56 Submission of the Elephant Nālāgiri
[Editor: I could find no suitable image from Pagan to illustrate this story]
Of the attempts made by Devadatta against the Buddha’s life, the most famous was that connected with the elephant Nālāgiri, whom he made intoxicated and then let loose on the high road of Rājagṛha, in the hope that he would crush the Master to death. But as the great animal approached, the spirit of benevolence from the Buddha so subdued him that he at once lowered his trunk and became calm and meek. The elephant is seen crouching at the Buddha’s feet. We have seen before how the horse Kanthaka became a mere pigmy when placed beside the Bodhisattva; here, the absurdity is carried still further, for Nālāgiri might almost be taken for a rat. The texts say that the Master patted the animal on the head, and he is thus represented by Gandhāran artists; but here, he is in the vara-mudrā, conferring his blessings.
When the Buddha was attacked, he was in the street, accompanied by his monks, two of whom are seen carrying alms-bowls. Instead of a house, from which one or two persons might have been made to peep at the coming onslaught we again perceive the meaningless temple or palace. It will be remarked that, but for the elephant, the scene would be one common enough in Buddhist sculptures: namely the Buddha accompanied by two attendants, whether monks or Śakra and Brahmā or men, and one which is made to suit many episodes by adding some particular person or object to distinguish the scene. See for instance figures 14 and 15 the identity of which can only be guessed at from the positions of the steles in the series.
Fig. 57 King Kyanzittha
[Editor: my own photograph]
Figs. 57 and 58 constitute, so far as I am aware, the only specimens of portraits in stone of real personages to be found in Burma proper. Hence they are peculiarly interesting. The only other statue of an historical personage was found by Dr. Forchhammer at Mrohaung in Arakan Archaeological Reports on Arakan, II. “Mrohaung” no date –, p. 19; it is the likeness of King Candasudhamma otherwise, Pachāmaṇi, who reigned from 1652-1684 A.D. Both are life size in a kneeling posture, the king to the left and the great apostle to the right of the enormous image of Gotama Buddha placed in the western face of the central square pile of the Ānanda.
Fig. 57 is King Kyanzittha (1084-1112 A.D.), the founder of the temple, one of the most famous hero-kings of Burma and one of the greatest soldiers this country has ever known. His sharply cut features and square chin stamp him as a man of uncommonly strong character. It will be remarked that his cast of countenance is not truly Mongolian, or Burmese, his mother having been an Indian Princess.
Fig. 58 Shin Arahan
[Editor: my own photograph]
Fig. 58 is the likeness of Shin Arahan, a Mōn monk, the Apostle of Burma; the dates of his birth and death are not known. What is certain about him is that he hailed from what we call now “Lower Burma,” but which is in reality the Mōn or Mōn Country, Rāmaññadesa. He came to Burma (= Upper Burma) in the reign of King Anoratha (1044-1077 A.D.) and by his zeal, earnestness and learning, did much to establish on a firm basis the Sinhalese form of Buddhism at the capital, Pagan, whence it spread all over the country.
Photographs by Anandajoti Bhikkhu
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