Elongated Earlobes of Gautama Buddha

Many people who remember Lord Buddha due to various reasons such as earlobes of Shakyamuni Buddha, fat belly of Laughing Buddha, footprints of Buddha, crowned hair of Buddha etc.  Earlobes of Gautama Buddha is one of the important features of Buddha sculptures i.e. Buddha statues, Buddha images. In Buddhist tradition, Lord Buddha is mostly depicted with long earlobes which may longer even in some tradition while little shorter but comparatively longer in some Buddhist tradition.

According to Buddhist tradition, earlobes of Lord Buddha is shown elongated as well as pierced which is a soft nodule of ears that hangs under the pinna of the outer ear of Lord Buddha. The tradition of Buddha statues culture has been passed from ancient times and these statues had depicted these peculiar characteristics of earlobes in most of the Buddha statues. Many theories said that long earlobes of Lord Buddha are the part of Lord Buddha and Buddhist iconography. It is said that long earlobes and Ushnisha as well as Halo are the part of Buddhist iconography and are depicted in Buddha statues because of Lord Buddha achievement of Enlightenment and acquirement of great knowledge and wisdom.

Various Interpretations

There are various interpretations for Lord Buddha long earlobes. According to the Buddhist interpretation, Lord Buddha was born as young prince in the royal family of King Soddhodhana of Shakya clan who were ruling the land under the Himalayas, known as Lumbini. Due to royal born, young prince was made to wear heavy ornaments, jewels all over the body i.e. neck, head, ears, etc. Due to the ear ornaments in the year that young Prince was wearing from his childhood until his marriage, it is said these ear ornaments elongated these ears. This can be considered as the Buddhist history interpretations. But there are other various interpretations in Buddhism such as elongated earlobes are depicted to represents the all hearing ability of Prince Siddhartha before Enlightenment.

According to western interpretations, long as well as elongated earlobes are the representation of great wisdom, knowledge as well as revered by other peoples such as Lord Ganesha in Hindu religion, as well as Mahatma Gandhi in Indian history. The elongated earlobes are believed to listen the tales of other people sufferings. Even the Buddha statues of Laughing Buddha as well as Amitabha Buddha are depicted with long earlobes in most of the tradition.

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Reclining Buddha Statues

Reclining Buddha is one of the most popular Buddha figures in all history of Buddhism. Reclining Buddha postures have the important and significant meaning behind this posture. The postures is popular since it’s involvement in the lifetime of Lord Buddha. Just before attaining Parinirvana i.e. death of Buddha, Lord Buddha was laying due to his illness and was about to attain Parinirvana, he was lying on the right flank while Lord Buddha’s head was resting in on a cushion while relying on his right elbow supporting his head with his right hand.

During this event, just before Parinirvana, Lord Buddha was sitting in reclining postures, and all the disciples of Lord Buddha along with other senior Buddhist monks were present in the moment, and all of them were listening to Lord Buddha’s last preaching in Kushinagar, an important Buddhist pilgrimage sites. In present, Reclining Buddha statues and images are quite popular and there are number of large reclining Buddha statues all over the Buddhist countries. Some examples are Wat Pho temple which houses the most popular golden reclining Buddha statues with 108 symbols in the statues feet, The Monywa Buddha statue of Myanmar etc.

Let’s see some of these popular Reclining Buddha statues all around the globe. They are:

Wat Pho Buddhist temples

Wat Pho is an important Buddhist attraction that located in Bangkok, Thailand and mostly known as the temple of Reclining Buddha statues. Wat Pho temple houses a 46m long reclining Buddha statues, and has the largest collection of Buddha images. This reclining Buddha statues is plated in gold and one of the most important statues in Wat Pho temple. The feet of this reclining Buddha statues shows the 108 symbols of Buddhism.

The Monywa Buddha statue

The Monywa Buddha statues are one of the important Buddhist attraction in Buddhist land of Myanmar. The reclining Buddha statues of Myanmar is currently the largest reclining Buddha statues in the world which is about 300 m long and also contain 9000 small Buddha images and his disciples.

Nanzion Temple

Nanzoin Temple in Japan is the Shingon sect Buddhist temple and is popular for the largest reclining Buddha statues in Japan. It is said the reclining Buddha statues in Nanzoin temple is made of Bronze material and is said to be the largest Bronze Buddha statue in the world.

Gal Bihara Temple

Gal Bihara Buddhist temple is the rock temple of Buddha statues with different postures. Gal Bihara Buddhist temple is located in Sri Lanka, and is popular for big Buddha statues i.e. Walking Buddha statue, Standing Buddha statue, and Reclining Buddha figures. The four rock relief statues of Gal Bihara temple were carved into the large granite rock and that’s what makes Gal Bihara quite especial among other Big Buddha statues.

These reclining Buddha statues are popular in the Buddhist world but are an important part of tourist attraction for the world too. These statues are the important figures that tells the important part of Buddhist history.       

The Endless Knot in Buddhism

The Endless Knot is one of the important and auspicious symbols among the eight other Auspicious symbols in Buddhism. As mentioned in the previous posts about the importance of Lotus i.e. bloomed Lotus flowers, Endless Knot is considered as the most important symbols being the only meaningful symbols in the entire religion in the world even though the design and architecture of endless knot is nothing sort of eye catching and deeply intriguing. The Endless knot is depicted as an intricate pattern of various lines interlacing. And these interlacing lines are interlaced in never-ending loops.

The endless knot is considered as the important religious as well as cultural marker in Tibetan Buddhism which is vastly followed in Tibet, Mongolia, Tuva, Buryatia etc. But the endless knot is also found in various Buddhist countries tradition such as Chinese Buddhism, especially Chinese cultural art as well as Celtic art. The meaning behind this auspicious symbol is quoted below:

“Without Beginning or End, It is an intricate design of looped interlaced lines that weave in and out of each other to form a beautiful lattice pattern.”

Interpretation of Endless Knot

Every symbols in Buddhism has their unique Spiritual representation. But the most significant and divine significance of Endless knot is the connection one’s spiritual path, the movement of eternal time. The endless knot is also the connection between one’s spiritual path with Omnipotent Lord Buddha himself.

The endless knot provides the perspective to the Buddhist practitioner especially sitting in front of Buddha statues to let go of the situation that are quite challenging and to see the opposing sides of the situation in order to see in to the new lights.

All the twisted turns and opposite turns in this symbols clearly represents that all the sentient beings in this world are interconnected through this interlaced lines. This symbols is quite the different than the duality that existed in Buddhist tradition because the endless knot is the perfect representation of unity in all the space and universe.

As the Dhammapada said:

“Conquer the angry man by love.
Conquer the ill-natured man by goodness.
Conquer the miser with generosity.
Conquer the liar with truth.”

Meaning and Importance of Lotus in Buddhism

In many religious traditions, Lotuses are represented as the symbols of purity and also represent divine birth. Being the symbol of purity, in Buddhism the lotus bloomed profusely in both Buddhist art as well as Buddhist literature. The lotus flower is one of the eight most auspicious symbols that are found in the Buddhism i.e. lotus blossom, the parasol, two golden fish, the conch shell, the vase, dharma wheel, the eternal knot. The roots of Lotus flower is muddy water, but even though beautiful lotus flower blossoms even more beautiful, clean and fragrant. The blossomed lotus flower represents the beings who rise through the life of samsara and attained enlightenment of beauty and clarity.

Some other meanings of lotus flower is the purification of spirits. It signifies the purification of spirits that are born in the world of murkiness and darkness. Another meaning of Lotus flower is considered as faithfulness i.e. in the sense, the beings who are trying and working to rise up from the muddy water must be faithful to the blossomed lotus flower. Rising above of the mud for sole purpose of blooming in to beautiful lotus requires a great faith in oneself, the teachings of Buddha, and the practice related to Buddha teachings.

Types of Lotus flower in Buddhism

In Buddhism, the blossomed Lotus flower is categorized according to the colors of lotus and their groupings. There are around 5 types of lotus flowers. They are:

White Lotus

White Lotus is the representation of Bodhi i.e. Bodhi is the state where one have pure metal states, spiritual perfection. The White lotus flower consists of eight petals that signifies eight path of Noble Middle Way.

Red Lotus

Red Lotus is the representation of nature of pure heart. This red lotus flower symbolizes true love, compassion, activity, all pure qualities of the heart. The red lotus flower is depicted with one of the important Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara.

Blue Lotus

Blue Lotus is the representation of all the holy spirit’s victory over the intelligence, wisdom, senses, as well knowledge. Blue Lotus flower is mostly depicted as partially opened bud and that is the main reason that the center part of Blue lotus is never seen. Blue lotus is mostly associated with Bodhisattva Manjushree and is the embodiment of the “Perfection of Wisdom” i.e. Prajnaparamita.

Pink Lotus

Pink Lotus is considered as the supreme lotus flower, and is mostly associated with the highest deity. But pink lotus is sometimes confused with white flower which is the historical lotus flower of Lord Buddha.

Purple Lotus

Purple Lotus is one of the mystical Lotus flower. This purple lotus flower is sometimes depicted as full bloomed flower or sometimes depicted as bud.

Bhumisparsha Mudra – Earth Witness Mudra

As mentioned in previous articles, Mudras are one of the  important features that represents various importance of Buddha statues as well as the life event that may have occurred in the lifetime of Lord Buddha. Among these various Buddha hand gestures, Earth Witness Buddha gestures represent one of the most common images of Lord Buddha in Buddhism. The Bhumisparsha Mudra is also translated as earth touching mudra as well as earth witness mudra.

News:

Through different research some important details have been revealed with a help of local Buddha statues maker and seller. A Buddha gestures cannot be called Bhumisparsha unless five Buddha mudra statues are in a set i.e. if there is set of five different buddha statues with five different Buddha mudra like varada mudra, dhyana mudra, dharmachakra mudra, vitarka mudra, and Bhumisparsha mudra then and then only Buddha statues can be said to represent Bhumisparsha mudra and other various Mudras.

History of Bhumisparsha Mudra

It happened during the time when Lord Buddha was about to realized Enlightenment. There was a demon named Mara who became jealous of Lord Buddha and claimed that he attained Enlightenment in front of Lord Buddha. Even his army of demon claimed to be the witness of Mara demon enlightenment. It is believed that Demon Mara asked Lord Buddha about his witness for achieving Nirvana. Lord Buddha was calm even in such crucial moment and remain in his meditation from but his right hand touch the earth. There seems to different variation on how earth became the witness of Lord Buddha’s enlightenment. One story said that when Lord Buddha touched the earth with his hand, the earth itself spoke and claimed to be the witness of Lord Buddha. Another story said that when Lord Buddha touch the earth with his right hand, Earth God came from the earth and claimed to be the witness of Lord Buddha enlightenment. After the appearance of Earth god, Mara demon and his demon army fled off from Lord Buddha. This is how Bhumisparsha Mudra came to exist in the history of Buddhism.

Characteristics of Bhumisparsha Mudra

Most of Buddha statues with Bhumisparsha mudra, is depicted with the right hand of Buddha images as the pendant over the right knee toward the earth with palm of left hand upright in his lap. The legs are depicted in crossed seated position. Along with normal Buddha statues, one of Buddha among Five Dhyani Buddha, Buddha Akshobhaya also used Bhumisparsha Mudra and it is said that it was used by Buddha Akshobhaya in order to transform his anger and delusion into wisdom. That’s the sole reason that Bhumisparsha Mudra is also known for the transformation of anger to wisdom.

Ushnisha – Crown of the Buddha

One of the key features that can be found in most of the Burmese Buddha statues is Ushnisha. In general, Ushnisha is a three dimensional oval shaped that can be found on the top of the Buddha and Buddha statues. One of the misunderstandings between Ushnisha and topknot of young prince is that Ushnisha symbolizes Lord buddha attainment of reliance in spiritual level whereas topknot symbolizes the royal family culture. The topknot was cut off by Prince Siddhartha before leaving the royal palace to become ascetic.

During early Buddhist culture, Ushnisha was used in order to represent the crown on the top of the head of Lord Buddha. Ushnisha can be considered as an important features in most of the Buddha statues, Buddha images, and Buddha sculptures. But the exact proof has yet to be proved about the existence of Ushnisha during the lifetime of Lord Buddha as well as whether Lord Buddha had actually Ushnisha on the top of his head or not. There are many theories about the hair of Buddha saying that Lord Buddha had shaved heads whereas some other theories said that Lord Buddha had curly hairs.

Use of Ushnisha in Buddha Statues

The Ushnisha was first depicted in Buddha statues around 1st century CE in the Greco Buddhist Art that had huge influence in Gandhara art. That’s was the first when ushnisha became the iconography of Gandhara Buddhist Art and portrayed Ushnisha as the crown of Gautama Buddha. During those Gandhara Buddhist periods, Ushnisha in Lord Head was depicted as the gathering of wavy and huge hair and changing in to chignon.

The appearance of Ushnisha in the Buddha statues can be differed according to different Buddhist tradition. In late time, South Asian countries introduce a new type of depiction on Buddha Ushnisha. The ushnisha depicted in Buddha images in South Asian countries were given more schematic appearance and instead of chignon, these countries also introduce flame or lotus flower. That’s why Ushnisha have been around for many years and had a evolving presence in the Buddhist art of Buddha statues, Buddha images, and other Buddhist sculptures.

Buddha and His Important Disciples

Lord Buddha, Enlightened One for forty five years helped all the sentient beings through his vast amount of knowledge and wisdom.  The present situation of Buddhism can be considered as the result of Lord Buddha’s greatest teachings as well as the principles Lord Buddha left behind in this mortal world. There are many uncountable number of Buddhist followers and disciples of Lord Buddha but among them some of these Buddhist disciples are said to be important disciples who have made their name in the history of Buddhism.

Important Disciples of Lord Buddha

Let’s see some of these important Buddhist disciples:

  1. Sariputra
    Sariputra is one of the important Buddhist disciples of Lord Buddha and was the chief disciples of Lord Buddha. Ven. Sariputra was known as the foremost in Wisdom. Before becoming the Buddhist monks, Sariputra was born in the family of Brahmin and his name was Upatissa. Lord Buddha had two chief disciples, one being Sariputra and other being Ven. Moggallana. It is believed that Both Ven. Sariputra and Ven. Moggallana were born on the same day and they became the best of friends. Ven. Sariputra was renowned for his beautiful teachings of Buddhist principles. Ven. Sariputra was known for his various extraordinary works like the events with Devadatta.
  2. Moggallana
    Moggallana, also one of the chief disciples of Lord Buddha was known as foremost in supernatural powers. Before he became Buddhist monks, his name was Maudyagalyana. He was considered as the senior teachers by most of the Buddhist monks and his possession of supernatural powers helps all the other sentient beings whether they are junior Buddhist monks or human.
  3. Mahakasyapa
    Mahakasyapa, one of the senior Buddhist monks is also the important disciples of Lord Buddha. Ven. Mahakasyapa was known as foremost in ascetic practices. Mahakasyapa, was the one of the senior Monks who started the tradition of Sangha after the death of Lord Buddha. Ven. Mahakasyapa was the first Buddhist monks along with Ven. Ananda who preached on the Buddhist sutra to 500 buddhist monks in the Sangha.
  4. Subhuti
    Ven. Subhuti, other important disciples of Lord Buddha was known as foremost in understanding the emptiness. It is believed that he was very good at explaining the doctrines of Emptiness or Sunyata to junior Buddhist monks. Since he was foremost in Emptiness, he is mentioned in the Prajnaparamita of Mahayana Buddhism.
  5. Purna Maitrayani Putra
    Ven. Purna was a rich family Brahmin born in the family of religious advisor of the King. Purna was foremost in the debating the Dharma and it is said that Purna preferred to give public sermons. It is also said that Ven. Purna was mentioned in many stories and it mentioned him in debate with many great monks of other religions about Dharma.
  6. Katyayana
    Ven. Katyayana  was foremost in spreading Dharma unlike any other Buddhist disciples. He quickly attained Buddhahood after following Lord Buddha and was extremely enthusiast when it comes to spreading Dharma to whole world. He always believed 10 qualities of Dharma one must possess. They are Knowing the Dharma, explaining Dharma, publicly speaking of Dharma, finding skillful means to spread Dharma, following what is preached, pleasant personality, possessing true energy, command respects and tired less.
  7. Aniruddha
    Aniruddha was one of the seven Shakya prince who became the followers of Lord Buddha and was the cousin of Lord buddha. According to history of Buddhism, Aniruddha and Ananda became the followers of Lord Buddha at the same time. Aniruddha, being the foremost in the attentiveness, also possess the heavenly eye and became the master of clairvoyance. It is said that after Lord Buddha, he was most capable of using clairvoyance powers.
  8. Upali
    Upali, was one of the most popular Buddhist disciples who became the Buddhist monks even being the barber and low caste. It is said that Ven. Upali was ordained before seven Shakya Princes was foremost in upkeeping the precepts. Ven. Upali took part in the First Buddhist council and helped in the compilation of Buddhist principles i.e. Vinaya.
  9. Rahula
    Rahula, the youngest disciples to attained the Enlightenment at the age of 18, was foremost in having the desire for the instruction of the Dharma. Ven. Rahula was the biological son of Lord Buddha and was ordained when he was still a child.
  10. Ananda
    It is rare to see if any Buddhist monks don’t know the name of Ven. Ananda. Ananda was the closest Buddhist disciples of Lord Buddha and Ven. Ananda sit beside the Lord Buddha. It is said that Ven. Ananda attined enlightenment after the death of Lord Buddha and two chief disciples. He also was involved in the first Buddhist council. Ven. Ananda took great care of Lord Buddha during his 25 years of services to Lord Buddha.

Hair of Lord Buddha – Getting rid of Weed of Ignorance

Among the various features of the Lord Buddha statues, hair of Lord Buddha has quite important meanings. Hair of Buddha is mostly depicted as the curly hair like an African. It is even brought upto the debate whether the Lord Buddha is an African depending upon his hair. But as the history have shown that Lord Buddha was born in the royal family of Shakya Clan who lived in the plain of Kapilvastu that lies in the Landlocked Country Nepal, in the present time.

But according to Buddhist tradition, we can find many different kinds of amazing facts on Buddha hairs. Hair of Buddha engraved in the Buddha images and Buddha statues are also said to be have hidden meanings. It is believed that when Lord Buddha left the life of royalty to become an ascetic, he had long curly hairs and after leaving the royal kingdom, he cut his hair with a knife looking like a monk and left the palace.

It is said that hair is the representation of one’s illusion and ignorance and the hair is also popularly known as the weed of ignorance and the action of Lord Buddha cutting his hair represents that he got rid of the weeds of ignorance. In Buddhism, the process of cutting and shaving the hair is said to provide the “determination to keep the body as well as the mind clean in order to fully grasp the full and true understanding” thus attaining Enlightenment.

Historical Evidence of Lord Buddha’s hair

Even though many styles and different variation of Buddha statues as well as Buddha images are made, it doesn’t possible represent the real figure of Buddha since these various styles made the some various unique characteristics in the Buddha statues. But one small historical evidence briefly said that a hunter happened to stumbled upon the Lord buddha while he was meditating in the forest and it is also said that Lord Buddha was bald. But in the same evidence, a hunter saw Lord buddha with hair wearing monk’s robe.

Eyes of the Gautama Buddha

Lord Buddha also know as the Light of Asia and the founder of Buddhism and represents the religion of peace, compassion, harmony and wisdom. Lord buddha attained Enlightenment after years of hardship and intense meditation and started teaching the principles of his knowledge and got recognized for his exceptional knowledge, insight and wisdom. Even though Lord Buddha said not to worship or make any kind of sculptures out of respect to Lord Buddha, later many Buddha statues, Buddha images, monasteries, stupa were made in various Buddhist countries which were due to the high influence of Greek and Pala styles of statues.

Eyes of Buddha in Buddhist Tradition

According to Buddhist tradition, Buddhism contains a large number of Buddhist symbols and each of these Buddhist symbols and important events. One of the reclining Buddha statues i.e. Ratanakoshin Buddha Statues have got around 108 Buddhist symbols in its legs and each of these symbols is crafted with precise technique and that means these symbols hold important meanings and these symbols must be visible to fully show its importance. Among all these Buddhist Symbols, Eyes of Buddha is also one of them and holds an important role in Buddhism. Every Buddhist shrine all over the world is made with three eyes that depict the eyes of Buddha himself.

eyes of buddha, eyes of Buddhism

Eyes of Buddha

These three eyes holds quite important meanings in the Buddhism. According to legend, every Buddhist Stupa contains giant pairs of eyes and the third eyes above the pair of eyes in all four directions and it is also believed that these eyes look after every sentient being in all direction. These eyes are known as Buddha Eyes i.e. (Wisdom Eyes) and these eyes also represents the symbols of all seeing or omniscience of Buddha. According to legend, Lord Buddha was able to see through all with his omniscience eyes.

During the lifetime of Lord Buddha, when two chief disciples i.e. Sariputra and Mahamoggallana first came into the contact of Ven. Buddhist monk Assaji, they heard about the one who knew the existence of one who after death and went to Lord Buddha. And then when they arrive near Lord Buddha then Lord said that two monks are coming who will become great disciples of Lord Buddha. And as he said they became one of the most important Buddha disciples and provides important works in the field of Buddhism. Sariputra became the General of Dharma and Mahamoggallana became the Venerable of Super Powers.

Eyes of Buddha in Buddhist Stupa

The eyes in the Buddhist stupa represent the all-seeing ability of Buddha and these pairs of Buddha is believed to watch all the sentient beings in all four directions and the third eye of the Buddhist stupa are believed to protect and help all sentient beings that these pairs of eyes watched. According to Buddhist tradition, these wisdom eyes helps all the sentient beings in all four directions to conquer over the darkness of ignorance through the light of wisdom and compassion.

Mudras in Buddha Statues

Buddha Statues are the representation of Buddha himself and is also the symbol of peace, happiness and compassion and is worshiped million of Buddhist followers as well devout in the whole world. Buddha statues in the world can be categorized in number of ways as there are many tradition that have their own styles and tradition of making Buddha statues, such as Buddha statues from various period of Myanmar, or Buddha statues from Thailand etc.

One of the most attractive features that can be found in the Buddha statues are mudra or basically hand gestures and postures. These mudras are the hand positions that Lord Buddha used during his lifetime and are thousand of years old. These Buddha mudras are considered to hold much significance since they are features that explained a lot about the event in the life of the Living Buddha, i.e. Shakyamuni Buddha. There are number of Buddha mudras that occurred during the lifetime of Lord Buddha, and each of them holds different symbolic meanings.

bhumisparsha mudra buddha statues

Buddha Statues with Bhumisparsha Mudra

Type of Mudras

There are numbers of Buddha hand postures or mudras and each of them holds their own history and symbolic meanings. They are as follows:

  1. Abhaya Mudra
    Abhaya Mudra is referred as Mudra of No-fear and is believed to represents protection, benevolence, peace and elimination of fears. This mudra was used by Lord Buddha when he subdue a rampaged elephant sent by Ven. Devadatta. After using this mudra, the rampaged Elephant is said to kneel before Lord Buddha due to his benevolence. It is said that worshipping Buddha statue with Abhaya Mudra helps to dispel fear from oneselves.
  2. Bhumisparsha Mudra
    Bhumisparsha Mudra is one of the mostly used mudra in the Buddha statues in most of the Buddhist countries. Bhumisparsha Mudra is hand gestures where one hand is rested in the crossed leg and and right hand is depicted touching the earth. It is also knonw as earth witness Buddha.
  3. Dharmachakra Mudra
    Dharmachakra Mudra is the mudra representing the Wheel of Dharma while attaining Enlightenment. It depicts one of the important events in the life of Buddha. It was the hand gestures made by Lord Buddha while teaching first sermon in Sarnath.
  4. Dhyana Mudra
    Another important Buddha mudras used by Lord Buddha during his meditation. Dhyana Mudra is also the representation of gestures of meditation and concentration of Good Law. In Dhyana Mudra, two hands are placed in the lap while right hand is placed above the left hand.
  5. Varada Mudra
    The varada mudra also known as the favorable Mudra is the symbol of offering, charity of giving, sincerity, compassion and welcome. The varada Mudra is mostly used in the Buddha statues made in the Southeast Asia.

Significance of Mudra

Buddha mudras or hand gestures are quite important in the Buddhism. Most of the Buddha statues are made with these various Mudras. Many Buddhist monks and followers of Mahayana Buddhism, Theravada Buddhism follow Buddha statues with Dhyana Mudra for their source of inspiration while meditating. Other Mudras also have their own symbolic meanings for the ordained monks and nuns.