Maya (mother of the Buddha)
Queen Māyā of Sakya was the birth mother of Gautama Buddha, the sage on whose teachings Buddhism was founded, and the sister of Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī, the first Buddhist nun ordained by the Buddha. Thus Maya did not raise her son who was raised by his maternal aunt Mahapajapati Gotami. Maya would, however, on occasion descend from Heaven to give advice to her son, Māyā is called Mahāmāyā and Māyādevī. In Tibetan she is called Gyutrulma and in Japanese is known as Maya-bunin, Sinhalese known as මහාමායා දේවී. In Buddhist literature and art Queen Maya is portrayed as a beautiful woman in the prime of life. Her beauty sparkles like a nugget of pure gold and she has perfumed curls like the large black bee. Eyes like lotus petals, teeth like stars in the heavens, Maya is usually shown giving birth standing under a tree and reaching overhead to hold on to a branch for support. Buddhist scholar Miranda Shaw, states that Queen Mayas depiction in the nativity scene follows an established in earlier Buddhist depictions of the tree spirits known as yaksini.
Māyā married King Śuddhodana, the ruler of the clan of Kapilvastu. She was the daughter of King Śuddhodhanas uncle and therefore his cousin, Māyā and King Suddhodhana did not have children for twenty years into their marriage. According to legend, one full night, sleeping in the palace. She felt herself being carried away by four devas to Lake Anotatta in the Himalayas, after bathing her in the lake, the devas clothed her in heavenly cloths, anointed her with perfumes, and bedecked her with divine flowers. Soon after an elephant, holding a white lotus flower in its trunk, appeared. Finally the elephant disappeared and the queen awoke, knowing she had delivered an important message. According to Buddhist tradition, the Buddha-to-be was residing as a bodhisattva in the Tuṣita heaven, Māyā gave birth to Siddharta c.563 BCE. The pregnancy lasted ten lunar months, following custom, the Queen returned to her own home for the birth. On the way, she stepped down from her palanquin to have a walk under the Sal tree, often confused with the Ashoka tree, in the flower garden of Lumbini Park, Lumbini Zone.
Maya Devi was delighted by the park and gave birth standing while holding onto a sal branch, legend has it that Prince Siddhārtha emerged from her right side
Bodhisattvas are a popular subject in Buddhist art. In early Indian Buddhism, the term bodhisattva was primarily used to specifically to Gautama Buddha in his former life. The Jataka tales, which are the stories of the Buddhas past lives, depict the various attempts of the bodhisattva to embrace qualities like self-sacrifice, mount Potalaka, for example, is one of Bodhisattvayana. Because Hinayana was disliked and the terms Śrāvaka-Bodhisattva or Pratyekabuddha-Bodhisattva were not widely used, bodhisattva retained an implied reference to someone on the path to become an arhat or pratyekabuddha. In contrast, the goal of Mahayanas bodhisattva path is to achieve Samyaksambodhiṃ, during his discourses, he recounts his experiences as a young aspirant, he regularly uses the phrase When I was an unenlightened bodhisatta. The term therefore connotes a being who is bound for enlightenment, in other words, in the Pāli canon, the bodhisatta is described as someone who is still subject to birth, death, sorrow and delusion.
Some of the lives of the Buddha as a bodhisattva are featured in the Jataka tales. According to the Theravāda monk Bhikkhu Bodhi, the path is not taught in the earliest strata of Buddhist texts such as the Pali Nikayas which instead focus on the ideal of the Arahant. In Theravada literature, the bodhisatta is used fairly frequently in the sense of someone on the path to liberation. He quotes an inscription from the 10th Century king of Sri Lanka, Mahinda IV, paul Williams writes that some modern Theravada meditation masters in Thailand are popularly regarded as bodhisattvas. Like perhaps some of the early Mahāyāna forest hermit monks, or the Buddhist Tantrics and they are widely revered and held to be arhats or bodhisattvas. Mahāyāna Buddhism is based principally upon the path of a bodhisattva, according to Jan Nattier, the term Mahāyāna was originally even an honorary synonym for Bodhisattvayāna, or the Bodhisattva Vehicle. The Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra contains a simple and brief definition for the term bodhisattva and this definition is given as the following.
Because he has enlightenment as his aim, a bodhisattva-mahāsattva is so called, the early Rastrapalapariprccha sutra promotes a solitary life of meditation in the forests, far away from the distractions of the householder life. The Rastrapala is critical of monks living in monasteries and in cities who are seen as not practicing meditation. These texts seem to indicate the initial Bodhisattva ideal was associated with a strict forest asceticism, Mahāyāna Buddhism encourages everyone to become bodhisattvas and to take the bodhisattva vows. With these vows, one makes the promise to work for the enlightenment of all sentient beings by practicing the six perfections. Indelibly entwined with the vow is merit transference
Four Noble Truths
The Four Noble Truths are the truths of the Noble Ones, the truths or realities which are understood by the worthy ones who have attained Nirvana. The truths are dukkha, the arising of dukkha, the cessation of dukkha, the four truths express the basic orientation of Buddhism, we crave and cling to impermanent states and things, which is dukkha, incapable of satisfying and painful. This keeps us caught in samsara, the cycle of repeated rebirth, dukkha. But there is a way to real happiness and to end this cycle. The meaning of the truths is as follows, incapable of satisfying, Life in this mundane world, with its craving and clinging to impermanent states and things, is dukkha and painful, the origination or arising of dukkha. Dukkha, and repeated life in this world, arises with taṇhā, craving for and clinging to impermanent states. This craving and clinging produces karma which leads to renewed becoming, keeping us trapped in rebirth and renewed dissatisfaction, the four truths provide a conceptual framework for introducing and explaining Buddhist thought, which has to be personally understood or experienced.
The formulation of the four truths, and their importance, developed over time, in the sutras, the four truths have both a symbolic and a propositional function. They represent the awakening and liberation of the Buddha, but the possibility of liberation for all sentient beings, the four truths are of central importance in the Theravada tradition, which holds to the idea that insight into the four truths is liberating in itself. They are less prominent in the Mahayana traditions, which emphasize insight into sunyata, the four truths are best known from their presentation in the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, which contains two sets of the four truths, while various other sets can be found in the Pali Canon. According to the Buddhist tradition, the Buddha first taught the four noble truths in the very first teaching he gave after attaining enlightenment, as recorded in the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta. According to Norman, the Pali canon contains various shortened forms of the four truths, the mnemonic set, the earliest form of the mnemonic set was dukkham samudayo nirodho magga, without the reference to sacca or arya, which were added to the formula.
This full set contains grammatical errors, but were considered correct by the Pali tradition, as opposite to sukha, pleasure, it is better translated as pain. S. Cousins notes that the four truths are not restricted to the form where dukkha is the subject. Other forms take the world, the arising of the world or the āsavas, according to Cousins, the well-known form is simply shorthand for all of the forms. The world refers to the saṅkhāras, that is, all compounded things, the Pali terms ariya sacca are commonly translated as noble truths. This translation is a convention started by the earliest translators of Buddhist texts into English, this is just one of several possible translations. According to Paul Williams, here is no reason why the Pali expression ariyasaccani should be translated as noble truths
A stupa is a mound-like or hemispherical structure containing relics that is used as a place of meditation. Stupas originated as pre-Buddhist tumuli in which śramaṇas were buried in a position called chaitya. After the parinirvana of the Buddha, his remains were cremated, the earliest archaeological evidence for the presence of Buddhist stupas dates to the late 4th century BCE in India. Buddhist scriptures claim that stupas were built at least a century earlier, some stupas, such as at Sarnath and Sanchi, seem to be embellishments of earlier mounds. The earliest evidence of monastic stupas dates back to the 2nd century BCE and these are stupas that were built within Buddhist monastic complexes and they replicate in stone older stupas made of baked bricks and timber. Sanchi, Sarnath and Bharhut are examples of stupas that were shaped in stone imitating previously existing wooden parts, the stupa was elaborated as Buddhism spread to other Asian countries, for example, the chörten of Tibet and the pagoda in East Asia.
The pagoda has varied forms that include bell-shaped and pyramidal styles, in the Western context, there is no clear distinction between a stupa and a pagoda. Stupas were built in Sri Lanka soon after Devanampiya Tissa of Anuradhapura converted to Buddhism, the first stupa to be built was the Thuparamaya. Later, many more were built over the years, some like the Jetavanaramaya in Anuradhapura being one of the tallest ancient structures in the world, the earliest archaeological evidence for the presence of Buddhist stupas dates to the late 4th century BCE. In India, Sarnath and Bharhut are among the oldest known stupas, the tallest is the Phra Pathommachedi in Nakhon Pathom Province, Thailand, at a height of 127 metres. The Swat Valley hosts a well-preserved stupa at Shingardar near Ghalegay, another stupa is located near Barikot, in Sri Lanka, the ancient city of Anuradhapura includes some of the tallest, most ancient and best preserved stupas in the world, such as Ruwanwelisaya. The most elaborate stupa is the 8th century Borobudur monument in Java, the upper rounded terrace with rows of bell-shaped stupas contained Buddha images symbolizing Arūpajhāna, the sphere of formlessness.
The main stupa itself is empty, symbolizing complete perfection of enlightenment, borobudurs unique and significant architecture has been acknowledged by UNESCO as the largest buddhist monument in the world. It is the world’s largest Buddhist temple, as well as one of the greatest Buddhist monuments in the world. Object stupa, in which the items interred are objects belonged to the Buddha or his disciples, such as a bowl or robe. Commemorative stupa, built to commemorate events in the lives of Buddha or his disciples, symbolic stupa, to symbolise aspects of Buddhist theology, for example, Borobudur is considered to be the symbol of the Three Worlds and the spiritual stages in a Mahayana bodhisattvas character. Votive stupa, constructed to commemorate visits or to gain spiritual benefits, the shape of the stupa represents the Buddha and sitting in meditation posture on a lion throne. His crown is the top of the spire, his head is the square at the base, his body is the vase shape, his legs are the four steps of the lower terrace
Dharma is a key concept with multiple meanings in the Indian religions — Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. There is no single word translation for dharma in western languages, in Buddhism dharma means cosmic law and order, but is applied to the teachings of the Buddha. In Buddhist philosophy, dhamma/dharma is the term for phenomena, Dharma in Jainism refers to the teachings of tirthankara and the body of doctrine pertaining to the purification and moral transformation of human beings. For Sikhs, the word means the path of righteousness. The Classical Sanskrit noun dharma is a derivation from the root dhṛ, the word dharma was already in use in the historical Vedic religion, and its meaning and conceptual scope has evolved over several millennia. The antonym of dharma is adharma, the Classical Sanskrit noun dharma is a derivation from the root dhṛ, which means to hold, maintain and takes a meaning of what is established or firm, and hence law. It is derived from an older Vedic Sanskrit n-stem dharman-, with a meaning of bearer, supporter.
In the Rigveda, the word appears as an n-stem, dhárman-, figuratively, it means sustainer and supporter. It is semantically similar to the Greek Ethos, in Classical Sanskrit, the noun becomes thematic, dharma-. The word dharma derives from Proto-Indo-European root *dʰer-, which in Sanskrit is reflected as class-1 root √dhṛ, etymologically it is related to Avestan √dar-, Latin firmus, Lithuanian derė́ti, Lithuanian dermė and darna and Old Church Slavonic drъžati. Classical Sanskrit word dharmas would formally match with Latin o-stem firmus from Proto-Indo-European *dʰer-mo-s holding, were it not for its development from earlier Rigvedic n-stem. In Classical Sanskrit, and in the Vedic Sanskrit of the Atharvaveda, in Pāli, it is rendered dhamma. In some contemporary Indian languages and dialects it occurs as dharm. Dharma is a concept of central importance in Indian philosophy and religion and it has multiple meanings in Hinduism and Jainism. It is difficult to provide a concise definition for dharma, as the word has a long and varied history and straddles a complex set of meanings.
There is no equivalent single word translation for dharma in western languages, there have been numerous, conflicting attempts to translate ancient Sanskrit literature with the word dharma into German and French. The concept, claims Paul Horsch, has caused difficulties for modern commentators and translators. Dharma root is dhri, which means ‘to support, hold and it is the thing that regulates the course of change by not participating in change, but that principle which remains constant
Iconography of Gautama Buddha in Laos and Thailand
The Iconography of Gautama Buddha in Laos and Thailand is referred to as pang phraputtarup th, ปางพระพุทธรูป, and a given pose as pang Thai, ปาง episode. In other Buddhist countries, different but related iconography is used, the Buddha is always represented with certain physical attributes, and in specified dress and specified poses. Each pose, and particularly the position and gestures of the Buddhas hands, has a meaning which is familiar to Buddhists. Although the Buddha is not a god, Buddhists seek to communicate with the world through Buddha images, making offerings to them. Buddha images are not intended to be representations of what Gautama Buddha looked like. There are no images of him, and the oldest Buddha images date from 500 to 600 years after his lifetime. But Buddhists believe that Buddha images represent an ideal reality of the Buddha, when creating a Buddha image, the artist is expected to be in a spiritual and mental state that will enable him to visualise this ideal reality.
There is no requirement that every Buddha image be identical, and in there is a wide variety of artistic styles. There are, certain rules of representation that must be adhered to, by the end of the Gupta Empire, the canon of representation had become more varied, with the seated meditative position becoming common, particularly in Sri Lanka. By the 7th century CE the canon was largely as it is seen today, as Buddhism spread from India to other countries, variations in the depiction of the Buddha evolved. This article describes the canon of Buddha representation in Thailand and Laos and this canon was not formalised until the 19th century, as part of the general project of modernisation that followed the Buddhist worlds encounter with Western civilisation. At the request of King Rama III, Paramanuchit described and represented 40 different postures of the Buddha in a treatise called Pathama Sambodhikatha. Some of these, such as Buddha threading a needle, were new, paramanuchits illustrations were rendered as bronze miniatures, which can be seen today at Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok and serve as templates for the creation of modern Buddhist imagery.
Th, ปางปรินิพพาน The Dīgha Nikāya, a Pāli text of the 1st century BCE, gives a list of 32 physical attributes of the Buddha. Some of these are poetic or fanciful, while others are specific, feet with level tread, projecting heels and slender fingers and toes. Although it is not required that Buddha images reflect all of these attributes, most curiously, the Buddha is said to have had a protuberance on the top of his skull, the usnīsa. This is sometimes shown as a spire or spike, and sometimes only as a small bump, the Buddha always has a serene expression or a faint smile. The Buddha is depicted with very long earlobes
Mañjuśrī is a bodhisattva associated with prajñā in Mahayana Buddhism. In Tibetan Buddhism, he is a yidam and his name means Gentle Glory in Sanskrit. Mañjuśrī is known by the name of Mañjuśrīkumārabhūta, literally Mañjuśrī, Still a Youth or, less literally. Scholars have identified Mañjuśrī as the oldest and most significant bodhisattva in Mahāyāna literature, Mañjuśrī is first referred to in early Mahayana sutras such as the Prajnaparamita sutras and through this association very early in the tradition he came to symbolize the embodiment of prajñā. The Lotus Sutra assigns him a land called Vimala, which according to the Avatamsaka Sutra is located in the East. His pure land is predicted to be one of the two best pure lands in all of existence in all the past and future, when he attains buddhahood his name will be Universal Sight. In the Lotus Sūtra, Mañjuśrī leads the Nagarajas daughter to enlightenment, an example of a wisdom teaching of Mañjuśrī can be found in the Saptaśatikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra.
This sūtra contains a dialogue between Mañjuśrī and the Buddha on the One Samadhi, constantly thus practicing, day or night, whether sitting, standing or lying down, finally one reaches an inconceivable state without any obstruction or form. This is the Samadhi of One Act, within Vajrayana Buddhism, Mañjuśrī is a meditational deity, and considered a fully enlightened Buddha. In Shingon Buddhism, he is one of the Thirteen Buddhas to whom disciples devote themselves and he figures extensively in many esoteric texts such as the Mañjuśrī-mūla-kalpa and the Mañjuśrīnāmasamgīti. His consort in some traditions is Saraswati, Mañjuśrī is depicted as a male bodhisattva wielding a flaming sword in his right hand, representing the realization of transcendent wisdom which cuts down ignorance and duality. The scripture supported by the padma held in his hand is a Prajñāpāramitā sūtra. Mañjuśrī is often depicted as riding on a lion, or sitting on the skin of a lion. This represents the use of wisdom to tame the mind, which is compared to riding or subduing a ferocious lion, in Chinese and Japanese Buddhist art, Mañjuśrīs sword is sometimes replaced with a ruyi scepter, especially in representations of his Vimalakirti Sutra discussion with the layman Vimalakirti.
According to Berthold Laufer, the first Chinese representation of a ruyi was in an 8th-century Mañjuśrī painting by Wu Daozi, in subsequent Chinese and Japanese paintings of Buddhas, a ruyi was occasionally represented as a padma with a long stem curved like a ruyi. He is one of the Four Great Bodhisattvas of Chinese Buddhism, in China, he is often paired with Samantabhadra. In Tibetan Buddhism, Mañjuśrī is sometimes depicted in a trinity with Avalokiteśvara and this syllabary was most widely used for the Gāndhārī language with the Kharoṣṭhī script, but appears in some Sanskrit texts. In some of these texts, the Arapacana syllabary serves as a mnemonic for important Mahāyāna concepts, due to its association with him, Arapacana may even serve as an alternate name for Mañjuśrī
Tara or Ārya Tārā, known as Jetsun Dölma in Tibetan Buddhism, is a female Bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism who appears as a female Buddha in Vajrayana Buddhism. She is known as the mother of liberation, and represents the virtues of success in work and she is known as Tara Bosatsu in Japan, and occasionally as Duōluó Púsà in Chinese Buddhism. Tara is actually the name for a set of Buddhas or bodhisattvas of similar aspect. These may more properly be understood as different aspects of the same quality, a practice text entitled In Praise of the 21 Tārās, is recited during the morning in all four sects of Tibetan Buddhism. The main Tārā mantra is the same for Buddhists and Hindus alike and it is pronounced by Tibetans and Buddhists who follow the Tibetan traditions as oṃ tāre tu tāre ture soha. Within Tibetan Buddhism Tārā is regarded as a Bodhisattva of compassion and action and she is the female aspect of Avalokiteśvara and in some origin stories she comes from his tears, Then at last Avalokiteshvara arrived at the summit of Marpori, the Red Hill, in Lhasa.
Gazing out, he perceived that the lake on Otang, the Plain of Milk, myriads of being were undergoing the agonies of boiling, hunger, yet they never perished, but let forth hideous cries of anguish all the while. When Avalokiteshvara saw this, tears sprang to his eyes, a teardrop from his right eye fell to the plain and became the reverend Bhrikuti, who declared, Son of your race. As you are striving for the sake of sentient beings in the Land of Snows, intercede in their suffering, Bhrikuti was reabsorbed into Avalokiteshvaras right eye, and was reborn in a life as the Nepalese princess Tritsun. A teardrop from his eye fell upon the plain and became the reverend Tara. She declared, Son of your race, as you are striving for the sake of sentient beings in the Land of Snows, intercede in their suffering, and I shall be your companion in this endeavour. Tara was reabsorbed into Avalokiteshvaras left eye, and was reborn in a life as the Chinese princess Kongjo. Tārā is known as a saviouress, as a deity who hears the cries of beings experiencing misery in saṃsāra.
Whether the Tārā figure originated as a Buddhist or Hindu goddess is unclear, mallar Ghosh believes her to have originated as a form of the goddess Durga in the Hindu Puranas. Today, she is worshipped both in Buddhism and in Shaktism as one of the ten Mahavidyas. It may be true that goddesses entered Buddhism from Shaktism (i. e. the worship of local or folk goddesses prior to the more institutionalized Hinduism which had developed by the medieval period. Possibly the oldest text to mention a Buddhist goddess is the Prajnaparamita Sutra, around the time that Mahayana was becoming the dominant school of thought in Indian, thus, it would seem that the feminine principle makes its first appearance in Buddhism as the goddess who personified prajnaparamita. Tārā came to be seen as an expression of the compassion of perfected wisdom only later, Green Tara and White Tara are probably the most popular representations of Tara