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Paintings > Thangka > The Perennial Possibilities of the Spiritual Horizon
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The Perennial Possibilities of the Spiritual Horizon

The Perennial Possibilities of the Spiritual Horizon

The Perennial Possibilities of the Spiritual Horizon

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Tibetan Thangka Painting

Size of Painted Surface 13.0 inches X 17.0 inches
Size with Brocade 26.5 inches X 32.0 inches
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The Perennial Possibilities of the Spiritual Horizon

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Viewed 5380 times since 21st Apr, 2012
The central figure of this thangka is Buddha Shakyamuni, who is seated in vajraparyankasana on a moon disk on a lotus throne supported by two snow lions. His right hand is in bhumisparsha-mudra, while the left hand, held in meditation position holds a pinda-patra. His aureole depicts that he had perfected the six paramitas (transcendences). These paramitas are represented by animals – Garuda at the top is the first paramita of charity, the two young Nagas stand for moral excellence, the two Makara are the symbols of forbearance, the two Dwarfs represent endurance, the Elephants stand for meditation and two lions on Elephants are the highest perfection of Wisdom. Below the Buddha, his two chief disciples Shariputra and Maudgalyayana are standing each side of his throne with Khakkhara, the sounding staff.

The Buddha Shakyamuni is surrounded with three-hundred sixty-four images of Buddhas out of Thousand Buddhas in identical fashion and colour. This type of portrayal is typical in monasteries with what is known are Thousand-Buddhas Walls. The present thangka very closely resembles a Thousand-Buddhas Wall. The Thousand Buddhas represent the awareness of the perennial possibilities of the spiritual horizon. Here the illumined mind is thousand-folded into over higher intuition of the infinity of the transcendental universe.

According to a Buddhist tradition Gautama Buddha at his birth had said that he was coming to human realm for the last time and this was last in a perpetual series of existences. The many previous existences of the Buddha are known from legends and Jataka stories about his previous births. The Mahayanists however believe that the Buddhas have appeared in the world at intervals and in series that know no beginning or end. Little is known, however, of these innumerable Buddhas preceding the Buddha Shakyamuni. Thus the Buddhas who have been, are, and will be, are more numerous than the grains of sand on the bank of the Ganga.

In the later forms of Buddhism, the theology grew and, incidentally, so did the number of Buddhas, to a series of 8,9,24,35,52, and 1,000 and various other numbers. Here it is not the power of the story that counts, but the might of the number, with its symbolic value of infinity is good, more is better, or their strength in numbers and repetition. This type of portrayal is typical in monasteries with what are known as thousand-Buddha wall and they frequently appear as a thangka theme.

The Thousand Buddhas bless the present aeon of Bhadra-Kalpa. A famous scripture, the Bhadrakalpika-Sutra is devoted to them. This sutra was translated into Tibetan by Vidyakarasimha and Dpal-dbyans and was revised by Dpal-brtsegs in the eighth century. He was one of the two famous lotsava or holy translator in the reign of Trisong Detsen. The translator Dpal-dbyans was his junior contemporary. Ever since the Thousand Buddhas have blessed, every Tibetan monastery where they are found, depicts them as votive icons, over a central image. The names of the Thousand Buddhas were compiled in a pent-lingual text under the Tibetan title of Bskal-bzan rnam-dren ston-gi mtshan by Lean-sya qutuy-tu Rol-pahi-rdo-rje in Sanskrit, Tibetan, Manchu, Mongolian and Chinese.

In India a special literary genre was devoted to thousand names or rather epithets, of a divinity. The thousand names of Vishnu are well known as the Vishnu-sahasra-nama. Likewise, the Buddha had a thousand epithets which underwent an apotheosis as the Thousand Buddhas and they became a thousand pictures or a thousand icons, more or less identical form. The caves of the Thousand Buddhas are the name of the world-renowned grottos at Tun-huang (China), which depicts, inter alia the scenes of Thousand Buddhas images.

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