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Paintings > Thangka > Shakyamuni Buddha with Begging Bowl and Two Main Disciples Shariputra and Maudgalyayana
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Shakyamuni Buddha with Begging Bowl and Two Main Disciples Shariputra and Maudgalyayana

Shakyamuni Buddha with Begging Bowl and Two Main Disciples Shariputra and Maudgalyayana

Shakyamuni Buddha with Begging Bowl and Two Main Disciples Shariputra and Maudgalyayana

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Tibetan Thangka Painting

Size of Painted Surface 16.5 inch X 23.5 inch
Size with Brocade 26 inch X 39 inch
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Shakyamuni Buddha with Begging Bowl and Two Main Disciples Shariputra and Maudgalyayana

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This thangka portrays the Buddha Shakyamuni, who is seated in vajraparyankasana on a moon disk on a lotus supported by a finely crafted throne; each side of which depicts snow lions. The right hand of the Buddha is in bhumisparsha-mudra, while the left hand, held in meditation position, holds a pindapatra. The bhumisparsha-mudra of the Buddha symbolizes his victory over Mara and his enlightenment at Bodhgaya. It is believed that mere sight of this mudra of the Buddha guarantees the believer that it will ward off all evil. The Pindapatra was the attribute of all Theravada Buddhist monks who passed by houses in the morning to beg for food. The monks are to accept food that is given them, including meat. Around noon, all the monks eat the food together as the only meal of the day. This practice still occurs in countries like Burma and Thailand where Theravada Buddhism is prominent. The pindapatra is standard attribute of Shakyamuni, Amitabha and Bhaishajyaguru.

Aside from the position of hands and feet, there are five more Characteristic physical marks which a meditator must possess – a straight back, straight shoulders, eyes focused on the end of the nose, lips and jaw in a naturally relaxed position, while the tip of the tongue touches the roof of the roof of the mouth.

The Buddha wears a monk's simple cotton robes comprises a wrap for the lower body, one for the upper body, and another to cloak the upper torso. As can be seen from monks in many sects in various countries, this dress requirement is still fully honoured in practice. Only in the art of painting has clothing become much more "chic".

The Buddha Shakyamuni had a number of favorite students. One was his cousin Ananda who appears frequently in early Buddhist literature. He is more popular in Sri Lanka's Theravada Buddhism. Ananda was well-loved and extremely popular because of his gentle character, and because he treated women as fully worthy, for he instructed nuns. Though the Buddha, did not consider women inferior, but reluctantly agreed to allow women into the order. The two disciples of the Buddha we encounter everywhere in Northern Buddhism are Shariputra and Maudgalyayana. They stand, from the Buddha's perspective, to the right and left of his throne, each holding an alms bowl and a jingling beggar's staff. As depicted in the present painting also. In the thangka they radiate holiness, with their prabhamandala, which are in painted in sky blue here. They stand on lotus. Shariputra and Maudgalyayana were sons of Brahmans and the pupil of an ascetic Sanjaya. Shariputra heard from the lips of Aswhvajit, a Buddhist monk, the following Verse:

"Ye dharma hetu-prabhava hetum tesham Tathagato hy-avadat, Tesham cha yo nirodha evam vadi Maha-shramanah". (Tathagata has revealed the cause of those phenomena which spring from a cause and also the means of their cessation, so says the great recluse).

This verse, epitomizing the teachings of the Buddha and which ultimately became the Buddhist creed. As Shariputra learnt the full Meaning of this verse from Ashvajit, he became a disciple of the Buddha, and Maudgalyayana followed his example. Later on, they became the two most important disciples of the Buddha. Ananda characterized Shariputra as – "small is he in his desires and contended; loving seclusion and detachment, of rampant energy." The prominence of Maudgalyayana lay in his possession of miraculous powers. He could transfer himself into any shape at will. The love between the "twin brethren" was mutual. Their strongest bond was the love of each for the Buddha. When away from him, they would relate to each other how they had been conversing with him by means of divine ears and divine eyes. Shariputra died on a full-moon day, so also Maudgalyayana two weeks later on full-moon day, and both before the Mahaparinirvana of the Buddha.

Select Bibliography

Alice Getty, Gods of Northern Buddhism, Tokyo, 1962

Barbara Lipton & Nima D. Ragnubs, Treasures of Tibetan Art, New York, 1996

Ben Meulenbeld, Buddhist Symbolism in Tibetan Thangka, Holland, 2001

D. Mitra, Buddhist Monuments, Calcutta, 1971

H. Kern, Manual of Indian Buddhism,Delhi

1968, Lokesh Chandra, Transcendental Art of Tibet, Delhi, 1996

P.V. Bapat, 25,00 Years of Buddhism, Delhi, 1956

This description is by Dr. Shailendra K. Verma, whose Doctorate thesis is on "Emergence and Evolution of the Buddha Image (From its inception to 8th century A.D.)".

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