The large figure of Shakyamuni dominates the scene. He sits cross-legged, making the bhumisparsha mudra and holding a monk's bowl. Literally, bhumisparsha translates into 'touching the earth'. This gesture symbolizes the Buddha's enlightenment under the bodhi tree, when he summoned the earth goddess, Sthavara, to bear witness to his attainment of enlightenment. The right hand, placed upon the right knee in earth-pressing mudra, and complemented by the left hand-which is held flat in the lap in the dhyana mudra of meditation, symbolizes the union of method and wisdom, samasara and nirvana, and also the realizations of the conventional and ultimate truths.
He is seated on a moon disc placed above a multicolored lotus. His throne is awesomely framed by dragons.
Having gained enlightenment, Gautama came to be called Shakyamuni, or the silent lion, indicating the explosive potential he carried within himself. He first went up to Sarnath near Varanasi where the unearthly glow from his body attracted five disciples to him.
Amongst these five followers was one named Assaji. Once when Assaji was begging for alms, he encountered an inquisitive gentleman named Shariputra, who was then a follower of Sanjaya Belatthiputta, a renowned skeptic sage of the times. Shariputra, along with his fast friend Maudgalyayana were Sanjaya's fervent and most important disciples. Of late however, they had both started experiencing disillusionment and felt dissatisfied by their master's nihilistic philosophy. Now in this state of mind, Assaji's noble mien and air of self possession so impressed Shariputra that he asked him who his teacher was and what doctrine he taught. Assaji answered him only briefly but it was enough to convince Shariputra. He immediately bounded over to Maudgalyayana and related to him what had happened. Maudgalyayana was able to perceive the greatness of Buddha's teachings and he and Shariputra thereupon resolved to become followers of Shakyamuni. They also brought over Sanjaya's complete entourage of two-hundred-and-fifty disciples to Buddha's monastic order, thus leading to the formation of the Sangha.
The two disciples here, though small in size, are drawn with charm and verve. Each holds a monk's staff and alms bowl. Each of them in his turn, stands upon a lotus base, signifying their exalted status as the two most important disciples of the Buddha.
The peaceful offerings of five senses are depicted on an altar table in front of the Sakyamuni. These five offerings of sensory enjoyment represent the most beautiful objects which attract the five senses – sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. These offerings invariably take the form of – a mirror for sight, cymbals for sound, an incense-laden conch shell for smell, fruit for taste and a silk scarf for touch.