The moment of Mahaparinirvana; a transition, final and irreversible, from the soul outwards. After a life of luxury and plenitude, followed by austerity and asceticism, the erstwhile Shakyamuni Siddhartha attained Enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. Next to His seated figure under the cool shade of the evergreen tree, the murti that you see on this page is His most instantly recognizable iconography.
He lies on an austere bed, the head resting upon a bolster at one end. His legs are gathered together, bent at an angle that pushes the knees forward together. His right hand rests on the lateral undulation of His hips as He rests on His left side. The left arm is folded at the elbow, the hand placed gently beneath His restful head, atop which the stoopa-like bun of His curls are intact. His eyes are completely shut; a faint smile hovers over the corners of that princely mouth. Lord Buddha has attained Mahaparinirvana, much to the gratitude and sorrow of His disciples who are accompanying Him on His deathbed.
The term parinirvana refers to the liberation (‘nirvana’) from cyclical birth at the time of one’s final death. As such, it transcends (‘pare’) both birth and death. In the case of Gautama Buddha, avatara of Lord Vishnu, founder of Buddhism, it is the great (‘maha’) parinirvana. The same has been captured in a wide variety of coloured finishes in the work of art that you see on this page.
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