During the Gupta period the Buddhist sculptural art reached its zenith and his standing images not only largely captured the art scenario and came out with a tremendous variety of themes and styles but also excelled in their plasticity, modelling and over-all excellence. Now besides stone, metal was another popular medium for these votive images. Devotees needed smaller and lighter images for personal shrines and sometimes to carry them from one place to the other. There also developed the fashion of gifting Buddha's statues. Obviously, being massive and heavy, the stone sculptures could suit a monastery or shrine but not the other purposes. Metal casts better suited for such subsidiary purposes and hence by the middle of the Gupta period metal images were as much in vogue. Some of the earliest images of Buddha depicting him in standing postures, recovered from various parts of northern India, especially Govind Nagar (Mathura), Dhanesar Khera, Phophnar, Ramtek, Sarnath, Nalanda etceteras, now in the collections of various museums of the world, define the golden era of India's sculptural art and metal cast. Buddha's standing icons, by the movement of his legs, represented him traveling, by the gesture of his fingers, teaching, by the demeanour of his palm, imparting abhaya and the like.
This image depicts his right hand in the mudra of fearlessness (abhaya) while the left holds a book and makes the varada (boon-granting) mudra. The latter gesture signifies that the venerable One here is the bestower of the boon of knowledge and wisdom.
The Buddha's eyes are inward looking in contemplative meditation. The deftly carved folds of the monastic robe suggest the skilfulness of the sculptor. This garment waterfalls down to his feet, as if paying obeisance to the Great Master.
The sculpture was cast in Aligarh, a small town situated in the heart of India.