In Buddhist tradition Buddha's 'Bhumisparsha-mudra' has exceptional significance and represents one of the classical modes of Buddhist iconography. The moment, which this image depicts, is a moment of life when beyond it is all light and behind it all dark. In the life of Buddha, too, this posture constitutes the exact central point between the darkness and light, between the ignorance and absolute knowledge. He was midway to his attainment of Enlightenment. Engaged in his long rigorous penance when Buddha was on the verge of attaining Enlightenment, Mara, the Evil personified, became active and attacked him. Armed with horror, fear, temptation, 'Kama' and beauty Mara invaded Buddha's mind. He tried on him all his weapons one after the other but nothing worked on him. Ultimately, there floated into sky a voice from horizon to horizon, which said, "Gautama, you are vanished". This was Mara's last weapon, the 'Confusion', with which he aimed at confounding Buddha. Buddha calmly lowered his right arm and touching the Mother Earth with his middle finger called the universal mother to witness that he did not astray from his path. Not much after Buddha had defeated Mara there emerged divine light and Buddha was Enlightened.
The aesthetic charm of the icon is unique. The small cute lips, angularity of face and sharpness of features are the qualities which have always remained the distinctive features of great Indian bronzes of Gupta, Pala and Chola periods. An exceptional kind of luminosity, spirituality and tenderness combined with as strong sensuousness marks the physiognomy of the image. The image has been installed on 'pitha' consisting of multiple lotuses. Hair in tight curls, surmounted by an inverted pot type finial and broad forehead are features common to various styles of Buddhist iconography.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.