80 Scenes of the Life of Buddha

Plan of Ananda Temple

An overview of the plan of Ananda Temple, which contains eighty Buddha statues, shows their location with yellow stars. 
A yellow star shows a scene from the Life of Buddha.
It is indicated by a blinking star and animated red arrow icon. 

The eighty Scenes are placed in two steps at the inner face of the outer wall of the First corridor, with a two-tiered yellow star pattern on the inside.

In above figure the yellow stars in the inner row are directly aligned with the viewer's face on the wall.
The yellow stars in the outer row indicate that they are at an elevated height.

To see a series of eighty sculptures the one enters the temple by the west door and turns to the left into the first corridor and go to clockwise direction (pradakṣiṇā). (See Photo 1 & 2)

In the first corridor, the one formed by the outer and the inner walls, that are found the stone sculptures illustrating the life of the Bodhisattava from his birth to the attainment of supreme wisdom.

The inner face of the outer wall is divided into two parts by a frieze running all round the building.

It is in the space below this frieze that these sculptures are found. 

They are placed in two rows of niches, forty in each row. All of the sculptures are at left side. (See photo No. 1 & 2).

Photo. 3 Inner face of the outer wall of the first corridor
Lower row start the series Fig. 1, 2, —- 40
Upper row start the series Fig. 41, 42, —- 80
Photo. 3

A series of eighty sculptures depicted in the two rows tiers of niches at the inner face of the outer wall of the first corridor (left side of photo No. 1/ 2 and also see above Photo No. 3)

The first 40 of lower row are at around body height and to prevent vandalism they now have barred windows over them. So it is impossible to get good photographs of them. 

So you can see the sculpture of Deva Setaketu as the figure No.1 at the lower row. (Photo No.3) (See detail about the Fig. No.1 in this post).

The sculpture of upper niche is the figure No. 41 which depicted as the Bodhisatta, riding on Kandaka, left the palace along with Minister Channa who holds the tail of Kandaka. (See detail about the Fig. No. 41 in this post).

You can see from Fig. 1 to Fig. 40 at the lower row by round the building. 
So the start point is Fig. 1 and end point is Fig. 40 for lower row.
And then go to next round to see Fig. 41 to 80 at the niches of upper row.

The Dream of Māyādevī showed at the Lower Niche as Fig. 2. (Photo 3, Fig. 2)
(See detail about the Fig. No. 2 in this post).

Fig. 42, Upper Niche: Prince Sidattha leaving his palace for forest recluse. 
Four devas hold the hooves of his horse (Kandaka) to muffle the sound. 
(See detail about the Fig. No. 42 in this post).

Photo 4 (Giant Door Leaves)

Please notice: The first corridor of western portico is at the giant door leaves. You enter into this door and turn to left side. (Photo 4)

The succession of scenes follows the pradakṣiṇā; the series begins with the request of the gods in the Tuṣita heaven asking the Bodhisattva to be reborn in his very last existence and to become the Buddha.

This is placed at the beginning of the lower row as one enters the temple by the western portico and turns to the left into the first corridor.

In this position, the visitor has the series of sculptures to his left, and the Buddhas in the niches of the central pile to his right; thus getting at first the impression that he is not turning to his right, in the direction of the pradakṣiṇā. (See photo No. 1 & 2).

Pradakṣiṇā (or) pradakshina

Dakshina means 'south' or 'southern' but it also describes 'right' as in the right hand or right side of something.

The action of walking clockwise round is a person or deity as a mark of respect.

Pradakshina means circumambulation. Circumambulation means going in a clockwise direction.

In Buddhism and Hinduism, the rite of circumambulating in a clockwise direction an image, relic, shrine, or other sacred object is called Pradakṣiṇā. 

The worshiper, by beginning in the east and keeping the sacred object on his right-hand side, proceeds to the south, thus moving in the direction followed daily by the course of the sun.

Fig 1 The Request of the Gods in the Tuṣita Heaven

Fig 1. A stone statue of Seta Ketu deva, the future Buddha

The Bodhisatta was reborn as Deva Setaketu in the abode of Tusitā. The Deva enjoyed the supreme divine bliss throughout his life. When the end of his life drew near, the Devas and the Brahmas from ten thousand universes gathered and approached him. They requested, "Dear Deva, it is the right time for you to become a Buddha. May you be reborn in the human abode."
The Five Great Observations (ကြည့်ခြင်းကြီးငါးပါး)

The Bodhisatta Deva did not consent to their request instantly; he first made the fol lowing five great observations:

(1) Period (Kāla):                     The proper period for a Buddha to appear is when the life-span of human beings is between one hundred thousand years and one hundred years.

(2) Island-Continent (Dīpa):   Among the four great island continents, only the Jambudipa or the Southern Island-continent is the place where Buddhas appear.

(3) Place (Desa):                         Even in the southern Island continent, Buddhas appear only in Majjhima Desa--Middle Regions.

(4) Clan (Kula):                             In Majjhima Desa, Buddhas came of only royal clan, khatthiya, or Brahmana clan.

(5) The Mother's Life-span (Mātu āyu-pariccheda) The future mother of Buddha must possess good moral character and must have fulfilled the perfections for one hundred thousand worlds. Moreover, her life-span must be such that she dies on the seventh day after giving birth to the Bodhisatta.

The Bodhisatta passed away from the abode of Tusitā, and was duly conceived in the womb of Mahāmayā Devī, the chief consort of King Suddhodana. The date of his conception was Thursday, the full moon day of Waso (about July) in the year 67 Mahā Era (624 B.C). While Mahāmayā Devi was sleeping in her grand chamber, having observed eight precepts, she dreamed as follows:

“The four Kings of Devas bathed her in Lake Anotatta in the Himavanta and dressed her in celestial costumes. Next she was put to sleep with her head towards the east in the golden mansion inside the silver mountain. At that time, she felt that a white elephant entered her womb through her right side.”

Fig-2 The Dream of Māyādevī
Sleep of Maya, the Buddha’s mother

Fig-3 The Four Mahārājas carrying the Buddha’s mother to the Himalayas.

The Four Mahārājas (the four guardian deities of the world residing in the realm of Catumahārājika)

Fig. 4 The Buddha’s mother Māyādevī is bathed in Anotatta Lake.
Anotatta (Pali), Anavatapta (Sanskrit): Name of one of the seven lakes of the Himalaya region. These seven lakes are 1. Anotatta (အနောတ္တအိုင်), 2. Kaṇṇamuṇḍa (ကဏ္ဏမုဏ္ဍအိုင်), Rathakāra (ရထကာရအိုင်), 4. Chaddanta (ဆဒ္ဒန္တအိုင်), 5. Kuṇāla (ကုဏာလအိုင်), 6. Mandākinī (မန္ဒာကိနိအိုင်) and 7. Sīhappapāta (သီဟပ္ပပါတအိုင်).

Fig.4 The Buddha’s mother Māyādevī is bathed in Anotatta Lake.

Fig-5 Māyādevī is anointed with Celestial Perfume

Fig. 6 The Buddha’s Mother sleeps on a Divine Couch

Fig. 7 Conception, the dream of white elephant

Fig. 8 Queen Māyā tells her dream to her husband

Fig. 9
The pregnant Queen is guarded by the Four Mahārājas.

Fig. 10
The Queen asks for the King’s permission to visit her parents.

     Fig. 11 & Fig. 12

On the fullmoon day of Kason (about May), the royal mother, Mahāmāyā Devī, set out on a journey to Devadaha where her relatives lived. Now the ten-month duration of her pregnancy was up. Between Kapilavatthu and Devadaha, there was a grove of Sal trees known as Lumbini.

The Sal trees were in full bloom. The Bodhisatta was born while the royal mother was holding on to a branch of a fully blooming Sal tree. At that time, too, the earth quaked violently.
Fig. 11
Queen Māyā is carried on a litter enroute to her parent’s home

Fig. 12
The Nativity: Queen Maya gives birth in Lumpini Park
Fig. 12 Stone relief depicting Queen Maha Maya,
giving birth to a son, Prince Sidattha.
It was executed on a single piece of sandstone.
It is the best of its kind.

Fig. 13
The Four Mahābrahmās receive the Buddha Child in a gold net (Four faces Mahābrahmās)

Fig. 14
The Lords of the Four Directions receive the child on a black leopard skin

               The Lords of the Four Directions (Four Lokapāla) စတုမဟာရာဇ်နတ်မင်းကြီး၄ပါး

The Four Mahārājas (the fifth plane on Mount Meru and celestial abode of the four guardian deities of the world residing in the realm of Catumahārājika)

In the conception of the Buddhist cosmology the Catu-lokapālas, the four guardian nat devas looking after the world from the four cardinal points. They are also calling Catu-mahārit Nat. According to the Buddhism there are six-tired abode of celestial beings (Devaloka). 

The Catumahārājika is the first of the six levels inhabited by nats or celestial lords. 
The Dhataraththha who guarded at the East with blue colour, the Virūlhaka who located at the south with the green colour, the Virūpakkha who guarded at the west with the blue colour and Kuvera who attired gold in colour guarded at north.

There are no evidences of Catu-lokapālas icons at the stūpa and temples of Bagan. The rare evidence of the Catu-lokapālas symbolism of pagoda building in Myanmar can be seen at the upper terrace of the Kyaik-kasan pagoda, Thingun kyun township, Yangon.

Fig. 15 Two men receive the child on a fine white cloth

Fig. 16
A gigantic crowned Buddha stands between Brahma and Indra

Fig. 17
The First Seven Steps
Standing between Brahma and Suyama, the Buddha takes his first seven steps

Fig. 18
The First Seven Steps (Three Solemn Utterances)
“I am the Lord”
     The Three Bold Utterances 

Devas and Brahmas paid homage to the Bodhisatta who had just been born. The Bodhisatta prince, standing on the ground, looked towards the ten directions. 

After taking seven steps northwards and standing erect firmly on the ground, he boldly proclaimed the following three solemn utterances: 

(a) Aggohamasami Lokassa : I am the foremost among the living beings of the world. 
(b) Jețghohamasami Lokassa: I am the greatest among the living beings of the world. 
(c) Setghohamasami Lokassa: I am the noblest among the living beings of the world. 

Fig. 19
The Child Buddha seated in Kapilavastu Palace
Next, the royal mother, Mahāmāyā, returned to Kapilavatthu with her son, the Bodhisatta prince. 
The Bodhisatta was born on Friday, the fullmoon day of Kason (about May) in the year 69 Mahā Era (623 B.C). 
Mahāmāyā passed away on the seventh day after giving birth to her son and was reborn in the Tusitā realm. 

Fig. 20 The Visit of Kāladevīla

Mural painting of Pathothamya Temple (11th Century A.D)

The ascetic Kāladevala is paying homage to the Embryo Buddha.

In this scene the ascetic Kāladevala predicted that the infant would became the Buddha.

Fig. 21 The Horoscope
	Fig. 21 The throned king shows the Buddha child to Four Brahmins. He receives his name Siddhartha.

The royal father King Suddhodana invited the brahmin prophets, who mastered the three Vedas, and asked them to examine the physical marks of the prince on the fifth day after he had been delivered. The seven Brahmins predicted: "If the prince leads the life of a householder, he will become a Universal Monarch; if he renounces the world, he will become a Buddha." 

The youngest prophet Kondañña, however, prophesied, "He will certainly become a Buddha." The prince was named Siddhattha as he could fulfil the desires of all living beings and bring about their prosperity as well. He belonged to the Gotama clan. 

After the death of Mother Māyā Devi, Mahāpajāpati Gotami, the sister of Māyā Devi, became the Chief Queen of King Suddhodana, and the royal stepmother Gotami brought up and looked after the prince on behalf of her elder sister. 

Fig. 22 Siddhārtha’s Infancy

Fig. 23 The Ploughing Festival

Fig. 24 The Ploughing Festival

Fig. 25 The Adolescence of Prince Siddhārtha
At the age of sixteen, the prince had already learnt what a prince should do. 

      (Fig. 25, 26, 27)     The king Suddhodana wanted his son to become a Universal Monarch. The King managed to construct the three grand, magnificent mansions (grand house) called Ramma, Subha and Suramma as royal residence for the prince to sojourn during the three seasons in turn and he crowned the prince king so that the latter should not renounce the world and live in the forest.
The prince chose Yasodarā as his consort. She was the daughter of King Suppabuddha who was the brother of his late mother. He made her his chief queen and lived in the lap of great luxury at each of the three elegant palaces in accord with the three seasons. 

Fig. 26 The Adolescence of Prince Siddhārtha

Fig. 27 The Adolescence of Prince Siddhārtha

Fig. 28 Siddhārtha is prepared for the Athletic Match

Fig. 29 The Athletic Contest

Fig. 30 The First of Four Omens
The Buddha from a chariot sees the First Great Sight: a man suffering from old age.

       Fig. 30, 31, 32, 33

The Prince Siddhattha, after enjoying the luxurious pleasures of the King for 13 years, came to the age of twenty-nine. He used to go to the royal garden together with his retinue. 

On his way to the royal garden, he saw the four great omens, namely an old man, a sick man, a dead man and a recluse. 

Each of them was created by devas (gods) after an interval of four months. The royal father Suddhodana took measures to prevent the Bodhisatta from seeing these miserable sights with the help of his guards, because he was worried that the Bodhisatta might renounce the worldly life. 

So, the Bodhisatta had never seen the aged, the sick, the dead and the recluse till then. When he saw the four great omens consecutively, he was shocked and remorseful. 

An idea flashed upon his mind: 
"I shall also, one day, become old, sick and die." He could not bring himself to enjoy the luxury and pleasure of the palace. 

Therefore, he was determined: 
"I shall renounce the worldly pleasure today to become a recluse like the one whom I had seen." 

Fig. 31 The Second of Four Omens
The Second Great Sight: a man suffering from illness

Fig. 32 The Third of Four Omens
The Third Great Sight: a dead man

Fig. 33 The Fourth of Four Omens
The Fourth Great Sight: a monk

Fig. 34 Siddhartha in his Pleasance
The Buddha seated in his palace among his women.
While he was staying in the royal garden, he was informed that his chief queen Yasodarā had given birth to a son and he was startled, thinking; "There appears one more fetter." And he decided, "I shall renounce the world tonight." 

He murmured: "This son will hinder me from renouncing the world just like the Devil Rāhu seizing the moon." That is why the royal son was named Rāhulā.

Fig. 35 Viśvakarman arranges the Bodhisattva’s Turban

The Buddha’s servant dresses his hair for the last time

Fig. 36 The Prince returns to the Palace
While riding in a chariot, the Buddha hears of the birth of his son, Rahula

   Fig. 37-38

When he got to the palace from the royal garden, he went to bed early, because he did not want to enjoy the royal entertainment as usual. 

The lady-attendants fell asleep in the light of scented oil-lamps. They were all asleep--some with their thighs or calves exposed, some with saliva oozing from the corners of their lips, some opening their mouths wide, some snoring and some rolling, turning and talking in their sleep. 

When the Bodhisatta woke up at midnight, he felt that the sleeping lady-attendants were corpses and he himself were in a cemetery. So, he decided to leave the palace at once.
Fig. 37 The Women play and sing to the Prince
The Buddha reclines while listening to music in the palace

Fig. 38 The Slumber of the Women
The Buddha seated in the palace viewing sleeping women that resemble corpses.

Fig. 39 The Prince calls his Charioteer
The Buddha calls for his horse and groom

               Fig.39, 40

The Bodhisatta woke up Channa and ordered him to get the royal horse Kandaka saddled. Then he went to the royal chamber of Yasodarā as he wished to see his son. 

Yasodarā with the son by her side was sleeping, embracing him warmly. Although he wanted to take his son into his hands, he turned back from the threshold of the chamber lest she would be awakened and be a disturbance to his renunciation. 
Fig. 40 Prince Siddhārtha wishes to see his Child
The Buddha bids farewell to his wife and son

The lower tier is finished at Fig. No. 40.
To be continued.

You May Also Like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Translate »