ISBN 9788121505659,The Buddha Image: Its Origin and Development

The Buddha Image: Its Origin and Development



Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt Ltd

Publication Year 2012

ISBN 9788121505659

ISBN-10 8121505658

Hard Back

Edition 2nd
Number of Pages 246 Pages
Language (English)


This is a revised edition of the book, first published in 1995, it deals with crucial though controversial questions in Buddhist art: the origin of the Buddha image-- its transformation from aniconism to anthropomorphism--and the iconography of the Buddha Images. The earliest Buddhist Art of Sanchi and Bharhut is aniconic: The Buddha is represented in symbols only. In the later Buddhist art of Gandhara and Mathura, the Buddha is represented in human form; he is the principal subject of sculptural art. The book seeks to explore the geographical area in which the image of the Buddha first emerged and whether ideology of the Buddhist doctrines--Hinayana or Mahayana-had anything to do with this transformation and whether anthropomorphism of the Buddha Image is of Greek inspiration. The Buddha image, as developed eventually at Sarnath, became the Model for the Buddha Images in whole of Asia--Southeast, Central and Eastern. The iconographic features of the Buddha image are superficially an aberration, being in apparent conflict with the doctrine. The Buddha had cut off his hair at the time of his renunciation; the rules of the order enjoin that a Monk must be tonsured and must discard and eschew all riches. However, in his images, the Buddha has a luxuriant crop of hair on his head; later he is also endowed with a crown and jewels which, strictly speaking, are a taboo for a renunciant. After an exhaustive examination of the Views of various scholars, the book answers these questions and resolves the controversies on the basis of literary, Numismatic and epigraphic sources. More importantly it makes use of the valuable evidence from the contemporaneous and the parallel religious tradition-- Jainism and Jaina art: aniconism of early Jaina art and the iconographic features of later Jaina images. The implications of this Study are also important: does India owe idolatry to Buddhism? Was this of foreign inspiration, Greek to be precise? Was the Buddha image fashioned after the Vedic Brahma and whether the Buddha's usnisa and Buddhist art motifs are rooted in the Vedic tradition? The book is profusely illustrated and provides rich and stimulating fare to students of Indian art in general and of Buddhist art in particular.