Buddha Image has taken a significant place in every Buddhist’s life. However, there is a contradiction between the followers whether to worship Buddha image is accepted by Buddha himself or not. There is a legend; Buddha Image was made during the span of Buddha’s life also. After achieving the enlightenment, Buddha wished to sermonize; “Abhidhamma” to his mother Mahamaya who was in the Tavatimsa . heaven after passing away. He stayed there for three months. We learnt from the legend, King Udayana couldn’t tolerate the absence of Buddha and made an image of Buddha. After three months, when Buddha came back, he showed the image to Buddha. It is believed that the tradition of making Buddha image started from Buddha’s lifetime. I would like to focus my paper understanding of the Buddha image and why people worship the Buddha image.
LEGEND OF BUDDHA IMAGE:
In ancient India, seems to have evolved upon human mind during the lifetime of the Buddha himself, although this image of mind took some six hundred years become manifest into stone or clay like mediums. As the Buddhist tradition has it, even during Buddha's lifetime, the idea of making Buddha’s images resolute in his devotees' minds. In spite of the Buddha's guidance on remembering his doctrine, there is another legend claiming that the first image of the Buddha was made when the Lord Buddha was alive. The story goes that King Pasenthikoson ordered his craftsmen to make a Buddha image from red sandalwood as a representative of the Buddha while the Buddha was in the Tavatimsa Heaven preaching to his mother . The widely quoted legend of king Udayana, commissioning Buddha's image to represent the Great Master during his absence and that of Anathapindaka praying Buddha to allow at least the images of Bodhisattvas, suggest that his followers contemplated the possibility of covering their Master's absence by his humanity impose representations even before the Mahaparinirvana. But it is a matter of debate whether such early images were sculpted at Mathura or in Gandhara reign. Most scholars are believed that Gandhara images of Buddha are earlier to those of Mathura. Mathura definitely began sculpting Buddha’s images in the 1st century itself. It has fully inscribed image of A.D. 81. In Mathura tradition, Buddha images have longer ear lobes, thicker lips, wider eyes and prominent nose. In Gandhara images, eyes are longer; chin more angular, ear lobes shorter and noses sharper and better defined.
The Gupta Rulers 320 to 646 AD took the art of sculpture of Buddha image to its highest apex. The Buddha images of Mathura and Gandhara are magnificent and in an excellent manner, but the Gupta images were not only different but also without a parallel before and after. According to Samyutta Nikaya The Buddha says to Bakali “ Yo Dammang Passati so mang passati, So mang passati yo Dhammang passati” Means who "who knows Dharma, knows me, who knows me, knows Dharma”.
Finally we know from another source of story king Prosenjit of Shravasti or King Udayana of Kaushambi-which the first Buddha image was made of sandalwood from the living of Buddha himself . According, to legend king of Udayana, the Japanese replica is worshipped by offering pouches of sandalwood powder. This legend of the origin of the Buddha image is yet prevalent and largely believed in Tibet, China and Japan. The appearance of Buddha image is different from country to country. But it is true that all Buddhists want to pay respect to Buddha and Bodhisatta 4 in different position. Some popular images of Buddha are: Buddha on Lotus, laughing Buddha, Baby Buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha, Good fortune Buddha, reclining Buddha, medicine Buddha, Buddha on meditation, happy Buddha and so on. Popular perception of the Buddha images of Burma, Thailand and Laos is that they are big 5. Local temples are proud of their huge, monumental statues- such as the reclining Buddha in Bangkok's "Wat Pho"
METERIALS IN MAKING BUDDHA IMAGE:
Material is one of the importance elements of Buddha image. Buddha image construct a large variety of materials for instance, Terra Cotta, Stone, Metal, Stucco, Wood, Bronze, Jade and Gold. Theravada Buddhists believe that eight elements mixing Buddha image is very powerful and more beautiful other Buddha image such as Terra Cotta and stone. The eight elements are Iron, lead, Gold, Silver, Brass, Zinc and Bronze. Thailand, Srilanka, Myanmar and other Theravada country uses these eight elements for making Buddha image. The image is called Atta Dhatu Buddha
IMPORTANCE OF BUDDHA IMAGE:
Buddha Statues inspire us to develop our inner qualities to achieve happiness, good fortune and satisfaction in our lives. We place Buddha statues in central areas of our home or office for daily inspiration and as a reminder of our own capacity to achieve the good life. Images were one of the most widely accepted modes of realizing the presence of the non-present. This image helps them to cover his absence and give them strength in sorrows. Buddhism was a wide spread phenomenon even in the Buddha's lifetime and every place and person, devoted to this new path, cherished the desire to feel the presence of the Master. That is why, image making of Buddha became popular and everyone wanted to pay respect to him. "A Buddha image is not only a symbol of the historical person but the human qualities that he perfected; compassion, wisdom, patience, generosity, kindness, etc., worthy of bowing down to."
STYLE OF BUDDHA IMAGE AND MEANING:
People of different cultures love to see the Buddha in different styles. It seems that they want to transform their imagination through the sculptures of Buddha. Styles of Buddha images remind Buddhists of different legend in the Buddha's life from the Birth to the Nirvana Entering. There are 73 postures altogether. They can be divided postures four groups such as Seated Buddha, Standing Buddha, Walking and Reclining Buddha. However, well known postures are 1.Meditation 2.Subduing Mara, 3.Walking 4.Reclining 5.Dissuading relatives from quarrelling with each other and 6. Seated and protected by the seven-headed NAGA . According to Mahayana tradition they classified the Buddha image another opinion. For instance
Buddha on Lotus, Laughing Buddha, Baby Buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha, Good fortune, Reclining Buddha, Medicine Buddha, Buddha on meditation, Happy Buddha. Now we will explain the style of Buddha according to people belief-
Buddha on Lotus: The Buddha form on lotus expresses in a direct ‘‘impersonal’’ and synthetic manner what the human form of the Buddha manifest in a more ‘‘personal’’ and more complex manner. Moreover his human form, though its symmetry’ and static plenitude, makes an approach to the form of the lotus; it will be remembered that the Buddha is called ‘‘the jewel in the lotus’’
Laughing Buddha: Laughing Buddha image is very famous in China and other Mahayana Countries. In china is very well known is the loving or friendly one. According to Mahayana belief he is a similar figure of the Bodhisattva who will come in future Ariya Maitreya Buddha. Now a day a part of Theravada followers uses laughing Buddha ambulate and keeps image business sport. Not only Buddhist but also use this image other religions followers. According to legend the laughing Buddha’s large protruding stomach, great belly and smiling face symbol of forth wealth, good luck and prosperity .
Baby Buddha: The baby Buddha is a guide for teaching meditation to children. The Baby Buddha also highlights the benefits of meditation for parents and children and shows how to incorporate meditation into family life. Using of Baby Buddha many families are benefitted in the world .
Shakyamuni Buddha: Shakyamuni Buddha image is most significance symbol of world great teacher and reprehensive figure of human beings. The Buddha image is well-known to all Buddhists sect. Buddha Shakyamuni is the founder of Buddhism in this world. In general, “Buddha” means wisdom and symbol of 32 lakkhana. According to Lakkhana Sutta Buddha have 32 marks. The marks are : he has feet of level tread; his soles are marks of wheels, and other symbols; his heels project; his digits are long; his hands and feet are soft; his fingers and toes straight, and webbed; his ankles like rounded shells; his legs like an antelope's standing, he can touch his knees without bending; his genitals are within a sheath; he is of golden hue; his skin so smooth that no dust clings to it; the down on his body forms single hairs; each hair is straight, blue black and at the top curls to the right; his frame is straight; his body has seven convex surfaces; his chest is like a lion's; his back flat between the shoulders; his height is the same as his arm span; his bust is equally rounded; his taste is consummate; he has a lion's jaws; has forty teeth; the teeth are even; there are no spaces between his teeth; his canines are very bright; his tongue is long; his voice like that of a karavíka bird; his eyes intensely blue; his eyelashes like a cow’s; between his eyelashes are soft, white hairs like cotton down; his head is like a turban . Theravada followers believe and they worship Buddha’s merits and his marks. So it is symbol of Buddha Rupa.
Good fortune: Good fortune Buddha is similar to Laughing Buddha. The Good Fortune Buddha is regarded as a bringer of prosperity, riches and happiness. He reminds us to always keep our sense of humor, even if things do not look great financially.
The bag represents fulfillment of wishes or can also be the blessings of Buddha. Happiness is one of Buddha’s greatest gifts .
Reclining Buddha: Reclining Buddha like as Mahaparinibbana Buddha but different. In Thailand Wat Pho and Wat Arun very famous tourist spot for Reclining Buddha images.
MEDITATION OR MEDICINE BUDDHA
Meditation means Sadhana. One who practises meditation, feels happiness and joy like as medicine. "Sadhana of the Medicine Buddha," is primarily intended for people who want to get started with a Medicine Buddha meditation practice. Meditating Buddha with flame halo around his head signifies enlightenment. Both his hands are in chakra formations with his right hand in front of his chest while his left rest on top of this lap .
BUDDHA IMAGE AND WORSHIP:
The image of the Buddha is to enable Buddhists to pay their respects to the great teacher, Buddha. Since the Buddha has great compassion, wisdom and a pure mind, the image of Buddha also serves to remind Buddhists to remember, learn and emulate these virtuous qualities. Buddhist worship services vary among Mahayana, Theravada, and other Buddhist groups. Incense may be burned before an image of Buddha and is regarded among Buddhists as an aid to meditation. Buddhist scripture may also be recited. The goal of Buddhists is nirvana, or passionless peace. They believe that nirvana can be achieved through perfect self-control, unselfishness, knowledge, and enlightenment. The monks robe (Bonze), as well as his shaven head, identifies him as a man of religion. Among Theravada Buddhists only saffron (orange) robes seem to be worn, whereas monks of other Buddhist groups wear shades of white, brown, or yellow without reference to order or status. Groups other than Theravada seem to prefer the color yellow for worship services and religious or civic ceremonies. A string of 108 beads, each symbolizing one of the 108 desires to be overcome prior to enlightenment, is used by devotee Buddhists while meditating. Gongs are used in Buddhist pagodas and homes for three basic purposes:
1. To announce the time of a service or meeting
2. To mark the different phases of a ceremony
3. To set the tempo for Buddhist chants Light from candles and lamps symbolizes Buddha’s teachings leading to enlightenment.
Incense is burned as an offering in memory of Buddha and as an aid to meditation. Food and water are placed before the altars of Buddha and symbolize that the best is first shared with Buddha. Only the essence of the food is essential for purposes of worship, and the items themselves are later used as food by the worshipers. A Buddhist bell and drum are located in or near the porch of the pagoda or temple. The bell is rung to announce a meeting or special event. The drum is normally sounded when dignitaries are present. Lustral Water or holy water is water which has been poured over a statue of Buddha under the proper conditions to attain Buddha’s virtues. This water may be used to pour over the hands of a corpse at a funeral, the hands of a bridal couple at a wedding, or to sprinkle about a new house. Flowers are placed on family altars in the home and on graves, used during worship in the pagoda, and presented when calling upon the monks or older relatives.
Why people worship the Buddha image:
The worship did not originate with the monks, but with the lay community, when the people in general felt the want of a higher cult . The Buddha image is a true symbol of world great teacher and aspect of human beings. It brings good will, benevolence, sympathy, compassion, attention and moral concept. If someone goes to worship Buddha with evil mind and restlessness, after the worship his mind becomes calm, quite and he understands his fault. Buddha image represents of Buddha’s 32 marks of greatness and as represents his quality as Sambuddhakaya. There is a argue about the worship of Buddha image among the various Buddhist followers. Some body says Buddha has passed away and has no existence in the world. So worship to Buddha is valueless, unnecessary and has no benefit in our personal life or society. But the philosophical view is different. Buddha is not a person; Buddha means wisdom and 32 marks attended with Buddha’s physical form. On the other hand Buddha is attended with nine merits form. So we are not worship person, we worship 32 marks of Buddha and his nine great merits . We can find out Buddha’s great qualities from Buddha images and it’s a symbol of peace and greatness. Through Buddha Image, we show tribute to the great man who shows the way to permanent peace i.e. Nirvana to the human beings and deities. For the above reasons, people worship Buddha image.
Buddha, however, seems to have discouraged it, or at least, there prevailed conflicting views, as to whether Buddha, the pure existence, the Dharma-kaya, which the Buddha was, be allowed to be transformed into a material medium. It seems the latter of the two views prevailed and, despite that Buddhism related themes and episodes from Buddha's life were sculpted, making of the Buddha's image remained forbidden till quite late. There is no doubt that Buddha image occupies an significant place in the mind of all Buddhists. They pay respect to their great teacher through his image. Buddha, however, seems to have discouraged it, or at least, there prevailed conflicting views, as to whether Buddha, the pure existence, the Dharma-kaya, which the Buddha was, be allowed to be transformed into a material medium. It seems the latter of the two views prevailed and, despite that Buddhism related themes and episodes from Buddha's life were sculpted, making of the Buddha's image remained forbidden till quite late. There is no doubt that Buddha image occupies significant place in the mind of all Buddhists. They pay respect to their great teacher through his image.