The Buddha Image : Its Origin and Development

The Buddha Image : Its Origin and Development

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This a revised edition of the book, first published in 1995. It deals with crucial though controversial question 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 anicionic; the Buddha is represented in symbols only. In the later Buddhist art of Gandhara and Mathura, the Buddha is represented in human from; he is the principle 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 images 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 ornamentation. However, in his images, the Buddha has a luxuriant crop of hair on his head; later he also came to be endowed with a crown and jewels which, strictly speaking, are a taboo for a renunciant.


After an exhaustive examination of the views of various scholar, the book answer these questions and resolves the controversies on the basis of literary, sculptural, numismatic, and epigraphic sources. More importantly, it makes use of the valuable evidence from the contemporaneous and 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.


About the Author : Y.Krishan is a scholar in Indology –Indian history, religion, philosophy and art. He has published over 150 research papers on these subjects in leading journals in India and abroad.He has also published a book Audit in India's Democracy.

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This a revised edition of the book, first published in 1995. It deals with crucial though controversial question 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 anicionic; the Buddha is represented in symbols only. In the later Buddhist art of Gandhara and Mathura, the Buddha is represented in human from; he is the principle 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 images 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 ornamentation. However, in his images, the Buddha has a luxuriant crop of hair on his head; later he also came to be endowed with a crown and jewels which, strictly speaking, are a taboo for a renunciant.


After an exhaustive examination of the views of various scholar, the book answer these questions and resolves the controversies on the basis of literary, sculptural, numismatic, and epigraphic sources. More importantly, it makes use of the valuable evidence from the contemporaneous and 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.


About the Author : Y.Krishan is a scholar in Indology –Indian history, religion, philosophy and art. He has published over 150 research papers on these subjects in leading journals in India and abroad.He has also published a book Audit in India's Democracy.

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