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Buddhism And Buddhist Art

August 5, 2023

The fifth and fourth centuries B.C. were periods of intellectual ferment all across the world. Great intellectuals including Socrates, Plato, Confucius, and Laozi lived during this period.

The prince Siddhartha, who would later become the Buddha, was born into the aristocracy of Kapilavastu, a small kingdom in the foothills of the Himalayas. Given his heavenly conception and miraculous birth, sages foresaw that he would one day rule the entire globe either the material world or the minds of men. 

What actually happened was the latter conquest. Siddhartha tried the road of extreme asceticism when he gave up the luxuries of the palace to search for the meaning of life, but he gave it up after six years as a pointless exercise. Then, until he attained enlightenment, he sat down in yogic meditation beneath a bodhi tree. From that point on, he was referred to as the Buddha or “Enlightened One.”

His is the Middle Path, which forgoes both indulgence and austerity. Buddhism suggests leading a morally upright life with good intentions and good deeds with the ultimate goal of obtaining nirvana, or liberation from this world. The majority of beings will reach nirvana in the far future because Buddhism, like other Indian religions, holds that there will be a series of rebirths.

The Buddha’s cremation remains were separated into several pieces and deposited in relic caskets that were buried inside sizable hemispherical mounds called stupas. Such stupas serve as the primary architectural feature of Buddhist monastery complexes. 

They draw travellers from all around who want to feel the Buddha’s benevolent presence. A railing that surrounds stupas creates a path for ritual circumambulation. The four cardinal points each have a gateway that leads into the sacred region.

The Buddha was not shown in human form in India’s early Buddhist artwork. Instead, an indication such as a set of footprints, an empty seat, or a vacant area under a parasol served as an indicator of his presence.

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