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Life Story of Buddha Narrated

August 8, 2023

The Pakistan-Japan Cultural Association (Sindh) organized the talk, “Life story of Buddha interpreted in iconography of Gandhara Art and its extension to Japan,” in collaboration with the Sindh culture department and the Japan Cultural Centre of the consulate-general of Japan (Karachi), to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Pakistan-Japan diplomatic relations.

Dr. Khan, a former director of the national museum, informed the audience prior to the presentation that two of the six major civilisations—the Indus Valley Civilization and the Buddhist Civilization—had their beginnings in this region of the world.

He told the tale of Buddha’s life beginning with his birth using a slideshow as a narration. He claimed that Suddhodana, a king, was the father of Buddha. His mother, Queen Maya, had a dream about a white elephant before he was born. Siddhartha, the name Buddha was given to him at birth in 563 BC. The ritualistic treatment of the youngster included bathing him in streams of hot and cold water (which were depicted in Gandhara iconography on the slides). 

The young boy went back to the palace, where the monarch gathered some nobles to examine him. One predicted that Siddhartha would either dominate the world or become the Buddha the one who attained greatness and become the enlightened one.

Siddhartha was a precocious child, according to Dr. Khan. He would ask questions in class that would surprise his teachers in a good way.

His father wanted him to be married when he turned 16 years old. He was presented with several girls for the purpose, and he expressed his desire to wed Yasodhara. But he had to compete in a skill contest to win the bride’s hand. Prince Siddhartha excelled at maths, archery, wrestling, and other intellectual activities. He thus returned from the campaign having won (slides displayed an image of Buddha with his companions, etc.).

After witnessing the suffering all around him, the former director of the museum continued, Siddhartha left the life of luxury quickly and began his ascetic life, followed by his first meditation. With the help of a charioteer named Chandaka, he departed his father’s court. While far from the king, he dismounted Kanthaka and removed his royal garb. So that his father’s men wouldn’t be able to hear him flee, the gods hushed the horse’s hooves. 

The many stages of the Buddha, including the time where he was fasting and looking for nirvana, followed. A few items from that era, the lecturer informed the audience, can be discovered in the Swat and Lahore museums.

Then Dr. Khan discussed the origins of Buddha, related a story from one of the Jatakas (a collection of writings on Buddha), and explained how, in the end, Buddha arrived at the state of Mahaparinirvana (abandoning the body), which is described as a level of enlightenment.

King Ashoka and Kanishka of the Kushan dynasty both worked to spread Buddhism after the great spiritual leader.

Read More: Buddhism: Exploring the Many Facets of Buddha’s Teachings

He claimed that even though other monarchs later attempted to eradicate Buddhism, the remaining adherents disseminated it to various areas, including China, from where it eventually reached Japan. Horyu-ji, the first temple to be erected in Japan, was damaged once by a tribe and had to be repaired again. Other well-known Buddhist temples were built after the temple.

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