Interpreting Buddhist Arhat Angaja
Angaja is the elder of 16 arhats. He is known as Angiraja. In Sanskrit, he is called as Angaja, or Angiraja. ཡན་ལག་འབྱུང་, Yenlak Jung or Yenlak Kyé; Wyl. yan lag ‘byung, or yan lag skyes in Tibetan. He is one of the arhats among the Sixteen Arhats.
Table of Contents
The Life of Angaja
In this segment, we are going to learn about the life of Angaja.
As a householder, Angiraja was immensely wealthy and gave away all his wealth seven times, but he realized his riches only caused jealousy and dispute.
Distributing everything he had, he asked the Buddha for ordination and joined the Sangha, later becoming an arhat.
Angiraja now dwells on Mount Kailash with a retinue of 1,300 arhats. On this sacred mountain, the Buddha explained the law of karma, setting beings of all realms onto the path of liberation.
He holds a fly whisk and an incense bowl; smelling the incense or touching the fly whisk grants the sweet fragrance of shila (self-discipline) which liberates beings from all manner of emotional pain.
Etymology of Angaja
Angaja is known as ne ten, yan lag Chung in Tibet Sthavira Angaja in Sanskrit. Earlier, we learned about the life of Angaja. Now, we are going to learn about the iconography of Angaja.
Iconography of the Angaja
In the iconography of Angaja, we will learn about his body posture, hand and leg gesture, and graphical representation of Angaja with other deities in thangka and statue.
Posture of the Angaja
Angaja is with an elderly appearance and advanced in age. His hair is white with long eyebrows hanging to the sides. In the right hand of Angaja, there is a fly whisk with a long handle is extended above the right shoulder.
The left hands of Angaja hold out to the side a golden incense bowl. In the stream of grey smoke twisting upward, a heavenly palace is revealed amongst the perfume clouds. He is wearing green patchwork strips and red monastic robes, an areola, ethereal which are maroon in color surrounds the head.
He is seated atop an ornate throne decorated with brocades. He is wishing jewels and a backrest, amidst wafting clouds. He sits before the snow-peaked mount Kailash with lake Manosarwar on the right.
Earlier, we learn about the life of Angaja and the iconography of Angaja. Now, we are going to learn about depicting Buddhist Elder Angaja Thangka.
Depicting Buddhist Elder Angaja Thangka
The thangka of Angaja is from eastern Tibet. It is made in between 1700 – 1799 AD. Angaja is from the karma lineage. The size of the painting is 81.92×53.34cm. The base of the painting is Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton.
By depicting this thangka, we will learn about the presentation of Angaja with Amitayus buddha, and Marpa Chokyi Lodro.
Amitayus Buddha is at the top right in the thangka. Amitayus Buddha is known as buddha of the long-life. Amitayus Buddha is red in color. Amitayus is holding a nectar-filled vase in the lap with both hands.
Amitayus is adorned with jewels and silks.
Marpa Chokyi Lodro
Marpa Chokyi Lodro is at the left of the thangka. Marpa Chokyi Lodro is seated on a cushion who is called the founder of the Kagyu School. In the guise of a layman with a mustache and goatee, he rests the two hands across the knees in the earth witness mudra.
Earlier, we learn about the life of Angaja, the iconography of Angaja, and depicting Buddhist Elder Angaja Thangka. now, we are going to learn about the presentation if Angaja with Amitabha Buddha thangka.
Angaja with Amitabha Buddha Thangka
The thangka of Angaja with Amitabha Buddha is from Tibet. the thangka is made between 1700 – 1799 AD. Angaja with Amitabha Buddha is from Buddhist lineage. the base of the painting is Ground mineral on Cotton.
By depicting this thangka, we will learn about the presentation of Angaja with Vanavasin, Kalika, and Dhritarashtra, etc.
At the center of the thangka, there is the presence of the Angaja holding an incense pot and a fly whisk.
The suggestion of Ajita is based on the grouping of these four elders into one composition and the fact that they are the first four named elders from the group of Sixteen Elders or Arhats. One problem with this suggestion is that Ajita very often is depicted with the head partially covered by his monastic robes.
Vanavasin is at the upper right side of the thangka. Vanavasin is holding a fly whisk in the left hand. Vanavasin was a learned scholar of the Vedas who became an ascetic in the forest and attained a certain level of realization. Knowing it was the right time to convert him, the Buddha came to the grove where he lived. Upon seeing the Buddha he was immediately filled with faith.
Kalika is at the lower right of the thangka. Kalika is holding a large gold ring in each hand. He was instructed in the classical studies from an early age, he became a learned scholar, and then joyfully took up the Dharma becoming the attendant of the Arhat Aniruddha. When he came of age, he became a full bhikshu and, devoting himself to meditation, became an arhat
Dhritarashtra is at the lower left of the thangka. Dhritarashtra is also known as the Guardian King of the East.
Earlier, we learn about the life of Angaja, the iconography of Angaja, and depicting Buddhist Elder Angaja Thangka, and the representation if Angaja with Amitabha Buddha thangka. Now, we are going to learn about Angaja with Gopaka thangka.
Angaja with Gopaka Thangka
The thangka of Angaja with Gopaka is from Tibet. It is made between 1500 – 1599 AD. Angaja with Gopakais from uncertain lineage. The size of the painting is 91.44×69.85cm. The base of the painting is Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton ad fine gold. Presently, this painting is in the Rubin Museum of Art.
By depicting this thangka, we will learn about Angaja and gopaka.
At the right of the thangka, there is Angaja who is mature in appearance with grey hair and a pronounced frown. The right arm of Angaja is supported on the raised knee. The hand of Angaja is holding an incense bowl.
The left hand of Angaja is loosely extended across the leg holds a flywhisk. In a coat of blue and gold brocade covered with a patchwork robe of green and orange, he sits in a relaxed posture atop an ornate throne. The heads surrounded by an areola of light.
In the front two attendants appear active in their duties. In a Chinese style, the background is filled with twisting trees and branches, climbing rock formations, and a decorative building atop a swirling mass of cloud. At the bottom right and left of the thangka, there are descriptive tablets framed with red and standing on pink lotus blossoms.
On the left of the thangka, there is the presence of the Gopaka. Gopaka is handsome in appearance. He has dark hair.
Earlier, we learned about the life of Angaja, the iconography of Angaja, and depicting Buddhist Elder Angaja Thangka, and the representation if Angaja with Amitabha Buddha thangka. And finally, we learn about Angaja with Gopaka thangka.