Shakyamuni Buddha is depicted here together with two bodhisattvas in the most classical representation. Sakyamuni Buddha is the founder of Buddhism in this world. Buddha Shakyamuni is the principal object of refuge for all Buddhists.
He is holding a begging bowl filled with three nectars indicating that he has conquered the “demons” of uncontrolled death, a contaminated body and mind, and delusions, and is touching the ground indicating his power to subdue all negative forces.
In general, “Buddha” means “Awakened One”, someone who has awakened from the sleep of ignorance and sees things as they really are. A Buddha is a person who is completely free from all faults and mental obstructions. Every living being has the potential to become a Buddha.
This thangka portrays the Buddha Shakyamuni, who is seated in vajraparyankasana on a moon disk on a lotus supported by a finely crafted throne; each side of which depicts snow lions. The right hand of the Buddha is in bhumisparsha-mudra, while the left hand, held in meditation position, holds a pindapatra. The bhumisparsha-mudra of the Buddha symbolizes his victory over Mara and his enlightenment at Bodhgaya.
It is believed that mere sight of this mudra of the Buddha guarantees the believer that it will ward off all evil. The Pindapatrawas the attribute of all Theravada Buddhist monks who passed by houses in the morning to beg for food. The monks are to accept food that is given them, including meat. Around noon, all the monks eat the food together as the only meal of the day. This practice still occurs in countries like Burma and Thailand where Theravada Buddhism is prominent. The pindapatra is the standard attribute of Shakyamuni, Amitabha, and Bhaishajyaguru.
Aside from the position of hands and feet, there are five more Characteristic physical marks which a meditator must possess a straight back, straight shoulders, eyes focused on the end of the nose, lips, and jaw in a naturally relaxed position, while the tip of the tongue touches the roof of the roof of the mouth.
The Buddha wears a monk’s simple cotton robes comprises a wrap for the lower body, one for the upper body, and another to cloak the upper torso. As can be seen from monks in many sects in various countries, this dress requirement is still fully honored in practice. Only in the art of painting has clothing become much more “chic”.
The Buddha Shakyamuni had a number of favorite students. One was his cousin Ananda who appears frequently in early Buddhist literature. He is more popular in Sri Lanka’s Theravada Buddhism. Ananda was well-loved and extremely popular because of his gentle character, and because he treated women as fully worthy, for he instructed nuns. Though the Buddha, did not consider women inferior, reluctantly agreed to allow women into the order. The two disciples of the Buddha we encounter everywhere in Northern Buddhism are Shariputra and Maudgalyayana. They stand, from the Buddha’s perspective to the right and left of his throne, each holding an alms bowl and a jingling beggar’s staff. As depicted in the present painting also. In the thangka, they radiate holiness, with their prabhamandala, which are in painted in sky blue here. They stand on the lotus.
Shariputra and Maudgalyayana were sons of Brahmans and the pupil of an ascetic Sanjaya. Shariputra heard from the lips of Aswhvajit, a Buddhist monk, the following Verse:
“Ye dharma hetu-prabhava hetum tesham Tathagato hy-avadat, Tesham cha yo nirodha evam vadi Maha-shramanah”.
Means: Tathagata has revealed the cause of those phenomena which spring from a cause and also the means of their cessation, so says the great recluse.
This verse, epitomizing the teachings of the Buddha and which ultimately became the Buddhist creed. As Shariputra learned the full Meaning of this verse from Ashvajit, he became a disciple of the Buddha, and Maudgalyayana followed his example. Later on, they became the two most important disciples of the Buddha. Ananda characterized Shariputra as “small is he in his desires and contended; loving seclusion and detachment, of rampant energy.” The prominence of Maudgalyayana lay in his possession of miraculous powers. He could transfer himself into any shape at will. The love between the “twin brethren” was mutual. Their strongest bond was the love of each for the Buddha. When away from him, they would relate to each other how they had been conversing with him by means of divine ears and divine eyes. Shariputra died on a full-moon day, so also Maudgalyayana two weeks later on the full-moon day, and both before the Mahaparinirvana of the Buddha.