As Buddhism became widespread all over the world, there became a lot of interpretation of Buddha in every region it reaches. It may seem strange. But local beliefs and traditions also merged with this newly-found religion after it reaches those regions. Thus, this is the reason why we can see Buddha in different depictions and poses. Each of these poses tells a particular meaning. And sometimes tells an essential event in Buddha’s past life. Anyway, let us delve into that symbolism and the different representations of Buddha. And uncover the meanings behind it.
For us to know those poses and the meaning behind it, let’s talk about Buddha first. First and foremost, Buddha was a monk and a religious leader on which the religion Buddhism was found. Buddha or Gautama Buddha, is the primary figure or Buddhism, as Jesus Christ is to Christianity. He is believed by Buddhists to be the teacher who first attained enlightenment. And in which he wants to share with other people to end rebirth and suffering.
According to historical texts, Buddha was once a prince named Siddhartha Gautama. He witnessed the suffering around him and decided to leave everything to achieve enlightenment. After he achieves enlightenment, he passed his teachings to his followers. Later on, more and more people become his follower. And this became a religion that is still strong up until today.
The Meaning of Buddha’s Statues
Before we dig deeper into the kinds of poses and their meanings, let’s first know the meaning of each Buddha statue from head to toe. Let’s start first with the head, which is usually short and curly. Thus, this signifies that Siddhartha left his privileged past to find enlightenment by cutting off his topknot.
Buddha’s half-closed eyes represent a state of meditation. And in which interpreted as both looking outward and inward. Elongated and stretched earlobes mean that with that, he can hear what’s needed to be heard in the world.
Other symbols include a dot in the forehead that signifies wisdom. And a third eye to see deeper into things and to see unity. Sometimes, other statues depict Buddha having long arms for generosity. Also, a full mouth for eloquent speech, and round heels for temperament.
Different Representations of Buddha
Most Buddha statue depicts a particular pose. These poses, or asanas, usually illustrates a specific and essential event in Buddha’s life. Also, these poses have Mudra. Here are three of the most common asana and its corresponding meaning:
- Meditation pose – The most common depiction of Buddha and commonly seen in temples and souvenir shops. This pose is perfect for people who are looking for inner peace and calmness in their life. And as well as to improve their meditation.
- The pose – “Calling the Earth To Witness” – This pose is predominantly seen in Thai temples. Thus, this is depicted as a Buddha with legs crossed. And the right hand pointing in the grand while the palms face in, and the left hand is in the lap. Thus, this depicts Buddha’s moment of enlightenment.
- The Nirvana Buddha – This statue usually characterized Buddha lying on his right side atop of a resting table. Thus, this signifies the last moments of Buddha on earth, before dying for the last time and is about to enter Nirvana.
Other Statues Depicting Buddha
Other statues that depict Buddha are those golden lucky charms that signify wealth and prosperity. This depiction is not of Siddhartha Gautama, but a different person entirely. Thus, this is the statue of Hotei, which is dubbed as the laughing Buddha.
In Buddhism, the elephant is a sacred animal that is associated with Gautama Buddha’s mother. Queen Maya of Sakya. In Japanese Buddhism, Kangiten is an elephant-headed couple that represents the unity of opposites.
No matter what form Buddha takes on his statues and other objects, it is clear that it only means one thing. And that is spiritual and self-enlightenment. Each region may have its interpretation of the statue. However, there is only one thing that is clear: that Buddha statues are always heralded as a divine and sacred.