YOU CANNOT POST. OUR WEB HOSTING COMPANY DECIDED TO MOVE THE SERVER TO ANOTHER LOCATION. IN THE MEANTIME, YOU CAN VIEW THIS VERSION WHICH DOES NOT ALLOW POSTING AND WILL NOT SAVE ANYTHING YOU DO ONCE THE OTHER SERVER GOES ONLINE.

Usnisha - Dhamma Wheel

Usnisha

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
User avatar
Will
Posts: 709
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 11:26 pm

Usnisha

Postby Will » Sun Feb 01, 2009 3:35 pm

Image

One of my favorite statues of Buddha is a gold one with a flame atop the head. This image is another example of a "flame buddha". In mahayana statues this usnisha is a lump, not a flame. Anyone know why some buddha statues in theravadin temples have this flame?
A bodhisattva does not become weary of evil beings nor does he commit the error of bringing forth thoughts inclined to reject them and cast them aside. Avatamsaka Sutra, ch. 25

User avatar
David N. Snyder
Site Admin
Posts: 10648
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Contact:

Re: Usnisha

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Feb 02, 2009 4:09 am

I'm not 100% sure, but I don't think it is a flame (in Theravada), but rather the hair was gathered together by the ascetics and tied together in a knot on top. It is somewhat interesting that most statues of Buddha are like this or with the short tight curls of an ascetic, but in reality the Buddha was shaved bald, after enlightenment or maybe even before.
Image




User avatar
Will
Posts: 709
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 11:26 pm

Re: Usnisha

Postby Will » Mon Feb 02, 2009 4:20 am

Here is another example, where the flame is plain to see. The text underneath also says "flame". Although this Thai image puts the flame atop the "normal" ushnisha, unlike the one in my first post.

http://www.asianart.com/exhibitions/nies/24.html
A bodhisattva does not become weary of evil beings nor does he commit the error of bringing forth thoughts inclined to reject them and cast them aside. Avatamsaka Sutra, ch. 25

User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
Posts: 17855
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Usnisha

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Feb 02, 2009 4:24 am

Greetings,

Interesting. I've always thought of it as "light" (signifying an enlightened mind) moreso than a flame.

The Buddha has no flames, because the flames have been extinguished. The Buddha is cool. 8-)

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

User avatar
David N. Snyder
Site Admin
Posts: 10648
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Contact:

Re: Usnisha

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Feb 02, 2009 4:32 am

You are right it does look like a flame. Here is more info about the hair top knots:

From Ven. Dhammika in The Dhamma Encyclopedia:


"We have quite a lot of information about the hair styles of the time and this is supplemented by archaeological evidence. Certain ascetics wore jatas, what we call dreadlocks, i.e. the hair was matted into long braids and then allowed to either hang down or be tied together into various shapes. When the braids were tied into a bun on the top of the head it was called jatanduva (S.I,117). Centuries later Siva and Avalokitesvara were always depicted with their hair like this. Brahman men probably shaved their heads except for a small part at the back which was left to keep growing, just as they still do. Topknots or buns on the back or top of the head were also popular. Another type of topknot was the culaka. Boys would ware five of these (Ja.V,250) and women would sometimes have a jeweled diadem attached to theirs (Ja.I,65). Sikhabandha seems to have meant twisting long hair and a long cloth together and then tying it around the head into a turban (D.I,7). Women favored parting their hair in the middle (dvedhasira vibhatta) as they still do, wearing plats (veni, Ja.II,185) and applying sandal oil to their hair both to perfume it and make it glisten (Ja.V,156). The high-class prostitute Ambapali used to ware her hair glossy-black, curled at the ends, with flowers in it, well-parted with a comb, decorated with gold ornaments and adorned with plats (Thi.252-5). When Nanda left to become a monk, he looked back and saw his girlfriend with her ‘hair half combed’ (upaddhullikhitehi kesehi), an image that later he couldn’t get out of his mind (Ud.22). Perhaps it was something like in those shampoo ads where you see the woman’s hair blowing in the wind."
Image




User avatar
David N. Snyder
Site Admin
Posts: 10648
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Contact:

Re: Usnisha

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Feb 02, 2009 4:34 am

Just found this over at wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usnisha

Apparently, the original meaning is lost, but now it is seen as symbolic for wisdom.
Image




User avatar
robertk
Posts: 2407
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:08 am

Re: Usnisha

Postby robertk » Mon Feb 02, 2009 6:20 am


User avatar
cooran
Posts: 8502
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: Usnisha

Postby cooran » Mon Feb 02, 2009 7:16 am

Hello Rob,

In the Digha Nikaya Sutta 30 verse 1.2 - The Marks of a Great Man ~

the 32nd, and final, Mark of a Great Man is "His head is like a royal turban'.

In the Notes to the Sutta, Maurice Walshe explains:
"Unhisaa (Skt. usniisa) - represented iconographically by a protuberance on the top of the head. Incidentally, the elongated ear-lobes commonly seen in Buddha images do not figure in the list."

metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

User avatar
robertk
Posts: 2407
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:08 am

Re: Usnisha

Postby robertk » Mon Feb 02, 2009 8:00 am

Yes, and after he cut off thye haor and pulled out the reamining hair - while still a bodhisatta - it grew back in short curls (if that is the right word) and never had to be shaved.

User avatar
David N. Snyder
Site Admin
Posts: 10648
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Contact:

Re: Usnisha

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Feb 02, 2009 7:49 pm

But according to the 32 marks, it is "head like a royal turban." So that could mean the top-knot of hair on his head? If we take the literal view that it is a cranial protrusion and not a metaphor, then we would also have to accept that:

He can touch his knees with the palms of his hands without bending. (#9; Pali: thitako va anonamanto)
He has an immense torso, like that of a lion (#17; Pali: sihapuba dhakayo).
He has a large, long tongue, that can reach the forehead and the ears (#27; Pali: pahutajivho).

I prefer the metaphorical, symbolic account, not the literal, though I expect you knew that already. :smile:
Image




sublime
Posts: 35
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2011 4:08 am

Re: Usnisha

Postby sublime » Mon Nov 14, 2011 10:10 pm

This is an old topic, but I think one thing might clear something up. I believe Scythian lords were subjected to artficial cranial deformation

Image

I'm wondering if this would account for the "head like a turban." Obviously, if kings were supposed to have this sort of skull shape, the Shakyan prince would have had this too, and it would have been something God kings had as well.

User avatar
Kim OHara
Posts: 4346
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:47 am
Location: North Queensland, Australia

Re: Usnisha

Postby Kim OHara » Tue Nov 15, 2011 6:48 am


sattva
Posts: 1248
Joined: Thu May 07, 2009 10:07 pm

Re: Usnisha

Postby sattva » Tue Nov 15, 2011 9:35 pm

Nothing here to add to the discussion except that i like the pic and the statue. Thanks for sharing it!

User avatar
Fede
Posts: 1182
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: The Heart of this "Green & Pleasant Land"...
Contact:

Re: Usnisha

Postby Fede » Tue Nov 15, 2011 9:40 pm

Kim...this is the Lounge, not Classic Theravada .... chill.


Thus have I heard:
Symbolically, it seems the Buddha had an elevated portion to his head, as a symbol of an expanded or greater Mind.
It's possible the flame may be symbolic in the same way a halo is; indeed, I have seen depictions of the Buddha, time and time again, with what appears to be a glorious light encircling his crown...

So really, the depictions are all symbolic.
Take them as you feel fitting.

EDIT:
In fact, I see the picture presented in the OP is one great big halo with a Buddha in front of it!

With regard to the large earlobes, as far as I have learnt, the ears are representative (and associated with the energy) of the Kidneys.
The Kidneys, (in oriental and Eastern medicine) house the Chi/Ki/Prana, and the elongated lobes of the ears symbolise abundant Positive energy within the kidneys and indicate a long, healthy and abundantly energetic life.

The statue of Ho Tei, the so-called 'Laughing Buddha' is not fat because he indulges in the luxuries of culinary excellence: his Tan Dien is replete with fantastic Chi - as his ears also reflect.

Ain't symbolism fun...?
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


http://www.armchairadvice.co.uk/relationships/forum/

User avatar
Kim OHara
Posts: 4346
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:47 am
Location: North Queensland, Australia

Re: Usnisha

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Nov 16, 2011 5:22 am


sublime
Posts: 35
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2011 4:08 am

Re: Usnisha

Postby sublime » Thu Nov 17, 2011 6:02 pm

Hi Kim,The Sakyans and the Scythians are basically the same people. There is plenty of research out there for you to look at. No need to get snippy. I personally don't bother with snippy.

sublime
Posts: 35
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2011 4:08 am

Re: Usnisha

Postby sublime » Thu Nov 17, 2011 6:12 pm

There is no basis for thinking the 32 marks and the light emitted from his body are merely symbolic. They are depicted in the suttas as being physical and non-buddhist Brahmins are able to see them. But I admit I'm just throwing this out there as one way to account for the odd shaped head.

sublime
Posts: 35
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2011 4:08 am

Re: Usnisha

Postby sublime » Fri Nov 18, 2011 2:48 am

Saka is a Scythian tribe, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saka, as were the Kushans, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kushans, who engaged in skull deformation, possibly a pan-Aryan practice, because it fits the description of one of the 32 marks of a Great Man.

User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 23012
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: Usnisha

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Nov 18, 2011 4:29 am


sublime
Posts: 35
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2011 4:08 am

Re: Usnisha

Postby sublime » Fri Nov 18, 2011 6:45 pm

The Saka article says explicitly that the Sakas were part of the wider tribal Scythian nation.


Return to “General Theravāda discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 46 guests

Google Saffron, Theravada Search Engine