Images discouraged?

General forum on Mahayana.

Images discouraged?

Postby Lotus415 » Fri Mar 09, 2012 11:44 pm

I have heard it said that Buddha Shakyamuni discouraged any images of him to be made, but have never seen any references for this.
If there was such a declaration, how has it happened that there are so many images of him honored in nearly every tradition?
Lotus415
 
Posts: 39
Joined: Fri Mar 09, 2012 11:42 pm

Re: Images discouraged?

Postby LastLegend » Sat Mar 10, 2012 12:25 am

Lotus415 wrote:I have heard it said that Buddha Shakyamuni discouraged any images of him to be made, but have never seen any references for this.
If there was such a declaration, how has it happened that there are so many images of him honored in nearly every tradition?


It sounds like to me that he does not want people to worship him like worshipping a god.
NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)
User avatar
LastLegend
 
Posts: 2016
Joined: Sat Mar 19, 2011 3:46 pm
Location: Washington DC

Re: Images discouraged?

Postby kirtu » Sat Mar 10, 2012 6:32 pm

I was reading Jamgon Kongtrul's Treasury of Knowledge - his encyclopedia of Buddhist knowledge as presented in Tibet in the middle of the 19th century - and in books 2,3 and 4, published as "Buddhism's Journey to Tibet" Kongtrul goes into the gradual development of Buddhist art.

It turns out that during the Buddha's lifetime there were at least two paintings made of him with his knowledge and blessing. One is a famous story of a painting make of Buddha Shakyamuni and depicting the 12 links of dependant origination. Another is a story of a painting made expressly to promote faith in a king and as an object of blessing.

Then the first statues of Buddha Shakyamuni also were made during Buddha's lifetime according to Kongtrul. The first was commissioned by a king during Buddha's visit to the Heaven of 33 in order to teach his mother. The king had invited many Arhats to dinner while Buddha was teaching his mother in the Heaven of 33 - they had left the head seat empty for the Buddha but felt the lack of his presence. The king commissioned the statue in order to compensate for the lack of the Buddha's physical presence. When Buddha returned to Earth he found out about the statue and then blessed it. Some other statue's were made that also carried the blessing power of the presence of the Buddha. This was in fact the aim of the creation of the statues.

This material is at the end of Book Four in the encyclopedia, so at the end of "Buddhism's Journey to Tibet" in a separate section discussing sacred Buddhist art.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
User avatar
kirtu
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4371
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2010 5:29 pm
Location: Baltimore, MD

Re: Images discouraged?

Postby catmoon » Sat Mar 10, 2012 8:02 pm

In early Buddhism there were no images of Buddha, and this persisted for several centuries. The fondness for statuary came with contact with Greek civilization in the Gandhara area in the first century BC.
Sergeant Schultz knew everything there was to know.
User avatar
catmoon
Former staff member
 
Posts: 3006
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2009 3:20 am
Location: British Columbia

Re: Images discouraged?

Postby kirtu » Sat Mar 10, 2012 9:29 pm

catmoon wrote:In early Buddhism there were no images of Buddha, and this persisted for several centuries. The fondness for statuary came with contact with Greek civilization in the Gandhara area in the first century BC.


I woulsn't be so dismissive of Kongtrul on this point. We know that images of the Dharmawheel, and Buddha's hand and foot came pretty early on.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
User avatar
kirtu
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4371
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2010 5:29 pm
Location: Baltimore, MD

Re: Images discouraged?

Postby catmoon » Mon Mar 12, 2012 5:17 am

kirtu wrote:
catmoon wrote:In early Buddhism there were no images of Buddha, and this persisted for several centuries. The fondness for statuary came with contact with Greek civilization in the Gandhara area in the first century BC.


I woulsn't be so dismissive of Kongtrul on this point. We know that images of the Dharmawheel, and Buddha's hand and foot came pretty early on.

Kirt


Exactly so. Images of the Buddha are conspicuously absent in early Buddhism. Iconic symbols of the kind you speak of were used instead.
Sergeant Schultz knew everything there was to know.
User avatar
catmoon
Former staff member
 
Posts: 3006
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2009 3:20 am
Location: British Columbia

Re: Images discouraged?

Postby lotwell » Mon Mar 12, 2012 5:10 pm

Yes, it was about 400-500 years after the historical Buddha that images of him began to appear (beyond wheel or foot symbols)

Lotwell
lotwell
 
Posts: 64
Joined: Sun Jan 01, 2012 3:59 pm

Re: Images discouraged?

Postby rory » Fri Mar 30, 2012 5:31 am

Here's an interesting scholarly article on early iconography in Buddhism
http://archiv.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/ojs/ ... /1938/2964
gassho
rory
Dharani of Amoghapasa Avalokitesvara:

Om amogha-padma-pasa-krodhakarsaya praveshaya maha-pashupati-yama-varuna-kuvera
brahma-vesa-dhara padma-kula-samayan hum hum

heart mantra: Om amogha vijaya hum phat
User avatar
rory
 
Posts: 651
Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 8:08 am
Location: SouthEast USA


Return to Mahāyāna Buddhism

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 9 guests

>