Buddha's Stories

FIG. 3
The Eight Great Events with numbered scenes



The Buddha's Stories


Additional scenes related to the Buddha's birth and several episodes from his life before enlightenment are shown in the lower register, starting in the lower-right corner:

1A The astrologer Asita was invited to divine the child's future and revealed that he would become either a great ruler or a spiritual teacher.

1B The Great Departure relates the future Buddha's leaving the palace with the help of gods and in the company of his charioteer/groom, whom he sends back to the palace with his horse, shown here by a riderless horse.

1C The Buddha-to-be cuts his own hair, exchanges his clothing with a beggar, and begins his ascetic life.

1D The Teasing of the Buddha-to-be occurred when he sat motionless for a long time, and some shepherd boys took him for an earth spirit (yakśa) statue and tried to put sticks in his ears.

1E The episode of Sujata's Gift took place after six years of austerities, when the Buddha-to-be was nearing death from starvation, realized that the severe physical asceticism is not the path, and accepted the gift of food from a girl, Sujata.

1F During one of the Buddha's contemplative sessions, when torrential rain was falling, the king of serpents opened his multiheaded hood to form a protective canopy above the seated Buddha.

Additional scenes related to the Buddha's enlightenment:

2A The demon Mara's army attacks the Buddha.

2A–B The Buddha is victorious over the demon Mara (see Mara and his daughters below the throne). On the left he is attacking the Buddha with a bow and arrow, and on the right he is seated in acceptance of his defeat. His three daughters are also shown in two distinct attitudes toward the Buddha—on the left they are in seductive dancing poses, and on the right they are raising their arms in adoration.