Life story of Buddha in stone scriptures

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Peshawar, Sep 15: The more-than-one-hundred-year old Peshawar Museum is these days displaying a unique and largest collection of architectural pieces telling the complete life story of Buddha, from his birth to death and his miracles.

The four important events of Buddha's are his birth at Lumbini Garden, his enlightenment under the Bodhi tree, his first sermon in the Deer Park and his death at Kusinara. All these events are symbolised by a lotus, a tree, a wheel or a deer and a stupa, respectively. The unique stone sculptures carved in Gandhara Art, reported the Daily Times.

Saleh Muhammad, NWFP Archaeology and Museums director said that the major poses of Buddha in Peshawar Museum were "Dhayana Mudra" (Medtation Pose), "Abhaya Mudra" (Reassurance Pose), "Dharma Chakra Mudra" (Turning of the Wheel of Law Pose), and "Bhumispersa Mudra" or (Earth Touching Pose).

The main Gandharan collection of Peshawar Museum came from excavations of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Frontier Circle from 1902 to 1941 and donations from public and purchases, the Pakistani daily quoted Saleh as saying.

In the main hall of the museum, the antiques and sculptures put on display represent the stories, almost all the episodes on the life of Buddha from his birth to death.

The Buddha's life story in stones is beautifully carved with all details from the Queen Maya's dream, interpretation of the dream, birth of Siddhartta (historic Buddha), bath scene, seven steps, going to school, writing lessons, wrestling matches, palace life, marriage scene, renunciation, great departure, ascetic life, fasting, first meditation, demons attacks, attaining enlightenment, first sermon, death scene, cremation of Buddha, distribution of relics and construction of stupas on the relics, reported the Daily Times.

The collection includes different types of architectural pieces, relics caskets, stupa models of schist and bronze, stucco sculptures, terracotta figurines, toiletry objects along with life size Buddha statues.

"The life stories of Buddha, depicted in Gandharan Art, are an authentic document of the Mahyana text composed during the time of Kanishka (1st Century AD)," said Prof Fidaullah Sehrai, a renowned archaeologist and former director NWFP Department of Archaeology and Museums.

Prof Sehrai said that the cosmopolitan art of Gandhara, with influences from Indian Greek, Roman and Persian artists, appeared in this region in 1st century BC for propagation of Buddhism through stone carved as well as images in stucco, terracotta and bronze. These images were placed in chapels of monasteries and in stupas across Gandhara region by Buddhist followers for worship.

Prof Sehrai said in the old Buddhist art, the Buddha was not represented in human form but shown by symbols.


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