Siddartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism was born in Lumbini, Nepal in 563 B.C. to Queen Maya and King Suddhodana of the Sakya clan. He had a royalty filled childhood and at the age of sixteen was married to Yashodhara from whom he had a son named Rahula. After the birth of his son, Siddartha on seeing the sufferings and realities of life resolved to spend a life of austerity and inner detachment. For a short while he was the disciple of the famous sage Alara Kalama who indoctrinated him about “Atma” and “Brahma”. Gautama practiced several austerities and undertook severe self-mortification. To invigorate his weakened body he begged in the villages for food. His resolved for the attainment of enlightenment was rock firm. He sat under a banyan tree in the present day place named Bodh Gaya in India and practiced deep meditation for several days. And, finally a day arrived when he received enlightenment or the answers to questions he had been long looking for. He thus attained “Nirvana” or spiritual emancipation and came to known as ‘Buddha”. The word “Buddha” has been derived from the Hindu word “Buddhi” meaning “Mind” and “Buddha” meaning “The One with an Awakened Mind”. Buddhism as of today has a global following of nearly 300 million people who are mainly concentrated in Central and South East Asia.
Buddhism - its modern perspective
More than a religion, Buddhism is a philosophy focused to “conduct of life”. The eternal core of Buddhism focuses on
· Having a moral life.
· Having compassion and awareness of actions and thoughts.
· Having wisdom and understanding.
Buddhism’s rapid popularity in the modern day has resulted mainly from the solutions it has to offer for today’s rampant materialism. It also initiates a deep understanding of the complex human mind and of the natural therapies that lie within to rid humanity of the rigors of modern day rat race. Psychologists the world over are concentrating on unraveling this aspect and facet which the Buddhism discipline inculcates into the human mind.
The significance of Buddha Head
Buddha statues come in numerous “asanas” or sitting postures and “mudras” or physical postures, yet the focal point remains the “Head” as it hold the secret to all elusive methodology for the attainment of enlightenment. Though the styling has remained constant or fixed, but the facial features though being basically Mongoloid in nature has varied with respect to geography. The facial features of a Buddha head as in a temple of Japan will vary with the one found in a Tibetan monastery, basically due to sub racial classification.
The Buddha head has been an icon and a symbolic depiction of the characteristics of his greatness. The Buddha head is famous for its religious and spiritual overtones. His head, to a layman resonates of his calm, composure and meditative character to the point infinity. The typical Buddha head is characterized by a round, vibrant, youthful, charming and sweet face, yet there is much more mysticism than what meets a common man’s eye. The great sage depicted as a friendly individual with eternal happiness and an embodiment of wisdom and compassion. A feature wise analysis of the Buddha had can be attempted in the following manner:-
· The Ushnisha – or the crown of hair is a three dimensional oval at the top of the head. It is a gathering of his wavy and voluminous hair into a chignon. The “ushnisha” symbolizes the special status related to the spiritual power, the knowledge and the religious ideals preached by Buddha.
· The Hair - It is shown as an infinitely complex combination of small curls. As hairs are symbolic of mankind’s illusion or ignorance, ridding of the same signifies renunciation of ignorance. This is one of the prime requisites for the attainment of enlightenment.
· The Third Eye – is a hairy dot which appears on the forehead between the eyebrows. This has great significance and connotations. It signifies to the devotes to inculcate ethical behavior, indulge in meditation, be generous, make offerings and free oneself from materialistic provocations. The third eye symbolizes spiritual awakening of knowledge and wisdom besides providing divine vision with the ability to see past our mundane universe of sufferings. It also symbolizes that he was a great being.
· The Eye – are usually casting downwards in a state of meditation with a hue of spiritual aura. It signifies looking beyond materialistic things only towards the truth. It is virtually awakening of the inner eye or “urna”.
· The Ears – Long and bulgy ears besides being auspicious also signified a person’s sense of compassion and wisdom. It also connotes the abilities to hear the sounds of worldly sufferings and ease them with compassion. An alternative interpretation is that besides being materialistically wealthy during royalty, he was also wealthy in terms of knowledge, compassion and wisdom.
· The Nose – He had long, protruding, proportioned and aquiline nose. This basically added balance and aura to his sagely personality, but conveyed no significant overt or covert connotations.
No doubt that Buddha Heads are today the most sought after collector’s objects. Many believe that by just observing the calm and composed gaze and the serene expression of the Buddha head one may attain a path to unravel the mysteries of inner composure and personal well being. Buddha heads are the icon of confidence, awareness, knowledge, compassion and concentrated meditative practices. Each and every faculty of the Buddha head symbolizes a hidden meaning, philosophy, history, occult, and above all how to individually and collectively be great, noble and kind human beings.