Seated Buddha Reaching Enlightenment, Flanked by Avalokiteshvara and Maitreya
late 10th–11th century
India, Bihar, Nalanda monastery
H. 26 1/4 in. (66.7 cm); W. 17 3/8 in. (4.1 cm); D. 8 1/8 in. (20.6 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1920
Not on view
This Buddha from the great monastic site of Nalanda is seen at the moment of enlightenment, with his right hand reaching down to touch the earth, bearing witness to his past refined and meritorious actions, including those in countless past lives that brought him to this point of ultimate realization. The Buddha sits in a yogic posture, deep in meditation. His enlightenment allowed him not only to realize, but also to teach, the Four Noble Truths, as stated in the inscription on his lotus throne:
Of all dispositions proceeding from a cause The Tathagata [Buddha] has explained the cause And he has explained their cessation also This is the doctrine of the great Shramana [the great ascetic or meditator—the Buddha].
At his right stands the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, identifiable by the image of the Buddha Amitabha in his headdress. At his left is Maitreya, the next Buddha who will come in some distant future.
Inscription: (On lotus throne) Ye dharmma hetuprabhava hetum tesham tathagato hyavadatteshan (cha) ye (nirodha evam) vadi mahasramanah. (trans: Of all dispositions proceeding from a cause, the Tathagata [i.e. the Buddha] has explained the cause and he has explained their cessation also. This is the doctrine of the great Samana (the Buddha). Inscription read by C.R.R. Chowdhury of the Asutosh Museum, Calcutta (see letter from D.P. Ghosh, 3/7/60 in R.E. Dept. files).
Note: the characters of the inscription are Proto-Bengali of th late 11th century A.D. The language is Sanskrit.