Votive Stupa with Four Buddhas

India, Bihar

Not on view

Small stupas such as this example were placed near massive stupas containing the ashes of the Buddha. By this time, the connection between the historic Buddha Shakyamuni, who revealed the Buddhist teachings on earth, and the Buddha Vairochana, who resides in heaven, was known from texts and accepted in religious practice. The dome of the stupa simultaneously represents Shakyamuni’s relics and Vairochana’s celestial presence. The four directional Buddhas look out of foliate niches. These small stupas held the ashes of the monastic dead, allowing deceased monks to be eternally in the presence of the Buddha Shakyamuni and perhaps even aided in their being reborn in one of the pure lands.

Votive Stupa with Four Buddhas, Schist, India, Bihar

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