Gestures of the Buddha 03

This is the continuation of my series of blogs showing different postures of the Buddha. This week we are looking at some more Standing Buddhas. Each of them depict an episode in the life of the Buddha. The first one is of the Buddha holding an alms bowl. This is when he went back to visit his father’s palace. The next morning he went out on an alms round. This image is for people born on Wednesday morning. In the image on the right, the Buddha is meditating over the corpse of a slave girl. In his left hand is a walking stick. He takes her shroud to use as robes for himself.

The image on the left is called “Receiving Grass Bundles”. The Buddha is standing straight with his left arm on his left side. His right hand is reaching forward with his palm facing the front. He is receiving bundles of grass to use as a seat while he meditates under the bodhi tree. The second image is called “Stopping the relatives from fighting”. His right arm is raised at chest level with palm facing forward. His left arm is hanging down against his left side. The Buddha has just returned from heaven and stops his relatives arguing over the rights of water running in a river between their properties.

The image on the left is important for people born on a Sunday. He is standing with his right hand placed over his left. For seven days after enlightenment, the Buddha sat and meditated under the tree. He then stood and faced the tree for a further seven days while he considered the suffering of all living things. In the second image he is standing with his hands pointing forward as if trying to stop something. This image is called “Stopping the Ocean” or “Causing the Waters to Subside”. It refers to an incident when the Buddha was invited to stay in a hut near the banks of a river that was about to burst its banks. The Buddha raised his hands which caused the water to subside. This image is similar to another called “Descent from Tavatimsa Heaven”. However, in that one, the thumb and index finger of each hand are joined.

I have saved an unusual Buddha image for last. The one on the left is “Buddha Thinking Deeply”. His arms are crossed at chest level. It tells the story of after the enlightenment of the Buddha and he returns to the Bodhi tree. He is wondering how he will explain to people the cause of all suffering. This image is for people born on Fridays. The image on the right is rather unusual. It is called “Bidding Farewell to Vesali”. It is unusual as he is looking back over his shoulder. He is taking a last look at Vesali as he know he will soon die and will never return.

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