Collections: Asian Art: Stele Depicting Shakyamuni Buddha Touching the Earth

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Stele Depicting Shakyamuni Buddha Touching the Earth

  • Medium: Schist
  • Place Made: Bihar or West Bengal, India
  • Dates: ca. 9th-10th century
  • Period: Pala period
  • Dimensions: 9 1/2 x 7 3/8 in. (24.1 x 18.7 cm)  (show scale)
  • Collections:Asian Art
  • Museum Location: This item is not on view
  • Accession Number: 68.185.8
  • Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Paul E. Manheim
  • Rights Statement: Creative Commons-BY
  • Caption: Stele Depicting Shakyamuni Buddha Touching the Earth, ca. 9th-10th century. Schist, 9 1/2 x 7 3/8 in. (24.1 x 18.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Paul E. Manheim, 68.185.8. Creative Commons-BY
  • Image: overall, 68.185.8_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2011
  • Catalogue Description: Small Pala-period stone stele with rounded top, carved with the figure of Shakyamuni Buddha in vajraparyanka (posture of meditation), on a lotus throne, with a foliate chattra (tree-shaped parasol) above the mandorla, and miniature stupas on either side. The Buddha makes the Bhumisparsa Mudra, or Earth-Touching Gesture, with his right hand, making reference to his calling of the earth goddess to witness in the moments before his Enlightenment at Bodh Gaya. The tree above his head appears to refer to the Bodhi tree, beneath which he meditated prior to gaining Enlightenment. Condition: the surface of the stone is well worn. There are chips in the hair, nose and right eye of the figure and the fingers of the left hand.
  • Record Completeness: Good (75%)
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Recent Comments
08:06 03/10/2011
It is not long since Siddhartha Gautama became the Buddha.
Mara has constantly sought to prevent this direct seeing, to prevent the Buddha’s nirvana. But it has happened. Not all the forces of Mara, not all the delusions and the mental formations and tricks and Mara’s conceits and conditionings could stop the Blessed One. There is the Buddha now and Mara is in a rage.
“How dare you sit there where countless Buddhas have sat?” Mara challenges the present Buddha. “What makes you think you are the Buddha? What makes you think you are the Seer, the Blessed One who has seen all things? I have many witnesses to my Powers – but who, you isolated and lonely man – who is your witness?”
And the Buddha is seated below the Bodhi Tree, seated magnificently in the Lotus posture.
And the Buddha lifts his right hand and touches the earth with it.
And the Buddha says: “The earth is my witness.”
And Mara is silenced – for there is the roar of the Earth’s approval, for the Earth is the witness, for its beings caught in dhukka are the witness to the Blessed One.
And Mara is silenced, though Mara’s mind is still crowded and noisy with all its forces, all its delusions and the mental formations and tricks and conceits and all its conditionings.



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