According to Ashvaghosha (Acts of the
Buddha, sarga 17) when the
Buddha achieved Enlightenment, he returned to meet with his family at Lumbini
where he had entered the world. There he manifested "...in the
sky in his one person a form comprising the entire universe: First as fire, then
ambrosia, then a lion (king of beasts) an elephant, the king of horses, the king
of peacocks, the king of birds, Maghavan [Magnanimous Indra,] the ten rulers of
the world headed by Yama, the sun, the moon, all the hosts of stars, and Brahma,
Vishnu, and Shiva." The wondrous display before his family, friends,
disciples and other beings demonstrates his ability to transcend the limits of
samsara, the world of continual rebirth, and its myriad forms.
This event is depicted as appearing in
an aura that surrounds the
Buddha. At top centre is
the garuda (here depicted in the form of a red shang-shang)
symbolic of Consciousness, holding the flaming Jewel of Accomplishment.
In a similar depiction at Exotic
"On either side of the base of the lotus throne are two elephants. On
the elephants' backs stand two blue lions. Above the lions stand two composite
animals which resembles a horse in appearance. On the back of the composite
animals sit two young dwarfs, whose hands support an entwined jewel crossbeam
draped with silk brocade. The dwarf is a symbol of colossal strength in a
diminutive stature, and since all of the above animals symbolize strength,
speed, and power, the dwarf is their human equivalent.
The crossbeam is capped with an entwined jewel at either end. Two makaras with
upturned heads face outwards above the crossbeam, their fabulous 'feathered'
tails forming a design of intricate scrolling spiral roundels.
On the makara-tails rest two young naga serpents, with human upper bodies and
serpent tails from their waist downwards. At the very top stands Garuda,
devouring a long snake which the nagas hold up for him.
These six creatures represent the 'six perfections' of the enlightened
1). The two lions at the base represent the perfection of wisdom (prajna).
2). The two elephants represent the perfection of concentration (dhyana).
3). The two dwarfs [sic] represent the perfection of effort (virya).
4). The two makaras represent the perfection of patience (kshanti).
5). The two nagas represent the perfection of morality (shila).
6). Garuda represents the perfection of generosity (dana).
These six creatures are also symbolically named: gurana, sarana, bharana,
surana, varana, and karuna.
[Note that] the crossbeam divides the throne into
two distinct sections, with the three upper creatures; makara, naga, and
Garuda symbolizing the watery, underground and heavenly realms. The lower
portion symbolizes the Buddha's conception (elephant), enlightenment (lion),
ascent to Tushita heaven (deva), and reconciliation of the faction in the
India's tangka of the Display of Forms (Beer, Robert. The Encyclopedia of Tibetan Symbols and Motifs. Boston:
Shambhala Publications, 1999.)
[ Home ] [ Up ] [ Next ]
[ Animals ] [ Images ] [ Deity Menu ] [ Mysterious ] [ Ritual Items ] [ Objects ] [ Places Tied to Tibetan Tradition ] [ Nature ]