Lot 1396: Gandharan Temptation of Buddha Panel
December 8, 2016
London, United KingdomLive Auction
Description: 2nd-3rd century AD. A schist relief panel depicting Buddha seated on a throne under the Bodhi tree wearing monastic robes, hair pulled up into top knot and urna between the eyes; to the left the demon Mara dressed as a soldier unsheathing a sword, above three gods praying to Buddha; to the right the daughter of Mara looking into a mirror, above gods playing musical instruments; surrounded by an architectural frieze of rosettes and acanthus leaves; mounted on a custom-made stand. 15.21 kg, 37cm including stand (14 1/2"). From an important London collection, acquired in the 1990s. As a youth the Buddha had been shielded from the realities of life by living a secluded and cossetted existence in the palace of his father. However, one day he left the palace and witnessed a sick person, an old man, a dying man, and a corpse, encounters that left a deep impression on his mind and led him to realise that all living beings without exception have to experience the sufferings of birth, sickness, ageing and death. Because he understood the laws of reincarnation he also realised that they experience these sufferings not just once, but again and again, in life after life without cessation. Seeing how all living beings are trapped in this vicious circle of suffering he felt deep compassion for them, and he developed a sincere wish to free all of them from their suffering. Realising that only a fully enlightened Buddha has the wisdom and the power to help all living beings in this way, he resolved to leave the palace and retire to the solitude of the forest where he would engage in profound meditation until he attained enlightenment. The Buddha joined many groups also in pursuit of enlightenment and starved himself to the point of death by denying the body its simple needs. However, he soon realised that the extremes of denial and self indulgence only cause suffering and lead to attachment and therefore binds the soul to the world, and so he concluded that a middle way was the only answer to find inner peace. The Buddha went to a place called Bodh Gaya and there meditated on the suffering in the world and a way to resolve it. The demon Mara, who represents the inner doubts of the Buddha's mind, tried to tempt to Buddha from his path by seducing him with visions of beautiful women and great riches. When this failed Mara tried to attack the Buddha with his demon army. The resolve of the Buddha led to him to conquer his thoughts, passions and desires and he was no longer attached to the world and its fleeting distractions that bind all living things to it. The Buddha became enlightened and thereafter spent the rest of his life spreading his teachings.
Condition Report: Fine condition.