Perhaps, the most beautiful and elegant of all Buddha images is
the one at MULAGHANDHI KUTA VIHARE, SARANATH. This Vihare designed
on Gupta architecture, was constructed on the initiative taken by
our own Anagarika Dharmapala (later Ven. Devamitta Thera) from donations
given by Buddhists of Japan, India, Ceylon, Burma and several other
nations. In the ancient schools of Art / Sculpture, the Buddha was
represented or symbolised with a Pipal tree or by the eight spoke
wheel referring to the Buddha dharma.
The wheel (or the Chakra) signifies (in ancient representations)
Royalty or a Universal Monarch. The Buddha after gaining Enlightenment
said that he would go to Benares "to set the wheel in motion".
By that He had meant He was to proclaim the Buddha Law. Centuries
later, iconography represented the Buddha in different mudras. Just
as much as the Bhumis-sparsha-Mudra at Buddha Gaya in indicative
of the Bodhisattva's Enlightenment, the first sermon delivered at
the Deer Park, Saranath, displays the mudra, where He uses his hands
and fingers close to his chest, to show turning of the Wheel (Dharma
Chakkra). The Artist has shown the Teacher is seated cross legged,
on a lotus (Padmasana). The Buddha's five disciples who listened
to His first sermon are shown on the pedestal, whilst two devas
are above. The Buddha image was installed inside the Vihare in the
1930's It is now under the care of the Maha Bodhi Society of India.
The spectacular 4000 or more gold gilded Buddha images of the PINDAYA
CAVES, found high on a mountain side, and accessible by an electric
lift, is a wonderful sight. This great masterpiece of Burman sculpture
is a 18th Century creation. All images, some big and some very small,
but attractive because they are at different elevations. They have
been carved out of limestone rock, where stalagmites, stalagtites
over 1500 years old converge on each other.
The large, electrically lit caves, viewed in two tiers project
the high esteem and love the people of Myanmar have for the Buddha.
A Shan style large Buddha image with a crown on the head, and a
small size stupa meets the eyes of all pilgrims who enter this wonderful
man made creation of art. Nowhere else in the world is seen in such
large numbers, in once place, so many beautiful looking Buddha images.
The Pindaya Caves are located in upper Myanmar, requiring about
an eight hour drive over the Shan Plateau of Central Myanmar, on
the way from Inlake to Mandalay City. At Mandalay, a former Capital
City of Myanmar, is seen another masterpiece of Burman craftsmanship
-the giant white marble statue of MAHA MUNI. This is about the largest
marble statue in the seated position. It is the pride of all Myanmar.