Birth of Buddha
This relief from Gandhara narrates the story of the future Buddha’s birth. Twenty-five hundred years ago, King Suddhodana ruled a land near the Himalayas. One day during a mid-summer festival, his wife Queen Maya retired to her quarters to rest, and she fell asleep. She had a vivid dream in which four angels carried her high into a White Mountain peak and clothed her in flowers. A magnificent white bull elephant bearing a white lotus in its trunk approached Maya and walked around her three times. Then the elephant struck her on the right side with its trunk and vanished into her.
After waking up, Maya told her husband, the king, about the dream who summoned 64 Brahmans to interpret the dream. Queen Maya would give birth to a son, the Brahmans said, and if the son did not leave the household he would become a world conqueror. However, if he were to leave the household he would become a Buddha.
When the time of Maya’s confinement drew near, her father grew anxious that she might die in childbirth and asked her husband Shuddhodana to allow her to come to his home adjoining the Lumbini gardens. As soon as she arrived, she walked over to a tree which immediately bent down to her. Taking hold of a branch she looked up to heaven, and at that moment the future Buddha was born from her right side. The god Indra, shown here with a tall headdress, appeared to receive him.
Then, without any help, the child took seven steps in the direction of each of the cardinal points and announced in a clear voice: ‘I will have no further births to endure, for this is my last body. Now I shall destroy and pluck out by the roots the sorrow that is caused by birth and death.’ On hearing of this miracle, Shuddhodana named the child Siddhartha; meaning Perfect Fulfillment. He also received the family name Gautama. In later times he became known simply as Shakyamuni – the ‘Sage of the Shakyas’.
As he is the Buddha the world has known for over two thousand years his statue, simply known as Shakyamuni Buddha Statues are famous all over the world. These statues not only portray the prince but represent his teachings and encourage the followers of his teachings to practice more to attain more knowledge. They are symbolic gestures of peace and harmony. Though the styles of the statues or Buddha Mudras vary from one region of origin to another, the Buddha Statues of various styles have one meaning, to know the true meaning of life.