A STORY OF A BUDDHA IMAGE
fhe legend of the Buddha does nol end with his death. As we have just seen,
-elics and the stiJpas enshrining them were a means of remembering the
auddha after Ilis parinirvaoa, but they were not the only ones.
Buddhist pilgrimage developed and Buddhist devotional art flourished, devo-
tees found additional ways of recalling the presence of the Blessed One. At
first. in art, he and the places where he had been were represented by sym-
bols such as footsteps, thrones, trees, wheels of the Dharma, and the like, but
number of centuries, anthropomorphic images and statues
of him came to the fore.
Scholars have much debated the issue of when (probably around the first
where (probably in northwestern India), and by whom the first
images of the Buddha were rn'lde, but Buddhist legends did not hesitate to
assert that depictions at him had aheady been fashioned during his lifetime.
Thus the famous sandalwood
of King UdrayaQa is said to have been
carved by artists so
people could venerate it while the Buddha himself
was absent in one of the hf:rlvens, preaching the Dharma to his mother and
the assembled deities.
ali image was clearly seen as
substitute for the
Buddha in his absence and was itseillhought
be "alive" in a variety of ways.
Stories are told of its standing up, fJleaching the Dharma, making converts,
In the following tale. the image featured is also
sandalwood image, but
one made by King Pasenadi of Kosala so
the inhabitants of
have something to worship when the Buddha is out of town. As the story
makes clear, however. the Image is destined to become something more than
that once the Buddha becomes pertlldnently "absent" in parinirvana.
One day, the Blessed One, seeing some persons in this world who
were ready for conversion, left the great Jetavana monastery and went to
their country in order to preach to them. Just then, however, King
Pasenadi of Kosala decided to vl::;it the Buddha. Together with his men,
he took some perfumes, garlands, and other things needed
left the city and, in the midst of
large entourage, went to the fetavana.