The Divine Traditions (Divyavadana) reliefs at Borobudur

Last week I spoke about the new photographs of the Life of the Buddha murals at Borobudur which I had just published.

On the same wall, but below those murals, are another set of 120 panels, which seem mainly to be illustrating stories from the early Sanskrit work The Divine Traditions (Divyāvadāna).

I say mainly because only around 70 of the panels have been identified by scholars, and a few of them are Jātakas, not Avadānas; but also at least some of the identifications are unsure.

To elucidate the panels, I have used Foucher’s essay on the subject from his Buddhist Art in Java, which provides not only the story, but an interesting commentary also.

I have previously published these panels, but this is a new and better set, although for now I have left the old set up.

As with the Life of the Buddha the stories are divided into five sections, which encompasses the stories told, and makes for easier reading.

The main stories told are of Sudhana and Manoharā, one of the great Buddhist love stories; Mandhatā, whose merit enticed him to reach for the Heavens; Rudrāyaṇa who exchanged gifts with Good King Bimbisāra, and whose wife becomes first a bhikṣuni and then a goddess; and Maitrakanyaka who abused his Mother and eventually fell into a terrible hell.

In 2009 I also made a pdf book out of the stories identified in Foucher’s text, which I called Reading Borobudur, as it helps us to read the story on the panels. This has now been updated also. The book also includes an Introductory essay and sections on the ancient temple at Mendut and the museum at Batavia (Jakarta), which, for a Buddhist, must be one of the finest in the world.

Visit The Divine Traditions

Manohara makes her Escape
Manohara makes her Escape



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