Sunday, July 16, 2006

Fasting Buddha in Lahore

Just back from Lahore, Pakistan.

If you happen to visit Lahore make sure that have enough time for the Lahore Museum. To me the most fascinating part of the Museum is about the Gandhara Civilization. The Kingdom of Gandhara lasted from the 6th century BC to the 11th century AD. It attained its height from the 1st century to the 5th century AD under Buddhist Kushan Kings. The main sites of the Gandhara culture can be found in Taxila (around Islamabad), in the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan (Swat Valley) and in Afghanistan along the northern side of Kabul river.

By seeing so many Buddhas in these days when you travel in South and South-East Asia it is remarkable that this major piece is not that well-known. The photo shows the fasting Buddha (Sakyamuni Buddha). Siddharta Gautama practiced extreme self-denial for six years to learn the truth about human condition and a method of release from its endless round of suffering. As we know, also this fasting period came to an end before Siddharta moved on to the “Middle Way’, a life between extreme luxury and extreme austerity…

The sculptures from the Gandhara culture are more realistic compared to the ones we see in India, Sri Lanka and South East Asia. In the Lahore Museum you will see a number of beards on the face of the Buddha-to-be. Such realism is inherited from the Hellenic worlds in which there was a preoccupation with detailed depictions of physical reality. Alexander the Great left his big foot prints in this region.

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