Buddha Shakyamuni, the historical founder of Buddhist tradition, is often depicted in Tibetan art through the medium of a Thangka painting. These exquisite artworks are not only visually captivating but also hold a deep symbolic meaning for Buddhists and art enthusiasts alike.
Born as Prince Siddhartha Gautama in Nepal, Shakyamuni Buddha lived in the 5th century BCE. It is believed that he was a member of the Shakya clan, from which he derived the name 'Shakyamuni', meaning 'Sage of the Shakyas'. The prince led a sheltered life within the palace walls, but at the age of 29, he renounced the luxury of his royal heritage to take up the life of a religious wanderer. He submitted himself to rigorous and extreme ascetic practices, putting forth a superhuman struggle for six strenuous years. At the age of 35, after gaining profound insight into the true nature of reality (Dharma), he attained complete enlightenment.
The ancient Sanskrit word 'Buddha' means 'having become awoken' in the sense of having attained 'supreme awareness'. The serene and sublime image of Gautama embodies a condition of compassionate understanding of an awoken illuminated mind. The Buddha Shakyamuni, at the moment of enlightenment, invoked the earth as witness, as indicated by the fingers of his right hand, which spread downward in Bhumisparshana Mudra. As the Buddhist Sutras relate, the sun and moon stood still, and all the creatures of the world came to offer obeisance to the Supreme One who had broken through the boundaries of egocentric existence.
Shakyamuni Buddha Thangka painting is a captivating representation of the historical Buddha and an essential piece of Tibetan art. The rich symbolism and meaning embedded within the artwork make it a valuable addition to any collection and a testament to the beauty and depth of Buddhist teachings.