During the 5th Century BCE, Siddhartha Gautama was born. In Sanskrit, Siddhartha means ‘He Who Achieves His Goal.’ Siddhartha was born into royalty and soon realised that living a conditioned life was not going to bring eternal happiness or protection from suffering. After coming face to face with suffering, Siddhartha decided to leave his royal duties on the quest for enlightenment. He left secretly and over six years, practiced with meditation teachers and finally decided to remain in meditation underneath the Bodhi Tree until, after conquering much fear and temptation, he reached enlightenment.
He became Buddha, The Awakened One, and has been signified by Buddha statues for centuries. Buddha statues are more than a physical depiction of Buddha, they all have meaning. Each pose, posture, expression and hand gesture is significant to the life of Buddha. There are over 100 different poses that illustrate the life of Buddha, also called an asana or attitude, and hand gestures are referred to as a Mudra. You can see many Buddha statues in temples across the world, here are just a few of the most popular ones.
Wisdom, understanding and fulfilling destiny are represented in the Teaching Buddha statue. The Buddha holds both hands at chest level and the thumb and index fingers are shaped to make a circle. The palm of the right hand faces inwards and the left hand has its palm facing out. The Teaching Buddha represents the life of Buddha after his enlightenment when he gave his first sermon. He gave this sermon to a small group of disciples, disciples who had previously belittled the Buddha. The Teaching Buddha statue is perfect for someone who is studying or focusing on their spirituality.
Protection Buddha sits with his right hand raised and facing outwards. This hand pose symbolises a shield. The pose can also represent a second meaning of overcoming fear. Normally, the Protection Buddha is sitting or standing with the left hand either extended out or the palm in the lap. Protection Buddha means courage and offers protection from fear, delusion and anger.
When visiting Thai temples, you will notice that this pose, otherwise called the Earth Touching Buddha, is the most common. This pose is depicted by the Buddha with legs crossed, the left hand in the lap and the right hand pointing to the ground with the palm facing inward towards Buddha. This pose represents the Buddha’s moment of enlightenment. But in the six days leading up to Buddha’s enlightenment, he faced the Demon of Illusion who made reaching enlightenment very difficult. Buddha called the Earth Goddess to witness that he had achieved enlightenment so that it could be shared with the rest of the world. The Earth Goddess wrung her hair, releasing flood waters that swept away the Demon. Click here to view our Earth Witness Buddha
The Walking Buddha represents grace and internal beauty. Buddha has the right hand raised and facing outward and the left hand swings beside the body with the left foot behind. This statue has a graceful appearance, depicting Buddha’s return to earth after delivering a sermon in Heaven. The Walking Buddha’s right hand depicts a gesture of reassurance.
In Thailand, there is a different Buddha image for each day someone is born. When you visit a temple, you may see a row of different Buddhas holding an alms bowl for you to donate on the relevant day you were born. If you were born on a Wednesday however, it’s a little different. Wednesday has two Buddha’s so you will need to check whether you were born between 6am to 5.59pm or 7.00pm to 5.59am to determine which Buddha to revere.
Monday – Pacifying the Relatives Buddha A person born on a Monday is serious, has a good memory and loves to travel. This person is likely to be in a skilled occupation.
Tuesday – Reclining Buddha This person is serious, brave and active.
Wednesday – Receiving Buddha (Morning) The Blessed One Buddha (Evening) The person born on Wednesday morning is polite, artistic and emotional.
Born on Wednesday evening? This person is hard-working and honest.
Thursday – Meditating Buddha This person is peaceful, calm and honest.
Friday – Contemplating Buddha This person is fun-loving, friendly and ambitious.
Saturday – Protection Buddha This person is calm, logical and a bit of a recluse.
Sunday – Restraint Buddha This person is respectable, wise, loved by friends and family.
Buddha statues and figurines are so much more than a dust-catching object. When you truly understand the meaning behind Buddha poses, the piece becomes so much more special because every time you look at it, you are reminded of the messages of Buddha and encouraged to live a more mindful life.
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