We all follow Buddha under the concept of Buddhism. His sculpted representation in the form of Abhaya (fearless), Bhumisparsha, or Dharma Chakra Pravartana Mudra (first sermon) inspires us to recall this great philosopher personality and his greatest wisdom. The idols and images are not the matter of devotion, but are seen as an inspiration to strive towards the Middle Path and achieve the highest wisdom or enlightenment.
In ancient time, Buddha was followed through his teachings. But where did we get the pictorial representation of Buddha in deep meditative pose with a divine calm on his face? The answer to this is Mathura. Located in western Uttar Pradesh, the location is primarily associated with Hindu God Krishna’s birth and adulthood. But a part of Buddhist history also is associated with Mathura.
The land has been sacred since antiquity as Buddha himself founded monasteries here. According to Fa Hian’s travel accounts, this region during 78 AD held twenty Buddhist monasteries with about three thousand resident monks.
Another landmark development here associated with Buddhism is the Mathurā School of Buddhist art. Here, it is believed that many carvers here worked relentlessly to create the Buddha in human form. The modern day idol featuring the benign long ear Buddha’s statues in meditative pose is a result of Buddha’s pictorial manifestation. This development of interesting Buddhist art flourished during 2nd century BC to the 12th century AD under the patronship of Kushana and Gupta rule.
The Mathura School of art (India) was contemporary with the Gandhara School of art in the modern day Afghanistan. But both the sculpted representations differ in their appearance and representations. Its sculptures depict Buddha in Abhaya mudra, Gandhara statues depict robed Buddha in standing pose. It is even believed that it even served as an exporter of Buddhist sculptures.
The journey of evolution in Buddhist visual art here can be observed in the city’s Archaeological Museum. Here, tourists can actually see the variety of Buddhist sculptures and their successive interpretations in a unique way. In modern times, the city’s Buddhist heritage can be experienced with a visit to this museum.
During a visit to Mathura, tourists and pilgrims can revisit the location where Buddhists got the gift of Buddha sculpture to revere his wisdom, benevolence and compassion in virtual form.