Central Asian Antiquities
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7th - 8th Century A.D.
Place of Origin: Dunhuang, Gansu, China
Material: Silk Painting
Dimensions: 119 x 117.5 cm.
Acc. No. Ch. liii. 002 (2003/17/348)
Bhaisajyaguru, the Medicine Buddha, is seen here seated in the vajrasana posture on a colourful lotus. He is seated in the Paradise of the East and is escorted by two Bodhisattvas and two monks having haloes Belocw him is a scene showing a dancing girl, accompanied with a group of musicians. The side scenes on the right of the banner are missing and on the left side of banner Nine Forms of Violent and untimely Death has been shown. The Medicine Buddha saves his devotees from such despicable deaths, and seen here are :- (i) incomplete, (ii) man and woman besides a cauldron as a red-haired demon stretches out his hand towards them, (iii) drowning man, (iv) man on a high seat who is being taken away by a demon, (v) sick man to whom two monks read from the scrolls: one who cannot procure a doctor should get a monk to read the sutras, (vi) man kneeling on platform as a demon rushes towards him, (vii) man with falcon on wrist, (viii) man encircled by flames or violent death, (ix) destroyed.
Bhaisajyaguru is the Buddha of Healing, whose Paradise of Lapis Lazuli is in the east. His cult centres around life in this world to achieve health and longevity. All glory and wordly possessions seem empty when one lies gravely ill. Fervent prayers for the recovery of the sick had a poignancy of its own in ancient times when medical aid was in the formative.
Bhaisajyaguru had taken twelve great vows for the welfare of beings as well as vowed to prevent nine forms of violent and untimely death. The paradise of Bhaisajyaguru was made of vaidurya or lapis lazuli, free from blemishes. He has a dark blue colour like lapis lazuli. He is flanked on the right by Suryaprabha with his two acolytes and on the left by Candraprabha again accompanied by his two acolytes. Below them are Eight Bodhisattvas, four on the right and other four on the left. According to the three Chinese translations of Bhaisajyaguru-sutra by Srimitra (ch.12, A.D. 317-322), Dharmagupta (A.D. 616) and Hsuan-tsang (A.D. 650), if one recalls the name of Bhaisajyaguru at the moment of death, the Eight Bodhisattvas come down to take the devotee to his paradise.