The Crowned Buddha
Soon after the first sermon of the Buddha ascended to heaven, where he preached the Dharma to the gods and to his deceased mother, he then made a triumphant return to earth, accompanied by the gods Indra and Brahma. The large crowned Buddha at the centre of this composition refers the Descent from Heaven, and this is surrounded by smaller scenes illustrating other episodes from Shakyamuni’s life.
The small Buddha seated beside his left shoulder of the central figure is making the earth-touching gesture, recalling his Enlightenment. Above the right shoulder another seated Buddha is making the teaching gesture, representing the First Sermon. Opposite is another teaching Buddha with a small figure kneeling at his feet. This recalls the Miracle at Sravasti, when the Buddha displayed his supernatural powers and won many converts. Above the crown of the central figure, a reclining figure of Buddha refers to his physical death (Mahaparinirvana).
Several of the Buddha’s miracle involved animals, sometimes uses as symbols of human passions. On both sides of the central figure, the Buddha is shown subduing a wild elephant sent by a rival to attack him. Above one of these scenes is a seated Buddha holding a monk’s bowl. On the plinth, a tiny monkey refers to an episode when the Buddha accepted a bowl of honey offered by a monkey.