Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Buddha boy is back? What? He's missing again?

Someone needs to explain to Ram Bomjon that he's a Buddha, not a Yeti. If he doesn't watch it, his bronze likeness is going to be a fuzzy image of something roaming in the woods. Regardless, the story presents a good reason to post Buddhist art: And when it comes to Buddhist art, I like mine to be Japanese, like this piece from the Nara period (8th century). That's not to say that other Buddhist art is not great, it is. I remember touring a Tibetan Buddhist gallery at a museum in Shanghai. Great stuff. I'm not a Buddhist expert and the lines between Buddhism and Hinduism in that gallery seemed hopelessly blurred to this westerner. I saw female Buddha's (they could've been Devas) with six arms and legs spread eagle. That's great when I want my religious art to clean my pipes, but a little disturbing when I'm looking for solace. The Japanese style (still heavily influenced by Indian art) is less sex and more meditation.

A little background on this dude: his name is Nikko Bosatsu. He's the Bodhisattva of Sunlight. His sibling, Gakko (no pic) is the Bodhisattva of Moonlight. These two attended Yakushi Nyorai, the Buddha of medicine. Of course, these characters originated in Nepal, and I believe Yakushi Nyorai was one of the first Buddha's to hit the shores of Japan.

Nara was the first permanent capital in Japan. Previously, the capital had moved with the passing of each emperor - so as to avoid spirits from dead ancestors. I think this practice ended as a result of Buddhism's growing influence. The Nara period lasted less than a century (710-784) before the royal family settled in Kyoto for a millenium. Although the emperor's lineage relied on Shintoism, Buddhism became very prominent in the court. Shintoism remained the religion of the farmer and laborer and Buddhism was prominent among intellectuals. Confucianism was the main influence on Nara's legal code.

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