Images of Truth: The Buddha Listens to Bavari
Images of Truth
The Buddha spent much of his teaching life in discourse with those who sought Truth. Some asked questions, others sought to refute his teachings. Whatever they came for the Buddha showed them all the same courtesy of listening carefully to what they were asking and then replying from the depth of his wisdom and compassion.
Following Indra’s visit to the Buddha in the Indrashala Cave, a group of ascetics led by Bavari came and debated their beliefs. In this unusual composition, depicting the cave within an architectural niche, there is room only for Bavari to be represented. The Buddha listens intently to his words of the ascetic; his relaxed pose, offering a dramatic contrast to the hunched figure of the ascetic. This illustrates the Buddha’s theological mastery and ultimately Bavari became his disciple, eventually attaining the rank of arhat. The two gandharvas who serenade the pair from the top of the pillars are Pancashika, Indra’s messenger and his beloved Suryavacchasa.
While this is, in itself an appealing subject, it is unusual for Gandharan art to portray this degree of informality, neither does one often sense the empathy expressed by these two figures, which makes the sculpture even more endearing.
TO THE KALAMAS (Kalama Sutta) Extract:
‘As they sat there, the Kalamas of Kesaputta said to the Blessed One, "Lord, there are some brahmans & contemplatives who come to Kesaputta. They expound & glorify their own doctrines, but as for the doctrines of others, they deprecate them, revile them, show contempt for them, & disparage them. And then other brahmans & contemplatives come to Kesaputta. They expound & glorify their own doctrines, but as for the doctrines of others, they deprecate them, revile them, show contempt for them, & disparage them. They leave us absolutely uncertain & in doubt: Which of these venerable brahmans & contemplatives are speaking the truth, and which ones are lying?"
… Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them.’
"Kalama Sutta: To the Kalamas" (AN 3.65), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight (Legacy Edition), 30 November 2013,
Images of Truth
Buddhist art and iconography
We have just launched our online Dharma Centre. All are welcome...Join our Community!
The virtue of generosity, charity or giving. Your donations are welcomed.Learn more