Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Buddha At The V&A

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London has just opened a new and spectacular gallery called Buddhist Sculpture: The Robert H. N. Ho and Family Foundation Gallery. The V&A already has an amazing collection of Buddhist art and this new collection has added 47 masterpieces to it. My favorite piece is the standing (strangely the catalogue mistakenly describes it as ‘seated’) 10th century gilded Buddha statue from south India. Apart from having a simple beauty the statue is interesting in showing that Buddhism, probably Theravada Buddhism, was still alive and well enough amongst the Tamils at that time to both justify and to create such a masterpiece. My other favorite piece is the Pala image of the Tantric goddess Parneshari from the 11th century. I take a great interest in Pala art and I have never seen this image before or even heard of this particular deity. Nonetheless, the image displays aesthetic and spiritual perfection. The inscription on the image’s pedestal says it was set up in Campa which I find of great interest. When I was doing my research about Campa (modern Bhagalpur) for the second edition of my book Middle Land Middle Way, I read that during the late 19th century several Buddhist images had been dredged out of the great tank in the town ‘but their whereabouts is now unknown’. Now I know where at least one of these images is. And I defiantly know where I will be going during my next visit to London. For pictures of some of these lovely sculptures go to


Anandajoti said...

The link above is to the main page for the V&A Museum. More precisely go here.

Buddha said...

Dear Bhante...

I am from Tamilnadu...Actually Tamil nadu (T.N) its in South of India.
Srilanka which is Still South of India has a strong Buddhist Tradition.
suprising becuse Buddhism came from North India.
I read a book by Bhim charan Law abt Works of Buddhaghosa which says that Buddhism went to Srilanka thru Orrisa (Courtesy Mahindra & Sangamithra -Ashoka's Kids)

Buddhism does not Enjoy a strong Presence in Tamil nadu at the Moment. I had read a Book called Ponniyin Selvan (Tamil Novel) abt the Chola Empire. which talks abt Tamil nadu in 1100 AD..Kalki the Author of that Book says that there was a Great Buddha Vihara in Nagercoil Down south of T.N and Buddhism had a Very Strong presence..

But the Advent of Adisankara , Bhakthi Tradition of Alwwars & Nayanmars..made Shaivism & Vaishnavism Very Strong.They advocate a Total Surrender to God and Insist on seeing evry human as God.

In fact one of the devotee of Vishnu called Thirumangai Mannan (Alwar)..stole the Buddha Statue from the Vihara and melted it and fed the needy people using the money gained.

The Vihara was destroyed by a Cyclone.

There are Still strong Remains of Jainism in Tamilnadu.

On a Different Note I am quite Disheartened to see Buddha's Image that Belonged to South India Landing up in a London Museum...The List is Endless the British in the Guise of East India Company have Vandalised more than a Thief and kept evry such treasure in Museums...
The more sad thing is in the name of Private collectors of Art they still continue to Encourage Such acts thereby Statutes belonging to Hinduism & buddhism which had been made by many advances in Alchemy in olden days are being Stolen from the source where they may be venrated.

Buddha said...

Very Much Beautiful Images i liked the Kneeling Bodhisattva...
I wish they had kept these images in India where the religious Tolernace is quite high a Result Hinduism is getting Eroded..
At the sametime I am NOT sad that they have been taken way from Pakistan or else they would have faced the same fate as Bamiyan

Shravasti Dhammika said...

Dear Buddha,
Please send me your postal address and i will very happily post you some books.

Buddha said...

Dear Bhante...
Many Thanks for your kind offer.
My Postal address is as follows :

New no 93/0ld no 39
Perumal Kovil Street
West Saidapet
Tamil Nadu


Buddha said...

My Mail id