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Liberation through Images

Seeing the Buddha in Indian Art and Architecture

Wednesday, April 28, 2010
8:00 PM–9:30 PM

An illustrated talk by Andy Rotman, Smith College

In the early centuries of the Common Era in India, Buddhists suddenly began to make iconic images of the Buddha in sculpture and painting and to write texts extolling the value of seeing the Buddha. But why?
Before this time, the Buddha was represented by images of bodhi trees and dharma wheels, and numerous texts featured the Buddha dismissing the importance of seeing him or gazing at his images. “Whoever sees the dharma, sees me,” he is found to say, suggesting that it is sufficient to know the Buddha through his teachings rather than through his sight. What developed, in text and in art, was a system by which one could see the Buddha, gain faith, and achieve promise of great rewards in lifetimes to come. In this talk, Dr. Rotman will explain this system and the mechanics by which the Buddha can be seen and heaven can be found.