Understanding the Meaning of the Sleeping Buddha

Every decorator knows that if a customer wants a room that’s relaxed as well as beautiful, there’s only one direction to go with the furnishings, and that’s East. Imagine fountains, bonzai, elegant flowers, lovely screens and unusual statues. You can bring a hint of the orient in numerous ways, but one of the easiest would be to add a statue of the Buddha. There are more than one hundred known poses and 3 distinct orientations for these statues, so there is bound to be one that would be appropriate for almost any space or room, even when it’s an unusual shape or size.

Buffets and desks all seem to benefit from a sitting Buddha, gardens and balconies might be just right for the standing Buddha, but certain areas need an subject significantly wider than high. Here an excellent decorate element is a reclining Buddha.

Most Buddha statues display 32 features believed to have been physical features of the original Gautama Buddha who was born in approximately 563 BC. They are also referred to as the ‘Thirty Two Signs of a Great Man’, and encompass:

•    flat feet

•    a pointed head

•    beautiful gold skin

•    long fingers all the same length

•    long toes all the same length

•    a robe draped over one shoulder

•    long ear lobes

The Buddha wasn’t in favor of representations of his own body, and so the proper question is actually, why are there any statues of the Buddha at all?

It seems this might be yet another matter which may be attirbuted to  the Greeks, and on one Greek in particular, Alexander the Great. When Alexander  occupied Northern India and Afghanistan, the leader kept many soldiers and artisans behind, hence the artwork of that region was to a great extent influenced by classical sculpture, as well as by Greek ideas of Gods and mortals. Alexander was legendary for taking pleasure in the imitation of his own visage, understanding the value of paintings and sculpture as products of propaganda.

This might be the reason why Alexandrian India, with a partially Greek population and ties to Greek tradition, was the first area to produce Buddha statues. These became immensely popular and the concept spread with Buddhism itself, even so as Islam restricted the rendering of the human form and viewed such statues as idolatry,  countless ancient and wonderful statues of the Buddha in that area have been destroyed.

Generally there are a couple of well defined poses for these sculptures that refer to specific principles or events in the life of the Buddha.

But the most intriguing is the reclining pose of the Buddha. Presently there are two versions. One shows the Buddha, resting with his head on his arm. This is the sleeping Buddha, but the other similar pose, where Buddha’s feet are together, signifies the day the Buddha entered Nirvana.

At age eighty, the Buddha sat down and told his followers he was about to enter parinirvana, the condition that happens when the body of someone who has accomplished complete awakening or enlightenment finally dies. He consumed his final meal and then grew to become strongly ill. He asked his followers for any inquiries they had and when there were none he gave them his last directions. “All composite things pass away. Strive for your own liberation with diligence.” History tells that when his body was put between the sala trees, the plants bloomed, even though this was not the season.

This is the day commemorated by the reclining Buddha statue.  In Thailand the most frequent position shows the Buddha with legs crossed and with his left hand in his lap while the right points to the ground, palm inward in a pose called ‘Calling the Earth to Witness’ and relates to the exact of the Buddha’s enlightenment.

Whichever shape your area, generally there is a Buddha statue that will certainly fit, providing a feeling of peace and tranquility to your home.