how do we know what the buddha looked like?

A forum for beginners and members of other Buddhist traditions to ask questions about Theravāda (The Way of the Elders). Responses require moderator approval before they are visible.
diamind
Posts: 49
Joined: Wed Aug 02, 2017 7:26 am

how do we know what the buddha looked like?

Post by diamind » Mon Jul 23, 2018 1:40 pm

Are there any descriptions of how the buddha looked in the cannon? Where does this familar image of buddha come from?

User avatar
Aloka
Posts: 5794
Joined: Wed Jan 21, 2009 2:51 pm

Re: how do we know what the buddha looked like?

Post by Aloka » Mon Jul 23, 2018 4:44 pm

Hi diamind,

I don't think anyone can know for sure what the Buddha looked like around 2,500 years ago. This is short article written by Ajahn Sujato "On the 32 Marks" :

/sujato.wordpress.com/2011/04/06/on-the-32-marks/

:anjali:

User avatar
bodom
Posts: 6241
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:18 pm
Location: San Antonio, Texas

Re: how do we know what the buddha looked like?

Post by bodom » Mon Jul 23, 2018 6:25 pm

Have a look through this thread as well:

viewtopic.php?t=4918

:anjali:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

User avatar
Nicolas
Posts: 811
Joined: Wed Jul 02, 2014 8:59 pm
Location: Somerville, MA, USA

Re: how do we know what the buddha looked like?

Post by Nicolas » Mon Jul 23, 2018 6:37 pm


User avatar
rightviewftw
Posts: 1954
Joined: Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:50 pm

Re: how do we know what the buddha looked like?

Post by rightviewftw » Mon Jul 23, 2018 7:55 pm

Afaik first "images" that we have are on coins dated ~100BC
It is largely believed that the Buddha had himself prohibited his images, though there is not much support for this apart from a passage from the Vinaya of the Sarvastivadins, assumingly there is a passage where: "Anathapindika asks the Buddha if images of him are not allowed to be made, may they not at least make images of Bodhisattas?" And The Buddha allows making images of the Bodhisattas.

I personally don't keep images or statues anymore, finding it somewhat offensive even.
He goes to Niraya, the one who asserts what didn't take place, as does the one who, having done, says, 'I didn't.' Both — low-acting people — there become equal: after death, in the world beyond.
Tyranny of Words - An Introduction to General Semantics
How to Meditate: Mindfulness of Breathing
Factors of Enlightenment & Perceptions
How to Meditate: Basic Satipatthana
Parallel Dhammapada Reading

cookiemonster
Posts: 190
Joined: Sat Oct 12, 2013 4:42 am

Re: how do we know what the buddha looked like?

Post by cookiemonster » Mon Jul 23, 2018 11:56 pm

In the suttas, I recall reading that the Buddha's skin appeared golden, he had dark hair & blue eyes, that he was on the thinner side (legs like/as slim as deer's legs?), and that he otherwise looked like every other monk in the darkness (a visiting King could not discern which monk was the Buddha when he was sitting among the other members of the Sangha).

User avatar
salayatananirodha
Posts: 219
Joined: Tue Jun 19, 2018 1:34 am

Re: how do we know what the buddha looked like?

Post by salayatananirodha » Tue Jul 24, 2018 1:46 am

We have a few canonical descriptions from the buddha or those who happened to observe him. Some of the marks may be subtle or undetectable to the untrained eye, but his eyes were blue, he had black hair, he was bald, and he had a fuzzy white mole in between his eyes. The marks are explained in DN 30 as the auspicious results of previous good deeds.
16. 'In what has the world originated?' — so said the Yakkha Hemavata, — 'with what is the world intimate? by what is the world afflicted, after having grasped at what?' (167)

17. 'In six the world has originated, O Hemavata,' — so said Bhagavat, — 'with six it is intimate, by six the world is afflicted, after having grasped at six.' (168)

- Hemavatasutta


links:
https://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/index.htm
http://thaiforestwisdom.org/canonical-texts/
http://seeingthroughthenet.net/
https://www.dhammatalks.org/index.html

diamind
Posts: 49
Joined: Wed Aug 02, 2017 7:26 am

Re: how do we know what the buddha looked like?

Post by diamind » Tue Jul 24, 2018 6:17 am

rightviewftw wrote:
Mon Jul 23, 2018 7:55 pm
Afaik first "images" that we have are on coins dated ~100BC
It is largely believed that the Buddha had himself prohibited his images, though there is not much support for this apart from a passage from the Vinaya of the Sarvastivadins, assumingly there is a passage where: "Anathapindika asks the Buddha if images of him are not allowed to be made, may they not at least make images of Bodhisattas?" And The Buddha allows making images of the Bodhisattas.

I personally don't keep images or statues anymore, finding it somewhat offensive even.
Your telling me Buddha talks about bodhisattvas in the pali cannon?

User avatar
rightviewftw
Posts: 1954
Joined: Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:50 pm

Re: how do we know what the buddha looked like?

Post by rightviewftw » Tue Jul 24, 2018 6:42 am

diamind wrote:
Tue Jul 24, 2018 6:17 am
rightviewftw wrote:
Mon Jul 23, 2018 7:55 pm
Afaik first "images" that we have are on coins dated ~100BC
It is largely believed that the Buddha had himself prohibited his images, though there is not much support for this apart from a passage from the Vinaya of the Sarvastivadins, assumingly there is a passage where: "Anathapindika asks the Buddha if images of him are not allowed to be made, may they not at least make images of Bodhisattas?" And The Buddha allows making images of the Bodhisattas.

I personally don't keep images or statues anymore, finding it somewhat offensive even.
Your telling me Buddha talks about bodhisattvas in the pali cannon?
I have not read the Vinaya of Sarvastavadins but the Sutta do state that the Buddha talked about himself as Bodhisatta prior to attainment of Buddhahood, here are a couple examples;
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
Last edited by rightviewftw on Tue Jul 24, 2018 6:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
He goes to Niraya, the one who asserts what didn't take place, as does the one who, having done, says, 'I didn't.' Both — low-acting people — there become equal: after death, in the world beyond.
Tyranny of Words - An Introduction to General Semantics
How to Meditate: Mindfulness of Breathing
Factors of Enlightenment & Perceptions
How to Meditate: Basic Satipatthana
Parallel Dhammapada Reading

User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 4407
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: how do we know what the buddha looked like?

Post by Sam Vara » Tue Jul 24, 2018 6:42 am

diamind wrote:
Tue Jul 24, 2018 6:17 am
rightviewftw wrote:
Mon Jul 23, 2018 7:55 pm
Afaik first "images" that we have are on coins dated ~100BC
It is largely believed that the Buddha had himself prohibited his images, though there is not much support for this apart from a passage from the Vinaya of the Sarvastivadins, assumingly there is a passage where: "Anathapindika asks the Buddha if images of him are not allowed to be made, may they not at least make images of Bodhisattas?" And The Buddha allows making images of the Bodhisattas.

I personally don't keep images or statues anymore, finding it somewhat offensive even.
Your telling me Buddha talks about bodhisattvas in the pali cannon?
The Buddha refers to himself in such terms:
The Blessed One said, "Monks, before my self-awakening, when I was still just an unawakened Bodhisatta,
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html

Some translators render "Bodhisatta" as "one intent on awakening", but it looks as if the meaning is clear. In the Jataka Tales it is used regarding previous births, and in the suttas it normally refers to the Buddha's life in this world before he became enlightened.

diamind
Posts: 49
Joined: Wed Aug 02, 2017 7:26 am

Re: how do we know what the buddha looked like?

Post by diamind » Thu Jul 26, 2018 3:16 pm

Aloka wrote:
Mon Jul 23, 2018 4:44 pm
Hi diamind,

I don't think anyone can know for sure what the Buddha looked like around 2,500 years ago. This is short article written by Ajahn Sujato "On the 32 Marks" :

/sujato.wordpress.com/2011/04/06/on-the-32-marks/

:anjali:
Did Buddha ever talk about the previous Buddhas? Or future Buddhas and how they looked?

User avatar
salayatananirodha
Posts: 219
Joined: Tue Jun 19, 2018 1:34 am

Re: how do we know what the buddha looked like?

Post by salayatananirodha » Thu Jul 26, 2018 11:46 pm

diamind wrote:
Thu Jul 26, 2018 3:16 pm
Aloka wrote:
Mon Jul 23, 2018 4:44 pm
Hi diamind,

I don't think anyone can know for sure what the Buddha looked like around 2,500 years ago. This is short article written by Ajahn Sujato "On the 32 Marks" :

/sujato.wordpress.com/2011/04/06/on-the-32-marks/

:anjali:
Did Buddha ever talk about the previous Buddhas? Or future Buddhas and how they looked?
https://suttacentral.net/en/dn14
16. 'In what has the world originated?' — so said the Yakkha Hemavata, — 'with what is the world intimate? by what is the world afflicted, after having grasped at what?' (167)

17. 'In six the world has originated, O Hemavata,' — so said Bhagavat, — 'with six it is intimate, by six the world is afflicted, after having grasped at six.' (168)

- Hemavatasutta


links:
https://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/index.htm
http://thaiforestwisdom.org/canonical-texts/
http://seeingthroughthenet.net/
https://www.dhammatalks.org/index.html

User avatar
pitakele
Posts: 126
Joined: Wed May 30, 2018 11:27 pm

Re: how do we know what the buddha looked like?

Post by pitakele » Fri Jul 27, 2018 2:18 am

Buddha's answer...
One who sees the Dhamma sees me;
one who sees me sees the Dhamma.

Yo dhammam passati, so mam passati.
Yo mam passati, so dhammam passati


https://suttacentral.net/sn22.87/en/bodhi
now here = nowhere

User avatar
Kusala
Posts: 754
Joined: Sun Jan 23, 2011 11:02 am

Re: how do we know what the buddha looked like?

Post by Kusala » Sun Aug 12, 2018 11:43 am

diamind wrote:
Mon Jul 23, 2018 1:40 pm
Are there any descriptions of how the buddha looked in the cannon? Where does this familar image of buddha come from?
We can't really say what the historical Buddha actually looked like. Buddhist scriptures provides some clues, but modern day Indian genetics can sort of help us put the pieces together.

This late Indian actor, his granddaugther, and holy Sadhu are vestiges of the ancient Aryans. The blue eyes, black hair, tall stature( I read somewhere that the Buddha was between 6ft and 6ft7).

Image

Image

Image
Image

"He, the Blessed One, is indeed the Noble Lord, the Perfectly Enlightened One;
He is impeccable in conduct and understanding, the Serene One, the Knower of the Worlds;
He trains perfectly those who wish to be trained; he is Teacher of gods and men; he is Awake and Holy. "

--------------------------------------------
"The Dhamma is well-expounded by the Blessed One,
Apparent here and now, timeless, encouraging investigation,
Leading to liberation, to be experienced individually by the wise. "

diamind
Posts: 49
Joined: Wed Aug 02, 2017 7:26 am

Re: how do we know what the buddha looked like?

Post by diamind » Mon Aug 13, 2018 1:22 pm

Did buddha ever say NOT to make images of him?

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 17 guests