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Mahaparinirvanascene
Sarnath
            8th –9th Century A.D.
            Sandstone
            29.2 x 53.5 x 13.5 cm
Acc No. 519
  
Buddha’s life scenes, including the Great Decease orMahaparinirvana has been integral part of themes depicted inBuddhist art since the early centuries of Christianera.     It is reported that soon after takingthe meal, offered by Chunda, the smith, he had an attack ofdysentery.   In this condition, he traveled to thesuburbs of Kushinagara, the capital of the Mallas.  There, Ananda at his behest, spread a couch between the twosala trees on which Buddha laid himself down on his rightside and passed away in the last watch of the night at the age ofeighty in 483 B.C.     His last watch wordswere ‘decay is inherent in all component beings.   Workout your own salvation with diligence’.  
  
In the present stele Buddha is shown in reclining towards hisright on a couch, his head rests over his righthand.     He is clad in a diaphanousantarvasa and an uttarasanga covering both theshoulders.     A striking peculiarity of thisand most other parinirvana reliefs is the rendering of theBuddha’s drapery folds.   Instead of the fold’s fallingstraight to the couch, they curve towards his feet just as theywould if he were standing. Human beings are represented on thepedestal in profound grief, on the right is a male figure,stretching his right hand on head, while his left hand holds someofferings.   Next to him is a female figure movingforward, hands raised against her face in sorrow.   Thereare four seated male figures in grief, and one standing on theextreme left is standing in composed attitude with his right handraised against chin and the left resting on histhigh.    
  
            About the mourners, the Maha-parinirvana-sutra refers,  “when the blessed one died, of those of the brethren who were notyet free from the passions, some stretched out their arms and weptand some fell head long on the ground rolling to and fro in aguishat the thought.   But those of the brethren who were freefrom the passions bore their grief collected andcomposed”.