Glossary
Abhaya Mudrā
The symbolic gesture of appeasement, of dispelling fear. The hand is upright, the palm toward the viewer.
Bodhisattva
"he whose essence is perfect knowledge". According to Mahāyāna Buddhism (from the Sanskrit Mahāyāna, "Great Vehicle") a Bodhisattva is one destined to attain enlightenment who temporarily renounces he own salvation in order to help lead others to the path.
Buddha
"the awakened one". The term usually denotes the founder of Buddhism, Shākyamuni Buddha ("The Awakened One of the Shakya Clan"). Prince Siddhārtha Gautama was born circa 563 B.C, the son of King Suddhodana and Queen Māyā. For the first thirty years of his life, He lived shut up within the palace walls. He married and had a son Rāhula. Following four decisive encounters (with an old man, a diseased man, a decaying corpse, and an ascetic), he resolved to leave the palace and live in the forest. Thus he became the wandering ascetic Gautama (This is known as The Great Departure). After attaining enlightenment, he became the Buddha. He first taught the Dharma at Sārnāth. Until the age of 80, he travelled the lands of the Ganges, visiting it peoples both humble and powerful, and made many conversions. The Buddha also performed miracles. Upon his death, he entered nirvāṇa (a transcendent state in which the subject is released from the effects of karma and freed from samsara the cycle of rebirth.
Ascetic Buddha
Having left his palace, the future Buddha followed the teachings of several hermit teachers, but unsatisfied with their methods he resolved to discover the path to enlightenment himself. Together with five companions, he began to practice self-mortification, fasting and a discipline of holding his breath inspired by yoga. Through the intervention of the god Indra, he abandoned this extreme and fruitless asceticism.
Chakravartin
"He whose wheels is turning". The universal ruler, the Chakravartin is the idealised monarch of Indian traditions. He possesses the saptaratna, that is, the seven jewels, consisting of, the wheel of the Dharma (the law), a horse, an elephant, a minister, a son, a wife and wealth. He is an important figure and depicted shaded from the sun by the Parasol. Had Prince Siddhartha, on leaving the palace, not been destined to become the Buddha, he would have been a Chakravartin.
Dharmachakra Mudrā
A gesture symbolising teaching. It it represents the turning of the Buddhist wheel of the Dharma, which the Buddha perfromed when he preached his first sermon in Sarnath.
Dhoti
A loincloth worn by Hindu men.
Dhyāna Mudrā
The gesture of meditation. Both hands are placed on the lap, one on top of the other. The gesture originally refers to the attainment of Enlightenment.
The First Sermon
This refers to the sermon given by the Buddha at Mrigadāva (the deer park) in Sārnāth to his five disciples, the five previous companions who had broken with the Buddha when he abandoned extreme asceticism in favour of the Middle Path. It is here that the Buddha sets in motion the wheel of the Dharma.
Garuda
A mythic bird, the sworn enemy of the nāgā (snakes). He is the vehicle of the god Vishnu and often represented as a half-man, half-bird of prey.
The Great Miracle of Srāvastī
In the sixth year after the Enlightenment, the Buddha found himself in of Srāvastī (or Sāvatthī) where there were six heretical teachers who challenged the Buddha. The confrontation took place in the presence of king Pasenadi. Though opposed to the use of magic, the Buddha was compelled to demonstrate the supernatural powers he wielded. He first performed the Yamaka-pātihāriya the 'Twin Miracle', in which he produced flames from the upper part of his body and streams of water from the lower part of his body. Then he performed the mahapratiharya the "great Illusion", he replicated himself, creating four bodies in different attitudes (standing, walking, seated and lying) which appeared among the leaves of the mango tree, hence it is called 'the miracle of the mango tree'. This demonstration confounded the "heretical" teachers.

The Great Miracle of Srāvastī belongs to a series of four great miracles, the three others being the monkey's offering at Vaishali, the taming of the elephant Nālāgiri and the Descent from the Heaven of the Thirty-three Gods. There are also four primordial miracles (the Last Birth, the attainment of Enlightenment, the setting in motion of the wheel of the Dharma, and Total Extinction.)
Harītī
Goddess of children and of fertility, Harītī is a devourer or children which is why, in India, she is goddess of smallpox (she 'devours' children). Persuaded by the Buddha to abandon her cannibalistic practises, she became the protector of children. She forms a couple with Panchika. In Gandhāra her image is amalgamated with that of Ardoksho (sometimes known as Anahita). In Iran, Ardoksho is the goddess of fertility and holds the corucopia, the horn of plenty. She is associated with Pharro.
Lakkhana
The "Physical Marks' of the Mahāpurusa ("great man"). The fundament meaning of the Mahāpurusa is the cosmic man, the source and substance of the universe itself. In religious terms, it also signifies the supreme synthesis of human faculties. The Buddha is a Mahāpurusa and bears the Lakkhana Mahapurisa, thirty-two physical characteristics of the Lakkhana.
Maitreya
(From the Sanskrit maitrī
"loving-kindness"). The Maitreya Bodhisattva is a future Buddha of this world who is to appear on Earth, a successor of the historic Śākyamuni Buddha only when the law of Śākyamuni Buddha has been forgotten by men. In Gandhāra art he is robed, like an Indian prince, in the paridhāna, a single piece of unstitched cloth draped about the body, and a long scarf. He also wears a number of jewels. His long, flowing hair is braided into a knot above his head, in his left hand he holds the water jug of the Brahmin.
Padma
"Lotus". The flower is a symbol or purity and fertility. Both the Buddha and the bodhisattva are often depicted enthroned on the lotus, symbolising their divine or quasi-divine nature.
Padmāsana
The 'lotus position' used in meditation, the legs are crossed, the feet resting, soles facing upward, on the thighs. The position is also known as the vajrāsana (the diamond position).
Panchika
The god of wealth. According to Indian tradition, he is a yaksha, a general in the armies of the Kubera-Vaishravana king of the yaksha and of the northern realms. He is the god of prosperity and his statue is placed close to the kitchens in Hindu monasteries to ensure an abundant supply of food for pilgrims. His partner is Harītī. In Gandhāra, his image is merged with that of Pharro. In iran, Pharro is the deity responsible for the legitimacy of the price and the god of wine. He is a glorious and prosperous lord. He holds a wine goblet and wears a winged headdress and carries a lance. Pharro is associated with Ardoksho.
Sangati
The cloak worn by the Buddha. It may be draped around his shoulders or worn folded over his left shoulder.
Stupa
Originally it referred to the simple hemispherical burial mounds which housed the relics of the Buddha (After the "passing away" of the Buddha, his remains were cremated and the ashes divided and buried under eight stupas with two further stupas encasing the urn and the embers). Over time, the Stupa became an object of veneration with commemorative and votive significance, but it is still used as a reliquary for the ashes of notable people.
Urnā
One of "The Physical Marks" (laksana) of the Buddha, the Urnā is a tuft of hair between the eyebrows usually represented as a small disc on the forehead.
Ushnisha
One of "The Physical Marks" (laksana) of the Buddha, the Ushnisha (resembling a royal turban) is the cranial protrusion surmounted by a topknot on the head of the Buddha.
Yaksha
A demi-god, the term refers to benevolent nature-spirits who guard the natural treasures hidden in the earth and in tree roots.