Symbol of enlightenment, teaching, and peace.
Buddhism has many symbols within its religion. The earliest symbols were the stupa and the wheel of dharma. Images of Buddha himself were rare when he was alive as he did not believe in worship from his followers. The symbol representing Buddha himself did not become prevalent until the 1st century with Greco-Buddhist art. After this, statues and carvings of Buddha were found all over India. Buddha was represented on caskets, buildings, and coins.
Before Greco-Buddhist artists, Buddha was represented by an empty throne, a Bodhi Tree, or a foot. The empty throne represents enlightenment as the ruler of the spiritual world. The Bodhi tree represents the place where Buddha gained enlightenment. The foot represents the spiritual path that Buddha instructed his followers to follow. The trishula was also used to represent Buddha as early as the 2nd century BCE. There was also a symbol that combined the lotus, the diamond, and the triratna which is the three jewels of Buddhism.
Greco-Buddhist artists represented Buddha with the statue that is common today. There are different types of Buddha symbols. The reclining Buddha represents the end of Buddha’s life before he entered into Parinivarna. It symbolizes teaching. The standing Buddha represents blessings. A seated Buddha symbolizes peace and calmness.
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