Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Discouraging Buddha images

Queston (Unedited):
It's been said that the Buddha discouraged his followers from making or worshipping images of himself. What is textual evidence for this?

My comment:
Hi D,

Thank you for asking me.

During the Buddha's time, there was not a problem as the Buddha was there in person.  Actually, Buddha images were started by the Greeks who were present in North-western India where they had conquered Persia and the surrounding areas.  

There are two suttas which we can deduce that the Buddha discouraged worshipping images of himself.  The first is the Vakkali (Wakkali) Sutta.  In this sutta one of the monks, Wakkali was so obssessed with the body of the Buddha that he spent all his time admiring the physical body of the Buddha.  The Buddha then admonished him with this famous comment: "O Vakkali, whoever sees the Dhamma, sees me [the Buddha]"  

Click here to refer: 

"Yo kho Vakkali dhammam passati so mam passati"
O Vakkali, whoever sees the Dhamma, sees me [the Buddha

Another sutta is the Mahaparinibbana Sutta.  Here the Buddha during his final hour, comforted his closest disciple, Ananda, that when he (the Buddha) was gone let only the Dhamma be your guide.  
Click here:

The Blessed One's Final Exhortation
1. Now the Blessed One spoke to the Venerable Ananda, saying: "It may be, Ananda, that to some among you the thought will come: 'Ended is the word of the Master; we have a Master no longer.' But it should not, Ananda, be so considered. For that which I have proclaimed and made known as the Dhamma and the Discipline, that shall be your Master when I am gone.

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