Eastern Gateway,
Interior View


This picture shows the inside of the eastern gateway, and was taken from the processional path that runs around the stupa (some distance above the ground, as one can plainly see).  Two stupas clearly are visible on the side pillars, right below the tops crossbeam..  The three arches display the past Buddhas (top, represented by trees), the Buddha receiving worship from animals and other beings after his enlightenment (middle), and his relics (bottom, symbolized by the stupa) receiving worship from nature spirits depicted as elephants. 


Here's a closer look at the top torana, shown above.  Buddhist scriptures name seven previous Buddhas, which are represented here in the form of trees, receiving worship and offerings (garlands) from worshippers.  This picture shows only five of the seven, since the other two were on the outside sections of the torana, which is outside the frame of this shot. 


Here's a close-up of the middle torana arch, showing the Buddha being worshipped after his enlightenment by various non-human beings, as a symbol of his status as an enlightened being.  There are lions, buffalos, deer, birds, some funky sheep with very human-looking faces, and on the left side, a six-headed serpent figure representing the Nagas, who were nature spirits and minor protective deities (one of their frequent depictions is sitting behind the meditating Buddha, shading him from the sun by spreading their gigantic hoods.


This image shows the  lowest torana arch of the eastern gateway shown above, with the departed Buddha being worshipped by elephants bringing flowers and flower garlands.  Mitra (1965: 39) connects this scene with an episode associated with the life of Ashoka.  Ashoka had come to the stupa of Ramagrama to try to take away the relics of the Buddha which it contained, but he was stopped by the Naga spirits who were the stupa's guardians. 


Here's the rear view of the famous yakshi.  One of the interesting features is the way her hair is portrayed, with flowing tresses.  It's also clear that she is clothed, which is not so clear from the front view. 

November 2005


One of Sanchi's attractions is the way it portrays animals and nature in a very simple but recognizable way---here a pair of camels, some buffalos, and some parrots eating berries from trees.  The scale is clearly not intended to be lifelike, since the birds in particular are much larger than they should be. 

November 2005


This panel shows another scene in which the Buddha displayed his powers to convert the Kashyapas (shown here as hermits wearing their hair in matted locks).  In this case the Buddha took up residence in the fire-temple at Uruvela, which was inhabited by a poisonous snake (the snake is visible in center, with the fire down below).  He vanquished the snake, which then showed its submission by crawling into his begging bowl (Mitra 1985: 35).

November 2005

This panel is just below the story of the serpent king, and alludes to an event just after that--that after the Buddha vanquished the serpent, the ascetics set out to perform a fire-sacrifice at Uruvela, but that without the Buddha's permission wood could not be split nor fire kindled--and thus the sacrifice was not performed (Mitra 1965: 36). 

November 2005


Here's a very small scene showing the traditional account of the Buddha's conception, in which a white elephant (shown jumping into the picture) appeared to Queen Maya in a dream; Buddha was conceived when the elephant tapped the queen's abdomen with a lotus it was carrying in its trunk.. 


November 2005

On to Next Page (Southern Gateway, Exterior)


Introduction East Gate:  Exterior / Interior West Gate: Exterior / Interior Final Shots
South Gate: Exterior / Interior North Gate: Exterior / Interior


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Page maintained by James G. Lochtefeld.
Last modified 27 December 2005