Southern Gateway, Interior

Here's a cut-off shot of the top arch on the inside of the southern gateway (the sun has been in an unfavorable place every time I have been there, so I didn't take extensive pictures of this).  This panel clearly shows the past Buddhas, since this segment shows three stupas and three trees (presumably one is missing from the left side of the frame). 


Here's a close-up of the middle torana arch, showing the XXX Chaddanta Jataka.  This is one of five Jataka tales (stories telling about a past life of the Buddha, usually to illustrate and to reinforce some sort of virtue) that appears at Sanchi; another allusion to this is on the interior side of the northern gateway's top archway.  Chhadanta was a six-tusked elephant king (the multiple tusks are clearly visible in this carving), who lived in the Himalayas with his two wives, and one of the lessons here is the danger of jealousy.  One of the wives became jealous because she thought that Chhadanta preferred her co-wife, and took a vow to be reborn as a princess so that she could get him killed.  She was reborn as a princess in Benares, and under the pretext of needing Chhadanta's elephant tusks as a remedy for an illness, she persuaded her husband to hire a hunter to kill him.  The hunter shot Chhadanta, who though mortally wounded then helped the hunter saw off his own tusk.  The hunter brought the tusks back to the queen, who when she saw them fell down dead from grief.  Chhadanta appears four times in this image--once on each side of the central tree, sitting in the lotus flowers at the far left, and alone at the far right, with the hunter right behind him (Mitra 1965: 25). 


Here's a close up of the four lion capital motif on the south gate's pillar.  This was one of King Ashoka's royal symbols, and its presence here testifies to his patronage (and his presence).  It is also one of the symbols of modern India, and appears on Indian money (both notes and coins).  Ashoka is the symbol of the righteous king, who conquers by the power of truth (according to Ashoka's inscriptions, he came to this realization only after carrying out a bloody military campaign, in which the deaths and injury filled him with remorse). 

Here too you can see (in the lion on the right) that part of the sculpture has been visibly mended.

November 2005

On to Next Page (Western 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