Buddha icons etc. --- what’s “official” in Theravada?

In following a couple of current threads bordering on medical issues, the idea of the “Medicine Buddha” came to mind. The idea and the imagery / iconography is apparently popular (I have little Medicine Buddha statues at home and in the clinic where I work). On a lark, googled the issue today and found mostly Tibetan / “Blue Buddha” references, as well as:

Theravada sect of Buddhism does not believe in the existence of deities. However, as per the Mahayana sect, celestial Buddhas and bodhisattvas occupy the universe as Gods and Goddesses. The most popular Buddhist deities include the Laughing Buddha, the Medicine Buddha, Kuan Yin, the Green and White Taras, etc.
(http://www.shakyastatues.com/articles/buddhistdeities)

To generalize a bit, perhaps as an issue of more general interest: Are there sources (websites, etc.) that indicate which kinds of statues, mudras, etc. are accepted in Theravada circles? Which are not?

1-6 mudras are used in Theravada countries, (out of 10), AFAIK. 1-5 are used in Sri Lanka for the Buddha, and the 6th for his disciples, usually worshiping the Buddha.

1 Like

The image of the cartwheel denotes the Noble 8FP, of setting the wheel in motion that no one can stop. It may have been used for the Buddha as well and is found in King Asokha’s columns.

image

image

…and in the Indian flag.

with metta

Why do you named it
gods and goddesses ?
Any different from other
religions like Hinduism etc?

Does the Theravada tradition
believe in " aliens " species?
EBTs would include it in which
realms if they do exist ?
or independent of the 5
realms mentioned in EBTs ?

AFAIK, there’s Avalokiteshvara in male Indic and female Sinitic form in Sri Lanka and Thailand respectively, and that is all I know of. But there is probably more.

Thanks Mat – nice pictures, and the Asokha columns are impressive (the PaAuk Sayadaw uses the image of one of them on his books).

[quote=“James, post:4, topic:5910, full:true”]

Those are not my words, but in a quotation I cited, simply as the only thing found in searching that mentioned ‘Theravada’ with reference to statues. If you need to dispute the issues, take it up with the author(s) at www.shakystatues.com.

Thanks. I wasn’t aware that Mahayana was represented in Thailand and Sri Lanka, as they’re often mentioned as hard-core Theravada countries. But it doesn’t have to indicate Mahayana itself, as the Bodhisattva idea does appear in the Pali Canon. Ven. Analayo goes through all that, in a couple of his more dry scholarly works, suggesting that it emerged as the idea of the Buddha became more mythologized, by generations succeeding those who actually knew him or about him more directly.

(Can’t figure why this 1st URL isn’t treated like the 2nd on by Discourse… clicking it does work, tho)

hup.sub.uni-hamburg.de/volltexte/2010/103/pdf/HamburgUP_HBS01_Analayo.pdf

It was my mistake , just enquiring.

It turns out Sri Lanka had Theravada, Mahayana AND Vajrayana.

Here’s a statue of Acalokiteshvara from Sri Lanka:

I wonder at what point it becomes exclusively Theravada.

With metta

[quote=“cjmacie, post:6, topic:5910”]
Thanks. I wasn’t aware that Mahayana was represented in Thailand and Sri Lanka, as they’re often mentioned as hard-core Theravada countries. But it doesn’t have to indicate Mahayana itself, as the Bodhisattva idea does appear in the Pali Canon. Ven. Analayo goes through all that, in a couple of his more dry scholarly works, suggesting that it emerged as the idea of the Buddha became more mythologized, by generations succeeding those who actually knew him or about him more directly.
[/quote]Well, I think the veneration there (from what I have read) is more of a deity or Dharma-protector veneration scenario than “full on” Bodhisattvayāna, or Mahāyāna at all. Avalokiteśvara (Natha/Guanyin) is more of a folk deity than a Buddha in a Thai and Sri Lankan contexts, I think.

I assume you have never been to a typical Thai temple! Not only you find bodhisattvas you as well find late Hindu deities like Ganesha everywhere there!

You need to go to a forest hermitage or monastery to find an altar with only images of Buddha and major disciples.

I was once told the story is pretty similar in Sri Lanka, there they worship some alternative versions of late South Indian Hindu Pantheon.