Earliest physical depiction of Buddha?


Forum Staff
May 2013
Albuquerque, NM
Sujata was not the cause, but the reflection of the Buddha's progress toward total Enlightenment. There are several variations on this story, as in many of the legendary tales they are tools for making the abstract more real to those not yet Enlightened.

There is an inherent difficulty in communicating a highly personal, even traumatic experience to those who haven't a foundation for understanding. Think Plato's Cave Analogy. A person suddenly experiences the loss of time and space coordinates and embraces the totality of the Universe is transformed in that infinite moment. In the same moment the mundane reasserts itself, leaving the person dazed and highly motivated to pass along their insights to the world. What words, language, or even concepts can convey the experience? The communications must then take the forms of the new Teacher's cultural language and setting. Approximations, analogies, parables, etc. are used even though they are insufficient to truly communicate the actuality of the Enlightenment experience.

For some the experience is so unsettling that they are ever after regarded as insane. Others are unable to excite much enthusiasm, but those with a lot of charisma soon attract a band of disciples impressed with the transformed personage and his/her message. Some attempt to duplicate the experience by modeling their thoughts, words and actions on those of their Teacher. Others become informed, but unenlightened, teachers of the Founder's message as they understand it. Sometimes the nascent religion dies out after a generation or so, but in other cases the religion will evolve for thousands of years. Evolve is a key term here, and departure from the original message almost guaranteed. What we are left with is trying to reconstruct that original message whether if be from Abraham, Lao Tze, Buddha, Christ, Muhammad, or someone else.


Forum Staff
May 2013
Albuquerque, NM
The Four Noble Truths and the Eight Fold Path are so important that anyone interested in Buddhism should be familiar with them. The link provided is from Buddhanet, and is only one of several versions. Remember, the original Teaching was not written, and was written down after the sermon, perhaps as much as fifty or a hundred years later. The original written form was in Pali. Later the dominant Buddhist texts were in Sanskrit, and then modern languages. European translations from the late 18th century had a great impact in the development of Enlightenment Humanism. Translations from that time were grand efforts, but not nearly so well done as those over the past fifty or sixty years. My first acquaintance of Eastern Religion came from Voltaire, though it took years before my attention was more fully redirected to an alternative to Abrahamic monotheism.

Here is the link: A Basic Buddhism Guide: The Eight-Fold Path
Feb 2013

Here's another one from the Sungas. Aura, hand gestures, etc. Though, this gesture is different.
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Mar 2019
it seems like colonial interpretation that buddha was first represented in gandharan arts and hence greek influenced

artifacts of undoubted antiquity representing buddha have since been found, but the colonial narative still champions the established facts which are outdated for more than a hundred years

here are some early representations i have found during by net surf


Relief, Niche with Standing Buddha in Abhaya Mudra, 200 - 100 BCE

Jaggayyapeta, Krishna, Andhra Pradesh, India



chandraketugarh plaque, most probably before christian era, west bengal, India

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Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
New Delhi, India
Perhaps there was not that much pressure of population/food, and there were a lot of deer in the region at that time.

Deer in a Bishnoi village. Bishnois will kill anyone if animal or a tree is harmed in their region.
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Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
What's also interesting is the image of the two deers.

Which is still common in Buddhist images today. I dont know if they're related, but interesting none the less.
Very interesting. Anyone has any idea what specific species of deer? They look kind of eerily close to the kijang (i. e. barking deer) on the coat-of-arms of the state of Kelantan in Malaysia, which the scholars say is inspired by the story of an ancient local warrior queen who kept a couple of deer as pets.