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Angkor Wat: Buddha seated on Adishesha


Buddha seated on Adishesha
Situated on the eastern gallery of the uppermost terrace (also known as Bakan) of Angkor Wat Temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia, the sculpture shown in the image depicts Buddha seated on Adishesha, a seven-headed mythical serpent.

Buddha is considered one of the ten avatars (Dashavatara) of Vishnu, one of the Hindu Trinity. Check the Dashavatara page for a list and description of all the ten avatars.

Some of Vishnu’s depictions show him seated on Adishesha. Check the Related Images section below. By depicting Buddha seated on Adishesha, this carving affirms Buddha is indeed an avatar of Vishnu.

Adishesha is known by many names, including Shesha, Sheshanaga, and Ananta. Hidden in these names are two interesting mathematical concepts, remainder and infinity. In Sanskrit, shesha means one that remains (i.e., remainder), and ananta means endless (i.e., infinity). In other words, Shesha will prevail even after the end of the universe, and Ananta will exist for eternity.

Notice how Buddha’s hands are placed on his lap. As you can see, both of his palms are facing upwards and the right palm is above the left. This type of hand gesture is called Dhyana Mudra, which is a symbolic way of representing meditation. See a Buddha statue with the Dhyana Mudra gesture in Borobudur.

Note: In Sanskrit, dhyana means meditation and mudra literally means seal but refers to the hand gesture.

Related Images
The following images from the temples in Karnataka, India, dedicated to Vishnu:
Maha Vishnu seated on Adishesha – A beautiful sculpture carved in the mukhamantapha (veranda) of Cave – 3 of Badami caves
Maha Vishnu reclining on Adishesha – An intricately carved relief on the outer wall of the Belur Chennakeshava Temple
Maha Vishnu seated on Adishesha

Related Pages
Angkor Wat, Angkor WatBas-Reliefs, Angkor Thom, Bayon, Ta Prohm, Banteay Srei
Phnom Kulen, Tonlé Sap, Cambodia
Somanathapura Keshava Temple – A Masterpiece of Hoysala Temple Art
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Garbhagriha Outer Wall
Badami Cave – 1, Badami Cave – 2, Badami Cave – 3, Badami Cave – 4

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