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Borobudur: Avadāna Story – Majestic Peacock on a Chariot


Avadāna Story – Majestic peacock on a chariot
The image shows a bas-relief depicting a lovely peacock standing majestically inside a horse-driven chariot. It is part of the Avadāna story panels covering the balustrade walls on the second terrace of the Rūpadhātu layer, one of the three layers of Borobudur. Check the Borobudur Temple Layers page for an explanation of all three layers.

In this story, a peacock – actually a bodhisattva – became known for its beauty and voice, and Queen Anupama of Vāranasi coveted it. To get this peacock, she pleaded with her husband, King Brahmadatta, who sent people to capture it, with a warning that they would face the death penalty if they fail.

The peacock came to know about this story when the people tried to capture it. To prevent their deaths, the peacock submitted willingly to go with them to the palace. The bas-relief depicts this part of the story. As you can see, a lovely peacock is standing majestically inside a horse-driven chariot.

The story ends tragically with the death of the queen. When King Brahmadatta was away from the capital fighting a battle, Queen Anupama started an extra-marital affair. When she suspected that the peacock knew her infidelity, she poisoned the peacock, who, instead of dying, became more beautiful. The dejected queen then killed herself.

Located about 30 miles northwest of Yogyakarta on the island of Java, Borobudur is the largest and one of the most fascinating Buddhist monuments in the world. It was built between 778 and 850 CE by the rulers of the Shylendra dynasty, who were the followers of Mahāyāna Buddhism. According to an inscription, it was commissioned by King Samaratungga of this dynasty.

Related Pages
Borobudur, Prambanan, Prambanan Bas-Reliefs, Bali, Indonesia
Angkor Wat, Angkor Wat Bas-Reliefs, Banteay Srei, Cambodia

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