Borobudur: Gaṇḍavyūha Story – Samantabhadra Bodhisattva

Samāntabhadra Bodhisattva bas-relief in the Rūpadhātu layer of Borbudur in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Gaṇḍavyūha Story – Samāntabhadra Bodhisattva

Samāntabhadra Bodhisattva in the Rūpadhātu Layer of Borobudur
Seated gracefully on a lotus throne is Samāntabhadra, one of the eight Mahāsattvas (great bodhisattvas) of the Mahāyāna Buddhism. As you can see, his body is covered with beautiful jewelry, including necklaces, armlets, bracelets, and udiyāna (waist chain). A looped thread, known as yajnopavita, hangs from his left shoulder and goes across his chest. Adorning his head is an intricately-carved three-stage mukuta (crown).

His facial expression is calm and serene. With his left hand gently resting on his leg, he is making a gesture known as Karana Mudra with his right hand. In Sanskrit, mudra refers to a hand gesture. The Karana Mudra is performed by pointing the index and little fingers up and ring finger down, and curving the middle finger in such a way that it touches the thumb. This mudra symbolizes positive energy and is performed to eliminate the negative energy around us. It is believed that Karana Mudra wards-off evil.

This beautiful bas-relief is carved into the balustrade wall of the fourth Rūpadhātu terrace. It is part of the Gandavyūha story panels, which cover the walls of the top three terraces of the Rūpadhātu layer and depict scenes from Gandavyūha Sūtra, a Buddhist text describing the story about a boy named Sudhāna meeting people from all walks of life and bodhisattvas in his quest for wisdom and enlightenment. Bodhisattva Samāntabhadra is the final teacher Sudhāna meets before he attains enlightenment.

Check the Borobudur Layers page for an explanation of all the layers of Borobudur.

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.

Gandavyūha Images
Sudhāna learning from a teacher
Sudhāna Meets Maitreya, the Future Buddha
Samāntabhadra Discourse

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

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