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Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

Vajradhara and Prajna (Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore)

Asian Civilisations Museum - Vajradhara and Prajna

Vajradhara and Prajna

This “Vajradhara and Prajna” gilded copper statute from the 14th or 15th century, shows the Tibetan Buddhist deity Vajradhara in union with Prajna, who symbolises wisdom. The Buddha sits in the meditation posture, with the female deity embracing him. Their faces reflect harmony, their noses, lips, and chins touch in deep serenity. Vajradhara is seated in a yogic meditation posture with his crossed hands hold identifying attributes, of the thunderbolt sceptre denoting clarity of mind and the prayer bell associated with wisdom. Their union represents the attainment of knowledge.

Vajradhara

Vajradhara is the ultimate primordial Buddha, or Adi Buddha, according to schools of Tibetan Buddhism. In the evolution of Indian Buddhism, Buddha Vajradhara gradually displaced the ‘Primordial Buddha’ in the ‘Ancient School.’ Vajradhara is a form of the historical Buddha found in Esoteric Buddhism. Vajradhara means “holding a vajra or thunderbolt” which represents the highest state of enlightenment. 

Prajñā

Prajñā or “wisdom” is an insight into the true nature of reality, namely primarily impermanence, dissatisfaction or suffering, non-self and emptiness. Prajnaparamita holds a curved knife and skullcup.

Tibetan Buddhism

Tibetan Buddhism is the form of Buddhist doctrine and institutions found in the regions surrounding the Himalayas and much of Central Asia. It derives from the latest stages of Indian Buddhism. Today, Tibetan Buddhism is adhered to widely in the Tibetan Plateau, Mongolia, northern Nepal, Kalmykia, Siberia, the Russian Far East and northeast China. It is the state religion of Bhutan.

The Indian regions of Sikkim and Ladakh, both formerly independent kingdoms, are also home to significant Tibetan Buddhist populations, as are the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh,  West Bengal and Arunachal Pradesh.

Reflections

  • What is your image of Wisdom?
  • Do you embrace Wisdom?

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Vajradhara and Prajna

  • Title:                 Vajradhara and Prajna
  • Dates:               14th or 15th Century
  • Provenience:     Nepal or Tibet
  • Materials:         Gilded Copper Alloy
  • Dimensions:     H: 22.8 cm
  • Museum:          Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore

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Buddhist Quotes

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“Give, even if you only have a little.”

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“If you knew what I know about the power of giving you would not let a single meal pass without sharing it in some way.”

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“Learn this from water: loud splashes the brook but the ocean’s depth are calm.”

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“Attachment leads to suffering.”

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“May all beings have happy minds.”

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“Born out of concern for all beings.”

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“I am the miracle.”

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“You only lose what you cling to.”

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“A jug fills drop by drop.”

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“One who acts on truth is happy in this world and beyond.”

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“Every human being is the author of their own health or disease.”

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“The tongue like a sharp knife… Kills without drawing blood.”

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“Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise, the wise man, gathering it little by little, fills himself with good.”

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“I never see what has been done; I only see what remains to be done.”

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“Delight in meditation and solitude. Compose yourself, be happy. You are a seeker.”

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“Ardently do today what must be done. Who knows? Tomorrow, death comes.”

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“Purity and impurity depend on oneself; no one can purify another.”

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“What you are is what you have been. What you’ll be is what you do now.”

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“If you propose to speak always ask yourself, is it true, is it necessary, is it kind.”

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“You only lose what you cling to.”

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“The past is already gone, the future is not yet here. There’s only one moment for you to live.”

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“The trouble is, you think you have time.”

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“There is no fear for one whose mind is not filled with desires.”

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“Even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely.”

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“Irrigators channel waters; fletchers straighten arrows; carpenters bend wood; the wise master themselves.”

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“A child without education is like a bird without wings.”
– Tibetan Proverb

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Photo Credit: JOM

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