Painting of Bodhisattva Padmapani in Ajanta Caves. 2008
The walls of the Ajanta caves are covered with paintings depicting the scenes of Jataka stories of Buddha’s former existences as Bodhisattva. Avalokitesvara is a Bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas. Portrayed in different cultures as either male or female, Avalokiteshvara is one of the more widely revered Bodhisattvas in mainstream Mahayana Buddhism. In Sanskrit, Avalokitesvara is also referred to as Padmapani -“Holder of the Lotus”
The Ajanta Caves situated in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra. The first Buddhist cave monuments at Ajanta date from the 2nd and 1st centuries BC. During the Gupta period 5th and 6th centuries AD, many more richly decorative caves were added to the original group. The paintings and sculptures of Ajanta, considered as masterpieces of Buddhist religion art, have had a considerably artistic influence. The 29 caves were excavated beginning around 200 BC, but they were abandoned in AD 650 in favors of Ellora. Fife of the caves were temples and 24 were monasteries, thought to have been occupied by some 200 monks and artisans. The Ajanta Caves were gradually forgotten until their “rediscovery” by a British tiger-hunting party in 1819.
*Image by Lera Grant-Evdokimova