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Sarnath: Capital of Asoka's Pillar, Sarnath Museum

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CollectionsArthur Llewellyn Basham
Title: Sarnath: Capital of Asoka's Pillar, Sarnath Museum
Author(s): Morgan, Kenneth W.
Photographer: Arthur Llewellyn Basham
Keywords: India: Bodhgaya, Sarnath, Rajgir, Sanchi, Nalanda, Mathura, Ajanta;architecture;sculpture;slide set
Description: This capital is from the pillar erected by Asoka at the side of the Buddha's first sermon, a pillar said to have been 70 feet high. As an art treasure of India's past, it has been chosen for the symbol of the new Indian government. Sir John Marshall says that no generation since the time of Asoka has been able to duplicate the inimitable polish on this sculpture. The base on which the four lions rest has four Dharmacakras (symbolizing the Wheel of the Law) and between them figures of a bull, an elephant, a horse, and a lion. Buddhists prefer to interpret the bull as a symbol of the Buddha's birth, since he was born under the sign of the bull
the elephant symbolizes his conception, for at conception his mother dreamed that a white elephant entered her womb
the horse symbolizes Prince Siddharta's renunciation
and the lion symbolizes his first sermon and his forty-five years of preaching the Law. The lions on the capital symbolize the preaching of the Law to the four directions.
Other Identifiers: ANUA 682-3598


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