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Padmapani and Vajrapani – The Iconic Paintings of Ajanta Caves

Padmapani and Vajrapani

Padmapani and Vajrapani – The Iconic Paintings of Ajanta Caves

Vajrapāṇi (Sanskrit; Pali: Vajirapāṇi, meaning, “Vajra in [his] hand”) is one of the earliest-appearing bodhisattvas in Mahayana Buddhism. He is the protector and guide of Gautama Buddha and rose to symbolize the Buddha’s power.

Vajrapāni is extensively represented in Buddhist iconography as one of the earliest three protective deities or bodhisattvas surrounding the Buddha.

Each of them symbolizes one of the Buddha’s virtues: Manjushri manifests all the Buddhas’ wisdom, Avalokiteśvara manifests all the Buddhas’ immense compassion, and Vajrapāni protects Buddha and manifests all the Buddhas’ power as well as the power of all five tathāgatas (Buddhahood of the rank of Buddha).

Vajrapāni is one of the earliest Dharmapalas of Mahayana Buddhism and also appears as a deity in the Pali Canon of the Theravada school. He is worshiped in the Shaolin Monastery, in Tibetan Buddhism, and in Pure Land Buddhism (where he is known as Mahasthamaprapta and forms a triad with Amitābha and Avalokiteśvara).

Manifestations of Vajrapāni can also be found in many Buddhist temples in China, Taiwan, and Japan as Dharma protectors guarding monastery and temple gates. Vajrapāni is also associated with Acala, where he is serenaded as the holder of the vajra.

Ajanta Caves in Maharashtra

Ajanta Caves in Maharashtra has been on our journey bucket listing ceaselessly however weren’t with the ability to make time. However, endurance brings good issues they are saying. We lastly visited Ajanta and Ellora Caves earlier this yr. Our expertise was overwhelming and months after the go-to, we nonetheless pinch ourselves to test if our tour was actual.

There may be a lot to soak up right here and some extra visits might maybe do justice to our understanding of the magic referred to as Ajanta.  But we considered recording a choice of experiences from Ajanta by brief items.  To this finish, that is the primary amongst our collection of posts about Ajanta Caves.

The primary world heritage website in India is the Ajanta Caves. Ajanta Caves, a world heritage website, made it to the UNESCO listing within the yr 1983 together with Agra Fort. It’s estimated that the primary part of Ajanta caves was constructed through the interval of Satvahana rule within the 2nd century BCE to 1st century CE.

The second part was constructed many centuries later through the 4th to fifth century CE. Ajanta contains a collection of caves that depict, by attractive work, tales of Jataka or the pre-birth of Buddha, and likewise tales of Buddha’s lives. Among the caves do not need work however have detailed carvings primarily based on the lifetime of Buddha with a central Stupa for worship.

Cave 1 Ajanta

Cave 1 of Ajanta was constructed within the second part of excavation below the patronage of King Harisena of the Vakataka dynasty. It’s maybe referred to as Cave no. 1, not due to antiquity, however, as a result of it’s the first cave {that a} customer comes throughout once they enter the Ajanta complicated. Cave 1 is a big gallery-like house in a cave that was, as per researchers, to function as a temple to Lord Buddha and a meditation corridor for monks.

Actually, the surface portico has elaborate carvings of monks in meditation, dancing women, and animals. However, it doesn’t fairly put together you for the splendor inside that was created with very primary instruments about 2000 years in the past.

As soon as we entered the cave, we had been briefly blinded by the intense darkness. Shortly, our eyes acquired adjusted however we puzzled how artists might have created these exquisitely detailed work, eons in the past, in nearly no mild.

The darkness has been a boon for this cave. Given the dearth of daylight, the work has been minimally uncovered and that could possibly be the explanation why the work is largely preserved right here even after, please forgive the repetition, 2000 years!

The themes of the work on this cave are tales of Jataka and depiction of Buddha’s prior lives when he was in quest of enlightenment as a Bodhisattva. Our information had an accredited torch and he confirmed the work on the partitions and the ceilings. He stopped longer to explain tales related to the extra necessary work. The work had been shiny but soothing.

The proportions had been simply excellent. The facial features of probably the most insignificant character had additionally been assayed meticulously. The smile, the frown, the sorrow, the fear…the little faces had all of it. The attention for particulars didn’t cease there.

The flowery clothes and ornaments had been appropriate to the final fold of the loincloth or pearl drop in rings, necklaces, belts, and anklets. The footwear largely resembled our modern-day sandals. The ceilings had been additionally richly painted. Nevertheless, the ceiling work doesn’t carry tales however had been pictures of animals, flowers, or geometric patterns.

By the way, the iconic Ajanta work Padmapani and Vajrapani glorify the partitions of Cave 1 of Ajanta. There are {photographs} prints of Padmapani and Vajrapani hanging on the wall at residence and we had been very excited to see these in actuality. We waited with bated breath to be guided to those work, praying all of the whereas that the actual work don’t disappoint.

Who’s Padmapani?

Padmapani is a Bodhisattva or somebody who’s on the trail of enlightenment or turning into a Buddha.  He’s the epitome of compassion and is a well-liked character in Buddhist iconography. In Indian illustrations, he holds the Padma or the lotus flower thus being referred to as Padmapani or the “One who holds a lotus in his hand”. The Sanskrit phrase “pani” means hand.

Who’s Vajrapani?

Vajrapani is a Bodhisattva who is thought to be the protector.  He holds a thunderbolt or the Vajra in his proper hand and is thus referred to as Vajrapani or the “One who holds the thunder in his hand”.


Padmapani, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, and Vajrapani, the Bodhisattva of Safety are regularly discovered flanking statues and pictures of the Buddha.

Padmapani and Vajrapani in Ajanta Cave 1 work

On the far finish of cave 1 is a room, like a sanctum sanctorum, which is a small compartment. A peaceable statue of Lord Buddha in sitting place, arms in Dharmachakra Mudra, symbolizing his first sermon after attaining enlightenment, just about illuminates the entire cave from right here. Painted on two sides of this chamber are two huge-sized figures that seamlessly draw consideration.

On the left wall is the portray of Padmapani. Not solely us but additionally most guests we noticed robotically stopped for a while in the entrance of this picture, considerably transfixed. For us, this was a dream come true. We wished to devour as a lot as we might with our eyes.

The very first thing that we noticed was the lotus-shaped half-closed eyes. Trying downwards, the eyes had been stuffed with compassion and oozed a sure detachment, however the wealthy garb and jewels he was in. The proper physique had very lengthy arms, as is the mark of a terrific man in Indian non-secular iconography. Close to his chest, he was holding a lotus flower in his proper hand.

Each merchandise of clothes and niknaks, comparable to the frilly crown, the belt, and loincloth oozed sure, in the hunt for a greater expression, divine glamour. But, what stays with us is his misplaced look. Amidst all this glory, Padmapani had pathos in his expression, as if he was there amid all these riches and but…misplaced in a thoughts house of his personal. Like his quest will not be over and he has not discovered the solutions.

On the appropriate wall is the portray of Vajrapani. The Vajrapani portray is in excellent bodily proportion. The facial options just like the eyes, chiseled nostril, and full lips depict a way of energy and regal confidence that befits the protector. Vajrapani too is clad in royal garments and jewels.

His elaborate crown deserves a particular point out. The element portray depicts a posh honeycomb type of design not leaving out strands of pearls and chains within the crown that would encourage any trendy designer. You simply can’t miss that. The talent of the artists crammed us with awe and gave us goosebumps on many occasions throughout the day.

These work types had magnetic energy. Whereas cave 1 was our first cease in Ajanta, at day finish, we walked again the entire distance to cave 1 for a last have a look at Padmapani and Vajrapani.

Easy methods to attain Ajanta Caves from Delhi

Ajanta and Ellora are extraordinarily nicely related to the remainder of India. We flew from Delhi to Aurangabad, the closest metropolis and airport. Ajanta is 100 km from Aurangabad. The highway between Ajanta and Aurangabad is below restore so it took us about 3 hours by automobile to cowl 100 km.

Aurangabad additionally has a busy railway station and plenty of trains cease right here. Ajanta might be coated by highway from Mumbai or Pune. Given the convenience of reaching Ajanta and Ellora, we went on questioning, why we waited for therefore a few years for visiting this marvel.


Ajanta Caves are closed on Mondays. Ellora Caves are closed on Tuesdays. Do plan your journey accordingly.

Closing ideas

It has been some months and the journey now appears surreal. The eyes of Padmapani nonetheless comply with us. They’re stuffed with compassion and kindness. But they have a sure sensual attraction. Padmapani and Vajrapani stand in attractive apparel. But, of their eyes and physique language, there’s a sense of detachment from their environment. These works depict a sure co-existence of materialism, sensuality, and spirituality, which, solely after we noticed Padmapani and Vajrapani’s work in Ajanta, appears doable.

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Padmapani and Vajrapani Ajanta Caves in Maharashtra

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