The Dream of Queen Maya Artifact: Mother of Buddha

The Dream of Queen Maya Artifact symbolizes an important role in Arts and Religion in Pakistan. The Dream of Queen Maya artifact dates back to around 200-300 CE. The Dreams of Queen Maya, a simple grey carving made of schist in the shape of a square, discovered in Pakistan, can tell a lot about what life was like religiously during that time period, and how Buddhism originated.

Queen Maya, a beautiful woman, was once described as, “Her beauty sparkles like a nugget of pure gold. She has perfumed curls like a large black bee. Eyes like lotus petals, teeth like stars in the heavens.” She was so glorious that she married King Suddhodana, leader of the Sakya clan of Kapilvastu. Even with all this glory, Queen Maya and King Suddhodana’s marriage was different, because they did not have kids for twenty years into their marriage.

She knew her life was different. She knew, because of a dream she had one night sleeping in the palace. “Legend has it, she had a vivid dream one night, when she was surrounded by her fellows. She was carried away during a full moon by four spirits to lake Anotatta in the Himalayan Mountains. Once she was there, the spirits bathed her in the water, clothed her in heavenly cloths, put on perfumes, and gave her divine flowers. Later on, a white elephant holding a white lotus flower in its trunk appeared went around her three times and entered her womb through her right side. When the elephant disappeared and she woke up, she knew she had been delivered an important message because elephants are symbols of greatness in her culture.”

Buddhism is located around the world mostly in East and Southeast Asia, yet is starting to spread to the West. All of this starts from Queen Maya. Queen Maya gave birth to her child, Siddhartha, during 563 BCE, which the pregnancy lasted a very long time. She was going to give birth at her home, yet she ended up deciding to give birth under the Sal tree, due to the beauty of the tree. It is said, she gave birth holding onto one of the branches. She gave birth to her son on the 8th of April out of her right side. Some natives say Queen Maya bathed him in the Puskarini pond in the Lumbini Zone, located in current-day Nepal, yet legend says that Devas made it rain, washing the baby. Her baby was later named Siddhartha, which means “He who has accomplished his goals” or “The accomplished goal.”

Her sister, Mahapajapati Gotami, started to foster and care for Siddhartha, due to Queen Maya dying 7 days after the birth of Siddhartha. After Siddhartha had achieved enlightenment in the year 528 BCE and become a Buddha, he visited his mother in the Tusita heaven for three months to pay his respects and to teach her Dharma. Seven years after Siddhartha became a Buddha, Queen Maya came down to visit Tavatimsa Heaven, where the Buddha ended up teaching the Abhidharma to her.

Dharma teaches that wisdom, kindness, patience, generosity, and compassion were important values. All true Buddhists live by five moral guidelines, which do not allow; “killing living things, taking what is not given, sexual misconduct, lying and using drugs or alcohol.”

Buddhism, founded by Siddhartha Gautama, was founded over 2500 years ago, shortly after Siddhartha achieved his enlightenment. Buddhism, a major world religion, has around 470 million worshipers and followers. After Siddhartha had passed away, around 483 B.C., his followers, now called Buddhists, began to organize and put together his teachings, which became the beginnings of Buddhism.

Life of Siddhartha

Siddhartha Gautama was born into a family full of wealth, being the child of a king and a queen, in present-day Nepal. Siddhartha Gautama had a fairly easy life, yet he was moved by suffering in the world. He decided to see for himself and feel the suffering of others, therefore he gave up his lifestyle filled with riches and went through poverty. Poverty ended up not fulfilling him, so he went forward with the idea of what he would call it, the “Middle Way.” This means living between two extremes, in this case, poverty and living in riches. Therefore, he wanted a life without too much, yet without deprivation of everyday resources that are needed.

Buddhism follows a system of beliefs. Some of these include, “Buddhists do not acknowledge a supreme god, yet instead try and focus on achieving enlightenment,” which means, “ A state of inner peace and wisdom.” Once achieving enlightenment, they experience nirvana, which is the main goal in spirit for Buddhists. The path to enlightenment is achieved by applying morality, meditation, and wisdom into their lives. Buddhists meditate because they believe that meditation helps bring out the truth.

Ashoka the Great, the Mauryan Indian emperor of India declared that Buddhism would be the state religion of India during the 3rd century B.C., while he was the leader. Buddhist Monasteries were built and good work was encouraged among the people. Over the next few centuries, Buddhism spread beyond India, the thoughts and philosophies of Buddhists started to spread more and more, with some followers taking the ideas differently than others, making them more diverse.

Buddhism exists in three main forms around the world. This includes Theravada Buddhism, which is found mainly in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, and Burma. Next is Mahayana Buddhism, found in China, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Singapore, and Vietnam. Lastly is Tibetan Buddhism, found in Tibet, Nepal, Mongolia, Bhutan, and parts of Russia and Northern India. Each of these has certain texts and has slightly different ideas of Buddha’s teachings.

An important teaching of Buddha is the “Four Noble Truths”, which are important to understanding the religion. These are; “the truth of suffering, the truth of the cause of suffering, the truth of the end of suffering, And the truth of the path that frees us from suffering.” These Four Noble Truths, help us understand why humans suffer and how we can overcome that.

The Four Noble Truths are a plan for dealing with the suffering that humans face, whether it is mental or physical. The First Noble Truth understands that there is suffering, experienced by everyone, and tries to recognize it. The second Noble Truth tries to understand why the suffering is happening, and where it is coming from, which normally ends up being desire and ignorance. Desire, is all about the things that can never be satisfied, for example, craving pleasure, material goods, and immortality. Due to this, desire will only bring the people suffering. Ignorance, however, is about not seeing the world as it truly is. Without concentration and insight, the mind is left undeveloped and unable to understand the true nature of things. Feelings like hatred and anger come from ignorance. The third noble truth recognizes the end of suffering, and the fourth noble truth recognizes the path one took to achieve this.

Buddha taught his followers that the end of suffering is achieved by following his Eightfold Path. These include; “right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.” These eight ideas, teach ideals of ethical conduct, mental disciple, and gaining wisdom.

The Dream of Queen Maya artifact, even though it is small, can teach us how big of an effect it made on the lives of hundreds of millions of people. This artifact helped us figure out what life was like during that time period in that region of the world, and the origins of Buddhism, which outline, a big part of our life today.   

07 July 2022
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