Code: ABS 019
Style: Nepalese School
Date: 1350 - 1450
Dimensions in cm WxHxD: 34.5 x 45.8 x 23.5
Materials: Copper with remains of gilt
Copper with remains of gilt; hollow cast in one part.
The separately cast lotus pedestal is lost.
The jewelled ornaments are inset with semi-precious stones, namely turquoise, coral, lapis lazuli and red granat.
The bottom of the image is not sealed.
The Bodhisattva (Tib. Byams pa), the Future Buddha is depicted as crowned and jewelled Bodhisattva in the sambhogakaya aspect. He is seated in the diamond attitude (vajraparyanka). He extends the right hand in the gesture of charity (varada-mudra) and displays with the uplifted left hand the gesture of argumentation (vitarka-mudra). As indicated by the projections at the upper arms, originally the two hands held each the stalk of a lotus flower (padma) or a nagakesara twig attached to the shoulders, one of them possibly decorated with a water-jar (kamandalu). Maitreya is extensively covered with inset ornaments, namely a five-pointed crown with the head of a hornedgaruda (Tib. Khyung) in the centre and the dharmacakra emblem above, a pair of elaborately worked earrings, two necklaces with attached pendants, ornaments at upper arms and bracelets, ornaments on the lower legs and anklets. This image is also identified as Bodhisattva Maitreya by the small stupa emblem attached to the top of the crown of matted hair (jatamukuta). The emblem on the forehead is possibly a ratnayupa. This symbol of keeping awake the memory of the Law (dharma) is described in the Bodhisattva-Avadanakalpalata and occurs on the forehead of other Maitreya images as well.
This image of Maitreya is the work of Newar craftsmen living mostly in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal and dates from the Early Malla Period (1200–1479) and dates approximately from around 1400 AD.
In Mahayana schools, Maitreya is traditionally said to have revealed the Five Treatises of Maitreya through Asanga. These important texts are the basis of the Yogachara tradition and constitute the majority of the Third Turning of the Wheel of Dharma.
In Mission of Maitreya, it is claimed that the mystery of God is now finished by God through Maitreya (The 7th angel) by the revelation of the book sealed with Seven Seals titled, The Holiest of the Holies (THOTH), Last Testament which reveals the whole Eternal Divine Path.
The future coming of Maitreya
Maitreya's coming will occur after the teachings of the current Gautama Buddha, the Dharma, are no longer taught and are completely forgotten. Maitreya is predicted to attain Bodhi in seven days (which is the minimum period), by virtue of his many lives of preparation for Buddha-hood (similar to those reported in the Jataka stories of Shakyamuni Buddha).
Maitreya's coming is characterized by a number of physical events. The oceans are predicted to decrease in size, allowing Maitreya to traverse them freely. The event will also allow the unveiling of the "true" dharma to the people, in turn allowing the construction of a new world. The coming also signifies the end of the middle time in which humans currently reside (characterized as a low point of human existence between the Gautama Buddha and Maitreya.)
The name Maitreya or Metteyya is derived from the word maitri (Sanskrit) or metta (Pali) meaning "loving-kindness", which is in turn derived from the noun mitra (Pali: mitta) in the sense of "friend".
The earliest mention of Metteyya is in the Cakavatti (Sihanada) Sutta in the Digha Nikaya of the Pali Canon.
Maitreya is sometimes represented seated on a throne Western-style, and venerated both in Mahayana and non-Mahayana Buddhism. Some have speculated that inspiration for Maitreya may have come from the ancient Indo-Iranian deity Mithra. The primary comparison between the two characters appears to be the similarity of their names. According to a book entitled The Religion of the Iranian Peoples, "No one who has studied the Zoroastrian doctrine of the Saoshyants or the coming saviour-prophets can fail to see their resemblance to the future Maitreya.
Paul Williams claims that some Zoroastrian ideas like Saoshyant influenced the cult of Maitreya, such as "expectations of a heavenly helper, the need to opt for positive righteousness, the future millennium, and universal salvation". Possible objections are that these characteristics are not unique to Zoroastrianism, nor are they necessarily characteristic of the belief in Maitreya.
It is also possible that Maitreya Buddha originated with the Hindu Kalki, and that its similarities with the Iranian Mithra have to do with their common Indo-Iranian origin.
In the Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhara, in the first centuries CE in northern India, Maitreya was the most popular figure to be represented, together with the Buddha Shakyamuni. In China, the cult of Maitreya seems to have developed around the same time of that of Amitabha, as early as the 3rd century AD.
Since his death, the Chinese monk Budai (Hotei) has been popularly regarded as an incarnation of the bodhisattva Maitreya. His depiction as the Laughing Buddha continues to be very popular in East Asian culture.
While a number of persons have proclaimed themselves to be Maitreya over the years following the Buddha’s parinirvana, none have been officially recognized by the sangha and Buddhists. A particular difficulty faced by any would-be claimant to Maitreya's title is the fact that the Buddha is considered to have made a number of fairly specific predictions regarding the circumstances that would occur prior to Maitreya's coming- such as that the teachings of the Buddha would be completely forgotten, and all of the remaining relics of Shakyamuni Buddha would be gathered in Bodh Gaya and cremated.
Since the growth of the theosophist movement in the 19th century, non-Buddhist religious and spiritual movements have adopted the name and selected characteristics of Maitreya for teachers in their traditions. One of these is Share International, which equates Maitreya with the prophesied figures of multiple religious traditions and claims that he is already present in the world. Since the beginning of the 1930s, the Ascended Master Teachings have placed Maitreya in the "Office" of "World Teacher" until 1956, when he was described as moving on to the "Office" of "Planetary Buddha" and "Cosmic Christ" in their concept of a Spiritual Hierarchy.
Some muslim scholars who studied buddhist texts believe that Maitreya is "Rahmatu lil-'alameen" (Mercy for The Worlds), which is the name for prophet Muhammad as it is said in Qur'an. According to the research on the book Antim Buddha - Maitreya scholars have summarized that Maitreya Buddha is Muhammad. After examining the Buddhist texts researchers concluded that Muhammad had been the last and final awakened Buddha to come into existence long after the current teachings.
In Islam, the Arabic text Bath, Batha and Tabaath is found in the Qu'ran 62:2 Sura Al-Jumua and is believed to be referring to Buddha. The origin of the word Buddha in Arabic is; of descent, or he roused him, and put into action.
Baha'ís believe that Baha'u'llah is the fulfillment of the prophecy of appearance of Maitreya. Baha'ís believe that the prophecy that Maitreya will usher in a new society of tolerance and love has been fulfilled by Baha'u'llah's teachings on world peace. This view has been of some effect, for example in Vietnam Baha'u'llah was identified with the Maitreya. Before the Communist government, the Baha'í Faith grew in part with the conversion of a number of Buddhist monks. (see Baha'í Faith in Vietnam. The Baha'í Faith has recently been able to re-register as a religion and there are some signs of large-scale growth from the 50's-60's resuming.)
More self-proclaimed Maitreyas
The following people listed are just a small portion of the several people who claimed themselves to be Maitreya. Many have either used the Maitreya incarnation claim to form a new Buddhist sect or have used the name of Maitreya to form a new religious movement or cult.
* Gung Ye, a Korean warlord and king of short-lived state of Taebong during the 10th century, claimed himself as living incarnation of Maitreya and ordered his subjects to worship him. His claim was widely rejected by most Buddhist monks and later he was dethroned and killed by his own servants.
* In 613 the monk Xiang Haiming claimed himself Maitreya and adopted imperial title.
* In 690 Empress Wu inaugurated the Second Zhou dynasty, proclaimed herself an incarnation of the future Buddha Maitreya, and made Luoyang the "holy capital." In 693 she replaced the compulsory Dao De Jing in the curriculum temporarily with her own Rules for Officials.
* Lu Zhong Yi, the 17th patriarch of I-Kuan Tao, claimed to be an incarnation of Maitreya.
* L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Dianetics and Scientology, suggested he was "Metteya" (Maitreya) in the 1955 poem Hymn of Asia. His editors indicated, in the book's preface, specific physical characteristics said to be outlined – in unnamed Sanskrit sources – as properties of the coming Maitreya; properties which Hubbard's appearance supposedly aligned with. Years later in the OT VIII material Hubbard explicitly claims to be the Maitreya, as well as the Anti-Christ.
* Raël's Maitreya claims center on the content of the Agama Sutra (Japanese: Agon Sutra), supposedly a very ancient text written by Buddha himself, but which has been deemphasized or forgotten by the majority of Buddhist cultures. Raël has claimed directly to people attending Asia Raëlian Church seminars, that someone born in France, a country which is often symbolized by the cock (or rooster), west of the Orient, meets the criteria of the Maitreya. Rael himself claims to be this individual.
Maitreya sects in China
1) Pre-Maitreyan Buddhist messianic rebellions:
* Southern and Northern Dynasties
The Mahayana Rebellion. In the late summer of that year, the renegade monk Faqing married a nun and formed a sect in the Northern Wei province of Jizhou (in the southern part of today’s Hebei province) with the assistance of a local aristocrat named Li Guibo. The sect was named the Mahayana ("The Great Vehicle", in reference to Mahayana Buddhism), and Li Guibo was given the titles of Tenth-stage Bodhisattva, Commander of the Demon-vanquishing Army, and King who Pacifies the Land of Han by Faqing.
Using drugs to send its members into a killing frenzy, and promoting them to Tenth-Stage Bodhisattva as soon as they killed ten enemies, the Mahayana sect seized a prefecture and murdered all the government officials in it. Their slogan was "A new Buddha has entered the world; eradicate the demons of the former age", and they would kill all monks and nuns in the monasteries that they captured, also burning all the sutras and icons. After defeating a government army and growing to a size of over 50,000, the rebel army was finally crushed by another government army of 100,000. Faqing, his wife, and tens of thousands of his followers were beheaded, and Li Guibo was also captured later and publicly executed in the capital city Luoyang.
The Fozu Tongji (Comprehensive Records of the Buddha), a chronicle of Buddhist history written by the monk Zhipan in 1269, also contains an account of the Mahayana Rebellion, but with significant deviations from the original account, such as dating the rebellion to 528 rather than 515.
The Moonlight Child Rebellion. Toward the end of that year, another sect was discovered by local authorities in Yanling (a county or prefecture of Jizhou). A man named Fa Quan and his associates were claiming that an eight-year-old child named Liu Jinghui was a Bodhisattva called the Moonlight Child (yueguang tongzi pusa), and that he could transform into a snake or a pheasant. They were arrested and sentenced to death on suspicion of seditious intent, but Jinghui had his sentence commuted to banishment on account of his youth and ignorance.
Early in the spring of that year, surviving remnants of the Mahayana rebels regrouped and mounted a sudden attack on the capital of Yingzhou province, which lay just northwest of their original base in Bohai prefecture. They were repelled only after a pitched battle with an army of slaves and attendants led by Yuwen Yan, the son of the provincial governor, and nothing more is known of their fate.
Although a "new Buddha" was mentioned, these rebellions are not considered "Maitreyan" by modern scholars. However, they would be a later influence on the rebel religious leaders that made such claims. Therefore, it is important to mention these rebellions in this context.
2) Maitreyan rebellions:
* Sui Dynasty
On the first day of the Lunar New Year, several tens of rebels dressed in white, burning incense and holding flowers proclaimed their leader as Maitreya Buddha and charged into the imperial palace through one of its gates, killing all the guards before they were themselves killed by troops led by an imperial prince. A massive investigation in the capital (Chang'an) implicated over a thousand families.
A "skilled magician" named Song Zixian claimed to be Maitreya in Tang county (northwest of Yingzhou), and supposedly could transform into the form of a Buddha and make his room emit a glow every night. He hung a mirror in a hall that could display an image of what a devotee would be reincarnated as – a snake, a beast or a human being. Nearly a thousand "from near and far" joined his sect every day, and he plotted to first hold a Buddhist vegetarian banquet (wuzhe fohui) and then make an attack on the emperor who was then touring Yingzhou. The plot was leaked out, and Song was arrested and executed with over a thousand families of his followers.
The monk Xiang Haiming claimed to be Maitreya in Fufeng prefecture (western Shaanxi) and led a rebellion. The elite of the Chang’an area hailed him as a holy man (dasheng) because they had auspicious dreams after following him, and his army swelled to several tens of thousands before he was defeated by government troops.
Wang Huaigu declared, "The Shakyamuni Buddha has declined; a new Buddha is about to appear. The House of Li is ending, and the House of Liu is about to rise".
* Song Dynasty
Army officer Wang Ze led a revolt of Buddhists expecting Maitreya; they took over the city of Beizhou in Hebei before they were crushed. The Song Dynasty government declared Maitreya Sects to be "heresies and unsanctioned religions". Tens of thousands of Maitreya Sect followers were killed.
* Yuan and Ming Dynasty
The Red Turban Rebellion (a.ka. The First White Lotus Rebellon). Han Shantong , leader of the White Lotus Society, and Army Commander Liu Futong rebelled against the Mongol masters of the Yuan Dynasty. Shantong's anti-Mongol slogan was "The empire is in utter chaos. Maitreya Buddha has incarnated, and the Manichaean King of Light has appeared in this world."
In 1355, Han Shantong's son, Han Lin'er, was proclaimed "Emperor of the Great [Latter] Song" (referring to the dead Song Dynasty) (1355-1368?) by Liu Futong. Liu Futong claimed Han Lin'er was a direct descendent of the Zhao royal family who ruled the Song Dynasty. After Liu Futong's death, Zhu Yuanzhang took up command of the Red Turban Rebellion and later assassinated Han Lin'er to become Emperor Hongwu of the Ming Dynasty. (See History)
According to Beijing University,
The leader of White Lotus sect, Han Shantong called himself Ming Wang ( "King of Brightness"), while his son, Han Lin'er called himself Xiao Ming Wang ( "Small King of Brightness"), both names reflecting the sect's beliefs. Zhu Yuanzhang had been a member of the White lotus Sect and admitted to have been a branch of the White Lotus rebel army (being at one time vice-marshal of Xiao Ming Wang). When Zhu Yuanzhang took power, he chose the dynastic name "Ming". ”
This suggests that the Ming Dynasty was named after the White Lotus figures of the "Big and Little Bright Kings".
3) Post-Maitreyan rebellions:
* Qing Dynasty
The White Lotus Rebellion (a.k.a. The Second White Lotus Rebellion). It broke out among impoverished settlers in the mountainous region that separates Sichuan province from Hubei and Shaanxi provinces. It apparently began as a White Lotus Society protest against heavy taxes imposed by Manchu rulers of the Qing Dynasty.
The Yi He Tuan, often called in English the "Society of Harmonious Fists" was a 19th century martial-sect inspired in part by the White Lotus Society. Members of the "Harmonious Fists" became known as "Boxers" in the west because they practiced Chinese martial arts.
The Boxer Rebellion. It was a Chinese rebellion from November 1899 to September 7, 1901 against foreign influence in such areas as trade, politics, religion and technology that occurred in China during the final years of the Qing Dynasty. By August 1900, over 230 foreigners, tens of thousands of Chinese Christians, an unknown number of rebels, their sympathizers and other innocent bystanders had been killed in the ensuing chaos. The uprising crumbled on August 14, 1900 when 20,000 foreign troops entered the Chinese capital, Peking (Beijing).
Albeit not in the name of Maitreya, both rebellions were perpetrated solely or in part by the White Lotus Society, a rebellious Maitreya sect.
There was a sage of the same name in the epic Mahabharata. His lineage is unknown. He came to the court of Hastinapura to advise Duryodhana to restore the kingdom of the Pandavas, a little while after the sons of Pandu had gone into exile, having been defeated at dice.
However, Duryodhana didn't even bother to listen to the sage, and showed his disrespect all too plainly. Incensed, the sage cursed him and said, "Fourteen years hence, you shall be destroyed in battle by the Pandavas, along with your kinsmen and all that you hold dear. Bheema shall despatch you to the abode of Yama, by breaking your thighs with the mace." Some hold that the curse of this sage played a major part in encompassing the destruction of the Kauravas.
One mention of the prophecy of Maitreya is prophesied in the Sanskrit text, the Maitreyavyakaraṇa (The Prophecy of Maitreya), stating that gods, men, and other beings will worship Maitreya; it implies that he is a teacher of trance sadhana: "will lose their doubts, and the torrents of their cravings will be cut off: free from all misery they will manage to cross the ocean of becoming; and, as a result of Maitreya's teachings, they will lead a holy life. No longer will they regard anything as their own, they will have no possession, no gold or silver, no home, no relatives! But they will lead the holy life of chastity under Maitreya's guidance. They will have torn the net of the passions, they will manage to enter into trances, and theirs will be an abundance of joy and happiness, for they will lead a holy life under Maitreya's guidance."
Maitreya is typically pictured seated, with both feet on the ground, indicating that he has not yet completed ascending his throne, which is believed to be a style of western throne, not Indian as previously believed . He is dressed in the clothes of either a Bhiksu or Indian royalty. As a Bodhisattva, he would usually be standing and dressed in jewels. Usually he wears a small stupa in his headdress and could be holding a dharmachakra resting on a lotus. A khatais always tied around his waist as a girdle.
In the Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhara, in the first centuries CE in northern India, Maitreya is represented as a Central Asian or northern Indian nobleman, holding a 'water phial' (Sanskrit: Kumbha) in his left hand. Sometimes this is a 'wisdom urn' (Sanskrit: Bumpa). He is flanked by his two acolytes, the brothers Asanga and Vasubandhu.
Maitreya resides in the Tuṣita Heaven (Pali: Tusita), said to be reachable through meditation. Shakyamuni Buddha also lived here before he was born into the world.
Some Bodhisattvas live in the Tuṣita Heaven before they descend to the human realm to become Buddhas. A bodhisattva may be thought of as an individual near to becoming a buddha.
Bhattacharya, Gouriswar , 1980. “Stupa as Maitreya’s emblem”, The Stupa: Its Religious, Historical and Architectural Significance, ed. by A.L. Dallapiccola. Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag. Pp. 100–11, 14 pls - Select references to the iconography of Maitreya
Bhattacharyya, Benoytosh , 1958. Indian Buddhist Iconography. Calcutta: K. L. Mukhopadhyay. Pp. 13, 35, 38, 78, 80–82, 131 - Select references to the iconography of Maitreya
Chandra, Lokesh, 1986. Buddhist Iconography of Tibet (CBIT). Rinsen Book Co.. nos. 94, 103 of the Mongolian bKa’ gyur [1–510]; nos. 559, 701 of the Narthang Pantheon [511–1009], no. 1013 of the Bhadrakalpika-sutra Pantheon [1010–1081]; none of the Astasahasrika Pantheon [1082–2203], Nos. 2204 (1) and 2354 (151) of the Three Hundred Icons (sKu brnyan sum brgya) [2206–2503] - Select references to the iconography of Maitreya
Das, Sarat Chandra and Vidyabhushana, H. M., 1888. Bodhisattva-Avadanakalpalata. Calcutta: Ksemendra, ed. XVII avadana, chapter XVI. 1 - Select references to the iconography of Maitreya
de Mallmann, Marie-Thérèse, 1975. Introduction à l'iconographie du tântrisme bouddhique. Paris: Adrien Mainsonneuve (Jean Maisonneuve successeur (1970). Pp. 244-248 - Select references to the iconography of Maitreya
Sèngué, Tcheuky, 2002. Petite Encyclopédie des Divinités et symboles du Bouddhisme Tibétain. Editions Claire Lumiere . Pp. 95-101
Torricelli, Fabrizio, 1994. “Some Notes on the Maitreya Image in Western Ladakh”, The Tibet Journal, Vol. XIX, No. 1. The Tibet Journal, Vol. XIX, No. 1. Pp. 4-5 - Select references to the iconography of Maitreya
von Schroeder, Ulrich, 2013. Datenbank der Fondation Alain Bordier. Unpublished.