Item: Shakyamuni Buddha - with the 35 Buddhas of Confession

ཤཱཀྱ་ཐུབ་པ། 释迦牟尼佛
(item no. 69901)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Private
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Buddha

Gender: Male

Shakyamuni Buddha (Tibetan: sha kya tu pa, sang gye. English: the Enlightened One, Sage of the Shakya Clan) together with the Thirty-five Confession Buddhas.

The Sutra of the Three Heaps, in Sanskrit the Triskhandhadharmasutra, or briefly the Triskandha Sutra (phung po gsum pa'i mdo), is a Mahayana ritual text used primarily by monks and nuns for the purpose of confession of downfalls which means transgressions against the vinaya and bodhisattva vows. The central object of worship is the Thirty-five Confession Buddhas, including Shakyamuni Buddha. The name of the sutra follows from the three principal sections of the text: 1) homage, 2) confession, and 3) and dedication. There are other texts on confession found in the various Mahayana Sutras however none of those appear to have any representations in Himalayan and Tibetan art.

There are two traditions of Mahayana Buddhism that include the Thirty-five Confession Buddhas as a key element in ritual and visualization practice. The two are the Yogachara and Madhyamaka philosophical systems of Mahayana Buddhism. Two distinct ritual systems for bestowing the Bodhisattva Vows have developed from these two traditions and both incorporate the visualization of the Thirty-five Buddhas along with the recitation of the Confession Sutra.

In Himalayan and Tibetan art there are at least three different iconographic systems for depicting the individual Thirty-five Confession Buddhas. The principal authors of commentaries and ritual texts were Nagarjuna (not necessarily the famous Nagarjuna), Sakya Pandita and Je Tsongkapa along with a number of others. The TBRC website lists approximately sixty texts associated with the practice of the Confession Buddhas.

Jeff watt 7-2011

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