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Buddhist Heritage

The study of Buddhist sculpture and art from the relics and monuments in Odisha points to the gradual transformation of the Mahayana form of Buddhism into the Vajrayana form of Buddhism by the middle of the ninth century A.D. The large number of Vajrayana or Tantric Buddhist images and figurines found in Odisha suggest that this form of Buddhism found a fertile growing ground in Odisha. King Indrabhuti and his sister Lakshminkara of Uddiyana were great exponents of this form of Buddhism. Uddiyan of ancient India has been identified with Odisha. The introduction of Tantric form of worship in the Mahayana Buddhism ushered in a new stage in the development of the history of Buddhism in Odisha, which attained its pinnacle of glory during the Bhauma-Kara regime.

Apart from the Buddha figures, the other important feature of Buddhist plastic art in Odisha is the representation of Boddhisattva Avalokiteswara in his different forms such as Padmapani, Lokeswara, Vajrapani etc. We also find sculptures of Tara, Manjusri, Amoghasiddhi etc. in this period. A Lokeswara image found at Bhubaneswar, Amoghasiddhi from G.Udaygiri near Phulbani, Buddha in Bhumi-sparsa mudra from Khadipada, and Avalokiteswara Padmapani in standing pose from Khadipada are displayed at the Odisha State Museum in Bhubaneswar. Most of these Buddhist sculptures are very big in dimension. The museum at Lalitgiri preserves colossal Boddhisattva figures in it. Many more such figures are located at nearby Udayagiri and Ratnagiri.

Vajrayana Sculptures:
From epigraphical sources it is known that Buddhism was popular until the end of the Somavamsi rule in Odisha. From these sources, it is also known that the Ratnagiri Mahavihara was a great centre of Buddhism. As if to support this, we have a large number of Vajrayana sculptures at Ratnagiri. These are different forms of Avalokiteswara, Manjusri, Heruka, Jambhala, Kurukulla, Mahakala, Vajrasattva, Aparchana, Vajrapani, Tara, Aparajita, Marichi, Arya Saraswati, Vajra Tara, etc.

Other important sculptures are the Tara figures of Solampur, the three Vajrasattva figures along with a Buddha image from Haripur, Prajnaparamita from Banesvaranasi, Tara image at Banpur, a  Maitreyi image at Natara near Kendupatna, Avalokiteswara, Padmapani and Yamantaka images at Kuruma, Marichi and Vajravarahi at Ayodhya, Buddha from Khiching and Buddha figures of Ganiapalli. It is interesting to note that the back slab of a Buddha image at Solampur contains the story of Buddha, from his birth to nirvana.

The excavation at Ratnagiri has revealed that Buddhist art in Odisha developed from about the fifth century A.D. and continued to flourish upto the twelfth century A.D. In fact, Buddhist sculptural art was one of the main constituents of medieval Odishan sculptural art. 

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