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Buddha's skin colour - Dhamma Wheel

Buddha's skin colour

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.
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Stiphan
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Buddha's skin colour

Postby Stiphan » Fri Jul 09, 2010 11:50 am

Was it dark like that of modern Indians or white as he is usually portrayed?

Sanghamitta
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Re: Buddha's skin colour

Postby Sanghamitta » Fri Jul 09, 2010 12:02 pm

Its a tricky question Stefan. Its difficult to be sure. He was actually born in what is now Nepal. Then as now Nepal was a confluence of many ethnic groups. he was a Prince of the Sakya clan. The precise ethnic origins of the Sakyas is not clear. Although advances in ethnology and DNA testing and so on might mean that this picture has changed.
It is complicated by a number of issues. One is that national boundaries were far less clear 2500 years ago. Another is that Indian historians routinely downplayed the role of anyone with a dark complexion or who were a difference race..Mongoloid for example. Because for the most part they were Brahmins.
There are contemporary-ish descriptions of the Buddha, but its all relative to a very different culture with different norms.
Last edited by Sanghamitta on Fri Jul 09, 2010 12:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

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Annapurna
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Re: Buddha's skin colour

Postby Annapurna » Fri Jul 09, 2010 12:07 pm

http://www.schmuckzauberei.blogspot.com/

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Stiphan
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Re: Buddha's skin colour

Postby Stiphan » Fri Jul 09, 2010 12:13 pm

Thank you. :smile:

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Re: Buddha's skin colour

Postby Sanghamitta » Fri Jul 09, 2010 12:21 pm

Sigh...The whole Aryan Invasion theory has now been pretty much disproved. The whole idea of the pre Aryan Invasion dark skinned natives and the light skinned invaders has been effectively traduced as myths invented by Europeans.
Many subgroups of Indians are Caucasian in origin. Many are not.

The descriptions from The Suttas are Iconographic , not literal.this iconography has its origins in the caste system and is inherently flawed as a literal description. See Ambhedkar et al.
See also The Myth of The Aryan Invasion http://www.archeologyonline.net and for its origin Who Were The Aryans ; Hitlers Persistant Aryan Myth http://www.archeology.about.com.
If the first link does not work google The Myth Of The Aryan Invasion and several pages will come up on the subject, look for archeologyonline. Although as i say there are lots of articles to choose from.

The description of being Golden Skinned and The various Marks of the Buddha are common to all religious leaders from the Indian Subcontinent. They are indicators of status rather than literal. The 32 Marks Of A Buddha are identical to the 32 Marks of a Jain Tirthankara. The founder of Jainism who was a contemporary Of The Buddha was also described as Golden Skinned. In more recent times The Vaisnav saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu ( 17th century ) was also described as having the 32 Marks and Golden Skin.
In modern times Ramakrishna and Ramana Maharishi were described as ..guess what.
In fact there exists a contemporary description of the Buddha which avoids the Iconography and is more literal, and I'm blowed if I can lay hands on the source at the moment. It describes him as tall and imposing with a pleasing expression and manner, but does not mention his skin tone.
Last edited by Sanghamitta on Fri Jul 09, 2010 1:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

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Annapurna
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Re: Buddha's skin colour

Postby Annapurna » Fri Jul 09, 2010 1:23 pm

http://www.schmuckzauberei.blogspot.com/

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cooran
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Re: Buddha's skin colour

Postby cooran » Fri Jul 09, 2010 8:51 pm

---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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David N. Snyder
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Re: Buddha's skin colour

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Jul 10, 2010 3:19 am

The Buddha probably had the typical color of any Asian Indian living back then, which would be somewhat similar to the color seen today. He certainly was not white and certainly not black, as some (on other sites) have suggested (or hoped):

http://www.essaysbyekowa.com/Black%20Buddha.htm

Although, it is possible that he may have been more toward a medium to dark brown, since he spent much time outdoors in meditation and teaching and the sun would certainly darken the color a little. The following image may not be that far off:

Image

But most importantly, the color is meaningless and the Buddha was perhaps the first known religious teacher to teach against slavery, caste, racism, and nationalism.
Image




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Kim OHara
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Re: Buddha's skin colour

Postby Kim OHara » Sat Jul 10, 2010 3:33 am

:goodpost:
Even more succinctly:
The Buddha did not care about skin colour and neither should we.
:namaste:
Kim

Kenshou
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Re: Buddha's skin colour

Postby Kenshou » Sat Jul 10, 2010 3:41 am

Yerp, probably fairly brownish. Okie dokie.

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Re: Buddha's skin colour

Postby Sanghamitta » Sat Jul 10, 2010 8:54 am

The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

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Annapurna
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Re: Buddha's skin colour

Postby Annapurna » Sat Jul 10, 2010 9:59 am

http://www.schmuckzauberei.blogspot.com/

vesuyul
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Re: Buddha's skin colour

Postby vesuyul » Sun Jan 16, 2011 2:56 am

The 32 marks of a great man are a result of the bodhisattva's extensive and perfected trainings in the fields of parami. Among them, the Buddha had 40 teeth, was extremely tall, hands which reached the knees without bending etc.

I had seen one such person whose hands reached up to his knees without bending his body.....and he looked in great proportion, nothing strange at all.

Some of the Buddha's disciples too had some of these marks.....as a result of training as well...

These marks are not some fictional thing to embellish the life story of the Buddha....maybe they have been from brahmanical times, but they are real. We should keep an open mind.....meditate and see for ourselves whether these things are true. Some realised masters have talked about these marks as well.

alan
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Re: Buddha's skin colour

Postby alan » Mon Jan 17, 2011 4:20 am

Black, brown, light, dark. So What?
Did he have a big nose? It doesn't matter.
Find joy in your practice, and continue to learn. That should be your focus.

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tiltbillings
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Re: Buddha's skin colour

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jan 17, 2011 6:13 am


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tiltbillings
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Re: Buddha's skin colour

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jan 17, 2011 6:16 am


PeterB
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Re: Buddha's skin colour

Postby PeterB » Mon Jan 17, 2011 8:25 am


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Kusala
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Re: Buddha's skin colour

Postby Kusala » Sun Jan 23, 2011 11:35 am

Image

"He, the Blessed One, is indeed the Noble Lord, the Perfectly Enlightened One;
He is impeccable in conduct and understanding, the Serene One, the Knower of the Worlds;
He trains perfectly those who wish to be trained; he is Teacher of gods and men; he is Awake and Holy. "

--------------------------------------------
"The Dhamma is well-expounded by the Blessed One,
Apparent here and now, timeless, encouraging investigation,
Leading to liberation, to be experienced individually by the wise. "

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texastheravadin
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Re: Buddha's skin colour

Postby texastheravadin » Sun Jan 23, 2011 3:08 pm

Yeah, I would kind of imagine Buddha being lighter skinned like these pictures, just because that's been my impression of most people I've met/seen from Northern India. Of course that's just speculation, India is a huge and diverse country nowadays, what to speak of 2,600 years ago. Also, it seems that in ancient times, people equated lighter or more "golden" skin hue as being a mark of nobility. I am no expert on Indian culture, not by a long shot, but my best friend in high school was from Mumbai. We used to watch Indian TV programs and Bollywood flicks, and I couldn't help but notice how almost all of the major stars were light-skinned...very rarely did I see anyone with a darker complexion.

The only details I seem to recall being specifically canonical is that he was tall, well-built and very handsome. Being a warrior-noble for the first 29 years of his life, he probably participated in athletics, and walking everywhere (not to mention being a one-mealer) doubtlessly helped him stay physically fit. One thing I do find interesting is the depictions of him having hair...I have read that he would have had a shaven head, as all other members of his Sangha. Someone else on this forum no doubt knows the origin of the depiction we commonly see today of the Buddha with a top-knot and curly hair - maybe Greco-Roman?

:anjali:

Josh
"Indeed, the Blessed One is worthy and rightly self-awakened, consummate in knowledge & conduct, well-gone, an expert with regard to the world, unexcelled as a trainer for those people fit to be tamed, the Teacher of divine & human beings, awakened, blessed." — AN 11.12

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Khalil Bodhi
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Re: Buddha's skin colour

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Sun Jan 23, 2011 3:29 pm

No offence to anyone but I don't see how this kind of speculation is anything but harmful.
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

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