12th Century: Release from All Sorrows


Detail of the Manjushri Mandala at the Temple of the Great Translator, Nako, late eleventh to early twelfth century.

The monumental paintings that have survived in the Guge caves and temple-monasteries guide the meditating monk, also the casual visitor, through overlapping universes. They follow an iconographic program set out in detail in Sanskrit texts known as the Tantras of Practice. At the center of many of the artistic sequences (in Guge as in the famous monastery of Tabo in the Spiti Valley in the Indian Himalayas) is the Buddha of Intense Light, Vairocana, one of a series of three, or five, or thirty-seven, or even a thousand Buddhas and other divine beings who, worshiped together, can release the disciplined seeker from all sorrow. (source)

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