JACQUES-EDOUARD BERGER FOUNDATION:World Art Treasures

Here the Buddha, followed by his disciples, is obliged to cross a river. He lacks the fare to pay the boatman, so - according to the classical Lalita - he spreads out his coat and has the twelve disciples cross over on it. The Indian translation, thus a less classical version, has the Buddha saying "Look at that fish, catch it and give it to the boatman, it will be more than enough," for, the story goes, there was a ring in it. The silk route, and in particular encounters with the Nestorians (Christian community of Iraq, Iran, and Malabar, India), provided bridges between the various versions: in this more fantastic version - since time immemorial, the Indonesians enjoyed fantasy - the Buddha flies across the river.
The episode is an important one, occurring at a time when the Buddha is about to be reborn, this time to the Word, at Sarnath: the emergence of the Law at Sarnath. The river crossing, considered an initiatory rite in all the religions of the world, is always associated with the Buddha's renaissance, that is with his last birth, namely unto the Word.


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