What Is the Meaning of Resting Buddha?

What Is the Meaning of Resting Buddha?

What Is the Meaning of Resting Buddha?

The meaning of the resting Buddha is to symbolize peace.

The posture of the body is one that represents having achieved enlightenment and freedom from all suffering.

For Buddhists, it can be a way to look at what they should strive for in their lives. 

Resting Buddhas are often found in temples or other sacred spaces where they act as symbols of peace throughout the world.

It also reflects Buddhist teaching that life should be spent meditating on wisdom instead of doing anything else because everything else leads to suffering while meditation leads to enlightenment which leads to freedom from all suffering.

The reclining Buddha is an iconographic representation of the Buddha lying down during the moment of his Mahaparinirvana.

It is one of the popular iconographic patterns in Buddhism as they represent the historical Shakyamuni Buddha during his last moments of illness.

With reclining Buddha statues, the Buddha is seen lying on the right side while his head is supported by his right hand.

This particular pattern of posture in the Buddha's life seems to have originated at the same time as the other symbols and images of the Buddha, most notably in the Greek influenced Gandharan period Buddhist arts and have been followed by many other regions in their Buddhist art to represent one of the pivotal moments of the Buddha's life.

This particular position of the Buddha is better known as the mahaparinirvanasana in Buddhism. 

Buddha is said to have known that his death was approaching while in this position, the Buddha asked his disciples to make a couch for him in a bush to make it easy for him to lie down.

Although he had attained enlightenment and became the Buddha, as a human being, the Buddha had to leave his physical appearance.

This moment is believed to have taken place in Kushinagara in India when he was eighty years old. Therefore this physical demise of the awakened world is termed as Mahaparinirvana, the state beyond Nirvana.

The reclining Buddha statues are not supposed to induce the state of sadness to the followers but rather the reclining Buddha should be taken as an object of encouragement that all beings have the potential to be awakened or enlightened and release themselves from the suffering which is characterized by the cycle of rebirth. 

The serene and smiling expression of the Buddha in reclining Buddha statue portray the compassion and calmness that comes with the enlightenment.

There are many iconic reclining Buddha statues all over the Buddhist nations like Chaukhtatgyi Paya in Burma, Dambulla in Sri Lanka, Wat Pho in Thailand, Monolithic Buddha in Cambodia and many more. These reclining Buddhas are taken as the objects of great importance both in religious as well as tourism point of view.

What Does Resting Buddha Mean?

A reclining Buddha is an image that represents Buddha lying down and is a major iconographic theme in Buddhist art.

It represents the historical Buddha during his last illness, about to enter the parinirvana. After the Buddha's death, his followers decide to build a statue of him lying down.

Buddha Sculpture FAQs

What Does The Female Buddha Symbolize?

She is the feminine counterpart of the bodhisattva (“buddha-to-be”) Avalokiteshvara.

She symbolizes purity and is often represented standing at the right hand of her consort, Avalokiteshvara, or seated with legs crossed, holding a full-blown lotus.

What Are The 5 Rules Of Buddhism?

The five moral precepts to refrain from taking life, ie killing any living creature. to refrain from taking what is not freely given, ie theft. to refrain from misuse of the senses or sexual misconduct, ie overindulgence in sex or committing sexual offences. to refrain from wrong speech, ie lying or gossiping.

How Do I Choose A Buddha Statue?

Which Buddha Statue to Choose Meditation Buddha: The Buddha sits in the Lotus position with both hands in his lap, face up and eyes closed.

Protection Buddha: The Buddha may be sitting or standing with a raised right hand. Happy Buddha: Usually depicted sitting and smiling with a rounded belly and bald head.

Which Way Should A Buddha Statue Be Placed?

Buddha is a symbol of enlightenment, balance and inner peace. By placing an image or statue of a Buddha in the North-East direction, we can stimulate the high powered energy of this corner.

The North-East zone is also ruled by water energy, and hence the Buddha statue can be used in combination with the water element.

What Is The Difference Between Buddha Statues?


Buddha statues are more than a physical depiction of Buddha, they all have meaning.

Each pose, posture, expression and hand gesture is significant to the life of Buddha.

There are over 100 different poses that illustrate the life of Buddha, also called an asana or attitude, and hand gestures are referred to as a Mudra.

The Reclining Buddha And His Various Other Depictions In Art

On Wednesday, May 26 — Buddha Jayanti, Buddha Purnima, or Vesak — India’s largest statue of the Reclining Buddha was to have been installed at the Buddha International Welfare Mission temple in Bodh Gaya.

The ceremony has been put off due to Covid-19 restrictions, but the giant 100-foot fibreglass statue, built over three months by a team of 22 artisans in Kolkata, remains a fascinating work of art, as much for its size as for the way The Buddha has been depicted.

The Reclining Buddha

A reclining Buddha statue or image represents The Buddha during his last illness, about to enter Parinirvana, the stage of great salvation after death that can only be attained by enlightened souls.

The Buddha’s death came when he was 80 years old, in a state of meditation, in Kushinagar in eastern Uttar Pradesh, close to the state’s border with Bihar.

Iconographic Representation

Statues and images of the Reclining Buddha show him lying on his right side, his head resting on a cushion or on his right elbow.

It is a popular iconographic depiction in Buddhism, and is meant to show that all beings have the potential to be awakened and be released from the cycle of death and rebirth.

The Reclining Buddha was first depicted in Gandhara art, which began in the period between 50 BC and 75 AD, and peaked during the Kushana period from the first to the fifth centuries AD, Dr Manwatkar said.

Prof Panth said that since the Buddha was against idol worship, in the centuries immediately following his parinirvana (483 BC), his representation was through symbols.

As the devotional aspect subsequently entered Buddhist practice, however, iconographic representations of The Buddha began.

Reclining Buddha Outside India

In Sri Lanka and India, the Buddha is mostly shown in sitting postures, while the reclining postures are more prevalent in Thailand and other parts of SouthEast Asia.

The largest Reclining Buddha in the world is the 600-foot Winsein Tawya Buddha built in 1992 in Mawlamyine, Myanmar.

In the late 15th century, a 70-metre statue of the Reclining Buddha was built at the Hindu temple site of Baphuon in Cambodia’s Angkor.

The Bhamala Buddha Parinirvana in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which dates back to the 2nd century AD, is considered the oldest statue of its kind in the world.

There are several statues of the Reclining Buddha in China, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

Reclining Buddha In India

Cave No. 26 of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ajanta contains a 24-foot-long and nine-foot-tall sculpture of the Reclining Buddha, believed to have been carved in the 5th century AD.

Nashik-based restorer and research photographer Prasad Pawar, who has been working for more than two decades to restore the fading artwork of Ajanta digitally, said of the sculpture: “It shows the Buddha reclining on his right side, and behind him are two sala trees. At the base of the sculpture are his begging bowl, a water pitcher and walking stick.

While his disciples are shown sitting in mourning, celestial beings are shown on top, rejoicing in anticipation of the Buddha’s arrival in heaven.”

Kushinagar, where the Buddha actually attained parinirvana, has a 6-metre-long red sandstone monolith statue of the Reclining Buddha inside the Parinirvana Stupa.

Other Depictions Of The Buddha

Elsewhere in India, Prof Panth said, there are a lot of Buddhas in sitting postures, mostly pertaining to his Enlightenment rather than to his demise.

At the Mahabodhi temple, the Buddha is sitting in the bhoomi-sparsha mudra, where his hand is pointing towards the ground.

It symbolises earth as being witness to his enlightenment.

At Sarnath, where the Buddha gave his first sermon, the stone statue has a hand gesture called the dharma-chakra mudra, which signifies preaching.

This is also the most popular depiction in India, along with the Bodhi tree depiction.

Experts say the Buddha is depicted in over a hundred poses around the world. While the Sitting Buddha — most common depiction — is believed to be teaching or meditating, the Standing Buddha signifies rising to teach after reaching nirvana.

The Walking Buddha is either beginning his journey toward enlightenment or returning after giving a sermon. This is the least common of the Buddha postures, and is seen mostly in Thailand.

Prof Panth said the Buddha statues found in South East Asia are an amalgamation of all his various postures and life events, including mahaparinirvana, but not limited to it.

What Do Different Buddhas Mean?

You see Buddha statues everywhere in the Yogi and meditation world. Have you ever wondered: what do different Buddhas mean?

People seem to have specific statues in specific areas, and the different positions the Buddha is in seem significant.

So how and why do they pick their Buddha? Well here’s a little guide for you. Using some of the statues we have in our boutique, we’ll explain the different meanings  of some of the most common Buddha statues.

Resting Buddha:

This Buddha represents the restfulness and tranquility gained through meditation.

You will find this type of Buddha in meditation areas and tranquil gardens.

Sleeping/Lying Down Buddha:

This Buddha is often used to represent journeys and enlightenment. It depicts the Buddha in his last earthly moments, awaiting the journey to Parinirvana, after achieving enlightenment.

The first depiction of the reclining can be found in Wat Pho temple in Bangkok, and is well worth a visit if you are ever travelling!

Medicine Buddha:

You will find this Buddha in places of healing – whether spiritual, physical, or emotional.

You will find this statue in many homes as it is used to improve the wellness of the occupants, and to keep negative energies from the home. His upward facing palm represents stability and unimpeded meditation.

The plant he holds represents the medicines of the world.

This statue is used most often in prayer and meditation rooms as a shrine to recite healing mantras to. Many medicine Buddhas will be depicted with blue skin, and often have Lapis Lazuli stones set into them.

Remember there is massive variety in how the Buddha is depicted, but never worry about using the ‘wrong’ Buddha for the wrong thing/space.

Spiritual statues are more about what they mean to you and your healing journey, rather than a prescriptive item for different functions. What do different Buddhas mean to you?


The reclining Buddha is a common depiction of the Buddha in art. It depicts Siddhartha Gautama, after his enlightenment, sitting or lying down with one hand touching the ground and the other resting at its side.

Different interpretations have been given to this posture but it can be seen as representing either meditation or death.

A statue of the reclining Buddha is often found inside most Buddhist temples because they are believed to bring peace and serenity into that space for people who visit them.

You may also notice many depictions of him on temple grounds outdoors where he is typically depicted sleeping beneath a tree which represents wisdom being born from knowledge due to deep contemplation. 

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