On the occasion of the 2500th anniversary of Buddha’s Parinirvana, the Buddha Jayanti Celebrations Committee (of which Shri Jawaharlal Nehru and Dr. S. Radhakrishnan were the Honorary Chairman and Chairman respectively) decided that two books should be brought out which would serve as companion publications. The first, 2500 Years of Buddhism, which was issued on the 24th May, 1956, is intended to be a handy compendious reference book on Buddhism in all its important aspects. The second publication now being issued under the title, The Way of the Buddha, has been designed as an album narrating in pictures the story of the life of Buddha and the evolution and spread of Buddhism.
The album is divided into seven sections. The first section gives the background against which the life and teachings of Buddha have to be viewed. In this section, with the help of select material an attempt is made to show how the fundamental principles of Buddha’s teachings were rooted in the philosophic and spiritual life of India which preceded his birth. The second section deals with the life of Buddha until he attained enlightenment, and the third depicts his mission. The fourth section describes how Buddhism spread in India, more especially under Asoka and Kaniska, and found fitting artistic expression in the Gupta period. The fifth section presents the Buddhist pantheon. The sixth section unfolds the story of the spread of Buddhism in Asia. The seventh and the final section seeks to explain how the basic principles of Buddha’s teachings gradually permeated Indian life and how through the teachings of a succession of great men who came after him the Way of the Buddha became an integral part of the life and thought in this country.
In each section, as far as possible, the best specimens of art from different countries, but principally from India, depicting a particular theme, have been grouped together. The themes have been arranged chronologically, and within the group for each theme the arrangement has been made on the basis of the chronology of the art. This arrangement would not only enable the reader to follow the story in pictures chronologically, but would also give him a comparative idea of the evolution of the varied artistic expression in India and in other countries.
The colour illustrations reproduced will, it is hoped, give a fair idea of the excellence in colour of Buddhist art.
At the beginning of each section a series of select quotations from the original Pali and Sanskrit texts have been given, with their translations in English. These quotations have a direct bearing upon the pictorial material that follows and have been arranged accordingly. They are intended to give the reader the textual background to serve as an introduction to the pictorial story. It is hoped that even if read by themselves they would give the quintessence of the entire story as presented in this book.
The notes at the end begin with brief information about each picture which should serve as a guide to the student of art. Separate paragraphs on a picture or a group of pictures have been added, which read independently, tell in words the whole story. Having regard to the general concept of the book, it was felt that the most appropriate introduction to it could be through the Words of Gandhiji. The book therefore begins with Gandhiji’s tribute to Buddha.
From the Jacket:
This album represents the origin of Indian culture, the development of Buddhism and permanent influence, which Buddhism has exerted upon India's cultural history. It shows how Buddhism is even today a vital force in the life of the Indian people.
THE WAY OF THE BUDDHA is published as a companion volume to the book 2500 Years of Buddhism. It has been designed as an album narrating in pictures the life-story of the Buddha and the growth and spread of Buddhism. With the help of illustrations representing the best specimens of art from India and abroad, the volume has been divided into seven sections.
The illustrations have been arranged theme wise and on a chronological basis.
Each section begins with a series of select quotations from the original Pali and Sanskrit texts, with their translations in English. These quotations have a direct bearing upon the pictorial material that follows and would serve as a textual introductory background.
The notes at the end of the volume would enable the reader to understand better and appreciate the illustrative matter. They give necessary information about each picture which would serve as a guide to the student of art. Separate photographs, at appropriate places, have been added about a picture or a group of pictures which, read independently and also give in words the whole story.
Having regard to the general concept of the book, it was felt that the most appropriate introduction to it would be through the words of Gandhiji. The book, therefore, begins with Gandhiji's tribute to the Buddha.
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