Buddha footprint

The world of the Buddha footprint
by Dr. Waldemar C. Sailer

The researcher
Research methodology
Selected texts of the researcher
Publications available
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The Buddha footprint in various coutries
The Buddha footprint in history
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The Buddha
footprint in the Gandhara Room, Lahore Museum - extracted text  

(To obtain details of the full publication, please contact the author

The Gandharan region is not usually associated with Pali texts. However, it is possible to identify the symbols and details found on the Buddha footprint in the Lahore Museum by using data contained in a very early body of literature, some dating 2,500 years earlier, and some later commentarial literature relating to two other periods. The oldest literature recorded oral commentary of 300 years earlier.

This teaching was earlier retained in oral suttas, which are now in printed form. For this article Burmese-Pali, Romanized-Pali, and Thai-Pali publications have been used. A few texts have been discovered recently which use a script once used in the Gandharan region, however, I am unaware of any relating to the data contained in this article.   

These early suttas, first oral and then written, were explained, by a venerable from India (reign of King Mahanama, Sri Lanka, 406 to 428 A.D.). He was born into the Brahmana caste of India, thus he possessed traditional information in respect to human characteristics that are said to be unique or special to certain human beings. He wrote extensive commentaries in Sri Lanka. There are three sets of thirty-two characteristics, several of which relate to the sole of a Buddha and it is the characteristic number of two that clearly links to the wheel (Pali: cakka) on the sole of a Buddha.

The early suttas and their first commentaries were further explained at later dates in sub-commentaries (Pali: tika). This latter strata may have occurred as late as the 13th century A.D.   
Gandharan Buddha footprint, Pakistan - early tradition
Gandharan Buddha Footprint, Pakistan
Early tradition

Reference has been made to the three levels of literature known in the Theravada world. In addition, there is also other non-canonical literature. One such volume is the Pali text Samantabhaddaka written by The Venerable Upatissa during the fifth century A.D., during the reign of King Dhatusena. In this text he discussed Metteyya, the future Buddha, and included a list of 108 auspicious items (Pali: mangala) which may be found on the soles of Metteyya, the future Buddha. 

Tirat Buddha footprint, Pakistan
Tirat Buddha Footprint, Pakistan

A second Pali book, Jinalankara-tika, written by The Venerable Buddharakkhita in Rohana, Sri Lanka, in 1157 A.D., listed another 108 auspicious marks. This included details of the marks found on the sole of Gotama, the present Buddha. 

Mention is made of these two books as I am unsure about whether the soles of Gotama or Metteyya, the future Buddha, are located in the Gandhara Room of the Lahore Museum; however, this is not the main focus of this article. Regardless of which Buddha is represented, the early data relating to the wheel is expected to be identical.

Both books refer to all inclusions on the soles, besides the wheel, as mangala in the Metteyya text and parivara in the Gotama text.

What we see on the Buddha footprint in the Lahore Museum is not referred to within the two texts previously mentioned, the only reference is to the wheel. 

We can identify two main compositional or visual statements on the soles of the Buddha footprint in the Lahore Museum. One is located toward the center and establishes the identity as the footprint of a Buddha, but not of which Buddha.

The second area located towards the heel summarizes the main points of the teaching of the Buddha, be he Gotama or another, taught or proclaimed. This is a visual statement or a symbol of the teaching.  

Nandiyavatta on Gandharan Footprint, Pakistan

2001 Dr. Waldemar C. Sailer. All rights reserved.