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Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara in the Form of Khasarpana Lokeshvara

Late 11th-early 12th century

India, Bengal

Phyllite

H. 54 3/4 x W. 30 x D. 13 in. (139.1 x 76.2 x 33.02 cm)

Asia Society, New York: Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, 1979.39


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This large stone image of the Khasarpana, or "Sky-Gliding" form of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, once decorated an architectural niche. He conforms precisely to his description in Buddhist textual sources: he is youthful, peaceful, smiling, has two arms, and wears his hair in a tall, matted coiffure. He demonstrates his compassion for all living beings by holding his right hand in the gift-bestowal gesture above a "hungry ghost." Because of lustful and greedy acts in former lives, hungry ghosts are doomed to an existence in which they suffer from insatiable hunger, but they have tiny mouths and narrow necks and can't satisfy their bloated stomachs. Avalokiteshvara feeds a hungry ghost who kneels beneath him (on the far left of the pedestal) with drops of nectar which flow from his fingers.