Bodhisattva Sadāprarudita in search for the Perfection of Wisdom

There are three picture narratives in the Tabo Main Temple, Sudhana's Pilgrimage and the Life of the Buddha in the Main Hall and the story of Sadāprarudita in search for the Perfection of Wisdom in the Ambulatory. The latter story resisted identification until recently. The following narrates the identification of the story, while the story itself accompanies the pictures in the ◊ Sadāprarudita gallery.

More than ten years ago Renate Ponweiser started to work on the narrative for her MA thesis (Magister). However, although she has read all Buddhist stories she got hold of since then the source for the narrative escaped her, probably because it is found at the end of an otherwise purely a doctrinal text. In the end, she had to finish her MA with an unidentified narrative and a summary of her study is now in print (see the literature below).

While I was teaching at UC-Berkeley 2004-2005 I met Jinah Kim, who worked on Indian and Nepalese Buddhist manuscript illuminations for her PhD. One of her discoveries she told me off at another visit in spring 2006 was, that a book cover depicts scenes of a story taken from the last chapters of the Aṣṭasāhasrikāprajñāpāramitā, namely the story of Sadāprarudita in search of the Perfection of Wisdom.

Only when I narrated Jinah's discoveries to Eva Allinger it occurred to me to check if the Tabo mural does not depict the story, and indeed it does. The rather extensive narrative, following the convention of the other narrative paintings at Tabo, is presented in a picture gallery accompanied by quotations from Edward Conze's translation of the Aṣṭasāhasrikāprajñāpāramitā.

  • Conze, Edward. Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā, the Perfection of Wisdom in eight thousand slokas. Bibliotheca indica, issue no. 1578, work no. 284. Calcutta: Asiatic Society, 1958.
  • Kim, Jinah. 2008. Iconography and Text: The Visual Narrative of the Buddhist Book-cult in the manuscript of the Aṣṭasāhasrika Prajñāpāramitā sūtra. In Kalādarpaṇa: The Mirror of Indian Art, edited by Arundhati Banerji, and Devangana Desai. New Delhi: Aryan Books International. 250-68.
  • Ponweiser, Renate. "Ein Zyklus nichtidentifizierter, erzählender Malereien im Umgang der Apsis in Tabo (Himachal Padesh)." Diplomarbeit, Universität Wien, 2004.
  • Ponweiser, Renate. "A hitherto unidentified narrative composition in the Ambulatory of the Cella in the Main Temple at Tabo (Himachal Pradesh)." In Text, Image and Song in Transdisciplinary Dialogue. PIATS 2003: Tibetan Studies: Proceedings of the Tenth Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, Oxford 2003, Volume 10/7, edited by Deborah Klimburg-Salter, Kurt Tropper, and Christian Jahoda, 151–66. Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2007.