Acrylic/Mixed media on stretched canvas 24” X24.”
According to legends, when the Buddha died, his body was cremated in a sandalwood pyre, and his left canine tooth was retrieved from the funeral pyre and was kept in the city of Dantapuri (present-day Puri in Orissa). A belief grew that whoever possessed the Sacred Tooth Relic had a divine right to rule that land and several wars were fought to take possession of the relic. Finally, the relic was smuggled out of India, to prevent it being destroyed, and landed in Sri Lanka; it is said that Sri Lanka was chosen as the new home for the tooth relic because Lord Buddha had declared that his religion would be safe in Sri Lanka for 2,500 years.
Aside from this specific tooth relic, there are four different places reputed to each contain a tooth of the Buddha. The Buddha Relic Tooth Temple in Chinatown is one of them and is one of the popular structures of sanctity in Singapore. One of the main structures is that of Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara in Avalokiteśvara Hall. Bodhisattvas are enlightened beings who are destined to become buddhas but postpone that final state to help humanity. The name Avalokiteshvara means “Lord who looks down with compassion.” I have tried to capture an image of the compassionate and merciful bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara.
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