'(The Blog) With No Name', perhaps best described as a stream of notes and thoughts - 'remembered, recovered and (sometimes) invented'.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Buddha, Jealous?

This post is not quite about the Buddha (nor does it concern the present Bong chief for that matter); it is about a statue of the Master, His 'but' to use an Urdu/Persian word meaning statue/idol (which apparently derives from 'Buddha')! And yes, this post IS also about what turns one green!

Check out this Japanese story . To those who find the preliminaries therein a little too long: it has a very interesting twist in the end.

The 'Daibutsu of Kamakura' featured in the above story is a very real bronze monument; and it has actually turned green (groan!) - over the centuries. And to be precise, the statue *does not* show the historical Buddha. It represents the Bodhisatva Amitabha/Amida (Wikipedia). Aside: this story appeared, a very long time back, in 'Tinkle', the desi Children's magazine.

The story of the Daibutsu given in the above-linked page (which has links to many other Japanese stories as well) was a retelling by American orientalist William Griffis (1843-1928). Griffis appears to have known Japan and its culture in depth and wrote extensively about them. But his relationship to Japan appears a tad like that of Macaulay to India (in the 'White Man's Burden' tradition). Griffis hailed from a solid 19th century American Christian background - and he was deeply into religious preaching. And his times were those in which (for instance) the Roget's Thesaurus used to refer to 'Mahomet' and 'Bouda' (not sure about the spelling of the latter) as 'false prophets'. So the flavor of irreverence that permeates the retelling (even the title: "The IDOL and the Whale") might have sprung from the reteller's background. Of course, it is also possible the original Jap version was just that way 'only' and Griffis was merely being a faithful translator. Either way, 'iste bunu seviyorum'!


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