Acarya Bhavaviveka Converts a Nonbeliever to Buddhism
One of the Previous Incarnations of the Panchen Lama
Artist/maker unknown, Sino-Tibetan
This painting comes from a set of thirteen depicting the incarnations of the Panchen Lama (second only to the Dalai Lama in authority). This image highlights Acharya Bhavaviveka, the founder of an influential school of Buddhist philosophy. He wears a peaked cap with golden rings that represent his mastery of different Buddhist teachings and reaches out his hand to a long-haired nonbeliever who is having his head shaved in preparation for becoming a Buddhist monk. On the roof sits Bhavaviveka's teacher, Nagarjuna, a famous Indian scholar identifiable by the snakes around his head. The fierce deities Vajrapani and Mahakala dance in flame-halos on the right. The inscription perfectly describes the action in the painting: "After studying under Nagarjuna, Bhavaviveka converted nonbelievers in the south, envisioned Vajrapani, and served Mahakala."