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Acarya Bhavaviveka Converts a Nonbeliever to Buddhism
One of the Previous Incarnations of the Panchen Lama

Artist/maker unknown, Tibetan

Made in Chengde (Jehol), China, Asia

18th century

Color on cloth; cloth mounting

Image: 53 1/4 × 33 1/4 inches (135.3 × 84.5 cm) Frame: 1 3/4 inches × 6 feet 6 1/8 inches × 46 1/4 inches (4.4 × 198.4 × 117.5 cm)

Curatorial Department:
South Asian Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Natacha Rambova, 1959

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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."