The increasing complexity of imagery and iconographic detail in late Pala art paralleled the growing popularity of Esoteric Buddhism in eastern India. Khasarpana Lokeshvara, the Esoteric form of the immensely popular bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokiteshvara, was created by the absorption of Hindu elements into Buddhism and appears frequently in Pala art. In this stela, the youthful, bejeweled figure is seated on a double-lotus throne, surrounded by lotus blossoms and the deity’s four standard attendants: the goddesses Tara and Bhrikuti to the left and right of the bodhisattva’s knees; and, on the base, the needle-nosed Sucimukha, who imbibes the nectar of grace, at the left rear, and the plump, fearsome Hayagriva at the right front. In addition, the princely Sudhanakumara, who carries a book under his left arm, is shown at the front left of the base, while two tiny figures of the donor couple are shown kneeling behind Hayagriva. Due to damage to the upper part of the stela, only one remains from the figures of the five jina Buddhas, the rulers of the Buddhist universe. The elegant proportions, attenuated waistline, richly carved surface decoration, complex iconography, and almost feminine poise of the bodhisattva are hallmarks of the mature Pala style.
(Ben Heller, Inc., New York);
purchased by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, 1970.