Bronze Maitreya Bodhisattva Bangasayusang
Korea’s Gilt Bronze Maitreya Bodhisattva Bangasayusang
|National Treasures 83|
|Name of Cultural Properties|
(Gilt-bronze maitreya in meditation)
|Buyeo National Museum. San16-1, Dongnam-ri, Buyeo-eup, Buyeo-gun, Chungcheongnam-do. S.KOREA|
|Three Kingdoms Period|
A Bodhisattva is the symbol of compassion who seeks enlightenment while also trying to save all sentient beings by spreading the Buddha’s teachings. The Maitreya Bodhisattva is also referred to as the Ilsaengpoch’ (一生補處; Eka-jati-prati-baddha) Bodhisattva, meaning that the Matireya Bodhisattva will be the next Buddha after the Shakyamuni Buddha.
According to the Mirukhasaengkyong sutra(彌勒下生經) and the Kwanmirukposal Sangsaengtosolch’onkyong sutra(觀彌勒菩薩 上生兜率天經), the Maitreya Bodhisattva was born in Varanasi in southern India to a Brahman family. He received the teachings from the Shakyamuni Buddha who predicted that he would become the next Buddha. The Maitreya Bodhisattva then ascended to Tusita Heaven where he now teaches the Dharma to the Gods residing there. Tusita Heaven refers to a heaven of full knowledge and satisfaction, where no greed or worldly desires exist. The Gods there have perfect knowledge(吾唯知足)and do not need materials or external objects to be satisfied.
According to tradition, the Matireya Bodhisattva will return to the Saba(secular) world 5 670 000 000 years after the death of the Shakyamuni Buddha. He will attain Buddhahood under the Naga-puspa(dragon-flower) tree in a lotus garden(華林園) and will save all sentient beings with 3 Dharma Talks. The Maitreya Bodhisattva is the epitomy of compassion in Mahayana Buddhism and was the one predicted to be the future Buddha by the Shakyamuni Buddha himself.
The Maitreya Bodhisattva represents a very important figure in Buddhism. It is believed that if one dilligently cultivates one’s virtues in this lifetime, one will be reborn into Tusita Heaven where he/she will meet the Maitreya Bodhisattva. Furthermore he/she will also be present at the Maitreya Bodhisattva’s first Dharma Talk after his enlightenment and attain enlightenment himself. Hence the tradition of worshipping the Maitreya, Amitab ha and Avalokitesvara Bodhisattvas remains strong among the Buddhist populace even today.