In this fourth Series of Our History we will explore how Buddhism began to spread worldwide and how we have been misled by disinformation, some spread by interested elements and some by ignorance. Let us begin, at the very beginning.
The Buddha was not deified for well over four centuries after his attainment of his nirwan (nirvana) but many iconic representations of the Buddha had taken hold of his devotees imagination. The first picture above shows multitudes of his followers including many wild animals worshiping The Buddha in the form of The Wheel of Life.
The second picture above shows the Buddha was being worshipped also in the iconic form of The Bodhi Tree, ficus religiosa, under which the Buddha had meditated and attained Enlightenment. Here also, we can see the devotees included some wild animals.
The third illustration shows The Buddha being worshipped as The Sakya Singha or the Lion of the Sakyas and atop the Wheel of Life described above. It is a well established fact that Emperor Ashok had personally favoured the Lion of the Sakyas image as the object of his devotion.
The above first three images are from Sanchi and one constant feature of these images is that all worshippers bear Mongolian features. At this precise moment in history we know Emperor Ashok had sent his soldiers turned missionaries to the Far East and as a proof we have The Lion of the Sakyas and The Wheel of Life image, Fourth image above, from Thailand. Obviously, the monk missionaries planted the image there where they settled down.
Here we will pause and explain that Bharat, that is India, has adopted The Wheel of Life and The Lion of the Sakyas above, as its National Emblems but they have not mentioned if these icons are adopted to honour The Buddha, the Prince of the Sakyas.
The fifth picture above is from Cambodia which shows the churning of the cosmic oceans by the gods and the demons. This is an episode from Bisnu Puran (Visnu Purana) and though little is known in India this depiction of Kurmi Awtar (Avatara) is never seen anywhere in India.