Buddha's First Sermon at Sarnath

Date: 2nd century

Culture: Pakistan (ancient region of Gandhara)

Medium: Gray schist

Dimensions: H. 11 1/4 in. (28.6 cm); W. 12 3/4 in. (32.4 cm)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Gift of Daniel Slott, 1980

Accession Number: 1980.527.4


The Buddha is shown teaching the first sermon to five ascetics who become monks; in this way, he establishes the monastic order. The Buddha reaches down to set in motion the wheel of the law—a well-established symbol of Buddhist teaching, or dharma. To the Buddha's upper right stands the protective deity Vajrapani holding a vajra (thunderbolt).