In 1894, a sculpture known as ‘Fasting Buddha’ was excavated by Colonel HA Dean at Sikri, Peshawar in Pakistan. The idol is a depiction of Siddhartha also known as Gautam Buddha, who once meditated to attain his epitome of self realisation. In the process, he fasted for 49 days which took a toll on his body and reduced him to a veritable skeleton.
The artistry of the sculpture lies in the detailing of the veins which run through the deeply anaemic torso. The emaciated face with swanky eyes and the silhouette of the neck has been chiseled with utmost precision. The caved-in stomach gives the idol a skeletal appearance.
The idol which is said to belong to 3rd or 5th century which was donated to the Lahore museum unfortunately isn’t being maintained properly with a couple of fingers being damaged in 2014. In Buddhism, one can only attain higher consciousness by emancipating themselves from earthly limitations which includes the physical self. The sculpture in Sikri is an embodiment of this ideology.