In many Chinese Buddhist temples, there are images of 500 Luohans. Who are they?

发布日期:2019-08-27   字体大小:   

In ancient India, the figures “500”, “84,000”, etc. were often used to indicate multitudes, just as the ancient Chinese were in the habit of using 3 to 9 denote large numbers. 500 bhikkhus, 500 disciples and 500 arahats frequently appeared in the Buddhist canons. Frequent as they were, they do not mean definite figures. Along with the veneration to the Sixteen Arahats, however, the images of 500 Luohans, too, began to appear in paintings and sculptures during the period of the Five Dynasties, and before long Halls of 500 Luohans were built in a number of temples. Subsequently, the 500 Luohans were given names without any basis. With regard to the statues of 500 Luohans appearing in many temples in recent times, many of them were created out of craftsmen’s imagination, or adapted from fairy tales. So they appeared grotesque, and inconsistent with the dignified posture requested by Vinaya, which should be duly upheld by the Buddha’s disciples. (From Essentials of Buddhism: Questions and Answers)

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