SAARC Special Lecture by Prof. Osmund Bopearachchi

SAARC Cultural Centre in collaboration with the Department of Archaeology, University of Kelaniya concluded a lecture by Professor Osmund Bopearachchi, Emeritus Director of Research, French National Centre for Scientific Research (C.N.R.S.-E.N.S. Paris) on Friday, 28th July 2023 at 10:30 am.

In his lecture titled “Contradictions in the texts and confusions in the iconography: Revisiting the theme of the Great Departure of the Bodhisattva Siddhārtha in the ancient Buddhist art of India and Sri Lanka” Prof. Bopearachchi elaborated on the important events related to the storied life of Gautama Buddha and how they are not homogeneously represented in ancient schools of art in South and Southeast Asia, in large part owing to contradictory versions found in Sanskrit and Pāli texts. In particular, the retelling of the events of the Great Departure of the young prince Siddhārtha gave rise to major confusions, especially among the artists who visualized them. In this talk, Prof. Bopearachchi made an attempt to show that, over time, the texts have been modified and their final versions do not always reflect a dominant shared narrative. The presentation highlighted the native artistic traditions of India, Sri Lanka, and Southeast Asia, with special reference to how the textual narratives that inspired these images created confusion not only among the artists who executed them in ancient times, but also among the art historians who interpreted them in modern times.