the many-splendoured delights of Ajanta compiled by Subramanian Swaminathan
The subjects of the paintings are
mostly from the jataka-s, Buddhist mythological stories of the previous
lives of the Master.
a scene from the story of King
Shibi, who offered his own flesh to
save a pigeon
of the Buddha
Episodes from the life of the Buddha
form the next important theme.
Gautama was meditating under the
Bodhi tree to attain enlightenment. Mara, the Evil Spirit, made many attempts
to dislodge Gautama from His resolve. Mara sent his three most beautiful
daughters to distract Him. This failed. Then Mara summoned his demons to
dislodge Gautama. But Gautama was calm and unmoved.
On the way to her parent's house
Mayadevi gave birth to Siddharta in Lumbini grove of shaala trees.
Brahma, Indra and other gods descended to pay their respects to the new-born.
Mara's Episode, Cave 1
Maya Devi giving birth to Siddharta, Cave 2
There are a few compositions of divinities,
but not part of any story.
A few of the solo-pictures do not
seem to have any religious import.
Religious - Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, Cave 1
Secular - Lady doing her make-up, Cave 17
The paintings in the last category
are decorative and secular. They fill up all the available space
on the ceilings pillars, etc.