Wednesday, 16 February 2011

18 LOHANS 阿羅漢

In Buddhism, a Lohan or an Arhat is a Buddhist who has reached the highest state of peace and enlightenment.  The famed Eighteen Lohans 阿羅漢 were men who had   realized the truth of non-self, and that all is a composite of the five aggregates dependent on other phenomena, originally empty and subject to impermanence.  Each had eradicated all passions, desires, and attachments to worldly things.  
Below are pictures of the statues of the 18 Lohans which I snapped at the See Hock Yeen Temple during my visit there.  I have also included brief descriptions of each of the Lohans.

1. Calico Bag Lohan:
This Lohan is compassionate and accommodating, regardless of the events and gossips of the outside world. He is distinguished by the sack he carries and is always joyful and untroubled.
2. Raised Pagoda Lohan:
This Lohan carries a special pagoda in memory of his Master, Lord Buddha, and this signifies the mind of the Buddha being always with him forever and ever. The pagoda symbolizes the mind of the awakened one. Holding the pagoda is a depiction of attainment. Welcoming this Lohan to ones house house signifies inviting the presence of the holy Buddha's mind.
3. Raised hand Lohan:
This Lohan is depicted with both his arms raised.  He is said to like meditating in the half-lotus style.
Upon waking up, he would raise his both arms, let out a deep breath, and stretch himself, hence he is named Raised Hand Lohan.  
4. Long-Eyebrow Lohan:
This Lohan was said to have been born with two long white eyebrows. At birth, his father was told that the Lord Buddha also has two long eyebrows, therefore his son had the look of the Buddha in him. Consequently, he was sent by his father to a monastery to become a monk, eventually attaining enlightenment. This Lohan has boundless virtues and wisdom.  
5. Scratched Ear Lohan:
This Lohan is credited with a sharp sense of hearing. He is also an eloquent speaker and debater. He is often depicted scratching his ear which is a gesture symbolizing the purification of the sense of hearing in search for peace and quiet. 
6. Elephant Riding Lohan:

To the Buddhist, the elephant is a sacred animal.  The Lohan riding the elephant  is exceptionally auspicious as it brings excellent descendents luck. The elephant also brings victory over evil forces.

7.  Raised Bowl Lohan:

This Lohan was a Buddhist monk, who was famous for asking for alms with a raised bowl. He accepts almsgiving without discrimination, thereby according divine merits to the almoners.  His begging bowl is a powerful symbol of humility and it signifies that one may be poor materially but as long as one is rich spiritually, then one will attain eternal happiness.

8.  Deer-Sitting Lohan:
This Lohan was from a noble family and was once once a powerful government official highly trusted by his king who became a Buddhist monk living in a monastery deep in the mountains. He returned to the palace riding a deer and recognizing him, the royal guards ran to tell the king who begged him to return. Instead, the monk successfully advised the royal ruler to abdicate and return to the monastery with him. The Lohan on a deer signifies spiritual awakening which is a very auspicious sign.

 9. Laughing Lohan:

The Laughing Lohan was known as an excellent preacher. He was a well-known public speaker renowned for his complete mastery of Buddhist doctrines. When asked to define happiness, he replied that it was experienced through the five senses. When asked what was bliss, he described it as joy coming from deep within, akin to feeling Buddha's blessings in his heart. He is always seen with a happy and smiling face, forever joyful and content. Inviting him in the home brings everlasting happiness and his big laughter dispels all obstacles and unhappiness.

 10. Taming Dragon Lohan:

This Lohan is called the Mahakassapa is one of the ten great disciples of the Buddha. He is called Taming Dragon Lohan for a brave act he performed. He had subdued a dragon which had been terrorising the Buddhists and monasteries, stealing the Buddhist sutras. 

 11. Meditating Lohan:

This Lohan was originally a warrior famed for his immense strength. He gave up a life of fighting and killing to meditate and became a monk, finally attaining enlightenment. During his meditation, he was engrossed in deep thoughts, searching for the truth of the universe. He is sometimes portrayed as a teacher holding a Buddhist rosary with a small boy beside him. His presence in the home enhances the serenity of the home.
12. Doorman Lohan

When this Lohan went alms-begging, he would bang on people's doors. One time he did that, the old and rotten door fell apart, and he had to apologize to the owner of the house. So he was given a tin staff by Buddha who told him, "When you go alms-begging, you don't have to bang on people's doors any more. Just tap this staff. If the people inside want to to give you alms, they will come out." The tin staff had several rings on it and made a light noise when tapped. The tin staff has become the symbol of this Lohan.
13. Thinking Lohan:
This Lohan was said to have been born during a lunar eclipse and given the name Rahula, the constellation that caused the phenomenon. He was the youngest and one of the Buddha's ten favorite disciples, was well-known for his meditative power. He is foremost in tolerating insults and privately pursuing his practice. It is believed that he became omnipotent and omniscient during meditation.  Having this Lohan at home presence brings enormous blessings from his meditation.
14. Taming Tiger Lohan:
This Lohan was a general who because of his devotion to Buddhism, which forbids killing, was ordered by the king to become a monk. He thrived in his cultivation of the mind and compassion and ultimately overcame the ferocious tiger in him, i.e. the desire, greed, anger and hatred that existed in his mind.
15. Plantain Lohan:
According to legend, this Lohan was born during a heavy downpour, and thus was named Vanavasin, which means "rain" in Sanskrit. Later on he became3 enlightened after becoming a Buddhist monk and meditating under a plantain tree (banana tree) , hence he is named the Plantain Lohan. His mind is always at peace and undisturbed by worries.
16. Laughing Lion Lohan:
This Lohan used to be a lion hunter, but gave up killing after seeing the light. He is usually depicted riding a lion or with a baby lion alongside him.  This Lohan symbolizes the invincible might of the principles of Buddhist thoughts - compassion and wisdom. The lion also holds a powerful place in feng shui lore as it is regarded as the most powerful of protector against outside disturbances to your peace. He once imparted his teaching to the highly regarded Ananda (the most learned disciple), and encouraged him to place equal importance on both practice and understanding of the Dharma during the cultivation toward Buddhahood.
17. Overseas Lohan:
This Lohan crossed the river and sailed far and wide spreading Buddha's teachings. Climbing mountains and fording streams for the deliverance of humanity.  His presence in the home is highly revered by the Chinese, who also see him as the Great Master of martial arts. In China, he is known as Damo, the founder of Chinese Chan Buddhism, the founder of the Shaolin (Kung Fu) School, and also the father of Japanese Zen Buddhism.

18. Open Heart Lohan:
This Lohan was once the crown prince of a kingdom who defeated a rebellion led by his younger brother.  He later renounced the throne and embraced a life dedicated to Buddha's teachings. The statue of this Buddha shows an image of the Buddha on his chest.


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