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Classroom Activities & Projects

Buddhism and Buddhapada

Level: High school-Grade 11 to 12


For the first centuries after his death, Buddha was represented in art by attributes and symbols - his robe, throne, the bodhi tree under which he attained enlightenment, and his footprints. The adoration of his feet, or Buddhapada became a prominent feature of Buddhist practice.

With your students, examine the stone slab carved with Buddhapada in low relief at the end of the first section 'In the Footsteps of the Divine'. Several Buddhist religious symbols appear on the footprints. In the centre of each foot is the Wheel of the Law, or dharmachakra. The three-pronged triratna at the heel represents the three Jewels of the Buddha's teachings, and includes one of several lotus flowers on the slab. Several swastikas also appear.

Research Topic:
Before the German Nazis appropriated the swastika as a symbol of their movement, it was a universal symbol with positive connotations. Research the swastika as a universal symbol. Find depictions in of swastikas in art from five different ancient cultures.