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Salon Nam Shag (Description of different stages and path to nirvana)

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 6:29 AM
Salon Nam Shag (Description of different stages and path to nirvana) Inscribed Technique: Gouache  Date: Late 19th century A.D.  Accession No.: 14587  Size: 107 cm x 86 cm (with border) 85 cm x 63 cm (painted portion) Acquired in 1927
This is a fortune-telling thanka and as a 'sort of game, 'the game of Rebirth', it is played with dice. Unlike other thankas this thanka is interesting for its subject-matter, which neither depicts a deity nor a monk but a sort of religious game a popular game of the Tibetan people. Though the subject is different the ultimate goal of the game as depicted in this painting, like other thankas is the same, i.e. nirvana or final liberation. Salam Nam Shag actually describes the path (marga) and the successive stages (bhumi) of spiritual progress for attaining nirvana. The game was invented by skyapandita, the great Sanskrit scholar and guru of the Sakya sect in the early 13th century A.D. The thanka shows seven horizontal and seven vertical rows representing seven squares in each row. These squares which symbolically represent the 'board' of the game and cosmic geography illustrate the paths to enlightenment and final liberation.

At the top are shown the figures of Amitayus in Sukhavati heaven, Vajradhara in yab-yum in vairahumkaramudra and Vajrayogini in this thanka, devaloka, daityaloka, manusyaloka, nagaloka, paSuloka and naraka have been illustrated with representations of deities, arhats. Sravakas, asuras, nagas, beasts and the sufferings in hell. The game is started from the human realm and with the cast of a dice one proceeds upward or down-ward either to devaloka or to the lower states of rebirth or naraka. The winner in the game of rebirth reaches the realm of Buddhahood and nirvana.

Writer – Sipra Chakraverti
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