Bodhisattva figures adorn the outer walls of the caves. These bodhisattva figures represent the ideal of leaving one's family, wealth, and social standing to take up the life of a wandering Buddhist mendicant seeking enlightenment
The pillars inside this cave display many figures of Buddhist monks as bodhisattvas and buddhas. These monks wear the traditional monastic robe covering one shoulder. The bodhisattva holds the lotus, symbol of enlightenment.
This standing Buddha figure within a stupa-like structure is placed within a large chaitya hall, a cave where monks gathered for teaching and community ritual practices. The straight, rigid form of this Buddha is reminiscent of figures of Jain tirthankaras, with whom early Buddhist monks shared many ideas and practices. The Buddha is depicted with the royal headdress of an aristocratic person but in the ascetic simplicity of an unclothed body.
Small older brother has accompanied his family for this ritual celebrating the birth and health of his siblings and cousins. [For description of the ritual, see cbind0043.]
Older siblings and cousins entertaining the infant while he waits for the weighing to be completed. [For description of the ritual, see cbind0043.]
Outside many mosques in India, small shops sell perfumes and small ornaments. Before prayer, all must perform ritual ablutions to purify oneself. From an early period, perfumes have been associated with the idea of purification.
Within a few yards of the tomb shrine of Zar Zari Zar Baksh lies the tomb shrine of his mother, also understood to intercede with God on the behalf of pilgrims. Women pilgrims often pray to her to help them conceive a child.
The Jalal al-Din Dargah overlooks this spring-fed pond which is understood to have miraculous healing properties. In particular, people with mental illnesses drink and touch this water hoping to regain their health.
This oddly shaped but magnificent tree is said to have spontaneously begun growing when the saint threw a stick in the courtyard. Women tie colored fabric on its branches as a symbol of their petitions to the saint.
A brightly painted image on an inside pillar in the area outside the inner sanctum presents a lively image of the dancing Shiva Nataraj. In some parts of the temple, the ancient pigments seem to have been preserved, probably due to their placement in areas protected from the elements.
On a pillar of the temple, a lingam sits between the horns of a bull.
Sign in English and Hindi for the Tomb of the last Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb. Behind this sign is a small sign explaining that anyone who vandalizes this monument will be subject to imprisonment of up to three months, a fine of up to 5000 rupees [more than $100], or both.
This sign in the courtyard of the mosque complex explains that this area contains the Shrine of the saint, Zainuddin, and the tomb of the son of Aurangzeb, Azamshah. The sign is written in English, Hindi, and Urdu.
Part of a series of caves carved into the basalt rock of these hillsides are the Hindu caves offering particularly beautiful images of such favorite scenes as the weddings of Shiva and Parvati, and Rama and Sita. Cave 29 known as "Sita ki nanahi" or "Sita ki kunda", the bathing place of Sita, draws honeymooning couples who take their pictures in front of the magnificent waterfall. During the monsoon season, this waterfall falls into a beautiful pool between two caves.
These auspicious celestial creatures, the male gandharva and two female apsarases appear to be floating or flying, just as they are described in mythological texts. They live among the clouds but are associated also with water, sensuality, music, and dance. Connected with Indra, king of the gods, the apsarases and gandharva depicted here might represent Indra's devotion to the Buddha and the many bodhisattvas.
At the Tomb Shrine of the mother of Zar Zari Zar Baksh, women tie glass bangles over the door lintel into the shrine room as symbols of their petitions.
Auspicious figures of amorous couples in small stone niches adorn the magnificent Kailash Cave Temple, cave #16 in the series of Ellora Caves. These figures represent fertility and good fortune for all who see them.
A senior qawwali singer is joined by other men to sing qawwals in praise of God, the Prophet, and Sufi saints. This was an impromptu qawwali performed with men who happened to be at the dargah.
The small inner shrine of the temple is set off from the rest of the temple by this decorated doorway. Devotees ring the bell to announce their presence to the god and then step over the door frame to perform their puja and receive darshan. Barely visible just inside the door is the image of the elephant-faced deity.
Photograph of the interior of the Yu Gardens, Shanghai.
Parshvanatha, a digambara monk, is always depicted resting against the coils of a snake and protected under the hoods of snakes. He is also shown over the wheel of a chariot, with elephants, lions, and devotees at his feet.
This shrine is dedicated to the 24th tirthankara, Mahavira, who is understood to have lived in the 6th or 5th century B.C.E. Mahavira is depicted seated in the lotus position having achieved a state of pure liberation. Other tirthankaras are depicted behind him.
During my homestay I snapped a picture of my room for posterity. Note the tatami mats, futon, space heater, and "desk".
Brendan Eagan enjoys a dinner of sushi at a "rolling sushi" restaurant (the food comes to you on a conveyer belt) with his host family in Nagasaki.
Photograph of the natural splendor of Suzhou's famous gardens. This view features a distinctive round red door set into a white wall.