According to the Bangkok Post, the picture which is said to be taken in Vietnam has led the Thai Buddhist angry. Many Vietnamese netizens also expressed their grievances for this image.
However, the response of Dr. Nguyen Minh Ngoc, a Buddhism researcher at the Institute of Religion – the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, is different. “This is a Tantric statue,” Dr. Ngoc said.
She demonstrates by the book Tibetan Tantrism Explanation, published by the Shaanxi Pedagogy University Publishing House. This is a book that Ms. Ngoc bought in Hong Kong, where the books with pictures similar to the above “sexy” statue of is not hard to find.
The meaning of philosophy
“If considering that the statue describes the Buddha having sex with a woman is totally not true. The variance stems from our modern way of thinking, while its cultural origins – which is Eastern philosophy – is very different,” Ngoc says.
According to her, the cultural origin of the statue is the philosophical view of yang in yin and yin in yang. In each human contains both yin and yang. The “strange” statue also reflects the philosophy of yin and yang. Therefore, it is not as dirty as people think.
In the book Tibetan Tantrism Explanation there are many similar pictures of the Buddha statue photo that made many Thai and Vietnamese Buddhists angry.
The Samantabhadra Buddha statue, with the female Buddha as the main character, means Intellectual. The Samantabhadra Buddha statue, with the male Buddha as the main character, means Compassion.
“Obviously, the expression of it is not the relationship between men and women as many people recognize. Based on the inference from these two statues, the “stoned” statue means Compassion,” Ngoc says.
Ngoc adds that sexual relations as we currently understand is only a part of the ancient Eastern philosophy – the harmony of yin and yang. The integration of yin and yang makes us reach the state of wisdom, health, sanity. Therefore, the Eastern philosophy can be seen as the source of sexual art. Modern books about sex in the United States now return to the principles of Eastern philosophy.
Filling the gap in Tantric history
Experts say that it is very difficult for them to identify the statue through a photo on the Internet. However, through the background of the photo, it is highly possible that the statue is not located in a temple but belongs to a collector.
“I saw a number of similar statues in an exhibition of collector Duong Phu Hien, which was on display at the Vietnam Museum of Fine Arts. The statues are very small. In my opinion, it is not a statue of Vietnam,” says art researcher Pham Trung, from the Vietnam Fine Arts Institute. According to Trung, some collectors buy this type of statues and see them as artworks, not worship objects.
“Such statues can be seen in some countries with Tantric Buddhism, such as Nepal. Recently, many people went abroad and brought Tantric statues to Vietnam. Maybe this is one of the statues of that type. I’ve never seen such a statue of Vietnam,” Prof. Dr. Nguyen Quoc Tuan, Director of the Institute of Religion, says.
However, if this is an ancient statue of the Vietnamese people, this means a lot to the development history of Tantrism in Vietnam. According to Dr. Ngoc, Vietnamese Buddhism is the integration of three sects of Zen Buddhism- Pure Land Budhism – Tantric Budhism, but the exact time of introduction of Tantric Buddhism in Vietnam as well as the Tantric lines that existed in Vietnam is unidentified.
Historical evidences show that in the Ly Dynasty, Tantrism was in Vietnam. “But we have never found a Tantric statue,” Ngoc says.
A similar statue has never been found in Vietnamese historic books so far. Therefore, if this is indeed an ancient statue of Vietnam, it would be a great discovery for archeology, art and religion,” Dr Ngoc says.
Regards to the reaction of the Thai Buddhists against the statue, researchers say that perhaps Thailand is a country of Theravada Buddhism, another Buddhism sect, so the above statue makes them shocked. However, according to Tuan, from the 8th to 12th centuries, Tantric Buddhism had great influence in Southeast Asia.
Different response in Thailand
The Bangkok Post quoted one netizen calling the statue maker as “evil,” who wanted to tarnish the reputation of the Buddha. A Facebook user also urged the Thai authorities to intervene by diplomatic channels to destroy the statue. However, this picture is only spread among netizens in Thailand and the origin of it is unknown. However, the Bangkok Post posted on its website in late February.
Meanwhile, others see the statue normal. A netizen in Thailand calls it an art statue and there is nothing called impurity, lust in it. Some netizens comment quite calm with understanding. They said they had seen similar statues in temples in Tibet.
A netizen in Thailand said that the aforementioned statue is in Cambodia, not in Vietnam. Many said that this is part of the Mahayana Buddhism of Tibet. Buddhists in Tibet and also in India, Nepal and Bhutan often sculpt statues in the Yab-Yum position (father – mother). This is a symbol of sexuality, which has been worshiped by is Buddhists for thousands of years.
Compiled by Thu Ha