Buddhism describes a variety of schools that base their beliefs and practices on the teachings of the Buddha, who died around 400 BC. Developing at a time of great theological development, Buddhism can be seen to be a revision of the Hindu philosophy of the period, though the ideals of attaining enlightenment and as such a release from suffering remain comparable. A significant period in the history of Buddhism is the syncretic relationship with Hellenistic culture that developed around 300 BC following Alexander the Great’s conquest into Central Asia. This cultural exchange led to the development of Buddhist statuary which exhibits features of Greek influence. Greco-Buddhist or Gandharan sculpture continues to be widely revered, The 14th Dalai Lama described them saying, “One of the distinguishing features of the Gandharan school of art that emerged in north-west India is that it has been clearly influenced by the naturalism of the Classical Greek style. Thus, while these images still convey the inner peace that results from putting the Buddha’s doctrine into practice, they also give us an impression of people who walked and talked, etc. and slept much as we do. I feel this is very important. These figures are inspiring because they do not only depict the goal, but also the sense that people like us can achieve it if we try.”

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