Disciples of Buddha
Being the Enlightened one and superior teachings of Buddha, Lord Buddha was followed by numbers of Buddhist disciples and Buddhist monks. These Buddhist disciples and monks followed Gautama Buddha everywhere and learned how to attain Nirvana and also learn the way of Dharma throughout the duration of Gautama Buddha. These disciples of Lord Buddha are considered very important in the life of Lord Buddha and history of Buddhism. Some of these Buddhist disciples played important role and are depicted with Buddha statues i.e. together with Buddha or some are depicted in back of the statues of Buddha. They are also shown in many Buddhist images and paintings since they also lived their whole life as monks with Lord Buddha.
Major Disciples of Buddha
There are many tales of Buddha with these important disciples in the history of Buddhism such as "Tales of Angulimala," "Betray of Devadatta", "Chief Disciples of Lord Buddha" etc. Some of these important Buddhist disciples of Lord Buddha are as follows:
- Sariputra (Chief Disciples of Lord Buddha)
Ven. Sariputra who was also known as the chief disciples of Lord Buddha along with Ven. Moggallana. Ven. Sariputra was believed to be preached Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, one of the major Bodhisattva in Buddhism, according to Heart sutra. Ven. Sariputra was very efficient Dharma teacher and it is believed that Sariputra was only second to Lord Buddha in teachings of Buddha to the junior Buddhist monks. Being the chief disciples of Lord Buddha, Sariputra is also depicted with Buddha statues i.e. Ven. Sariputra is depicted in the side of Buddha statues since Sariputra sits aside Lord Buddha during the time of preaching.
- Moggallana (Chief Disciples of Lord Buddha)
Along with Ven. Sariputra, Ven. Moggallana was also one of the two chief disciples of Lord Buddha but while Sariputra was known for his Dharma teachings and Ven. Moggallana was known for his use of supernatural powers to teach Buddhist preachings. In many Buddha statues and Buddha images, Moggallana was depicted as a monk with a dark complexion. Both Ven. Sariputra and Ven. Moggallana became Arhat and died before Lord Buddha.
Probably one of the most important Buddhist disciples during the life time of Lord Buddha, Ven. Ananda was originally the cousin of Lord Buddha when Lord Buddha was the prince of Shakya Royal clan in Lumbini, Nepal and the closest disciples of Lord Buddha. It is believed that Ven. Ananda was the personal attendant of Lord Buddha and even closest that Ven. Sariputra and Ven. Moggallana. Ananda was also believed to hear the teachings of Lord Buddha more than anyone and was invited to first Buddhist Councils for his great knowledge. Since he is one of the Buddha closest disciples, Nepali Buddha statues also consist of Ananda since he was one of the royal princes of the Shakya Kingdom of Nepal. There are many statues of Ananda along with many Nepali Buddha statues in Lumbini.
Along Ven. Sariputra, Ven. Moggallana, Ven. Mahakasyapa, and Ven. Ananda, Ven. Anuruddha was one of the five important disciples of Lord Buddha. Ven. Anuruddha was also one of the cousins of Lord Buddha from the kingdom of Shakya in Lumbini. It is believed that he was taught Ven. Sariputra but couldn't learn all the lesson that Sariputra suggested him. When Lord Buddha taught about the dharma and other teachings, Ven. Anuruddha attained arahantship. Being the most loyal disciples of Lord Buddha, Anuruddha usually answers all the questions of Lord Buddha when Lord Buddha was disappointed by other Buddhist monks answers.
Ven. Mahakasyapa was one of the few Buddhist monks who created the first Buddhist councils and one of the five chief disciples of Lord Buddha. Mahakasyapa was foremost in ascetic powers and that was the reason that he was the principal disciples of Lord Buddha. Ven. Mahakasyapa and Ven. Ananda were depicted with each othe along with Lord Buddha statues and these two are depicted standing to one side of the Lord Buddha.
All these five chief disciples are foremost in their own area though Ven. Ananda attain the level of Arahatship after the death of Lord Buddha. Some of these disciples came to Lumbini, they are often referred to, especially in early Buddhism in Nepal. There are many Nepal Tibet Buddha statues, as well as some Tibetan Buddha statues, images, thangkas etc where these disciples are depicted standing or sitting to one side of Lord Buddha and some are depicted sitting behind Lord Buddha.