Exploring the Caves
The Ajanta caves depict paintings and sculptures that shows heavy religious influence, revolving around Buddhist philosophy, Bodhisattvas, incidents from the life of Gautama Buddha and the Jataka Tales. The caves are embellished with paintings of infinite charm, sculpted with skills of the highest craftsmanship, narrating scenes of semi mythological history, the royal court and lifestyle of the ancient times.Though the sculptures are of Buddhist origin, Gautama Buddha was against paintings and sculptures and even forbade images of him. He preached that life was painful and the best way to achieve salvation (Nirvana) was to suppress happiness. But after the death of Buddha, the suppressed or illiterate people who embraced Buddhism, wanted to worship images of Buddha like Hindus worshipped their gods.
To spread the faith, Buddhist monks also made up many stories of Buddhas previous incarnations. Gradually these stories were sculpted in stone by the monks and pilgrims began to worship these paintings and images. Slowly, perhaps under the influence of Hinduism, this kind of image worship transformed into a holy ritual.The exploration starts at the 1st cave of Ajanta and the visitors are greeted by the great Buddha image. The doorway to the cave is decorated with auspicious motifs. This cave has numerous sculptures and paintings of Bodhisattvas Padmapani and Vajrapani; carvings of princesses, lovers, maids and dancing girls; scenes depicting the Persian Embassy, Golden Geese, Pink Elephants and Bull Fights.