Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Where did 'Fat Buddha' come from?

In my earlier post about some misconceptions people have about Buddhism, I mentioned "The Buddha was a big, fat, jolly guy".

Now I'll have to be honest here. Even though I know that Siddartha Guatama (the historical Buddha), and this jolly, almost universally recognized figure are not the same (hence my previous post), I have never known who the 'jolly' one was. 

But come to find out, 'Fat Buddha' was indeed also Buddhist monk, even a Bodhisattva (Enlightened Being), who was well-known for his loving and generous nature. His name was Budai (Hotei in Japan), and he carried a cloth sack filled with his few worldly belongings. In Chinese culture, he is a folkloric, almost ubiquitous representation of contentment, and can be seen in restaurants, cars, shops, and worn as pendants. Historically, Budai was a Chinese Zen monk who lived in the early 900's during China's Later Liang Dynasty. 

Additionally, I have also read that Budai is a major symbol of generosity, which is mostly represented by his ample stomach. Finally, Budai is also known as Maitreya Buddha, which indicates that he is a 'future Buddha', who was and will be reincarnated to revive Buddhist teachings and ease suffering. 

And all while carrying a round tummy and wearing a big smile on his face.  

I am glad I looked that up- I definitely learned something. Did you?

May all beings be happy!


  1. Thank You for posting this! I just finished taking a class in Hinduism and Buddhism and it finally hit me, Why are there so many Fat Buddha's around?? When I searched it online I found a bunch of ignorant answers, but this one fully explains it.

    Thanks Again!!

  2. Dear L. Felicityashleyannacus

    Thank you so much for your kind comment, and for letting me know that this post has helped you. After all, the main purpose of this blog is to help others, and to provide a place for us to learn from one another. I commend you on your curiosity and taking the time to look up a credible answer to your question about 'Fat Buddha'.

    May you be happy and well!

    Renata :)

  3. All the things in this blog is so amazing and nicely written . Thanks for sharing your experience and photos with us.Keep posting like this.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and leave a comment! If you enjoyed this post, please share with others. -With Metta, Renata

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