Bhaiṣajyaguru. Iconography and rituals of the medicine Buddha across Asia

Start - End 
2022 - 2026 (ongoing)
Department of Languages and Cultures
Research Region 
Research Language 



This research aims to comprehensively study the iconography of Bhaiṣajyaguru, as a medium to underscore the cross-pollination of religions and beliefs shaping an iconographic paradigm across Central Asia, India, and Tibet. 

The research holds significant value in the context of the Silk Roads as it will contribute towards the broader understanding of History of Buddhism, cultural exchanges, and interactions along this ancient network of trade and ideas. The study  argues that the artistic expressions of Buddhism under the Pāla period in Eastern India played a significant role in shaping Bhaiṣajyaguru's iconography and that the cult of Bhaiṣajyaguru proliferated in Central Asia and later reached Tibet via following the route from Eastern India.

By examining artifacts from selected regions dating from the 6th to the 14th centuries, the study will analyse the artistic approaches and processes of creation. Various mediums such as murals, silk paintings, sculptures, and thangkas will be considered, providing a comprehensive understanding of the iconographic transitions and the factors that influenced the emergence and transformation of Buddhist devotional movements in the region. Overall, this project aims to shed light on the complex iconography and cultural dynamics of Bhaiṣajyaguru’s cult as it developed and spread across significant regions along the Silk Road, specifically in Central Asia, India, and Tibet.




Phd Student(s)