Caṅkrama is mindful locomotion, a notion and practice well developed in classical India. Within the Buddhist tradition, a series of such ambulations performed by the historical Buddha in the wake of his Enlightenment is widely recognized; in Bodhgayā itself, the monument known as Caṅkramaṇa has long commemorated the path he took. The early stupas of Bhārhut and Sāñcī also bear representations of this ambulation path and other noteworthy occurrences. In connection to caṅkrama, a fact that has been neglected until now is that the earliest and largest known freestanding statues of the Buddha made in Kuṣān Mathurā were all made to be installed at the venerated caṅkrama sites in Śrāvastī, Vārāṇasī, and Kauśāmbī. This essay groups these specimens together under the rubric of “caṅkrama type,” and suggests that this new taxonomy can be extended to other early standing statues of Mathurā with similar traits—kapardas, scalloped nimbi, akimbo arms, splayed feet, and so forth. Arguably, the very first appearances of Mathurā's “standing” Buddha-images might be closely related to the cult of caṅkrama, and thus should be factored into the historical transition from the previous aniconic period. The essay also presents a new interpretation of the term bodhisattva as it appears in the dedicatory inscriptions of the caṅkrama types and other early Mathurān statues depicting the Buddha. Here “bodhisattva” can be understood literally, and even symbolically, as equivalent to “image”; that is, the term may signify the representation itself rather than pointing to the Buddha's previous career as a bodhisattva.

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