Lohan or otherwise known as Arahat, is one who has followed the Noble Eightfold Path and has reached Nirvana, (The state of absolute freedom from worldly cravings) and because of this, they are no longer subjected to reincarnation. Lohans are well-known for their great wisdom, courage and supernatural power. Due to their abilities to ward off evil, Lohans have become guardian angels of Buddhist temples. They are given the duty of protecting the Buddhist faith and to await on Earth for the coming of Maitreya the Future Buddha.
Three basic divisions of the Noble Eightfold Path
|Pindola the Bharadvaja (Deer-Sitting Lohan)
Sitting dignified on a deer, as if in deep thought. With perfect composure, contented with being above worldly pursuits.
Pindola the Bharadvaja, from a high caste Brahmin family, was formerly a powerful government official in an Indian Kingdom, highly trusted by the King. One day, he suddenly decided to become a Buddhist monk and left to join a monastery deep in the mountains. Later he returned to the palace riding a deer. The king offered him back his position. Bharadvaja declined but instead he asked the king to join him. After a long conversation, using various metaphors to explain the sins of the flesh and desires, he finally convinced the king, who abdicated in favour of his son and followed Bharadvaja to become a monk.
|Happy Lohan(Kanaka the Vatsa)
Decimating the demons, the universe now cleared. Hands raised for jubilation, bewilder with joy.
Kanaka the Vatsa was a well-known public speaker and debater of the Buddhist doctrines. When asked what happiness is, he would answer that it is experienced through the five senses. When asked what bliss is, he would reply that bliss is joy coming not from the five senses, but from deep within like feeling Buddha is in his heart. He often wore a smiling countenance during debates and was famous for his preaching in happiness, therefore he is called the Happy Lohan.
|Raised Bowl Lohan (Kanaka the Bharadvaja)
In majestic grandeur, Joy descends from heaven. Raised the bowl to receive happiness, glowing with jubilance and exultation.
Kanaka the Bharadvaja was a Buddhist mendicant monk who took alms by raising his bowl. After he attained enlightenment, he was called the Raised Bowl Lohan.
|Raised Pagoda Lohan (Nandimitra)
A seven-storey pagoda, miraculous power of the Buddha. Forceful without being angry, with preeminent Buddhist might.
According to legend, this Lohan Nandimitra, the sweet one, was the last disciple of the Buddha. In memory of his dear beloved master, Nandimitra often carried a specially made pagoda with him, signifying that Buddha was always there, forever and ever. Before the introduction of Buddhism into China, there was no pagoda in the country. The Chinese had to create a new character from the first syllable of the original Sanskrit word to call this unique architectural structure. In Buddhism, the pagoda is a container for the Buddha’s bones, and therefore, symbolises faith.
|Meditating Lohan (Nakula)
Quietly cultivating the mind, a countenance calm and composed. Serene and dignified, to enter the Western Paradise.
According to tradition, this lohan, Nakula or Pakula, was originally a warrior with immense strength. He gave up the life of fighting and killing to become a monk, finally attaining enlightenment through constant meditation. However, due to his former profession, he still exuded much physical strength even during meditation. In mythology, this lohan’s sphere of influence extended through all of India, and was considered one of Buddha’s favourite disciples.
|Oversea Lohan (Bodhidruma)
Bearing the sutras, sail east to spread the word. Climbing mountains for fording streams, for the deliverance of humanity.
Bodhidruma in Sanskrit means virtuous and sagacious. It is also the name of a rare tree in India, the bodhi which has become famous and known as the tree of wisdom because Sakyamuni Buddha became enlightened under its shade. This lohan was born under such a tree and was given the name Bodhidruma. Legend has it that Bodhidruma was responsible for spreading Buddhism to the East Indies. From India he sailed across the ocean to land on the island of Java, hence the name”Oversea”
|Elephant-Riding Lohan (Kalika)
Riding an elephant with a dignified air, chanting aloud the sutras. With a heart for humanity, Eyes scanning the four corners of the universe.
Kali in Sanskrit means elephant and kalika, an elephant rider, or a follower of kali. The elephant, for its immense strength and power, endurance and perseverance, symbolizes the Buddhist might. Kalika the lohan was an elephant trainer-turned-Buddhist monk who had earned sufficient merits to attain enlightenment. In memory of his former profession, he is often portrayed with an elephant.
|Laughing Lion Lohan (Vajraputra)
Playful and free of inhibitions, the lion cub leaps with joy. Easily alternating tension with relaxation, rejoicing with all living things.
Vajra putra literally means “Man of cats.” He was a lion hunter before he was converted to Buddhism. After he had attained enlightenment, a little lion came playfully to his side. The animal seemed to be grateful to him for giving up the life of killing lions, thus sparing its parents and brothers. Since then, Vajraputra and the little lion have become inseparable. The lion, with its earth-shaking roar, symbolises the invincible might of Buddhism.
|Open Heart Lohan (Gobaka)
Open the heart and there is Buddha, Each displaying his prowess. The two should not compete, for Buddha’s power is boundless.
Gobaka was the prince of a minor kingdom in India. When he was made crown prince, his younger brother started a rebellion. But Gobaka assured his brother that he wanted to refuse the kingdom and become a monk because he only had Buddha in his heart. As proof, he exposed his chest and there indeed was a Buddha in his heart. The younger brother then believed him and stopped the rebellion. Gobaka literally means “Man of heart”, weak physically but strong in spirit.
|Raised Hand Lohan (Pantha the Elder)
Easy and comfortable, yawning and stretching. In a state of omniscience, contented with his own lot.
According to legend, Pantha the Elder was the prince of a small Indian kingdom called Kintota. When he became a monk, he liked to meditate in the half lotus style. Upon waking up, he would raise his hands and let out a deep breath, hence the name Raised Hand. He was the elder brother of the Doorman Lohan. The two brother were both born while the mother was travelling, and were given a Sanskrit name which means “born on the road.”
|Thinking Lohan (Rahula)
Pondering and meditating, understanding it all. Above this world and free from conventions, compassion conveyed up to the Ninth Heaven.
Rahula is the Indian name of a constellation. In ancient India, it was believed that eclipses were caused by a star coming between the earth and the moon or the sun; blocking out the light. This lohan was born during a lunar eclipse and was given the name Rahula, the constellation that caused this phenomenon. Rahula was one of the Buddha’s 10 favourite disciples, and was well-known for his meditative power. It is believed that he could become omnipotent and omniscient during meditation. When deep in thought, he was ruminating wisdom and action.
|Scratched Ear Lohan (Nagasena)
Leisurely and contented, happy and knowledgeable. Full of wit and humour, exuberant with interest
His Sanskrit name is Nagasena, which means an army of dragons and symbolises strong supernatural power. Nagasena was an eloquent speaker and debater. He was famous all over India for his preaching on the “hear no evil” maxim. The sense of hearing is one of the six sources through which mankind became aware of the world. Therefore a practitioner of Buddhism should avoid listening to decadent sounds and in particular other people’s secrets. Thus he is often portrayed as scratching his ear, a gesture symbolising the purification of the sense of hearing in the search for peace and quiet.
|Calico Bag Lohan (Angida)
Buddha of infinite life, valuable bag containing secrets of heaven and earth. Happy and contented. Cheerful and joyful is he.
According to legend, Angida was an Indian snake-catcher whose aim was to prevent the snakes from biting passersby. After the snakes were caught, he would remove the venomous fangs and then release them in the mountains. It was due to this kindness of heart that Angida was able to attain enlightenment. He carried a bag to put the snakes in.
|Plantain Lohan (Vanavasa)
Carefree and leisurely, disdainfully regards the Great Void. With celestial air and religious spirit, transcending this mortal world.
According to legend, he was born during a heavy downpour, and the plantain trees in his back garden were rustling noisily. Thus he was named Vanavasa, which means rain in Sanskrit. Later on he became a Buddhist monk, finally attaining enlightenment and because he liked to meditate under a plantain tree, he is called the Plantain Lohan. He is sometime shown meditating in a cave with eyes closed and hands folded over his knees.
|Long eyebrow Lohan (Asita)
Compassionate elder, a monk who has attained enlightenment. Perceptive of the infinite universe, with tacit understanding.
“Asita” in Sanskrit means incomparably proper, or of correct proportions in spirit and physique. According to legend, Asita was born with two long white eyebrows. The story was that in his previous life he was a monk who, though having tried very hard yet could not attain enlightenment even at a ripe old age, and had only two long white eyebrows left. After his death he was reincarnated as a human being again. After he was born, his father was told that Shakyamuni Buddha also has two long eyebrows, therefore his son had the look of the Buddha in him. As a result, Asita was sent away to a monastery to become a monk, eventually attaining enlightenment.
|Doorman Lohan (Pantha the Younger)
Powerful, husky and tough, Watching with careful alertness. With the Buddhist staff in hand, Valiantly annihilates the evil.
According to legend, this Lohan, also known as Pantha the Younger, was one of Buddha’s favourite disciples. When he went alms begging he would bang on people’s doors. One time he did that, the old and rotten door fell apart, and he had to apologise to the owner of the house. So Buddha gave him a tin staff and told him “When you go alms-begging, you don’t have to bang on people’s doors anymore. Just tap this staff. If the people inside want to give you alms, they will come out.” The tin staff had several rings on it and made a light noise when tapped. The tin staff has become the symbol of this Lohan.
|Taming Dragon Lohan (Nantimitolo)
In the hands are the spiritual pearl and the holy bowl, Endowed with power that knows no bounds. Full of valour, vigour and awe-inspiring dignity, To succeed in vanquishing the ferocious dragon.
His Sanskrit name is Nantimitolo. Nanti means happy, and mitolo, friend. Together the name means happy friend. He is called the Taming Dragon Lohan for a brave act he performed.In ancient India, the people of a small kingdom, after being incited by a demon, went on a rampage against the Buddhists and monasteries, stealing the Buddhist sutras. The king of the undersea flooded the kingdom and rescued the sutras, which he put in his palace. Nantimitolo subdued the dragon guard and restored the sutras back to earth. Hence he is called the Taming Dragon Lohan.
|Taming Tiger Lohan (Pindola)
Precious ring with magical powers, infinitely resourceful. Vigorous and powerful, subduing a ferocious tiger.
Pindola was a Brahmin and a general, because he was devoted to Buddhism, which forbids killing, he was ordered by the king to becomea monk. He joined a monastery in the mountains where he could hear a tiger roar everyday. He said that the tiger was probably hungry and should be fed some vegetarian food. Otherwise the tiger might become a man-eater. So Pindola collected food from the monks and put it in a bucket which he left outside the monastery. The tiger did come for the food every night. After a period of time, the tiger was tamed. Thus Pindola was referred to as the Taming Tiger Lohan.