Fragment of relief with Brahmanical ascetics
II - IV sec. d.C
The fragment is part of a narrative relief and represents three Brahmanic ascetics in the shelter of a rush hut above which we see the turbaned head of a fourth figure, probably a divinity. The brahmins, whose status was acquired at birth thanks to the caste system, constituted the dominant group of Indian Vedic society and were indispensable to the celebration of sacrifices to the gods. The elderly ascetic, with his hair gathered in a bun, is sitting on a mat in front of the fire and leaning on a long stick. He turns his gaze to the Buddha who was in the now missing part of the relief. The two standing figures are young novice Brahmins following their master. In the course of his life the Buddha had converted several brahmins, although he had initially followed their teachings before declaring himself opposed to the harsh privations to which ascetics underwent, considering them useless to the attainment of knowledge.