In the world of Buddhist eschatology, Maitreya literally means the future Buddha. Maitreya Buddha is considered as the 5th Buddha that is believed to appear in this Kalpa or era. Thus, Maitreya Buddha is considered as the Future Buddha that is yet to appear in this age. In various Buddhist sutra such as Amitabha Sutra, as well as Lotus Sutra, Maitreya Buddha is believed to be called as Ajita.
According to Buddhist history and tradition, Maitreya Buddha is believed to be Bodhisattva who will appear in the Earth in the future, will achieve Nirvana and will teach the people of Earth the pure Dharma just like Shakyamuni Buddha did. According to the Buddhist texts as well scriptures, Maitreya Buddha will be considered as the successor of the living Buddha i.e. Gautama Buddha. The Prophecy of Maitreya Buddha coming back to the terrestrial world is written in most of the major Schools of Buddhism in many Buddhist countries
Attributes of Maitreya Buddha
Many Maitreya Buddha statues, Buddha images are shown with different attributes as well as Hand mudras as well as postures. The Maitreya Buddha statues are represented with all the attributes that must be in the attributes of Bodhisattva. Most of the Buddha statues of Maitreya Buddha are pdepicted with both hands using Dharmachakra Mudra.
Maitreya Buddha is also represented as holding lotus flower in each hand of the statues. Each hands also possessed a Wheel of Dharma as well a ritual base. Both Wheel of Dharmaas well as ritual vase are shown on the top of lotus flower. The wheel of dharma on the top of lotus shows that maitreya Buddha emphasize his mission to spread and teach Dharma to all beings. While the Ritual vase on the top of lotus shows that Maitreya Buddha will be born in the family of low cast while Buddhist history shows that Shakyamuni Buddha was born in the family of high cast.
Laughing Buddha as Maitreya Buddha
Laughing Buddha is shown as the next Maitreya Buddha in the Chinese Buddhism. Laughing Buddha is also believed to be a Bodhisattva and will be the next Matreya Buddha. There are various Buddha statues that represents Maitreya Buddha but Laughing Buddha is one of the most popular known Buddha in the whole world especially for his fat belly and smiling face.