Why is Buddha fat

A visit to a Chinese restaurant is sure to present an image of a portly bald man with a sack of cloth and a cheerful smile on his face, in other words, the Laughing Buddha. There is confusion as to whether the name is a reference to the historical figure of Siddhartha Gautama, a prince from the ancient times who shunned all his worldly fortune and lived his life in search for enlightenment, which he ultimately did achieve. The widespread belief is that ‘the Laughing Buddha’ is a name that has stuck for the depiction of the Chinese monk with a portly belly and a lively smile.

Chinese history talks about this monk called Hotei alias Pu-Tai. There are other references too, with names such as Mi-Le-Fo and Qieci. He is said to have made his presence felt during the fag end of the Liang Dynasty. This monk was known for his good character and the eternal smile that adorned his face. He was a bit on the fatter side. His cheerful disposition made an impact on the heart of many, and it was not uncommon for people to be querying him about salvation and the attainment of nirvana. Even centuries after his death in 915 AD, his personality has remained a part of the Chinese culture and his physical appearance has been accepted as a symbol of goodwill. This is precisely the reason behind the fact that a Laughing Buddha is found in all homes and shops in China.

A few more logical assertions indicate towards the fact that the depiction of Buddha as a fat and laughing monk is completely disconnected from the prince Gautama talked about earlier. In his princely life, he would have not have been fat because members of the royal family were a healthy lot. His worldly life was devoid of any proper food diets, which again rules out the possibility of him being portly at all. Again, Buddha is a word that is casually used to refer to a learned man. All these reasons are enough to suffice that the fat Buddha is actually a reference to the portly and cheerful monk who spread the message of goodness all around in his lifetime.