'Bodhisattva Maitreya,' the future successor of Gautama Buddha. Thikse Monastery, Ladakh. This statue is about 30 ft tall and is in the Mahayana tradition --- Mahāyāna ( Mahāyāna; literally the "Great Vehicle") is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practices. Mahāyāna Buddhism originated in India, and is associated with the oldest historical sect of Buddhism, the Mahāsāṃghika
Buddha Maitreya ~ Maitreya is recognized in both Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism as the Buddha who will succeed Sakyamuni, currently residing in Tushita heaven. In anticipation of his future Buddhahood, Maitreya may be depicted as already a Buddha.