From the study of the Buddhist sculptures of Orissa
it is evident, that the 'Mahayana' doctrine gradually transformed itself
into 'Vajrayana' about the middle of the ninth century A.D. and the
overwhelming number of 'Vajrayana' images would point out that Vajrayana
found a most fertile soil in ancient Orissa. King 'Indrabhuti' and his
sister 'Lakshminakara' of 'Uddiyana', identified with Orissa, were great
exponents of Vajrayana, also called "Tantric-Buddhism".
The introduction of Tantric form of worship in the Mahayana Buddhism ushered in a new stage in the development of the history of Buddhism in Orissa, which attained its pinnacle of glory during the "Bhauma-Kara" regime.
Apart from Buddha figures the other important feature of Buddhist plastic art in Orissa is the representation of "Boddhisattva Avalokitesvara" in his different varieties such as 'Padmapani', 'Lokesvara', 'Vajrapani', 'Tara', 'Manjusri', 'Amoghasiddhi' etc. in this period.
A Lokesvara image found at Bhubaneswar , Amoghasiddhi from G. Udaigiri of Phulbani district, Buddha in "Bhumi-Sparsamudra" from 'Khadipada' and "Avalokitesvara Padmapani" in standing pose from Khadipada are displayed in the Orissa State Museum at Bhubaneswar. Most of these Buddhist sculptures are very big in dimensions. The museum at Lalitagiri preserves colossal Boddhisattva figures inside it. Many more such figures are located at nearby Udaigiri and Ratnagiri.
From epigraphical sources it is known that Buddhism was popular until the end of the 'Somavamsi' rule in Orissa. From these sources it is also known that "Ratnagiri Mahavihara" was a great centre of Buddhism. To support this there are a large number of Vajrayana sculptures at Ratnagiri. These are different forms of 'Avalokitesvara', 'Manjusri', 'Heruka', 'Jambhala', 'Kurukulla', 'Mahakala', 'Vajrasattva', 'Aparchana', 'Vajrapani', 'Tara', 'Aparajita', 'Marichi', 'Arya Sarasvati', 'Vajra Tara' etc.
Other important Buddhist sculptures deserving mention are the Tara sculpture of Solampur, the three 'Vajrasattva' figures along with a Buddha image from Haripur, 'Prajnaparamita' from 'Banesvaranasi', Tara image at Banapur, a 'Maitreya' image at Natara near Kendupatna, Avalokitesvara Padmapani and 'Yamantaka' images at Kuruma, Marichi and Vajravarahi at Ayodhya, Buddha from Khiching and Buddha figures of Ganiapalli.
Development In Buddhist Art
It is also interesting to note here that the back slab of a Buddha image at Solampur contains the story of Buddha, from his life to nirvana. The excavation at Ratnagiri revealed the fact that Buddhist art in Orissa developed from about the 5th century A.D. and continued up to the 12th century A.D. In fact Buddhist sculptural art was one of the main constituents of medieval Orissan sculptural art.