On the right and left of the base are images of donors and their attendants, whose costume is reminiscent of Turkic dress, members of the Sahi group who ruled in Kashmir and other northern regions. A long Sanskrit inscription on the front of the base lists the donors as Sankarasena, a government official, and Princess Devashriya: 'This is the pious gift of the devout Sankarasena, the great lord of the elephant brigade, and of the pure-minded and pious Devashriya, made in the second day of Vaishakha in the year 3.' Although the numbers in this inscription are difficult to decipher, a recent study of inscriptions from Kashmir has shown that the sculpture could date to either 714/15 or 733/34.
The distinctive costume worn by the Buddha indicates that the sculpture depicts the consecration (abhisheka) of Shakyamuni as the king of the Tushita Pure Land, the abode of all the buddhas before their final rebirth on earth. The five-pointed crown, the three-pointed cape tied at the back with two strings, and the unusual floral decorations on the Buddha's shoulder have been identified as the primary elements in the iconography of this scene. The development of this iconography and its emphasis on Shakyamuni's consecration in the Tushita Pure Land have been linked to the rise of the Lokottaravadins, a subsect of the Mahasamghikas influential in the development of Mahayana Buddhism. Unlike earlier sects that defined the Buddha as a historical person who had achieved enlightenment, the Mahasamghikas speculated more broadly on the nature of the Buddha, defining him as a supermundane being (lokottara) of unlimited power and longevity. Relying on the Mahavastu, a text compiled from the 1st to 4th centuries, the Mahasamghikas developed a new interpretation of the path to buddhahood that stressed each person's inherent ability to become a buddha. According to this text, each potential buddha passes through ten stages known as bhumis during his spiritual career. In the last of these stages, the prospective buddha resides in the Tushita Pure Land to await his rebirth on earth.