The Buddha was never fat so where did that idea come from?

He ate too much tellytubby custard.



An associate of mine who studied Tibetan Buddhism once explained that the fat Buddha is Chinese anti-Buddhist propaganda suggesting he was lazy and decadent. To the other, though, I've never bothered to verify this. Call it one more theory for the pile.
"Buddha" is a title, not a name. The original Buddha with a capital B lived in India, but since then other men have achieved... um... "buddhahood," and they are lower-case buddhas.

Until the last few decades, most Americans only knew about Buddhism through information from China. That's where, perhaps, the majority of the modern world's Buddhists live, and in addition it's a country whose culture has spread widely through commerce, particularly in the USA. Most Americans have eaten in a Chinese restaurant run by Chinese people and decorated with artifacts of Chinese culture, with a big fat buddha statue near the door.

Hotei was a Chinese man who lived around 950CE and achieved buddhahood by, among other things, practicing charity. The Chinese buddha image is modeled after Hotei.
Gautama Buddha or "The Buddha" was never fat according to the Pali canons (Digha Nikaya), he was described as being athletically fit his entire life, about 6'1" tall, possessing a strong build, athletic, what happened that caused him to be depicted as fat????

Buddha was a trained warrior to. He was strong, tall and well propotioned. His depiction as fat is a perversion introduced by the western people.
Wow, you guys really have no clue about the happy (and fat) Buddha?

In the Chinese tradition, Budai[/Hotei in Japanese] was a monk who lived during the Later Liang Dynasty (907–923 AD) of China. He was a native of Fenghua, and his Buddhist name was Qieci (Chinese: 契此; pinyin: Qiècǐ; literally "Promise this"). He was considered a man of good and loving character...

The primary story that concerns Budai in Zen (Chán) is a short kōan. In it, Budai is said to travel giving candy to poor children, only asking a penny from Zen monks or lay practitioners he meets. One day a monk walks up to him and asks, "What is the meaning of Zen?" Budai drops his bag. "How does one realize Zen?" he continued. Budai then took up his bag and continued on his way.
I have wondered if the fat was meant to signify something physical in the process of enlightenment. The brown fat found on babies gains it colour because is made up with more mitochondria.

Mitochondria can generate ATP with oxygen in a process called oxidative phosphorylation. This process generates approximately ten time more ATP than the citric acid cycle alone, and generates more ATP than any other energy-producing pathway (eg, glycosis). It has been my intuition that these other energy-producing pathways were related to stress mechanisms in the body, whereas mitochondria is not.

Some think that it is the inefficiency of mitochondria, called mitochondrian aging, that causes aging and eventual death.
I'm not quite sure about this, but my theory is that being fat used to represent wealth back in the day and being Buddha, he was a wealthy man in a spiritual sense.

I'm thinking you are right. Being fat was considered a sign of good health and wealth. They also said his skin would cast a gold hue.
I'm thinking you are right. Being fat was considered a sign of good health and wealth. They also said his skin would cast a gold hue.

The original Buddha - Gautama - is not depicted as fat.

Budai/Hotei aka the happy buddha or laughing buddha is the fat buddha you see in restuarants. He is also sometimes associated with / used as a representation of the Bodhisattva Maitreya, the buddha of the future (like in the yellow robed picture above).

He also doubles as a god of good fortune.

Its been this way for centuries so no, its not a communist conspiricy.
The Chinese depict the Buddha as fat because being fat in China was a sign of success since most were borderline starved to death.

Statues of Buddha from other areas outside of China depict him as slender and serene.