The Bodhisattva was conceived on the full moon night in July; that night his mother, Maya, dreamt that a white elephant carrying a white lotus in its trunk came and entered her womb through her right flank. Maya is shown reclining, her head to the left of the spectator, on a four-legged bed. A water pitcher and a lighted lamp (indicating that the scene took place at night) complete the furnishings. Maidservants at the bottom watch over their mistress' sleep, one holding a fly whisk and the other being startled to see the entry of the white elephant into Maya.The white elephant here symbolizes perfect wisdom and royal power; in India, an elephant is accounted the most sacred animal on earth. As a matter of fact, prior to the descent, the Bodhisattva in the Tusita heaven consulted with other gods about what guise he should take to enter his mother's womb. The gods suggested all the divine forms imaginable, but one of them, who knew the writings of the brahmins better because of his recent birth, closed the discussion by stating, "In the form of a white elephant having six tusks."
One more point that attracts our attention is that at this decisive moment of conception Maya is always shown alone on her couch; her husband is always absent. This restraint can be attributed to the religious belief of the time that everything having to do with the birth of the Buddha be physically and morally pure. This preoccupation with moral purity is carried over to the second act, the birth of the Buddha.