Amitābha

Amitābha[2] (Sanskrit pronunciation: [ɐmɪˈtaːbʱɐ]), also known as Amida or Amitāyus, is a celestial buddha according to the scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism. Amitābha is the principal buddha in Pure Land Buddhism, a branch of East Asian Buddhism. In Vajrayana Buddhism, Amitābha is known for his longevity attribute, magnetising red fire element, the aggregate of discernment, pure perception and the deep awareness of emptiness of phenomena. According to these scriptures, Amitābha possesses infinite merit resulting from good deeds over countless past lives as a bodhisattva named Dharmakāra. Amitābha means "Infinite Light", and Amitāyus means "Infinite Life" so Amitābha is also called "The Buddha of Immeasurable Light and Life".

Amitābha
Seated Amida Nyorai (Amitabha), Kamakura period, 12th-13th century, wood with gold leaf and inlaid crystal eyes - Tokyo National Museum - DSC05345
Amitābha statue in gold leaf with inlaid crystal eyes. Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, Japan
Sanskritअमिताभ
Amitābha
अमितायुस्
Amitāyus
Chinese(Traditional)
阿彌陀佛
(Simplified)
阿弥陀佛
(Pinyin: Ēmítuófó or Āmítuófó)[1]
(Wade-Giles: A-mi-tʻuo Fo)
Japanese阿弥陀仏あみだぶつ
(romaji: Amida Butsu)
阿弥陀如来あみだにょらい
(romaji: Amida Nyorai)
Korean아미타불
(RR: Amita Bul)
Mongolianᠴᠠᠭᠯᠠᠰᠢ ᠦᠭᠡᠢ ᠭᠡᠷᠡᠯᠲᠦ
Цаглашгүй гэрэлт
Tsaglasi ügei gereltu
Одбагмэд Odbagmed
Аминдаваа Amindavaa
Аюуш Ayush
Thaiพระอมิตาภพุทธะ
Phra Amitapha Phuttha
Tibetanའོད་དཔག་མེད་
Wylie: 'od dpag med
THL: Öpakmé

ཚེ་དཔག་མེད་
Wylie: tshe dpag med
THL: Tsépakmé
VietnameseA Di Đà Phật
(Hán Nôm: 阿彌陀佛)
Information
Venerated byMahayana, Vajrayana
AttributesInfinite Light or Immeasurable Radiance
ShaktiPandara
Dharma Wheel.svg Buddhism portal
Buddha Amithaba
Buddha Amitābha in Tibetan Buddhism, traditional thangka painting.
Amitabha
Portrait of Buddha Amitābha attached in Annotation to the Infinite Life Sutra (Ch. 佛說大乘無量壽莊嚴清淨平等覺經科註).
Museum of Ethnology Vienna 001 retouched
Statue of the Buddha Amitābha (Mongolia, 18th century).
Kamakura Budda Daibutsu front 1885
A Kōtoku-in statue.

Doctrine

According to the Larger Sūtra of Immeasurable Life, Amitābha was, in very ancient times and possibly in another system of worlds, a monk named Dharmakāra. In some versions of the sūtra, Dharmakāra is described as a former king who, having come into contact with Buddhist teachings through the buddha Lokeśvararāja, renounced his throne. He then resolved to become a buddha and so to come into possession of a buddhakṣetra ("buddha-field", a realm existing in the primordial universe outside of ordinary reality, produced by a buddha's merit) possessed of many perfections. These resolutions were expressed in his forty-eight vows, which set out the type of buddha-field Dharmakāra aspired to create, the conditions under which beings might be born into that world, and what kind of beings they would be when reborn there.

In the versions of the sutra widely known in China, Vietnam, Korea and Japan, Dharmakāra's eighteenth vow was that any being in any universe desiring to be reborn into Amitābha's pure land (Chinese: 净土; pinyin: jìngtŭ; Japanese pronunciation: jōdo; Korean: 정토; romaja: jeongto; Vietnamese: tịnh độ) and calling upon his name even as few as ten times will be guaranteed rebirth there. His nineteenth vow promises that he, together with his bodhisattvas and other blessed Buddhists, will appear before those who, at the moment of death, call upon him. This openness and acceptance of all kinds of people has made belief in pure lands one of the major influences in Mahāyāna Buddhism. Pure Land Buddhism seems to have first become popular in Gandhara, from where it spread to Central Asia and China.

The sutra goes on to explain that Amitābha, after accumulating great merit over countless lives, finally achieved buddhahood and is still residing in his land of Sukhāvatī, whose many virtues and joys are described.

The basic doctrines concerning Amitābha and his vows are found in three canonical Mahāyāna texts:[3]

Through his efforts, Amitābha created a pure land called Sukhāvatī (Sanskrit: "possessing happiness") . Sukhāvatī is situated in the uttermost west, beyond the bounds of our own world. By the power of his vows, Amitābha has made it possible for all who call upon him to be reborn into this land, there to undergo instruction by him in the dharma and ultimately become bodhisattvas and buddhas in their turn (the ultimate goal of Mahāyāna Buddhism). From there, these same bodhisattvas and buddhas return to our world to help yet more people.

Amitābha is the buddha of comprehensive love. He lives in the West (represented as a meditating Buddha) and works for the enlightenment of all beings (represented as a blessing Buddha). His most important enlightenment technique is the visualization of the surrounding world as a paradise. Those who see his world as a paradise awaken his enlightenment energy. The world can be seen as a paradise by a corresponding positive thought (enlightenment thought) or by sending light to all beings (wish all beings to be happy). After the Amitābha doctrine, one can come to paradise (in the Pure Land of Amitābha), if they visualize at their death Amitābha in the heaven (sun) over their head (western horizon), think his name as a mantra and leave the body as a soul through the crown chakra.

Vajrayāna Buddhism

Amitayus Mandala.jpeg
Mandala of Amitāyus, Tibet, 19th century, Rubin Museum of Art

Amitābha is also known in Tibet, Mongolia, and other regions where Tibetan Buddhism is practiced. In the Highest Yogatantra of Tibetan Buddhism, Amitābha is considered one of the Five Dhyāni Buddhas (together with Akṣobhya, Amoghasiddhi, Ratnasambhava, and Vairocana), who is associated with the western direction and the skandha of saṃjñā, the aggregate of distinguishing (recognition) and the deep awareness of individualities. His consort is Pāṇḍaravāsinī.[4][5][6][7][8] His two main disciples (the same number as Gautama Buddha) are the bodhisattvas Vajrapani and Avalokiteśvara, the former to his left and the latter to his right. In Tibetan Buddhism, there exist a number of famous prayers for taking rebirth in Sukhāvatī (Dewachen). One of these was written by Je Tsongkhapa on the request of Manjushri (For a discussion and translation of the most important prayers in the Tibetan tradition see Halkias).[9]

The Panchen Lamas[10] and Shamarpas[11] are considered to be emanations of Amitābha.

He is frequently invoked in Tibet either as Amitābha – especially in the phowa practices or as Amitāyus – especially in practices relating to longevity and preventing an untimely death.

In Shingon Buddhism, Amitābha is seen as one of the thirteen Buddhas to whom practitioners can pay homage. Shingon, like Tibetan Buddhism, also uses special devotional mantras for Amitābha, though the mantras used differ. Amitābha is also one of the Buddhas featured in the Womb Realm Mandala used in Shingon practices, and sits to the west, which is where the Pure Land of Amitābha is said to dwell.

Mantras

Amitābha is the center of a number of mantras in Vajrayana practices. The Sanskrit form of the mantra of Amitābha is ॐ अमिताभ ह्रीः (Devanagari: oṃ amitābha hrīḥ), which is pronounced in its Tibetan version as Om ami dewa hri (Sanskrit: oṃ amideva hrīḥ). His mantra in Shingon Buddhism is On amirita teizei kara un (Japanese: オン・アミリタ・テイゼイ・カラ・ウン), which represents the underlying Indic form oṃ amṛta-teje hara hūṃ.

In addition to using the mantras listed above, many Buddhist schools invoke Amitābha's name in a practice known as nianfo 念佛 in Chinese and nembutsu in Japanese.

Names in various languages

The proper form of Amitābha's name in Sanskrit is Amitābha, masculine, and the nominative singular is Amitābhaḥ. This is a compound of the Sanskrit words amita ("without bound, infinite") and ābhā ("light, splendor"). Consequently, the name is to be interpreted as "he who possesses light without bound, he whose splendor is infinite".

The name Amitāyus (nominative form Amitāyuḥ) is also used for the Sambhogakāya aspect of Amitābha, particularly associated with longevity.[12] He is mostly depicted sitting and holding in his hands a vessel containing the nectar of immortality. In Tibetan Buddhism, Amitāyus is also one of the three deities of long life (Amitāyus, White Tara and Uṣṇīṣavijayā) . Amitāyus being a compound of amita ("infinite") and āyus ("life"), and so means "he whose life is boundless".

In Chinese, 阿弥陀佛 ("Āmítuófó"), sometimes pronounced "Ēmítuófó", is the Chinese pronunciation for the Sanskrit name of the Amitābha Buddha (Amida Buddha). The "a mi tuo" is the transliteration of the Sanskrit word "Amida" which means "boundless" (无量, "wuliang"). "Fo" is the Chinese word for "Buddha".[13]

In Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese, the same Chinese characters used for Amitābha are used to represent his name, though they are pronounced slightly differently:

  • Vietnamese: A Di Đà Phật
  • Korean: Amita Bul
  • Japanese: Amida Butsu.

In addition to transliteration, the name Amitābha has also been translated into Chinese using characters which, taken together, convey the meaning "Infinite Light": 無量光 (Wúliàngguāng). In the same fashion, the name Amitāyus ("Infinite Life") has been translated as 無量壽 (Wúliàngshòu). These translated names are not, however, very commonly used.

In Japanese, Amitābha is also called Amida Nyorai (阿弥陀如来, "the Tathāgata Amitābha") .

In Tibetan, Amitābha is called འོད་དཔག་མེད་ Wylie: 'od dpag med, THL: Öpakmé and in its reflex form as Amitāyus, ཚེ་དཔག་མེད་ Wylie: tshe dpag med, THL: Tsépakmé. They are iconographically distinct.

Iconography

Chinese temple bouddha
This altar display at a temple in Taiwan shows Amitābha flanked by Mahāsthāmaprāpta on his left and Guanyin on the right.

Amitābha is said to display 84,000 auspicious and distinguishing marks reflecting his many virtues.[14] Amitābha can often be distinguished by his mudrā: Amitābha is often depicted, when shown seated, displaying the meditation mudrā (thumbs touching and fingers together as in the Great Buddha of Kamakura (鎌倉大仏) at Kōtoku-in or the exposition mudrā, while the earth-touching mudrā (right hand pointed downward over the right leg, palm inward) is reserved for a seated Gautama Buddha alone. He can also be seen holding a lotus in his hands while displaying the meditation mudrā.

There is a difference between Amitāyus and Amitābha. Amitāyus—the Buddha of Infinite Life—and Amitābha—the Buddha of Infinite Light—are essentially identical, being reflective images of one another. Sutras in which Gautama Buddha expounds the glories of Sukhavati, the Pure Lands, speak of the presiding Buddha sometimes as Amitābha and sometimes as Amitāyus. When depicted as Amitāyus he is depicted in fine clothes and jewels and as Amitābha in simple monk's clothing. They are also simply known as Amida in the Chinese and Japanese tradition. The image of the gold colored statue in the article is of Amitāyus as he is wearing a five-pointed crown, which is the easiest way to distinguish them. Amitāyus is an emanation of Amitābha. Amitābha is the head of the Lotus family.[15]

When standing, Amitābha is often shown with left arm bare and extended downward with thumb and forefinger touching, with the right hand facing outward also with thumb and forefinger touching. The meaning of this mudra is that wisdom (symbolized by the raised hand) is accessible to even the lowest beings, while the outstretched hand shows that Amitābha's compassion is directed at the lowest beings, who cannot save themselves.

When not depicted alone, Amitābha is often portrayed with two assistants: Avalokiteśvara on the right and Mahāsthāmaprāpta on the left.

In Vajrayana, Amitābha is the most ancient of among the Dhyani Buddhas. He is of red color originating from the red seed syllable hrīḥ. He represents the cosmic element of "Sanjana" (name). His vehicle is the peacock. He exhibits Samadhi Mudra his two palms folded face up, one on top of the other, lying on his lap. The lotus is his sign. When represented on the stupa, he always faces toward west. He is worshiped thinking that one can have salvation.

Archeological origins

Longmen-hidden-stream-temple-cave-amitabha
Tang dynasty Amitābha sculpture, Hidden Stream Temple Cave, Longmen Grottoes, China

The first known epigraphic evidence for Amitābha is the bottom part of a statue found in Govindnagar, Pakistan and now located at Government Museum, Mathura. The statue is dated to "the 28th year of the reign of Huviṣka" i.e., sometime in the latter half of the second century during the Kushan Empire, and was apparently dedicated to "Amitābha Buddha" by a family of merchants.[16]

The first known sutra mentioning Amitābha is the translation into Chinese of the Pratyutpanna Samādhi Sūtra by the Kushan monk Lokakṣema around 180. This work is said to be at the origin of pure land practices in China.

The appearance of such literature and sculptural remains at the end of the second century suggests that the doctrine of Amitābha probably developed during the first and second centuries. Furthermore, there are sculptures of Amitabha in dhyani mudras as well as bronzes of Amitābha in abhaya mudra from the Gandhara era of the first century, suggesting the popularity of Amitābha during that time. One of the last prayer busts of Amitābha can be found in the trademark black stone of the Pala Empire, which was the last Buddhist empire of India and lost its influence in the twelfth century due to Muslim conquests on the Indian subcontinent.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ "阿彌陀佛".
  2. ^ Lévi, Sylvain; Takakusu, Junjir; Demiéville, Paul; Watanabe, Kaigyoku (1929). Hobogirin: Dictionnaire encyclopédique de bouddhisme d'après les sources chinoises et japonaises, Paris: Maisonneuve, vols. 1–3, pp. 24–29
  3. ^ Inagaki, Hisao, trans. (2003), The Three Pure Land Sutras (PDF), Berkeley: Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, ISBN 1-886439-18-4, archived from the original (PDF) on May 12, 2014
  4. ^ "The Great Compassion Mantra - Namo Amitabha". Archived from the original on 2009-02-21.
  5. ^ "Bardo: Fourth Day". Kaykeys.net. 2005-02-07. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  6. ^ "Symbolism of the five Dhyani Buddhas". Archived from the original on March 8, 2009.
  7. ^ "Pandara is said to be the Prajna of Amitābha Buddha. Pandara is the same in essence with Buddha Amitābha". Himalayanmart.com. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  8. ^ "Guan Yin - Bodhisattva/ Goddess of Compassion". Nationsonline.org. 2011-06-04. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  9. ^ Georgios T. Halkias, Luminous Bliss: A Religious History of Pure Land Literature in Tibet Pure Land
  10. ^ Tibet is My Country: Autobiography of Thubten Jigme Norbu, Brother of the Dalai Lama as told to Heinrich Harrer, p. 121. First published in German in 1960. English translation by Edward Fitzgerald, published 1960. Reprint, with updated new chapter, (1986): Wisdom Publications, London. ISBN 0-86171-045-2.
  11. ^ "Teachers: Shamar Rinpoche". Archived from the original on 2007-10-30. Retrieved 2007-10-21.
  12. ^ "Amitayus". Rigpa Wiki. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  13. ^ "Buddhist Charms". Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  14. ^ Olson, Carl (2005). The Different Paths of Buddhism: A Narrative-Historical Introduction. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. p. 185. ISBN 0813535611. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  15. ^ Landaw, Jonathan. Images of Enlightenment: Tibetan Art in Practice. Snow Lion Publications. pp. 75, 80, 96. ISBN 978-1-55939-832-9.
  16. ^ "On the origins of Mahayana Buddhism" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-06-12. Retrieved 2013-06-14.

Bibliography

External links

Amitabha (disambiguation)

Amitabh or Amitabha may refer to:

Amitābha, an important Buddha in East Asian Buddhism

Amitābha Buddha from Hancui, a statue from Hancui, China, now in the British Museum

Amitabh Bachchan, an actor

Amitabh Chaudhry (born 1964/65), Indian banker, CEO and MD of Axis Bank

Amitabha Buddhist Centre, Singapore

Amitabha urbsinterdictensis, an Eocene fossil bird

Buddhist devotion

Devotion, a central practice in Buddhism, refers to commitment to religious observances or to an object or person, and may be translated with Sanskrit or Pāli terms like saddhā, gārava or pūjā. Central to Buddhist devotion is the practice of buddhānussati, the recollection of the inspiring qualities of the Buddha. Although buddhānussati had been an important aspect of practice since the early period of Buddhism, its importance was amplified with the arising of Mahāyāna Buddhism. Specifically, with Pure Land Buddhism, many forms of devotion were developed to recollect and connect with the celestial Buddhas, especially Amitābha.

Most Buddhists use ritual in pursuit of their spiritual aspirations. Common devotional practices are receiving a blessing, making merit, making a resolution, prostrating, making offerings, chanting traditional texts and pilgrimage. Moreover, many types of visualizations, recollections and mantras are used in Buddhist meditation in different traditions to devote oneself to a Buddha or a teacher. The often politically motivated practice of self-immolation is a less common aspect of devotion in some Buddhist communities.

Buddhist devotional practices can be performed at home or in a temple, in which images of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and enlightened disciples are located. Buddhist devotion is practiced more intensively on the uposatha observation days and on yearly festivals, which are different depending on region and tradition.

Byodo-In Temple

The Byodo-In Temple (平等院, Byōdōin) is a non-denominational Buddhist temple located on the island of Oʻahu in Hawaiʻi in Valley of the Temples Memorial Park. It was dedicated in August 1968 to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaiʻi.The temple is a replica of a 900-year-old Buddhist temple at Uji in Kyoto Prefecture of Japan. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a functioning Buddhist temple in the proper sense as it does not host a resident monastic community nor an active congregation. Inside the Byodo-In Temple is a 18 ft (5.5 m) statue of the Lotus Buddha, a wooden image depicting Amitābha. It is covered in gold and lacquer. Outside is a three-ton, brass peace bell. Surrounding the temple are large koi ponds that cover a total of 2 acres (0.81 ha). Around those ponds are lush Japanese gardens set against a backdrop of towering cliffs of the Koʻolau Range. The gardens are home to sparrows and peafowl. The temple covers 11,000 sq ft (1,000 m2).The Byodo-In Temple is visited and used by thousands of worshipers from around the world. It welcomes people of all faiths to participate in its traditions. Apart from worship, the temple grounds are also used for weddings and office meetings.

Faith in Buddhism

In Buddhism, faith (Pali: saddhā, Sanskrit: śraddhā) refers to a serene commitment to the practice of the Buddha's teaching and trust in enlightened or highly developed beings, such as Buddhas or bodhisattvas (those aiming to become a Buddha). Buddhists usually recognize multiple objects of faith, but many are especially devoted to one in particular, such as one particular Buddha. Faith may not only be devotion to a person, but exists in relation to Buddhist concepts like the efficacy of karma and the possibility of enlightenment.

Faith in early Buddhism focused on the Triple Gem, that is, the Buddha; his teaching (the dharma); and finally, the community of spiritually developed followers or the monastic community seeking enlightenment (the saṅgha). A faithful devotee was called an upāsaka or upāsika, a status for which no formal initiation was required. Early Buddhism valued personal verification of spiritual truth highest in attaining such truth, and considered sacred scriptures, reason or faith in a teacher less valuable sources of authority. As important as faith was, it was merely a first step on the path to wisdom and enlightenment, and was made obsolete or redefined at the final stage of that path. Early Buddhism did not morally condemn peaceful offerings to deities. Throughout the history of Buddhism, the worship of deities, often from pre-Buddhist and animist origins, was appropriated or transformed into Buddhist practices and beliefs. As part of this process, such deities were explained as subordinate to the Triple Gem, which still kept a central role.

In the later stratum of Buddhist history, especially in Mahāyāna Buddhism, faith was given a much more important role. Mahāyāna introduced devotion to Buddhas and bodhisattvas residing in Pure Lands and with the rise of devotion to the Amithaba Buddha in Pure Land Buddhism faith gained a central role in Buddhist practice. The Japanese form of Pure Land Buddhism, under the teachers Hōnen and Shinran, believed that only entrusting faith toward the Amitābha Buddha was a fruitful form of practice, as it dismissed celibacy, meditation and other Buddhist practices as no longer effective, or as contradicting the virtue of faith. Pure Land Buddhists defined faith as a state similar to enlightenment, with a sense of self-negation and humility. Mahayana sutras, such as the Lotus Sutra, became objects of worship, and the recitation and copying of these sutras were believed to create great merit. The impact of faith in Buddhist religiosity became pivotal in millenarian movements in several Buddhist countries, which sometimes resulted in the destruction of royal dynasties and other important political changes.

Thus, the role of faith increased throughout Buddhist history. However, from the nineteenth century onward, in countries like Sri Lanka and Japan, and also in the West, Buddhist modernism has downplayed and criticized the role of faith in Buddhism. Faith in Buddhism still has a role in modern Asia and the West, but is understood and defined differently from traditional interpretations, with modern values and eclecticism becoming more important. The Dalit Buddhist community, specifically the Navayāna movement, has interpreted Buddhist concepts in the light of the political situation of the Dalits, in which there is tension between modernist rationalism and local devotion.

Five Tathagatas

In Vajrayana Buddhism, the Five Tathāgatas (pañcatathāgata) or Five Wisdom Tathāgatas (Chinese: 五智如来; pinyin: Wǔzhì Rúlái), the Five Great Buddhas and the Five Jinas (Sanskrit for "conqueror" or "victor"), are emanations and representations of the five qualities of the Adi-Buddha or "first Buddha" Vairocana or Vajradhara, which is associated with Dharmakaya.They are also sometimes called the "dhyani-buddhas", a term first recorded in English by the British Resident in Nepal, Brian Hodgson, in the early 19th century, and is unattested in any surviving traditional primary sources. These five Buddhas are a common subject of Vajrayana mandalas.

These five Buddhas feature prominently in various Buddhist Tantras and are the primary object of realization and meditation in Shingon Buddhism, a school of Vajarayana Buddhism founded in Japan by Kūkai.

Jōdo-shū

Jōdo-shū (浄土宗, "The Pure Land School"), also known as Jōdo Buddhism, is a branch of Pure Land Buddhism derived from the teachings of the Japanese ex-Tendai monk Hōnen. It was established in 1175 and is the most widely practiced branch of Buddhism in Japan, along with Jōdo Shinshū.

Jōdo Shinshū

Jōdo Shinshū (浄土真宗, "The True Essence of the Pure Land Teaching"), also known as Shin Buddhism or True Pure Land Buddhism, is a school of Pure Land Buddhism. It was founded by the former Tendai Japanese monk Shinran. Shin Buddhism is considered the most widely practiced branch of Buddhism in Japan.

List of Buddhas

This is a list of historical, contemporary, and legendary figures which at least one school of Buddhism considers to be a Buddha and which have an article on Wikipedia:

Acala

Adi-Buddha

Akshobhya

Amitābha, principal Buddha of Pure Land Buddhism

Amoghasiddhi

Bhaisajyaguru

Budai

Dīpankara Buddha

Five Tathagatas

Gautama Buddha

Kakusandha

Kassapa Buddha

Koṇāgamana Buddha

Lokesvararaja

Nairatmya

Nichiren Daishonin, Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law (Nikko Lineage)

Padumuttara Buddha

Padmasambhava

Ratnasambhava

Satyanama

Sumedha Buddha

Tara

Tonpa Shenrab

Vairocana, embodiment of the Dharmakaya

Vajradhara

Vajrayogini

Yeshe Tsogyal

List of bodhisattvas

In Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhist thought, a bodhisattva (Chinese: 菩薩; pinyin: púsà; Japanese pronunciation: bosatsu; Korean pronunciation: bosal) is a being who is dedicated to achieving complete Buddhahood. Conventionally, the term is applied to beings with a high degree of enlightenment. Bodhisattva literally means a "bodhi (enlightenment) being" in Sanskrit. Mahayana practitioners have historically lived in many other countries that are now predominantly Hindu, Muslim or Theravada Buddhist; remnants of reverence for bodhisattvas has continued in some of these regions.

The following is a non-exhaustive list of bodhisattvas primarily respected in Indian, Tibetan Buddhism and East Asian Buddhism.

Longer Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra

The Longer Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra (or Infinite Life Sutra) is one of the two Indian Mahayana sutras which describe the pure land of Amitābha. Together with the Shorter Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra, this text is highly influential in China and Japan where it is revered by the Jōdo-shū and Jōdo Shinshū congregations.

The original Sanskrit versions of the Shorter Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra and Longer Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra were translated into English by Luis Gomez in The Land of Bliss.

Mahasthamaprapta

Mahāsthāmaprāpta is a bodhisattva mahāsattva that represents the power of wisdom, often depicted in a trinity with Amitābha and Avalokiteśvara (Guanyin), especially in Pure Land Buddhism. His name literally means "arrival of the great strength".

Mahāsthāmaprāpta is one of the Eight Great Bodhisattvas in Mahayana Buddhism, along with Mañjuśrī, Samantabhadra, Avalokiteśvara, Ākāśagarbha, Kṣitigarbha, Maitreya and Sarvanivarana-Vishkambhin.

In Chinese Buddhism, he is usually portrayed as a woman, with a likeness similar to Avalokiteśvara. He is also one of the Japanese Thirteen Buddhas in Shingon Buddhism. In Tibetan Buddhism, Mahāsthāmaprāpta is equated with Vajrapani, who is one of his incarnations and was known as the Protector of Gautama Buddha.

Mahāsthāmaprāpta is one of the oldest bodhisattvas and is regarded as powerful, especially in the Pure Land school, where he takes an important role in the Longer Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra.

In the Śūraṅgama Sūtra, Mahāsthāmaprāpta tells of how he gained enlightenment through the practice of nianfo, or continuous pure mindfulness of Amitābha, to obtain samādhi. In the Amitayurdhyana Sutra, Mahāsthāmaprāpta is symbolized by the moon while Avalokiteśvara is represented by the sun.

Nianfo

Nianfo (Chinese: 念佛; pinyin: niànfó, Japanese: 念仏 (ねんぶつ, nenbutsu), Korean: 염불; RR: yeombul, Vietnamese: niệm Phật) is a term commonly seen in Pure Land Buddhism. In the context of Pure Land practice, it generally refers to the repetition of the name of Amitābha. It is a translation of Sanskrit buddhānusmṛti (or, "recollection of the Buddha").

Panchen Lama

The Panchen Lama (Tibetan: པཎ་ཆེན་བླ་མ།, Wylie: paN chen bla ma), is a tulku of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. Panchen Lama is one of the most important figures in the Gelug tradition, with its spiritual authority second only to Dalai Lama. "Panchen" is an abbreviation of "Pandita" and "Chenpo", meaning "Great scholar".

The recognition of Panchen Lamas began with Lobsang Chökyi Gyaltsen, tutor of the 5th Dalai Lama, who received the title "Panchen Bogd" from Altan Khan and the Dalai Lama in 1645. "Bogd" is Mongolian, meaning "holy". Khedrup Gelek Pelzang, Sönam Choklang and Ensapa Lobsang Döndrup were subsequently recognized as the first to third Panchen Lamas posthumously.

In 1713, the Kangxi Emperor of the Qing dynasty granted the title Panchen Erdeni (Chinese: 班禪額爾德尼; literally: 'Great Scholar the Treasure') to the 5th Panchen Lama. In 1792, the Qianlong Emperor issued a decree known as the 29-Article Imperial Decree for Better Governing in Tibet, and Article One of the decree was designed to be used in the selection of rinpoches, lamas and other high offices within Tibetan Buddhism, including the Dalai Lamas, Panchen Lamas and Mongolian lamas.Traditionally, the Panchen Lama was the head of Tashilhunpo Monastery, and held religious and secular power over the Tsang region centered in Shigatse, independent of the Ganden Podrang authority led by Dalai Lama. However, Dalai and Panchen Lamas are closely connected, and Panchen Lama is part of the process by which each new Dalai Lama is chosen.The identity of the current, 11th Panchen Lama is controversial. Under Chinese official support, Chökyi Gyalpo currently acts as the 11th Panchen Lama in Tibet. However, he has been rejected abroad. The Chinese government has been accused of kidnapping Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the Panchen Lama recognized by the 14th Dalai Lama.

In the Qianlong Emperor's essay "The Discourse of Lama" published in 1792, the emperor wrote that the Golden Urn system is a fairer mechanism than the method of identifying the reincarnation of the Lama using only one person. (虽不能尽去其弊,较之从前一人之授意者,或略公矣。).

Pure Land Buddhism

Pure Land Buddhism (Chinese: 淨土宗; pinyin: Jìngtǔzōng; Japanese: 浄土仏教 Jōdo bukkyō; Korean: Korean: 정토종; RR: Jeongto-jong; Vietnamese: Tịnh Độ Tông), also referred to as Amidism in English, is a broad branch of Mahayana Buddhism and one of the most widely practiced traditions of Buddhism in East Asia. Pure Land is a tradition of Buddhist teachings that are focused on the Buddha Amitābha. The three primary texts of the tradition, known as the "Three Pure Land Sutras", are the Longer Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra (Infinite Life Sutra), Amitayurdhyana Sutra (Contemplation Sutra) and the Shorter Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra (Amitabha Sutra).

Pure Land oriented practices and concepts are found within basic Mahāyāna Buddhist cosmology, and form an important component of the Mahāyāna Buddhist traditions of China, Japan, Korea, Tibet and Vietnam. The term "Pure Land Buddhism" is used to describe both the Pure Land soteriology of Mahayana Buddhism, which may be better understood as "Pure Land traditions" or "Pure Land teachings," and the separate Pure Land sects that developed in Japan from the work of Hōnen. Pure Land Buddhism is built on the belief that we will never have a world which is not corrupt, so we must strive for re-birth in another plane, referred to as the "Pure Land".

Raigō

A raigō (来迎, "welcoming approach") is an appearance of Amida Buddha on a "purple" cloud (紫雲) at the time of one's death. It has given rise to a type of Japanese painting (a raigō-zu) of a Buddha accompanied by bodhisattvas. As a ritual, such a painting is carried into the house of a person who is near death.

Among the upper classes, raigo paintings and sculpture became very popular, as they depicted the Amida Buddha coming down in celebration in relation to dead relatives or to one's own house. Some of these paintings are clearly yamato-e, or Japanese paintings in that they gave artists a chance to paint Japanese landscapes.

Shamarpa

The Shamarpa (Tibetan: ཞྭ་དམར་པ་, Wylie: zhwa dmar pa; literally, "Person (i.e. Holder) of the Red Crown"), also known as Shamar Rinpoche, or more formally Künzig Shamar Rinpoche, is a lineage holder of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism and is regarded to be the mind manifestation of Amitābha. He is traditionally associated with Yangpachen Monastery near Lhasa.

The first Shamarpa, Drakpa Senggé (Wylie: grags pa seng+ge, 1283–1349), was the principal disciple of Rangjung Dorje, 3rd Karmapa Lama. Rangjung Dorje gave this disciple a ruby-red crown and the title "Shamarpa", establishing the second line of reincarnate lamas in Tibetan Buddhism, the Karmapa being the first.

The Shamarpa is often referred to as the "Red Hat Karmapa", especially in early Kagyu texts.

The 5th Dalai Lama saw the Shamarpa as equal to the Karmapa: Since Je Chen-nga Thamchad Khyenpa Chokyi Dragpa (the Fourth Shamarpa) ascended the throne of the Phagdrupa dynasty, there was no longer any difference between the Red Hat and the Black Hat Karmapas. This was the reason why I afforded them both equal status."

Shorter Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra

The Shorter Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra is one of the two Indian Mahayana sutras that describe Sukhavati, the pure land of Amitābha. This text is highly influential in East Asian Buddhism, including China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. This text is revered by the Jōdo Shinshū, one of Japan's largest Buddhist congregations.

The original Sanskrit versions of the Shorter Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra and Longer Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra were translated into English by Luis Gomez in The Land of Bliss.

Sukhavati

Sukhāvatī, or the Western Paradise, refers to the western pure land of Amitābha in Mahayana Buddhism. The Sanskrit sukhavatī (sukhāvatī) is the feminine form of sukhāvat ("full of joy; blissful"),

from sukha ("delight, joy") and -vat ("full of").

Vairocana

Vairocana (also Mahāvairocana, Sanskrit: वैरोचन) is a celestial buddha who is often interpreted, in texts like the Avatamsaka Sutra, as the dharmakāya of the historical Gautama Buddha. In Chinese, Korean, and Japanese Buddhism, Vairocana is also seen as the embodiment of the Buddhist concept of Śūnyatā. In the conception of the Five Tathagatas of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism, Vairocana is at the centre and is considered a Primordial Buddha.

Vairocana is not to be confused with Vairocana Mahabali, son of Virochana.

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