Namo Buddhaya!

Medicine Buddha

Excerpt from BuddhaNet:

Yao Shih Fwo, one of the three foremost Buddhas of the Chinese Pantheon, is a Buddha of the past era. Better known to the people as the Buddha of Medicine or the Master of Healing, he is dear to the hearts of many, for they have indeed received his blessings in the forms of miraculous cures of all kinds of illness. The Buddha's efficacy in preventing calamities and granting prosperity besides curing illness has attracted a steady number of believers and devotees since the time of the Eastern Chin Dynasty (AD 317-420) to the present day. The Sutra of the Buddha of Medicine (Bhaisajyaraja Sutra) was also translated into Chinese at that period of time which provided a full account on the peerless Buddha, his Paradise and his Twelve Great Vows. However the later translation made by Tripitaka Master Hsuan Tsang, the famous monk of the Tang Dynasty, known as The Sutra of the Master of Healing (Bhaisajyaguru - Vaidurya - Prabhasa Tathagata), is the more popular Sutra which is widely read by most people today.

The title 'Master of Healing', is a literal translation of his Sanskrit name 'Bhaisajyaguru', the Buddha who favours worshippers with relief from the troubles of the world. Apart from curing illness, warding such calamities as famine, drought and plague, granting longevity and assisting the dead, Yao Shih Fwo is known to have dispensed all kinds of mundane benefits to those who pray to him. Despite his great popularity, temples dedicated to him are very scarce so that those who wish to worship him may do so at temples where his images can be found. He is often found in a triad with Sakyamuni Buddha and Amitabha Buddha, and his symbols are either the medicine bowl or the pagoda. When depicted alone, he holds his symbol with his left hand and he is normally attended to by his prominent disciples, the Great Bodhisattvas 'Radiance of the Sun' and the 'Radiance of the Moon'

Link to  BuddhaNet:


Bhaisajyaguru (Sanskrit) or Yakushi Nyorai (Japanese) or Sangs-ryas (Tibetan) or Sman-bla, Otochi (Mongolian) or Yao Shi Fo better known as Medicine Buddha according to Northern Tradition is reside in Eastern Paradise. He and Amitabha Buddha are in 2 opposite poles.

Bhaisajyaguru has 7 bodies,12 warriors (Yakas or Titans) according to this wonderful book , "Buddhism Flammarion Iconographic Guides" by Louis Frederic. He described Buddhism images, icons and stories relate to these symbols of all Mahayana traditions. It is a well researched on Esoteric Buddhism particularly Japanese and Tibetan.

Talking about it, I remember some one wrote in the newsgroups that Japanese and Tibetan Buddhists Esotericism had fought in ancient time. But I doubt they fought in the name of Buddhism and its interpretations. In fact seemed impossible as they were too far apart. Especially Tibetans were a closed community in mountainous regions of Himalaya while Japanese were seawards.

Five Jinas also known as Five Tathagatas and Five Great Buddhas of Wisdom, the origin is uncertain. According Chinese pilgrim, Xuan Zang, he mentioned King Asoka had erected 5 stupas in honour of The Buddha composed of 5 parts near his capital, Pataliputra.

Some authors interpreted the 5 Jinas are of individualization on the principal mudras used by The Buddha.  It symbolized the most significant moment of the career of Gautama Buddha. Other believed it represents the 5 Manusya (human)  Buddhas, 5 Great Hypostases  of 5 great historical moments in the Life of The Buddha according to different authors. .

However, Mahayanists commonly accept the 5 Directions as 5 Jinas. It could also be identified as Hindu conception, of the world there are 5 objects or ideas. The typical elements of Indian philosophy would be 5 Skandhas ( Aggregates) or 5 Senses which made up of the pyscho-phsical organism, which is of human forms (from Abidharma Sutta) Some theory claimed 5 Jinas symbolized 5 Cardinal Points and the 5 Virtues of The Buddha, and other symbolized the essential symbols of Law of Existence. As in human forms, we have Sensation, Apperception, Volition and Consciousness.

The book mentioned that the Esoteric Buddhists believe each Jina is represented as reflection or the magical projection, which corresponded the following:

Zenith - Mahvairocanna, Krakucchanda, Samantabhadra.

East      - Aksobhya, Kanakamuni, Vajrapani.

West    - Amitabha, Gautama, Avalokitesvara, Padmapani.

South   - Ratnasambhava, Kayapa, Ratnapani.       

North   - Amoghasiddhi, Maitreya, Visvapani.       

And the 5 Steps to Salvation are:

Mahavairocanna          - Immaculate spirit, means of salvation.

Aksobhya                     - Accumulated spirit, awakening the heart.

Amitabha                      - Pure spirit, spiritual awakening.

Ratnasambhava            - Passionate spirit, ascetic life.

Amoghasiddhi               - The 5 material senses, Entry to Nirvana.

As Theravadins held Goutama Buddha for veneration, Mahayanists use these Buddhas of wisdom as the principal object of their worship. Jodo-Shinshu ( Pure Land) venerates on Amitabha ( Amida) Tendai and Shingon chose Vairocana.

The book said 2 great Mandalas of Garbhadhatu and Vajradhatu shows great harmony existing in the universe between the forces governs it and reconcile divine unity with diversity aspects.The orders and names of the 5 Jinas from these 2 great Mandalas believe to import from China to other part of East Asia and vary according to sects and countries.

In Japan,  Bhaisajyaguru is found in the place of Aksobhya. (both in the East) Prabhutaratna replaces Ratnasambhava and Buddha replaces Amoghasiddhi. Ksitigarbha is also considered as Wisdom Buddha.

Those worship Amitabha Buddha considered all Buddhas of Wisdom are simply emanation of Amitabha. Vairocana is the principle deity, identical in both  Varjadhatu and Garbhdhatu Mandalas.  He is virtually not represented in sculpture in Nepal and Tibet, but only in paintings. Where in China and Japan, His effigies and sculptures are numerous.

More about Vairocana from this book, "Buddhism Flammarion Iconographic Guides" by Louis Frederic:

He is identified as

1.      Vajrasattva,  Wozi Luosa (Chinese), Rdo-rje-Sems-dpa ( Tibetan)

2.      Bhaisajyagaru

3.      Ekakasara Usinsacakra

4.      Sudisti or Dhruva

With Metta,
Sidney See
Dec 2001


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