to Buddhas & Bodhisattvas Page Two
/ YAKUSHI NYORAI
The second major Honzon deity among the 88 temples of Shikoku Island is called Yakushi
Nyorai in Japanese, and is referred to as Bhaisajyaguru in Sanskrit. In Japanese his full
name is Yakushi Ruriko Nyorai, he is the Lord or chief Buddha of the Pure Land of Bliss in
the eastern quarter of Heaven. His name "Yakushi", literally means
"Medicine Professor". Yakushi made twelve vows or resolutions, the seventh one
being the resolution that he would disperse the illness of any person who called upon his
name. "If my name be called for, I will cure any sick person, whose body and soul
shall instantly feel tranquil and free from a sickly feeling". He is assisted by his
two trusted attendants Nikko and Gakko, and has also under his jurisdiction twelve divine
generals (Juni shinsho), who represent his twelve great vows.
He is many times (and most popularly) portrayed carrying a pot of medicines in one hand,
and it is from this pot that he dispenses healing medicines. These medicines heal both the
sickness of body and the sickness of mind. Yakushi Nyorai is not depicted in the Vajaradhatu (Kongo-kai) Mandara, nor in the Garbhadhatu (Taizo-kai) Mandara.
In Tibetan images, he is depicted beautifully in his own Mandala, aptly called The Medicine Buddha Mandala. The Mandala itself has many
layers of esoteric meaning which unfold as one moves forward on the healing path of the
bodhisattva; in conjunction with appropriate guidance, teachings and practices.
Senju Kannon Bosatsu
OF A THOUSAND HANDS)
Senju Kannon is probably the most popular portrayal, out of the many Avalokitesvara /
Kannon grouping of deities in Esoteric Buddhism. The image is of feminine nature with a
thousand arms, which hold many symbols / tools / mudras. Senju Kannon has a strong affinity with us and vice-versa, due to
the suffering we endure and her continuous work for our salvation and relief.
The original name of this deity is Sahasrabhujasranetra or Senju-sengen Kannon which means
the One Who has a Thousand Hand and Eyes. It is believed that this work is done via the
various symbols / tools / mudras held in her hands. In some of the hands, one may observe
an eye. It should be noted that in the uppermost hands she carries effigies of the sun and
Senju Kannon may also appear in alignment with Amitabha Tathagata, residing in the Western
Pure Land. It is said that if you recite her mantra you clean your mind, to then enhance
your innate Buddhahood and manifest your undefiled nature.
Wood, Edo Period, 18th cent.
This bodhisattva represents the concepts of infinite merit and the infinite void. It
is believed that praying to this bodhisattva will increase one's memory. He is also
believed to grant wisdom. Kokuzo Bosatsu was one of the first deities to he
represented in sculpture in Japan, (this image, of course, is of a later date). The hand
gestures (mudra) are the opposite of the Great Buddha. The right hand symbolizes the
desire to end suffering, and the left hand welcomes those who suffer.
Photo by Eisuke
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