Talk:Amitābha

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Good Question[edit]

In response to the below question, I have to simply say, I really don't know. I have no authority to answer this question, as I am but a layman, and not so well educated on the finer points of Buddhism as I'd like to be, but perhaps I can shed some possible light on this problem.

I suppose we may have a sort of vertical ladder mindset when it comes to placing Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in a sort of power structure. I believe that thinking in this dichotomy may be fundamentally wrong. There really is no difference between a Bodhisattva, a Buddha, and for that matter, a sentient being. At least, I come to this conclusion on based on my personal interpretation of the dharma.

Still, being that we live in the real world, we linguistically define and separate Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. I will address this matter in just a moment, but let me talk about that particular vow. If the vow does in fact say that Amitabha forestalls perfect enlightenment until all beings are saved in the Western paradise, then I can see where the paradox comes from. However, it's been a long time since I read the Amitabha sutras, and I can't remember if the vow was to build a place where people could easily reach enlightenment, or to actually enlighten everyone through those means. If it were the former, it could mean that he has fulfilled that vow. If it is in fact the latter, as you stated, then Amitabha would join the host of hundreds of other popular Bodhisattvas who have made similar vows. In my personal opinion, I think it may be the pure heart and intention behind making the vow, not neccessarily the completion of a certain task.

Now, for the fun part. I think if we look at the name Amitabha itself, the Sanskrit meaning something like boundless, infinite light - then I think the implication here is Buddhahood. In the Chinese name, the character "Fo" is present, meaning "Buddha". That character does not appear in the names of deities who are typically assigned the role of Bodhisattva, but it does also appear in the Chinese translations of Shakyamuni and Maitreya, who are Buddhas. Phew. Basically, I guess, there is no easy answer. Everything is, and is not, everything else. It's really quite Buddhistic, actually!Iluvchineselit 06:05, 27 July 2005 (UTC)

Why not a Bodhisattva[edit]

Why is Amitabha not regarded to be a Bodhisattva, since according to the article he promises not to achieve supreme perfect enlightenment until he has saved all sentient beings in his paradise. I thought that's by definition a Bodhisattva? Thanxs for answering gugganij 20:18, 22 July 2005 (UTC)

The real reason that Amitabha is not regarded as a Bodhisattva is that the article's characterization of the 48 vows is wrong. According to the sutra, Amitabha has fulfilled all 48 vows, and accordingly has achieved supreme perfect enlightenment (anuttarasamyaksambodhi). The text should read something like "until all beings can, by aspiration to be reborn there, achieve birth in his Pure Land". RandomCritic 03:24, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

Amitabha and Mithraism[edit]

I removed the below comments (which were what were left after I edited out some POV and irrelevancies):

Some scholars have claimed a connection between the Iranian cult of Mithra and Buddha Amitabha. Richard C. Foltz, in "Religions of the Silk Road" claims that Amitabha "seems to be understood as the Iranian god of light, equated with the sun".

But even after editing, I can't see the relevance to the article, and I'm not even sure Foltz has been accurately quoted. The connection is in any case purely speculative, and it's not even clear what it means historically: did Mithra-worshipping Iranians accept Amitabha as a substitute for Mithra? Did they endow Amitabha with Mithra-like qualities? What is actually being claimed?

Leaving aside the question of whether it's fair to call Mithra a "solar deity", it is very clear that Amitabha is not one. It is true that the name Amitabha means "unlimited light", but the association between good deities, wisdom, and light is a common one, capable of being made independently by different peoples, and implies nothing about a historical relationship.

More to the point, there is no written or archaeological evidence to indicate that anything about Amitabha was borrowed from a non-Buddhist source; the initial evidences for belief in Amitabha come from within India. The name Amitabha is certainly not Iranian. The appearance of Amitabha follows other Buddhist iconography, and while that certainly may have some extra-Indian influences they are more likely Greek than Iranian. The functions of Amitabha are only intelligible in a Buddhist setting, and owe nothing to any type of Iranian religion. What, then, is left for Mithra to supply? RandomCritic 13:21, 20 March 2006 (UTC)


I wouldn't say that the connection between Amida and Persian religion is entirely unfounded. In fact, I was under the impression that this was an established accepted (if somewhat obscure) view. Writes Joseph Campbell:

“And of these [meditation Buddhas], by far the most popular and important is Amitabha, the Buddha of ‘immeasurable (a-mita) light (abha)’... who is produced purely of Buddhist thought, yet bears the marks of an ultimate derivation from Iran.” -The Masks of God Volume II, Oriental Mythology p.303

and,

“Obviously, a gentle purgatory [of Amida’s Pure Land] has here superseded the usual Indian image of spiritual progress by reincarnation, and were the date of the doctrine not so early, one could suppose that a Christian influence might have come into play. However, as things stand, the more plausible view is that the influence of Iran and the doctrine of Zoroaster... ‘It is not to be forgotten,’ states an excellent recent monograph on this subject,

that the first apostle to bring Amida worship to China was a Parthian prince, Ngan Che-Kao, and that the Kushana empire where Amida worship first arose was no less Iranian than Indian, no less Mazdaen than Buddhist. Ngan Che-Kao was an Arsacid who lived in China from 148 to 170 A.D. ... Furthermore, the work of translation sacred texts and of peddling and fashioning sacred images was in the second and third centuries AD carried on principally by Bactrian and Sogdian subjects of Yueh-chi. ... Hence, it is not in India proper that the factors contributing to the victory of Amida must be sought, but in the intermediate Chinese-Indian Zone, where the prevailing influence was of Iran. ... [siting Marie-Therese de Mallmann, Introduction a l’etude d’Avalokitec-vara (Paris: Civilization du Sud, 1948), pp 90-91]

“Dr. Marie-Therese de Mallmann, the author of this important study, has shown that the names Amitabha and Amitayus correspond to the usual characterizations of the Persian creator-god Ahura Mazda, as the lord both of light and unending time; furthermore, that throughout the broad domain of Persian religious influence (which, as we know, reached with the Roman army into Gaul and Britain), divine triads matching that of Amitabha seated between his two great standing Bodhisattvas appear at many sites.”

Ibid, pp 306-307

Now, this all seems to a be a scholarly and convincing argument, at least to me. I think a section on the link between Amida and Ahura Mazda (although with Mithras seems suspect), is well worth considering.

74.71.120.81 21:22, 4 July 2007 (UTC)

Personally I don't buy it. Taken by itself, one could contrive a theory that the iconography matches gods and deities in other religions, but if you read the larger Mahayana canon, you'll see that Amida and the Pure Land are part of a bigger picture. Also, don't forget that there is another Buddha related to the Sun and Light: Mahavairocana. This is just some weak scholarship by someone who wants to try to unify all religions on the Asian continent, while ignoring the subtle details between them. --Ph0kin (talk) 06:07, 13 June 2008 (UTC)

Ikko Ikki[edit]

I think a mention of the Ikko Ikki monks would be an interesting and relevant tidbit of trivia.

I do not. There already is a wikipedia article on that. --Ph0kin (talk) 06:04, 13 June 2008 (UTC)

Merge Articles[edit]

I propose to Merge the Articles Amitābha and Amitayus, for reasons obvious, As the Articles itself says //He is frequently invoked in Tibet either as Buddha Amithaba - especially in the Powa practices or as Amitāyus - especially in practices relating to longevity and preventing an untimely death//. Hence Amitayus is nothing but a different Name of Amitbha Buddha Vinodh.vinodh (talk) 09:59, 5 April 2008 (UTC)

Amitabha is considered the Nirmanakaya aspect of Buddha's Saññā while Amitayus is the Sambhogakaya aspect.[1]. I'm removing your suggestion to merge these articles.Peaceful5 (talk) 08:50, 9 May 2008 (UTC)

Please don't remove the tag until a clear consensus is achieved. Why would two articles be necessary, when Amitayus could be perfectly well covered in a paragraph or two here? Jpatokal (talk) 11:36, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
It was promised that "Amitayus could be perfectly well covered in a paragraph or two here". But now we find no mention of Amitayus in this article, while Amitayus, not Amitabha, is one of the three Longevity Buddhas along with Sita Tara and Usnisavijaya. Could someone add in the article the character of relationship of Amitayus and Amitabha? When is he Amitabha and when is he Amitayus? Please excuse me if this question sounds illiterate. Gantuya eng (talk) 03:43, 13 May 2010 (UTC)

There is a difference between Amitayus and Amitabha, (in Tibetan Buddhism) Amitayus~the Buddha of Infinite Life and Amitabha~ the Buddha of Infinite Light are essentially identical, being reflective images of one another. Sutras in which Shakyamuni expounds the glories of Sukhavati, the Pure Lands, speak of the presiding Buddha sometimes as Amitabha and sometimes as Amitayus. When depicted as Amitayus he is depicted in fine clothes and jewels and as Amitabha 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 Amitayus as he is wearing a 5 pointed crown, which is the easiest way to distinguish them. Amitayus is an emanation of Amitabha. Amitabha is the head of the Lotus family, where as Amitayus is not the head of the Lotus Family. [2] David baronet (talk) 16:09, 9 March 2012 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by David baronet (talkcontribs) 16:00, 9 March 2012 (UTC)

Anime Reference[edit]

I removed the Anime reference. Given the high profile of Amitabha in Chinese and Japanese culture it would be pointless to list every such reference, and the one given was not special in anyway. --Nio-guardian (talk) 08:46, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

Academic validation of.....[edit]

Vipaśyanā Amitāyus Sūtra....???

--58.38.43.99 (talk) 03:22, 5 December 2009 (UTC)

Minor typo[edit]

There is a minor typo for this entry:

"Dharmakāra" should be --> Dharmākara

  1. ^ http://www.himalayanart.org/search/set.cfm?setID=130
  2. ^ Images of Enlightenment by Landaw and Weber page 75,80,96