Eight Legions

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Translations of
Eight Legions
EnglishEight Legions
Sanskritअष्टसेना
Aṣṭasenā
Chinese八部眾;
天龙八部

(PinyinBābùzhòng;
Tiānlóngbābù
)
Japanese八部衆;
天龍八部衆

(rōmaji: Hachibushū;
Tenryūhachibu
)
Korean팔부신장;
천룡팔부

(RR: Palbusinjang;
Cheonryongpalbu
)
Tibetan ལྷ་འདྲེ་སྡེ་བརྒྱད་
Wylie: lha srin sde brgyad
VietnameseTứ Bát Bộ Chúng
Glossary of Buddhism

The Eight Legions (Sanskrit: अष्टसेना, Aṣṭasenā; 八部衆) are a group of Buddhist deities whose function is to protect the Dharma. These beings are common among the audience addressed by the Buddha in Mahāyāna sūtras, making appearances in such scriptures as the Lotus Sutra and the Golden Light Sutra.

They are also referred to as the "Eight Legions of Devas and Nāgas" (天龍八部).[1]

Etymology[edit]

The name aṣṭasenā (अष्टसेना) is composed of two Sanskrit terms.

Aṣṭa (अष्ट) means eight, with connections to the Latin octo and the Persian hašt (هشت‎). Senā (सेना) means legion, but can be rendered army, general, warrior and the like.

Summary[edit]

The Eight Legions have their origins in ancient India as gods who belong to several domains. Many of these gods are among those spirits who are found in the lower heavens of Cāturmahārājakāyika and the Asura realm, and as such largely consist of nature spirits. While the list of figures within this category vary, the most common are as follows:

Sanskrit Chinese Japanese Korean Vietnamese Tibetan (Wly.
Deva 天眾
(pinyin: Tiānzhòng)
天部
(tenbu)
천중
(RR: cheon)
Thiên lha
Nāga 龍眾
(pinyin: Lóngzhòng)

(ryū)

(RR: yong)
Rồng klu
Yakṣa 夜叉
(pinyin: Yèchā)
夜叉
(yasha)
야차
(RR: yacha)
Dạ Xoa gnod sbyin
Gandharva 乾闥婆
(pinyin: Gāntàpó)
乾闥婆
(kendatsuba)
간다르바
(RR: gandareuba)
Càn Thát Bà dri za
Asura 阿修羅
(pinyin: Āxiūluó)
阿修羅
(ashura)
아수라
(RR: asura)
A Tu La lha ma yin
Garuḍa 迦樓羅
(pinyin: Jiālóuluó)
迦楼羅
(karura)
가루다
(RR: garuda)
Ca Lâu La khyung
Kiṁnara 緊那羅
(pinyin: Jǐnnàluó)
緊那羅
(kinnara)
긴나라
(RR: ginnara)
Khẩn Na La mi'am ci
Mahoraga 摩睺羅伽
(pinyin: Móhóuluóqié)
摩睺羅伽
(magoraga)
마후라가
(RR: mahuraga)
Ma Hầu La Già lto 'phye chen po

Variations[edit]

At Kōfuku-ji in Nara, Japan, there is a famous group of statues that represent the Eight Legions. Some of these figures differ from the common list. Their names in Japanese are as follows:

There is another list of eight beings, the Hachibukikishū (Japanese; 八部鬼衆), who belong to an overlapping, but distinct category.

In Popular Culture[edit]

The Chinese title of Jin Yong's novel, Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils, is a reference to the Eight Legions. His original plan was to map each major character to one race, but this proved impossible as the novel progressed.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "hachibushuu 八部衆". JAANUS. 2001. Retrieved 14 April 2019.
  2. ^ Giebel, Rolf W. (2005). "The Vairocanābhisaṃbodhi Sūtra" (PDF). Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai. Bukkyō Dendō Kyōkai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research. Retrieved 14 April 2019.