Thirteen Buddhas

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Thirteen Buddhist Deities, Japan, Nambokucho-Muromachi period, c. 1336-1568

The Thirteen Buddhas (十三仏, Jūsanbutsu) is a Japanese grouping of Buddhist deities, particularly in the Shingon sect of Buddhism. The deities are, in fact, not only Buddhas, but include bodhisattvas and Wisdom Kings.[1] In Shingon services, lay followers recite a devotional mantra to each figure, though in Shingon practice, disciples will typically devote themselves to only one, depending on what the teacher assigns. Thus the chanting of the mantras of the Thirteen Buddhas are merely the basic practice of laypeople.

The Thirteen Buddhas are also an important part of a traditional Japanese Buddhist funeral service, with each deity having a corresponding memorial service for the deceased.[2] The thirteen in Japanese and Sanskrit and the corresponding date of their service after the death are:

  1. Fudo (Acala), 7th day
  2. Shaka (Sakyamuni), 14th day
  3. Monju (Manjushri), 21st day
  4. Fugen (Samantabhadra), 28th day
  5. Jizo (Ksitigarbha), 35th day
  6. Miroku (Maitreya), 42nd day
  7. Yakushi (Bhaisajyaguru), 49th day
  8. Kannon (Avalokitesvara), 100th day
  9. Seishi (Mahasthamaprapta), 1st anniversary
  10. Amida (Amitabha), 2nd anniversary
  11. Ashuku (Akshobhya), 6th anniversary
  12. Dainichi (Vairocana), 12th anniversary
  13. Kokuzo (Akasagarbha), 32nd anniversary[1]

Mantras[edit]

While the thirteen figures have several mantras associated to each respectively, those listed below pertain to the standard formula used in Japanese ritual. The Shingon[3] and Tendai[4] schools each use a different method of transliteration of the original Sanskrit.[5] Bhaisajyaguru is the only figure whose mantra fundamentally differs between traditions.


  1. Fudōmyōō (不動明王, Acala):
    (Sanskrit) namaḥ samanta vajrāṇāṃ caṇḍa mahāroṣaṇa sphoṭaya hūṃ traṭ hāṃ māṃ
    (Shingon) nōmaku sanmanda bazara dan senda makaroshada sowataya untarata kanman
    (ノウマク・サンマンダ・バザラダン・センダマカロシャダ・ソワタヤ・ウン・タラタ・カン・マン)
    (Tendai) namaku samanda bazaranan senda makaroshana sowataya untarata kanman
    (ナマク・サマンダ・バサラナン・センダ・マカロシャナ・ソワタヤ・ウンタラタ・カンマン)
  2. Shaka nyorai (釈迦如来, Sakyamuni):
    (Sanskrit) namaḥ samanta buddhānāṃ bhaḥ
    (Shingon) nōmaku sanmanda bodanan baku (ノウマク・サンマンダ・ボダナン・バク)
    (Tendai) namaku samanda bodanan ba (ナマク・サマンダ・ボダナン・バ)
  3. Monju bosatsu (文殊菩薩, Manjushri):
    (Sanskrit) oṃ a ra pa ca na
    (Shingon) on arahashanō (オン・アラハシャノウ)
    (Tendai) on a ra ha sha na (オン・ア・ラ・ハ・シャ・ナ)
  4. Fugen bosatsu (普賢菩薩, Samantabhadra):
    (Sanskrit) oṃ samayas tvaṃ
    (Shingon) on sanmaya satoban (オン・サンマヤ・サトバン)
    (Tendai) on samaya sataban (オン・サマヤ・サタバン)
  5. Jizō bosatsu (地蔵菩薩, Ksitigarbha):
    (Sanskrit) oṃ ha ha ha vismaye svāhā
    (Shingon) on kakaka bisanmaei sowaka (オン・カカカ・ビサンマエイ・ソワカ)
    (Tendai) on kakakabi samaei sowaka (オン・カカカビ・サマエイ・ソワカ)
  6. Miroku bosatsu (弥勒菩薩, Maitreya):
    (Sanskrit) oṃ maitreya svāhā
    (Shingon) on maitareiya sowaka (オン・マイタレイヤ・ソワカ)
    (Tendai) on maitariya sowaka (オン・マイタリヤ・ソワカ)
  7. Yakushi nyorai (薬師如来, Bhaisajyaguru):
    (Sanskrit) oṃ huru huru caṇḍāli mātangi svāhā
    (Shingon) on korokoro sendari matōgi sowaka (オン・コロコロ・センダリ・マトウギ・ソワカ)
    (Sanskrit) oṃ bhaiṣajye bhaiṣajye bhaiṣajya samudgate svāhā
    (Tendai) on baiseizeibaiseizei baiseijasanborgyatei sowaka (オン・バイセイゼイバイセイゼイ・バイセイジャサンボリギャテイ・ソワカ
  8. Kanzeon bosatsu (観世音菩薩, Avalokitesvara):
    (Sanskrit) oṃ ārolik svāhā
    (Shingon) on arorikya sowaka (オン・アロリキャ・ソワカ)
    (Tendai) on arorikya sowaka (オン・アロリキャ・ソワカ)
  9. Seishi bosatsu (勢至菩薩, Mahasthamaprapta):
    (Sanskrit) oṃ saṃ jaṃ jaṃ saḥ svāhā
    (Shingon) on san zan saku sowaka (オン・サン・ザン・サク・ソワカ)
    (Tendai) on sanzen zensaku sowaka (オン・サンゼン・ゼンサク・ソワカ)
  10. Amida nyorai (阿弥陀如来, Amitabha):
    (Sanskrit) oṃ amṛta teje hara hūṃ
    (Shingon) on amirita teisei kara un (オン・アミリタ・テイセイ・カラ・ウン)
    (Tendai) on amirita teisei kara un (オン・アミリタ・テイセイ・カラ・ウン)
  11. Ashuku nyorai (阿閦如来, Akshobhya):
    (Sanskrit) oṃ akṣobhya hūṃ
    (Shingon) on akishubiya un (オン・アキシュビヤ・ウン)
    (Tendai) on akishubiya un (オン・アキシュビヤ・ウン)
  12. Dainichi nyorai (大日如来, Vairocana):
    (Sanskrit) oṃ a vi ra hūṃ khaṃ vajradhātu vaṃ
    (Shingon) on abiraunken basara datoban (オン・アビラウンケン・バサラ・ダトバン)
    (Tendai) on abiraunken basara datoban (オン・アビラウンケン・バサラ・ダトバン)
  13. Kokūzō bosatsu (虚空蔵菩薩, Akashagarbha):
    (Sanskrit) namo ākāśagarbhaya oṃ ārya kamari mauli svāhā
    (Shingon) nōbō akyashakyarabaya on arikya mari bori sowaka (ノウボウ・アキャシャキャラバヤ・オン・アリキャ・マリ・ボリ・ソワカ)
    (Tendai) namo akyashagerubaya onarikya maribori sowaka (ナモ・アキャシャゲルバヤ・オンアリキャ・マリボリ・ソワカ)

Zodiac[edit]

Eight of the thirteen figures are traditionally assigned as guardians of the twelve Earthly Branches of the Chinese zodiac.[6]

Earthly branch Guardian
Rat Kannon (Avalokitesvara)
Ox Kokuzo (Akasagarbha)
Tiger Kokuzo (Akasagarbha)
Rabbit Monju (Manjushri)
Dragon Fugen (Samantabhadra)
Snake Fugen (Samantabhadra)
Horse Seishi (Mahasthamaprapta)
Goat Dainichi (Vairocana)
Monkey Dainichi (Vairocana)
Rooster Fudo (Acala)
Dog Amida (Amitabha)
Pig Amida (Amitabha)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "十三仏" [Thirteen Buddhas]. Nihon Kokugo Daijiten (in Japanese). Tokyo: Shogakukan. 2012. OCLC 56431036. Archived from the original on 2007-08-25. Retrieved 2012-09-07.
  2. ^ "十三仏" [Thirteen Buddhas]. Dijitaru Daijisen (in Japanese). Tokyo: Shogakukan. 2012. OCLC 56431036. Archived from the original on 2007-08-25. Retrieved 2012-09-04.
  3. ^ "十三佛ご真言(真言系)". 仏教ネット. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  4. ^ "十三佛ご真言(天台系)". 仏教ネット. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  5. ^ "Р РИТУАЛ БУДДИЙСКОЙ САДХАНЫ ШКОЛЫ СИНГОН". 密教の世界 МИККЁ-НО СЭКАЙ. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  6. ^ Uryū, Naka (2009). あなたを守る菩薩と如来と明王がわかる本. PHP Institute,Inc. p. 15. ISBN 978-4-569-77542-5.