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The Spring Temple Buddha, a colossal statue of Vairocana, in Lushan County, Henan, China. It has a total height of 153 meters (502 ft), including the 25 meter (82 ft) lotus throne which the statue stands on.
(Pinyin: Dàrì Rúlái)
(Pinyin: Pílúzhēnà Fó)
(romaji: Dainichi Nyorai)
(romaji: Birushana Butsu)
大日如來(RR: Daeil Yeorae)
毘盧遮那佛(RR: Birojana Bul)

Машид гийгүүлэн зохиогч
Masida geyigülün zohiyaghci
ᠪᠢᠷᠦᠵᠠᠨ᠎ ᠠ᠂

Бярузана, Машид Гийгүүлэн Зохиогч, Гэгээн Гэрэлт
Biruzana, Masida Geyigülün Zohiyaghci, Gegegen Gereltü
(RTGS: Phra wị ro ca na phuth ṭha)
Wylie: rnam par snang mdzad
THL: Nampar Nangdze
VietnameseĐại Nhật Như Lai
Tỳ Lư Xá Na
Tỳ Lô Giá Na Phật
Venerated byMahayana, Vajrayana
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Vairocana (also Mahāvairocana) is a cosmic buddha from Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism. Vairocana is often interpreted, in texts like the Avatamsaka Sutra, as the dharmakāya[1][2][3] of the historical Gautama Buddha. In East Asian Buddhism (Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese Buddhism), Vairocana is also seen as the embodiment of the Buddhist concept of śūnyatā. In the conception of the Five Jinas of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism, Vairocana is at the centre and is considered a Primordial Buddha.

Vairocana is not to be confused with Vairocana Mahabali, son of Virochana. Vairocana Mahabali attained to sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi in Yoga Vasishta.

Rocana Buddha is the "enjoyment body" or "Sambhogakaya body" of the Trikaya of Buddha, while Vairocana Buddha is the "Dharmakaya body". And Shakyamuni Buddha is the "Nirmanakaya body" or physical body.

Literary and historical development[edit]

Vairocana Buddha is first introduced in the Brahmajala Sutra:

Now, I, Vairocana Buddha am sitting atop a lotus pedestal; On a thousand flowers surrounding me are a thousand Sakyamuni Buddhas. Each flower supports a hundred million worlds; in each world a Sakyamuni Buddha appears. All are seated beneath a Bodhi-tree, all simultaneously attain Buddhahood. All these innumerable Buddhas have Vairocana as their original body.[4]

Vairocana is also mentioned in the Avatamsaka Sutra; however, the doctrine of Vairocana is based largely on the teachings of the Mahavairocana Tantra (also known as the Mahāvairocana-abhisaṃbodhi-tantra) and to a lesser degree the Vajrasekhara Sutra (also known as the Sarvatathāgatatattvasaṃgraha Tantra).

In the Avatamsaka Sutra, Vairocana is described as having attained enlightenment immeasurable ages ago and residing in a world purified by him while he was a bodhisattva. He also presides over an assembly of countless other bodhisattvas. He may be considered the celestial existence (saṃbhogakāya) of Gautama Buddha, who came to be as Vairochana's earthly rebirth from his previous existence in Tushita heaven.[5] Similarly, the Brahmajala Sutra also states that Shakyamuni was originally named Vairochana, regarding the former as a physical incarnation (nirmāṇakāya) of the latter.[5]

Vairocana is also mentioned as an epithet of Gautama Buddha in the Samantabhadra Meditation Sutra, who dwells in a place called "Always Tranquil Light".[6] In the Śūraṅgama mantra (Chinese: 楞嚴咒; pinyin: Léngyán Zhòu) taught in the Śūraṅgama sutra (Chinese: 楞嚴經; pinyin: Léngyán Jīng), an especially influential dharani in the Chinese Chan tradition, Vairocana is mentioned to be the host of the Buddha Division in the centre, one of the five major divisions which dispels the vast demon armies of the five directions.[7]

Vairocana is the Primordial Buddha in the Chinese schools of Tiantai, Huayan and Tangmi, also appearing in later schools including the Japanese Kegon, Shingon and esoteric lineages of Tendai. In the case of Huayan and Shingon, Vairocana is the central figure.

In Chinese and Japanese Buddhism, Vairocana was gradually superseded as an object of reverence by Amitābha, due in large part to the increasing popularity of Pure Land Buddhism, but veneration of Vairocana still remains popular among adherents.

During the initial stages of his mission in Japan, the Catholic missionary Francis Xavier was welcomed by the Shingon monks since he used Dainichi, the Japanese name for Vairocana, to designate the Christian God. As Xavier learned more about the religious nuances of the word, he substituted the term Deusu, which he derived from the Latin and Portuguese Deus.[8][9]

The Shingon monk Dohan regarded the two great Buddhas, Amitābha and Vairocana, as one and the same Dharmakāya Buddha and as the true nature at the core of all beings and phenomena. There are several realizations that can accrue to the Shingon practitioner of which Dohan speaks in this connection, as James Sanford points out:

[T]here is the realization that Amida is the Dharmakaya Buddha, Vairocana; then there is the realization that Amida as Vairocana is eternally manifest within this universe of time and space; and finally there is the innermost realization that Amida is the true nature, material and spiritual, of all beings, that he is 'the omnivalent wisdom-body, that he is the unborn, unmanifest, unchanging reality that rests quietly at the core of all phenomena".[10]

Helen Hardacre, writing on the Mahavairocana Tantra, comments that Mahavairocana's virtues are deemed to be immanently universal within all beings: "The principle doctrine of the Dainichikyo is that all the virtues of Dainichi (Mahāvairocana) are inherent in us and in all sentient beings."[11]

According to the Buddhāvataṃsaka Sūtra, the whole universe is a vast pure buddha-field which has been purified by Vairocana Buddha. This is the view of Pure Land which is found in the Chinese Huayan tradition.[12] According to this view, our world is just one small part of this universal Pure Land which is named: "Ocean of worlds, whose surface and inside are decorated with an arrangement of flowers" (Sanskrit: Kusumatalagarbha-vyūhālamkāra-lokadhātusamudra).[13] It is also called the "Lotus Treasury World" (Chinese: 華蔵世界, Skt. Padmagarbha-lokadhātu), since it is an array of billions of worlds in a lotus shape.[citation needed]

In the cosmology of the Avatamsaka sutra, our world is just one of the immeasurable number of worlds in a multiverse called "Ocean of worlds, whose surface and inside are decorated with an arrangement of flowers" (Kusumatalagarbha-vyuhalamkara-lokadhatu-samudra).[14] The Avatamsaka states that this entire cosmos has been purified by the Buddha Vairocana through his bodhisattva practices for countless aeons, after having met countless Buddhas. The sutra also states that our world is in Vairocana's buddhafield.[15] Vairocana is closely associated with Shakyamuni Buddha, in some cases he is even identified with him in the Avatamsaka Sutra.[16] Huayan generally sees Shakyamuni as an emanation body (nirmanakaya) from the ultimate Buddha Vairocana ("The Illuminator").[17]

A painting of Vairocana at Hwaeomsa

Furthermore, Huayan thought sees the entire universe as being the very body of Vairocana, who is seen as a supreme cosmic Buddha. Vairocana is infinite, his influence and light is limitless, pervading the entire universe.[18] Furthermore, Vairocana is really the ultimate principle (li), the Dharmakaya, Suchness and "the substance underlying phenomenal reality".[19] However, while Vairocana as ultimate principle is eternal, it also transforms and changes according to the needs and conditions of sentient beings. Furthermore, Vairocana is empty, interdependent and interfused with all phenomena in the universe.[19] Thus, Vairocana is both immanent (due to its dependent and interfused character) and transcendent (as the immutable basis of all things).[20]

According to Fazang, while the nirmanakaya Shakyamuni taught the other Mahayana sutras, Vairocana teaches the Avatamsaka Sutra through his ten bodies which are: the All-Beings Body, the Lands Body, the Karma Body, the Śrāvakas Body, the Pratyekabuddha Body, the Bodhisattvas Body, the Tathāgatas Body, the Wisdom Body, the Dharma Body, and the Space Body.[21] Fazang sees these ten bodies as encompassing all phenomena (animate and inanimate) in the "three realms", i.e. the entire universe.[22]

Mantras and Dharanis[edit]

Numerous mantras, seed syllables and dharanis are associated with Vairocana Buddha.

A common basic mantra is the following:[23]

oṃ vairocana hūṃ

The five elements mantra or five syllables mantra (Japanese: goji shingon) symbolizes how all things in the universe are emanations of Vairocana (symbolized here by the letter A which is associated with the fifth element—consciousness):[24]

a vi ra hūṃ khaṃ

The Mantra of Light, popular in Shingon, is:

oṃ amogha vairocana mahāmudra maṇipadma jvāla pravarttaya hūṃ

The Sarvadurgatiparishodana dharani (Complete removal of all unfortunate rebirths), also known as Kunrig mantra in Tibetan Buddhism. This dharani is found in the Sarvadurgatiparishodana tantra which depicts Vairocana at the center of a mandala surrounded by the other four tathagatas.[25] The dharani is as follows:[26][27]



With regard to śūnyatā, the massive size and brilliance of Vairocana statues serve as a reminder that all conditioned existence is empty and without a permanent identity, whereas the Dharmakāya is beyond concepts.

The Spring Temple Buddha of Lushan County, Henan, China, with a height of 126 meters, is the second tallest statue in the world (see list of tallest statues).

The Daibutsu in the Tōdai-ji in Nara, Japan, is the largest bronze image of Vairocana in the world.

The larger of the Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan that were destroyed was also a depiction of Vairocana.

In Java, Indonesia, the ninth-century Mendut temple near Borobudur in Magelang was dedicated to the Dhyani Buddha Vairocana. Built by the Shailendra dynasty, the temple featured a three-meter tall stone statue of Vairocana, seated and performing the dharmachakra mudrā. The statue is flanked with statues of the bodhisattvas Avalokiteśvara and Vajrapani.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ 佛光大辭典增訂版隨身碟,中英佛學辭典 - "三身" (Fo Guang Great Dictionary Updated USB Version, Chinese-English Dictionary of Buddhist Studies - "Trikāya" entry)
  2. ^ "Birushana Buddha. SOTOZEN-NET Glossary". Retrieved 2015-09-12.
  3. ^ Buswell, Robert Jr; Lopez, Donald S. Jr., eds. (2013). Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. pp. 949–950. ISBN 9780691157863.
  4. ^ "YMBA's translation of Brahma Net Sutra". Archived from the original on March 5, 2005. Retrieved 2008-12-12.
  5. ^ a b Xing, Guan (2005). The Concept of the Buddha: Its Evolution from Early Buddhism to the Trikāya Theory. Psychology Press. p. 169-171. ISBN 978-0-41533-344-3.
  6. ^ Reeves 2008, pp. 416, 452
  7. ^ The Śūraṅgama sūtra : a new translation. Hsüan Hua, Buddhist Text Translation Society. Ukiah, Calif.: Buddhist Text Translation Society. 2009. ISBN 978-0-88139-962-2. OCLC 300721049.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  8. ^ Francis Xavier and the Land of the Rising Sun: Dainichi and Deus, Matthew Ropp, 1997.
  9. ^ Elisonas, Jurgis (1991). "7 - Christianity and the daimyo". In Hall, John Whitney; McClain, James L. (eds.). The Cambridge History of Japan. Vol. 4. Cambridge Eng. New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 307. ISBN 9780521223553.
  10. ^ James H. Sanford, 'Breath of Life: The Esoteric Nembutsu' in Tantric Buddhism in East Asia, ed. by Richard K. Payne, Wisdom Publications, Boston, 2006, p. 176
  11. ^ Helen Hardacre, 'The Cave and the Womb World', in Tantric Buddhism in East Asia (Wisdom Publications, Boston, 2006), p. 215
  12. ^ Prince, Tony (2014). Universal Enlightenment, An introduction to the teachings and practices of Huayen Buddhism, pp. 222-223. . Kongting Publishing Company Ltd. Taiwan.
  13. ^ Susumu, Otake, "Sakyamuni and Vairocana", in Gimello et al. (2012). Avataṃsaka Buddhism in East Asia: Huayan, Kegon, Flower Ornament Buddhism ; origins and adaptation of a visual culture, p. 37. Asiatische Forschungen: Monographienreihe zur Geschichte, Kultur und Sprache der Völker Ost- u. Zentralasiens, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, ISBN 978-3-447-06678-5
  14. ^ Susumu, Otake, "Sakyamuni and Vairocana", in Gimello at al. (2012), p. 37.
  15. ^ Susumu, Otake, "Sakyamuni and Vairocana", in Gimello at al. (2012), p. 38.
  16. ^ Susumu, Otake, "Sakyamuni and Vairocana", in Gimello at al. (2012), p. 39.
  17. ^ Lin, Weiyu (2021). Exegesis-philosophy interplay : introduction to Fazang's (643-712) commentary on the Huayan jing (60 juans) [Skt. Avataṃsaka Sūtra; Flower garland sūtra] — the Huayan jing tanxuan ji [record of investigating the mystery of the Huayan jing]. p. 32. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Library.
  18. ^ Cook (1977) pp. 90-91
  19. ^ a b Cook (1977), pp. 93-104.
  20. ^ Cook (1977), p. 105.
  21. ^ Lin, Weiyu (2021). Exegesis-philosophy interplay : introduction to Fazang's (643-712) commentary on the Huayan jing (60 juans) [Skt. Avataṃsaka Sūtra; Flower garland sūtra] — the Huayan jing tanxuan ji [record of investigating the mystery of the Huayan jing]. p. 33. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Library.
  22. ^ Lin, Weiyu (2021). Exegesis-philosophy interplay : introduction to Fazang's (643-712) commentary on the Huayan jing (60 juans) [Skt. Avataṃsaka Sūtra; Flower garland sūtra] — the Huayan jing tanxuan ji [record of investigating the mystery of the Huayan jing]. p. 34. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Library.
  23. ^ "Vairocana-Mahāvairocana mantras and seed syllables". www.visiblemantra.org. Retrieved 2023-08-16.
  24. ^ Stone, Jacqueline I. (2016). Right Thoughts at the Last Moment: Buddhism and Deathbed Practices in Early Medieval Japan, p. 499. University of Hawaii Press.
  25. ^ Huntington, John C.; Bangdel, Dina. The Circle of Bliss: Buddhist Meditational Art, p. 106. Serindia Publications, Inc., 2003.
  26. ^ FPMT, 2021. Ten Powerful Mantras for the Time of Death.
  27. ^ Baruah, Bibhuti (2000) Buddhist Sects and Sectarianism, pp. 205-206. Sarup & Sons.


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