Vimalakīrti (Sanskrit: विमल vimala "stainless, undefiled" + कीर्ति kīrti "fame, glory, reputation") is the central figure in the Vimalakirti Sutra, which presents him as the ideal Mahayana Buddhist upāsaka ("lay practitioner") and a contemporary of Gautama Buddha (6th to 5th century BCE). There is no mention of him in Buddhist texts until after Nāgārjuna (1st century BCE to 2nd century CE) revived Mahayana Buddhism in India.
As a Zen Patriarch
The Vimalakīrti Nirdeśa Sūtra characterizes Vimalakīrti as a wealthy patron of Gautama Buddha. Unlike many other figures of the Mahayana literature, such as Avalokiteśvara, he is generally taken to be a historic like Gautama Buddha, rather than mythic or legendary, and as such Vimalakīrti is not commonly venerated on altars nor in tantric rituals, but as a prehistoric zen i.e. chan preacher.
- "The Vimalakirti Sutra: The Dharma-Door of Nonduality". About.com. Retrieved April 17, 2013.
- "Vimalakirti and the Doctrine of Nonduality". Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved April 17, 2013.
- Thurman, Robert (2000). The Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti: A Mahayana Scripture. Pennsylvania State University Press. p. ix. ISBN 0271012099.
- Baroni, Helen Josephine (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Zen Buddhism. The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 369. ISBN 9780823922406.
- Leighton, Taigen Dan. "Boddhisattvas of Compassion Lesson 8: Vimalakirti". Ashoka: the eDharma learning center. DharmaNet International. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
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