Himalayan Art Resources

Glossary: Buddha Names

Glossary: Buddha Names | HAR Main Glossary | Glossary Resources Links Page | Buddha Main Page | Buddhas, Who Are They? Outline Page | Buddhas: Tantric Outline Page | Buddha Number Sets | Number Sets Outline




Akshobhya (Five Symbolic, Three Families): The Buddha of the Vajra Family of Tantric classification and commonly representing the center or eastern direction in a mandala configuration. Akshobhya is the Buddha associated with many deities such as Manjushri, Achala, Mahakala, Chakrasamvara, Hevajra, Vajrabhairava, etc. Wrathful deities and blue deities typically belong to this Buddha Family.

Amitabha/Amitayus (Five Symbolic, Three Families): The Buddha of the Lotus (Padma) Family of Tantric classification and commonly representing the western direction in a mandala configuration. Amitabha is found in both sutra and tantra literature. The Lotus Family is represented in all tantra classification systems. Deities such as Avalokiteshvara and Hayagriva belong to this Buddha Family. Amitabha is considered the nirmanakaya manifestation of Amitayus Buddha.

Amitayus/Amitabha (Five Symbolic): considered the sambhogakaya manifestation of Amitabha Buddha. It is in this form with a crown and jewels that he appears in the pureland of Sukhavati. Amitayus is also the first of the Three Long-life Deities common in Tibetan Buddhism.

Amoghasiddhi (Five Symbolic): the last of the Five Symbolic or Celestial Buddhas. He is associated with the northern direction, the colour green and a horse supported throne. Typically his right hand is raised in a gesture (mudra) to the heart and the left placed in the lap in meditative equipoise.

Ashokottam Shri (Medicine Buddha): one of the seven accompanying buddhas as described in the literature and depicted in the mandala.

Bhaishajyaguru/Medicine Buddha: The form and practice of Medicine Buddha is derived from the Bhaishajyaguru Sutra said to have been taught by the historical buddha Shakyamuni. In the Vajrayana Tradition this sutra is classified as a Kriya Tantra. Common to all schools of Tibetan Buddhism Medicine Buddha is particularly important to the Tibetan medical traditions.

Dharmakirti Sagaraghosha (Medicine Buddha): one of the seven accompanying buddhas as described in the literature and depicted in the mandala.

Dipamkara/Kashyapa (Seven Earthly): one of the six buddhas believed to have preceded Shakyamuni Buddha on earth.

Dzogchen Buddhas, Twelve: Depictions of the twelve appear to be primarily from the Revealed Treasure text called the Three Inner Cycles of Peaceful Deities discovered by Choggyur Lingpa. Only four or five of the Buddhas in the group of twelve have Buddha Appearance. The remaining eight or so Buddhas have Peaceful, Semi-peaceful/wrathful and Wrathful Appearance.

Eight Medicine Buddhas: Bhaishajyaguru Buddha has seven accompanying buddhas in his retinue. One of these is Shakyamuni Buddha.

Five Symbolic Buddhas: the five Buddha Families of Anuttarayoga Tantra: Vairochana, Amitabha, Akshobhya, Ratnasambhava and Amoghasiddhi.

Kanakamuni (Seven Earthly): one of the six buddhas believed to have preceded Shakyamuni Buddha on earth.

Kashyapa/Dipamkara (Seven Earthly): one of the six buddhas believed to have preceded Shakyamuni Buddha on earth. (See all Seven Buddhas).

Krakuchanda (Seven Earthly): one of the six buddhas believed to have preceded Shakyamuni Buddha on earth.

Maitreya (Future Buddha): the prince bodhisattva waiting in the Tushita heaven prior to his eventual birth and enlightenment on earth. Maitreya is depicted in art with the appearance of either a bodhisattva or a buddha. He is also commonly shown sitting upright in a western style on a chair or throne.

Medicine Buddha/Bhaishajyaguru: The form and practice of Medicine Buddha is derived from the Bhaishajyaguru Sutra said to have been taught by the historical buddha Shakyamuni. In the Vajrayana Tradition this sutra is classified as a Kriya Tantra. Common to all schools of Tibetan Buddhism Medicine Buddha is particularly important to the Tibetan medical traditions.

Medicine Buddha Brothers: 1. Bhaishajyaguru, Vaidurya Prabha Raja (blue), 2. Ashokattamshri (pink), 3. Suvarnabhadra Vimala (white), 4. Abhijnaraja (pink), 5. Shakyamuni (golden), 6. Suparakirtita Namashri (yellow), 7. Nirghosharaja, 8. Dharmakirti Sagara.

Meru Shikhara Buddha:

Nagaraja Buddha: the Enlightened One, King of Nagas. Typically he has a body blue in colour with a white face and a hood of seven cobra snakes. The gesture with the hands folded and the index fingers pointing upward at the heart is unique to Nagaraja. He is especially associated with naga 'serpent spirits' and was popularized in Tibet by Jowo Atisha.




Number Sets (Buddha) (separate page)

Three
- Three Buddhas of Kriya Tantra (Shakyamuni, Akshobhya, Amitabha)
- Three, Buddhas of the Three Times (Dipamkara, Shakyamuni, Maitreya)
- Three, Shakyamuni Buddha, Shariputra & Maudgalyayana

Five
- Five Transcendent (or Symbolic) Buddhas

Six
- Six Buddhas of the Six Realms

Seven
- Seven Buddhas of this Age

Eight
- Eight Medicine Buddhas

Ten
- Ten: Buddhas of the Ten Directions
- Ten Buddhas of Dzogchen

Twelve
- Twelve Deeds of Shakyamuni Buddha
- Twelve Dzogchen Buddhas

Sixteen
- Sixteen Arhats accompanying Shakyamuni Buddha

Thirty-four
- Thirty-four Jataka Tales of Shakyamuni Buddha

Thirty-five
- Thirty-five Buddhas of Confession

One Hundred
- One Hundred Jataka Tales of Shakyamuni Buddha

One Hundred & Eight
- One Hundred & Eight Avadana Stories of Shakyamuni Buddha

One Thousand
- 1000 Buddhas of a Buddhist Aeon




One Thousand Buddhas of this Age:

Ratnasambhava (Five Symbolic): a principal buddha within Vajrayana Buddhism representing the qualities of enlightenment and residing in the southern quarter of a mandala. "Arising in the southern direction is Ratnasambhava on a horse, lotus and sun throne; with a body yellow in colour the right hand is placed in the mudra of supreme generosity." (Dragpa Gyaltsen, 1147-1216).

Ratnashikhin (Medicine Buddha): one of the seven accompanying buddhas as described in the literature and depicted in the mandala.

Samantabhadra (Nyingma): The primordial Buddha of the Nyingma Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. He is generally naked in appearance, blue in colour and seated in vajra posture. He may also be embraced by a similar appearing consort.

Seven Earthly (Supreme) Buddhas: the seven enlightened ones including Shakyamuni Buddha that are believed to have reached enlightenment and taught Buddhism on earth in previous eons.

Shakyamuni Buddha (Historical, Seven Earthly, Medicine Buddha): "Born in the Shakya race through skillful means and compassion; destroying the army of Mara who was unable to be destroyed by others; with a body radiant like a mountain of gold. Homage to you, King of Shakya." (Sakya liturgical verse). The historical Buddha is most often depicted in Himalayan art in a seated posture with the right hand extended over the knee and the left placed palm upward in the lap.

Shikhin (Seven Earthly): one of the six buddhas believed to have preceded Shakyamuni Buddha on earth.

Suparikirtita Namashri (Medicine Buddha): one of the seven accompanying buddhas as described in the literature and depicted in the mandala.

Survanabhadra Vimala Ratna Prabhasa (Medicine Buddha): one of the seven accompanying buddhas as described in the literature and depicted in the mandala.

Svaraghosha Raja (Medicine Buddha): one of the seven accompanying buddhas as described in the literature and depicted in the mandala.

Ten Buddhas of the Directions:

Thirty-five Confession Buddhas: from the Sutra of the Three Heaps, in Sanskrit the Triskhandhadharmasutra, or briefly the Triskandha Sutra (phung po gsum pa'i mdo), a Mahayana ritual text used primarily by monks and nuns for the purpose of confession of downfalls which means transgressions against the vinaya and bodhisattva vows.

Three, Buddhas of the Three Times: the past, present and future - Dipamkara, Shakyamuni and Maitreya. These three are often depicted as minor figures at the top of painted compositions but are also seen in sets of three paintings.

Trisamayavyuha Muni (Tantric Buddha Outline):

Dzogchen Buddhas, Twelve: (see Dzogchen Buddhas above).

Vairochana (Five Symbolic, Three Families):

Vajradhara (Tantric Buddha Outline): the primordial buddha of tantric literature. Vajradhara is understood as the form that Shakyamuni Buddha took for the purposes of teaching tantric texts and practices. He is typically blue in colour and holds a vajra and bell crossed at the heart.

Vajrasattva (Tantric Buddha Outline): according to some tantric literature Vajrasattva is an emanation, or form, of Vajradhara. He is sometimes referred to as the Lord of One Hundred Buddha Families.

Vipashyin (Seven Earthly): one of the six buddhas believed to have preceded Shakyamuni Buddha on earth.

Vishvabhu (Seven Earthly): one of the six buddhas believed to have preceded Shakyamuni Buddha on earth.




Jeff Watt, January 1st, 2009 [updated 1-2017]