Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Akshobhya Buddha - Buddha

མི་འཁྲུགས་པ། 不动如来
(item no. 100657)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Gold Background on Cotton
Collection Private
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Buddha

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Akshobhya, Buddha (Tibetan: mi kyu pa, sang gye): a principal buddha within Vajrayana Buddhism residing in the eastern quarter of a mandala and a minor buddha within the sutra tradition of Mahayana Buddhism.

"Arising in the eastern direction is Akshobhya on an elephant, lotus and moon throne; with a body blue in colour the right hand is placed in the mudra of pressing down." (Dragpa Gyaltsen, 1147-1216).

Occupying a central role in Vajrayana Buddhism, Akshobhya, by some accounts, is Lord of the 2nd of the Five Buddha Families of tantra and found throughout all 4 tantra classifications most notably in the anuttarayoga class. Akshobhya is also mentioned in several Mahayana sutras, the Vimalakirti Nirdesa being the most famous. It was in Abhirati, the pureland of Akshobhya, attainable only by 8th level bodhisattvas, where the famous Tibetan yogi Milarepa and the scholar Sakya Pandita are said to have obtained complete buddhahood.

Akshobhya, meaning unshakeable, is one of many Buddhas found in Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism. He is described in the Mahayana Sutras of Northern Buddhism and in the Tantra literature. Although a relatively minor figure in the Sutras Akshobhya is of major importance in the Tantras occupying a central role in Vajrayana Buddhism at all levels. He is easily recognized in paintings by having a buddha-like form, blue body colour and the left hand supporting an upright vajra scepter. There are no other Buddhist figures that have this same iconographic appearance. Tantric depictions of Buddhas are commonly shown with jewel ornaments and a crown.

At the top center is Amitabha Buddha with Lokeshvara kneeling on the left side and Vajrapani on the right side. At the middle left and right are two more Buddhas supporting a vajra scepter in the lap with the left hand. At the bottom left side is Vajrasattva On the right side is the Medicine Buddha.

Jeff Watt [7-2013]

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