Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Medicine Buddha - Main Form

སངས་རྒྱས་སྨན་ལྷ། 药师佛
(item no. 58520)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1300 - 1399
Lineages Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Private
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Buddha

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Medicine Buddha (Sanskrit: Bhaishajyaguru. Tibetan: sang gye men la. English: the Buddha, Guru of Medicine).

At the top are rows of smaller buddhas, all in the same appearance, representing the set of 53 Buddhas along with the Seven Lord Buddhas of the Past with one extra making a total of 61 buddhas. However in this composition there are many more than that number. The form and practice of Medicine Buddha is derived from the Bhaishajyaguru Sutra taught by Lord 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.

In the middle of the registers in the upper composition is the personification of wisdom, Prajnaparamita. At the center of the composition is Medicine Buddha in Nirmanakaya appearance. He is blue in colour with orange and red robes. Standing at the sides are two students in monastic attire. Above those two are small figures of the two bodhisattvas Suryaprabha and Chandraprabha.

Descending in the outer register on the left side are the Ten Classical Indian Gods. The regester inside of that depicts half of the Sixteen Bodhisattvas. Descending on the right side in the outer register are the Twelve Yaksha Generals. The register inside of that depicts the other half of the Sixteen Bodhisattvas. At the bottom center, the lowest register, are the Four Direction Kings in a standing posture.

Two lay person donor figures and five accompanying monastic figures are identified in a lower register to the right side of the composition along with a shrine containing offerings and sacrificial cakes.

Seven Medicine Buddhas & Prajnaparamita:

Sixteen Bodhisattvas: 11 (1). Eastern direction: Manjushri 12 (2). Avalokiteshvara 13 (3). Vajrapani 14 (4). Nyi Nang 15 (5). Southern direction: Chandraprabha 16 (6). Mahamati 17 (7). Maitreya 18 (8). Kyab Drol 19 (9). Western direction: Pobpa 20 (10). Nampar Nonpa 21 (11). Tana 22 (12). Jompa'i Lodro 23 (13). Northern direction: Sampa Legpa 24 (14). Lhunpo 25 (15) Sang Sangpo'i Jung 26 (16). Lhunpo Chenpo

Ten Gods: 26 (1). Eastern direction, Brahma, yellow, holding a wheel, riding a goose. 27 (2). Indra, white, holding a vajra, riding an elephant. 28 (3). Agni, red, holding a fire pot, riding a goat. 29 (4). Southern direction, Yama, blue, holding a stick, riding a buffalo. 30 (5). South-west, Raksha, black-maroon, holding a sword, riding a zombie. 31 (6). West, Varuna, white, holding a snake lasso, riding a makara. 32 (7). North-west, Vayu Deva, smoky-coloured, holding a banner, riding a deer. 33 (8). North, Yaksha, yellow, holding a mongoose, riding a horse. 34 (9). North-east, Maheshvara, white, holding a trident, riding a buffalo. 35 (10). West, Bhudevi, yellow, holding a vase, riding a sow.

Twelve Yaksha Generals: 36 (1). Eastern direction, Jijig, yellow, vajra. 37 (2). Vajra, red, sword. 38 (3). rgyan 'dzin, yellow, stick. 39 (4). Northern direction, g.za' 'dzin, light blue, stick. 40 (5). rlung 'dzin (Vatadhara), red, trident. 41 (6). gnas bcas, smoky-coloured, sword. 42 (7). Western direction, dbang 'dzin, red, stick. 43 (8). btung 'dzin, yellow, stick. 44 (9). smra 'dzin, pink, axe. 45 (10). Southern direction, bsam 'dzin, yellow, lasso. 46 (11). g.yob 'dzin, blue, stick. 47 (12). rdzogs byed, red, wheel. All hold a mongoose in the left hand, with short fat limbs and a large stomach.

Four Guardian Kings: 48 (1). East: Dhritarashtra, white 49 (2). South: Virudhaka, blue 50 (3). West: Virupaksha, red 51 (4). North: Vaishravana, yellow

Collection of All Tantras, vol.1, pages 116-117.

Jeff Watt 7-98 [update 1-2018]

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