Himalayan Art Resources

Buddhist Deity: Akshobhya Buddha Main Page (阿閦佛)

Akshobhya Masterworks

- Art History

- Iconography

- Religious Context


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.

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.

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Jeff Watt 9-99 [updated 10-2008, 7-2013, 5-2017, 1-2020]

(The images below are only a selection of examples from the links above).