Ichijoji Kasai13bs4272


Tendai • Shingon
Pure Land • Zen


Saichō • Kūkai
Hōnen • Shinran
Dōgen • Eisai • Ingen

Sacred Texts

Avatamsaka Sutra
Lotus Sutra
Heart Sutra
Infinite Life Sutra
Glossary of
Japanese Buddhism

Adhiṣṭhāna (Romanised Sanskrit with diacritics; Devanagari: अधिष्ठान; Tibetan: jin lab, contraction of jin gyi lab pa; Wylie:byin rlabs; Japanese: 加持 kaji; Thai: อธิษฐาน) are waves of blessing in the Vajrayana Buddhist schools such as Tibetan Buddhism and Shingon.

Point of origin

"Adhiṣṭhāna" as a religious meme and complex accretion in Dharmic Traditions requires concerted study through its textual occurrence in literature and employ in devotional practice, liturgy and song, and its iconographic representation in the visual arts. "Adhishthana" is evident in Sanatana Dharma texts and traditions of Advaita Vedanta and is not Buddhism-specific. Such texts of Advaita Vedanta may or may not have been quickened by Buddha Dharma traditions and it is fruitful to envision them arising in a complex evolving adaptive system.

Nomenclature, orthography and etymology

Adhishthana(m) is a polysemic term which holds the semantic field: seat; basis; substratum; ground; support; and abode.

Fremantle (2001: p. 48) in her companion exegetical work on the Bardo Thodol cycle parses the etymology of the Sanskrit "Adhishthana" and Tibetan "jinlab" thus:

The Sanskrit word literally means "standing over" and conveys ideas of taking possession, dwelling within, presence, protection, and sovereignty. The Tibetan literally means "an engulfing wave or flood of splendor and power." [1]
Adhishthana(m): Seat; basis; substratum; ground; support; abode; the body as the abode of the subtle bodies and the Self; underlying truth or essence; background.



Tsultrim Allione points out that in Tibetan Buddhism adhistana blessings are an important part of the esoteric transmission received from the guru and lineage.[2] Receiving these blessings is dependent on the student having proper motivation, aspiration and intentionality (refer: Bodhichitta) and sufficient 'devotion' (Sanskrit: bhakti). These blessings may be received from the student's guru during initiation, from the yidam during deity yoga or simply from being in the presence of holy objects such as stupa.

Kiyota (1978: p.70) in a study of the theory and practice of Shingon, an extant non-Himalayan Vajrayana Buddhist school, identifies three kinds of adhisthana:

  1. mudra, the finger sign;
  2. dharani, secret verses ; and
  3. yoga, through meditation practices.[3]

The term adhisthana is also used to describe the transformative power of the Buddha. According to D. T. Suzuki:

The Buddha is creative life itself, he creates himself in innumerable forms with all the means native to him. This is called his adhisthana, as it were, emanating from his personality.

The idea of Adhisthana is one of the Mahayana landmarks in the history of Indian Buddhism and it is at the same time the beginning of the 'other-power' (tariki in Japanese) school as distinguished from the 'self-power' (jiriki).[4]

Stream of blessings

In the Indo-Himalayan lineages of Mantrayana where traditions of Tantra were introduced in the first wave of translations of Sanskrit texts into the Tibetan language, from the 8th century onwards, the term chosen by the community of 'translators' (Tibetan: lotsawa) which importantly is one of the most concerted translation efforts in documented history, chose to render "Adhiṣṭhāna" as "Tibetan: བྱིན་རླབསWylie: byin rlabs". This metaphorical usage of the 'stream', 'wave', 'thread', 'continuum' is reinforced in philosophy with the mindstream doctrine and its relationship to tantric sadhana where it is used in visualizations and invocations, particularly in relation to the Three Vajra of Padmasambhava and depicted in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist and Bon iconography such as representations of the Adi Buddha and Tapihritsa. Mills (2003: p.160) in a modern political and power-relations dissection of "chinlabs" in relation to hierarchical structures of the Gelugpa, a school of the 'second wave of translations' (Tibetan: sarma), holds that:

"The acceptance of offerings by worldly deities and spirits was felt very strongly to oblige the recipient to act in favour of the donor, and particularly to act as their protector (strungma), a term widely used by householders to describe the various numina that inhabited their houses. This protection was seen as being a blessing (chinlabs) which descended upon the offerer from above in the manner of a stream. This metaphor of the stream and its pure source is an important one, and is a central idiom by which hierarchical relations, either in hospitality gatherings, offering practices, or religious teachings, were conceived and spoken about, emphasising once again the salience of height as designating relations with social superiors and preceptors." [5]


  • The Prayer of Inspiration known as "The Falling Rain of Blessings" (gsol 'debs byin rlabs char 'bebs) (from the Yang Zab Nyingpo)[6]

Honzon Kaji

In Shingon Buddhism, mantra, mudra and visualization practices aim at achieving Honzon Kaji, or union with the deity. According to Shingon priest Eijun Eidson:

Honzon simply refers to the main deity in any given ritual. Kaji refers to the enhancement of a sentient being’s power through the Buddha’s power (Nyorai-kaji-riki), and it translates the Sanskrit word adhisthana.[7]


  1. Fremantle, Francesca (2001). Luminous Emptiness: Understanding the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Boston: Shambala Publications. ISBN: 1-57062-450-X, p. 48
  2. Allione, Tsultrim (1986). Women of Wisdom. London: Arkana. pp. xxxiv. ISBN 1-85063-044-5. 
  3. Kiyota, Minoru (1978). Shingon Buddhism: Theory and practice. Buddhist Books international. p. 70. ISBN 0914910094. 
  4. Suzuki, Daisetz T.. "The Shin Sect of Buddhism". Journal of Shin Buddhism. Retrieved 2008-09-03. 
  5. Mills, Martin A. (2003). Identity, ritual and state in Tibetan Buddhism: the foundations of authority in Gelukpa monasticism. RoutledgeCurzon studies in tantric traditions. ISBN 9780700714704. Source: [1] (accessed: Saturday January 2, 2010)
  6. Source: [2] (accessed: Sunday January 3, 2010)
  7. Eidson, Eijun. "Kaji". Buddhadharma:The Practitioner's Quarterly. Retrieved 2008-09-03. 

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