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<tr><th class="fn org" style="text-align: center; font-size: larger;" colspan="2" style="background-color:#FFFF00">Bhaiṣajyaguru</th></tr>
<tr style="text-align: center;"><td colspan="2">Standing Gilt-bronze Bhaisajyaguru Buddha of Baengnyulsa Temple(백률사 금동약사여래입상)
Standing Bhaiṣajyaguru Buddha at the Gyeongju National Museum. Korea's National Treasure no. 28.
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Sanskrit:  Bhaiṣajyaguru (भैषज्यगुरु)
Chinese:  Yàoshīfó (藥師佛)
Japanese:  Yakushi (薬師)
Tibetan:  Sangye Menla སངས་རྒྱས་སྨན་བླ།
Korean:  Yaksayeorae, Yaksabul (약사여래, 약사불)
Vietnamese:  Phật Dược Sư, Dược Sư Lưu Li Quang Phật
Information
Venerated by:  Mahayana, Vajrayana
Attributes:  Healing

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Bhaiṣajyaguru (藥師佛 Ch. Yàoshīfó, 薬師 Jp. Yakushi), more formally Bhaiṣajyaguruvaidūryaprabharāja (भैषज्यगुरुवैडूर्यप्रभाराज; "Medicine Master and King of Lapis Lazuli Light"), is the buddha of healing and medicine in Mahayana Buddhism. In the English language, he is commonly referred to as the "Medicine Buddha" or the "Medicine King Bodhisattva". The use of the analogy of a Buddha being depicted as a doctor who cures the illness of suffering using the medicine of his teachings appears widely in Buddhist scriptures.

OriginEdit

Bhaiṣajyaguru is described in the eponymous Bhaiṣajyaguruvaidūryaprabharāja Sūtra (भैषज्यगुरुवैडूर्यप्रभाराज सूत्र), commonly called the Medicine Buddha Sutra, as a bodhisattva who made 12 great vows. On achieving Buddhahood, he became the Buddha of the eastern realm of Vaidūryanirbhāsa, or "Pure Lapis Lazuli". There, he is attended to by two bodhisattvas symbolizing the sun and moon respectively: Suryaprabha and Candraprabha.

The Twelve Vows Edit

The Twelve Vows of the Medicine Buddha upon attaining Enlightenment, according to the Medicine Buddha Sutra[1] are:

  1. To illuminate countless realms with his radiance, enabling anyone to become a Buddha just like him.
  2. To awaken the minds of sentient beings through his light of lapis lazuli.
  3. To provide the sentient beings with whatever material needs they require.
  4. To correct heretical views and inspire beings toward the path of the Bodhisattva.
  5. To help beings follow the Moral Precepts, even if they failed before.
  6. To heal beings born with deformities, illness or other physical sufferings.
  7. To help relieve the destitute and the sick.
  8. To help women who wish to be reborn as men achieve their desired rebirth.
  9. To help heal mental afflictions and delusions.
  10. To help the oppressed be free from suffering.
  11. To relieve those who suffer from terrible hunger and thirst.
  12. To help clothe those who are destitute and suffering from cold and mosquitoes.

Dharani and Mantra Edit

In the Bhaiṣajyaguruvaidūryaprabharāja Sūtra, the Medicine Buddha is described as having entered into a state of samadhi called "Eliminating All the Suffering and Afflictions of Sentient Beings." From this samadhi state he spoke the Medicine Buddha Dharani.[1]

namo bhagavate bhaiṣajyaguru
vaiḍūryaprabharājāya tathāgatāya
arhate samyaksambuddhāya tadyathā:
oṃ bhaiṣajye bhaiṣajye mahābhaiṣajya-samudgate svāhā.

The last line of the dharani is used as the Medicine Buddha's mantra. There are several other mantras for the Medicine Buddha as well that used in different schools of Vajrayana Buddhism.

IconographyEdit

Bhaiṣajyaguru is typically depicted seated, wearing the three robes of a Buddhist monk, holding a lapis-colored jar of medicine nectar in his left hand and the right hand resting on his right knee, holding the stem of the Aruna fruit or Myrobalan between thumb and forefinger. In the sutra, he is also described by his aura of lapis lazuli-colored light. He is also depicted standing on a Northern Wei stele from approximately 500 AD now housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, accompanied by his two attendants, Suryaprabha and Candraprabha. Within the halo are depicted the Seven Bhaiṣajyaguru Buddhas and seven apsaras.[2]

Role in Chinese BuddhismEdit

Pure Land of Bhaisajyaguru, Yuan Dynasty

The Pure Land of Bhaisajyaguru, a wall mural made circa 1319 AD, Yuan Dynasty

The practice of veneration of the Medicine Buddha is also popular in China, as he is depicted as one of the trinity of Buddhas, the others being the founder Gautama Buddha and Amitabha of the Pure Land sect. Like Tibetan Buddhists, Chinese Buddhists recite the mantra of the Medicine Buddha to overcome sickness. He is also closely associated with ceremonies for temple donors and for transferring of merit to such donors.

Role in Japanese BuddhismEdit

Starting in the 7th century Yakushi has been the object of a popular cult in Japan, largely supplanting the previous cult of Ashuku (Akshobhya). Some of Yakushi's role has been taken over by Jizō (Ksitigarbha), but Yakushi still presides over the Japanese Buddhist memorial service to dead.

In Japanese Shingon Buddhism, the following mantra is used:

Om huru huru candāli mātàngi svāhā (Skt.)

Older temples, those mostly found in the Tendai and Shingon sects, especially those around Kyoto, Nara and the Kinki region often have Yakushi as the center of devotion, unlike later Buddhist sects which focus on Amitabha Buddha or Kannon Bodhisattva almost exclusively. Often, when Yakushi is the center of devotion in a Buddhist temple, he is flanked by the Twelve Heavenly Generals (十二神将 junishinshō?), who were twelve yaksha generals who had been converted through hearing the Medicine Buddha Sutra:[1]

Wherever this sutra circulates or wherever there are sentient beings who hold fast to the name of the Medicine Buddha [Yakushi Buddha] and respectfully make offerings to him, whether in villages, towns, kingdoms or in the wilderness, we [the Twelve Generals] will all protect them. We will release them from all suffering and calamities and see to it that all their wishes are fulfilled.

Role in Tibetan BuddhismEdit

The practice of Medicine Buddha, the Supreme Healer (or Sangye Menla in Tibetan) is not only a very powerful method for healing and increasing healing powers both for oneself and others, but also for overcoming the inner sickness of attachment, hatred, and ignorance, thus to meditate on the Medicine Buddha can help decrease physical and mental illness and suffering.

The Medicine Buddha mantra is held to be extremely powerful for healing of physical illnesses and purification of negative karma. One form of practice based on the Medicine Buddha is done when one is stricken by disease. The patient is to recite the long Medicine Buddha mantra 108 times over a glass of water. The water is now believed to be blessed by the power of the mantra and the blessing of the Medicine Buddha himself, and the patient is to drink the water. This practice is then repeated each day until the illness is cured.

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Sutra of the Medicine Buddha". http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/medbudsutra.pdf. Retrieved 2007-04-15. 
  2. S. C. Bosch Reitz, "Trinity of the Buddha of Healing", Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Vol 19, No. 4 (Apr., 1924), pp. 86-91.

External linksEdit

bo:སྨན་བླ།

cs:Bhaišadžjagurubuddhako:약사여래ja:薬師如来ta:பைசையகுரு te:భైషజ్యగురు బుద్ధుడు th:พระไภษัชยคุรุไวฑูรยประภาตถาคต vi:Phật Dược Sư zh:藥師佛

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