Their cult was introduced from China into Japan by the followers of the
Shingon sect. Initially considered as esoteric deities, they were
popularized, probably from the thirteenth century, the monks ascribing to
them the power of protecting humans against the evil influences coming,
according to an ancient Chinese belief, from the Kimon (in the north-east)
or the 'gate of demons'.
Among these kings of magic knowledge, five great Vidyarajas are
distinguished (called Godai Myo-o or Godai-son in Japan) corresponding to
the five Jinas. According to the Ninno-kyo Mandara ('the mandala of the Good
Kings'), the five great Vidyarajas are:
1) The center, Achalanatha, corresponding to Vairochana.
2) In the east, Trailokyavijaya, corresponding to Akshobhya.
3) In the south, Kundali, corresponding to Ratnasambhava.
4) In the west, Yamantaka, corresponding to Amitabha.
5) In the north, Vajrayaksha (Vajrapani), corresponding to Amoghasiddhi.
Achalanatha also known as Fudo-Myo-O in Japanese, and Budong Fo in Chinese,
is believed to be a manifestation of the Dhyani-Buddha Vairochana for the
purpose of combating evil. He is believed to be the chief of the five Vidya
His appearance is fierce and angry, face menacing, his brows knit together,
and expression one of grimace. He is described in many sutras and
particularly in the Mahavairochana-sutra. His symbol, the vertically held
sword aids him to combat the 'three poisons': greed, anger and ignorance. In
the left hand he holds a lasso (pasha) to catch and bind the evil forces and
to prevent them from doing harm. Achalanatha, having taken a vow to prolong
the life of the faithful by six months and to give them an unshakable
resolution to conquer the forces of evil, is sometimes invoked in this
respect as the 'prolonger of life'.
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