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Description Of Form
Mahâvairocana has two aspects to his personality. One aspect is the Wisdom represented by Vajradhâtu Mandala. In this Mandala, he is depicted as wearing a bejeweled crown on his head, representing the Five Wisdoms posessed by a fully awakened Buddha. His hands are in the Wisdom Fist mudrâ. This mudrâ represents the essential unity of ordinary beings and the Buddhas. Another aspect is the Principle or the Truth represented by Garbhakosa (Womb Realm) Mandala. His hands are in the Samâdhi mudrâ (Hôkai Jôin), a mudrâ which represents the basic nature of the world. These two aspects are the spiritual qualities of Mahâvairocana which is the underlying ground, the basic substance that goes to make up the universe. All beings are manifested from out of this great spirit of Mahâvairocana. It is this reason there are two types of Mahâvairocana.
Purpose and Vow
Mahâvairocana Buddha is the overall main deity of worship, and is the fundamental buddha in Shingon Buddhism. His true name is Mahâvairocana Buddha, the Great Shining Buddha, because he is the life force of the buddhas that illuminate everything. In Shingon Buddhism, Mandalas are enshrined that explain the world of the buddhas. The buddhas, bodhisattvas, radiant kings, and the heavenly kings that are in the Mandalas all work, in their own way, to maintain the vow to give life to all of the virtues of Mahâvairocana Buddha in this world. They also strive to create Mahâvairocana Buddha's Pure Land, the Exquisitely Adorned Land of the Buddha. The Mandalas indicate that all things emerge from and are nourished by the life force of Mahâvairocana, who maintains the powerful creation and operation of the universe. A main teaching of Shingon Buddhism is that we human beings also have the buddha nature and the life force of Mahâvairocana.
The Sanskrit letter that stands for Mahâvairocana Buddha is the letter A, and it expresses life, death, and becoming a buddha that is the emergence from the letter A and the return to the letter A.
The virtue of Mahâvairocana Buddha is explained as the four virtues of a light that dispels the darkness of the world by casting light everywhere, give life to and nurture all living things, continues life throughout the past, present, and future with a radiant light that is neither created nor destroyed, and leads all living beings to the state of enlightenment. These are the virtues much like the sun that shines into every corner of the world dispelling the darkness with an eternal, undying light that nurtures and animates everything.
On abiraunken bazaradato ban (Jpn.)
Om a-vi-ra-hûm-kham vajradhâtu vam (Skt.)
Om All Pervading One; Imperishable One
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©1998 Shingon Buddhist International Institute
Deity line-art © Dashin Art, Inc. Used with Permission