Amitābha is the principal Buddha in the Pure land sect, a branch of Buddhism practiced mainly in East Asia, while in Vajrayana Amitābha is known for his longevity attribute and the aggregate of distinguishing (recognition) and the deep awareness of individualities.
According to these scriptures, Amitābha possesses infinite merits resulting from good deeds over countless past lives as a Bodhisattva named Dharmakāra. "Amitābha" is translatable as "Infinite Light," hence Amitābha is often called "The Buddha of Infinite Light."
According to the Larger Sūtra of Immeasurable Life (Mahāyāna Amitāyus Sūtra) Amitābha was, in very ancient times and possibly in another system of worlds, a Monk named Dharmakāra. In some versions of the Sūtra, Dharmakāra is described as a former king who, having come into contact with the Buddhist teachings through The Buddha Lokesvararaja, renounced his throne.
He then resolved to become a Buddha and so to come into possession of a Buddhakṣetra ("Buddha-field", a realm existing in the primordial universe outside of ordinary space time, produced by a Buddha's merit) possessed of many perfections.
These resolutions were expressed in his forty-eight vows, which set out the type of Buddha-field Dharmakāra aspired to create, the conditions under which beings might be born into that world, and what kind of beings they would be when reborn there.
In the versions of the Sutra widely known in China, Vietnam, Korea and Japan, Dharmakāra's eighteenth vow was that any being in any universe desiring to be born into Amitābha's Pure land and calling upon his name even as few as ten times will be guaranteed Rebirth there.
This openness and acceptance of all kinds of people has made the Pure land belief one of the major influences in Mahāyāna Buddhism. Pure Land Buddhism seems to have first become popular in northwest India/Pakistan and Afghanistan, from where it spread to Central Asia and China.
The Sutra goes on to explain that Amitābha, after accumulating great merit over countless lives, finally achieved Buddhahood and is still residing in his land of Sukhāvatī, whose many virtues and joys are described.
By the Power of his vows, Amitābha has made it possible for all who call upon him to be reborn into this land, there to undergo instruction by him in the Dharma and ultimately become bodhisattvas and Buddhas in their turn (the ultimate goal of Mahāyāna Buddhism).
After the Amitabha Doctrine, one can come to paradise (in the Pure land of Amitābha), if they visualize at their Death Amitābha in the Heaven (sun) over their head (western horizon), think his name as a Mantra and leave the Body as a soul through the crown chakra.
In the Highest Yoga Tantra class of the Tibetan Vajrayana Amitābha is considered one of the Five Dhyāni Buddhas (together with Akṣobhya, Amoghasiddhi, Ratnasambhava, and Vairocana), who is associated with the western direction and the Skandha of saṃjñā, the aggregate of distinguishing (recognition) and the deep awareness of individualities.
Amitābha is the center of a number of mantras in Buddhist Vajrayana practices. The Sanskrit form of the Mantra of Amitābha is ॐ अमिताभ ह्रीः (Devanagari: oṃ Amitābha hrīḥ), which is pronounced in its Tibetan version as Om ami dewa Hri (Sanskrit: oṃ amideva hrīḥ).
Names in various languages
This is a compound of the Sanskrit words amita ("without bound, infinite") and ābhā ("Light, splendor"). Consequently, the name is to be interpreted as "he who possesses Light without bound, he whose splendor is infinite".
Amitayus is also one of the three deities of long Life (Amitayus, White Tara & Ushnishavijaya) . Amitāyus being a compound of amita ("infinite") and āyus ("Life"), and so means "he whose Life is boundless".
In Chinese, his name is given as Āmítuó Fó (阿彌陀佛), where Āmítuó is the Chinese representation of the first three syllables of either Amitābha or Amitāyus, and Fó is Chinese for Buddha (a very early borrowing of the first syllable of the Sanskrit word).
These names are not, however, very commonly used.
Amitābha is often depicted, when shown seated, displaying the meditation mudrā (thumbs touching and fingers together (as in the Kamakura statue of Amitābha) or the exposition mudrā, while the earth-touching mudrā (right hand pointed downward over the right leg, palm inward) is reserved for a seated Śākyamuni alone.
There is a difference between Amitayus and Amitabha, (in Tibetan Buddhism) Amitayus~The Buddha of Infinite Life and Amitabha~ The Buddha of Infinite Light are essentially identical, being reflective images of one another.
The meaning of this mudra is that Wisdom (symbolized by the raised hand) is accessible to even the lowest beings, while the outstretched hand shows that Amitabha's Compassion is directed at the lowest beings, who cannot save themselves.
The Lotus is his sign.
The statue is dated to "the 28th year of the reign of Huviṣka" (i.e., sometime in the latter half of the 2nd century CE, during the period of the Kuṣāṇa Empire), and was apparently dedicated to "Amitābha Buddha" by a family of merchants.
Furthermore, there are sculptures of Amitabha in Dhyani Mudras as well as bronzes of Amitabha in Abhaya Mudra from the Gandhara era of the 1st century CE suggesting the popularity of Amitabha during that time.
One of the last prayer busts of Amitabha can be found in the trademark black stone of the Pala Empire which was the last Buddhist empire of India and lost its influence in the 12th century due to Islamic invasions.
Amitabha (Skt. Amitābha; Tib. འོད་དཔག་མེད་, Öpamé or སྣང་བ་མཐའ་ཡས་, Nangwa Tayé; Wyl. snang ba mtha' yas) — the Buddha of Boundless Light, belonging to the lotus family (one of the five buddha families).
People also recite or call upon his name by the time of dying will be born in the Land of Ultimate Bliss with the reception by Amitabha. Amitabha is one of the most popular and well known Buddha in China.
The Buddha of Infinite Light. Creator of the Pure Land or Western Paradise, a place where beings can strive toward enlightenment free from the pain and suffering associated with life on earth. Chinese: A mi to po ("ah mee TOH poh"); Sanskrit: Amitabha ("ah mee TAH bah").
Amitabha (Chinese: A mi to po; Japanese: Amida), Budda of "Infinite Light" or "Infinite Life," is one of the five transcendental Buddhas. He is believed to reside over Western Paradise where souls of his followers strive for enlightenment.
During sunset, the sun is gentle, and we can directly look into its fierce power, without coming to any harm.
Amitabha thus provides us with the archetypal infinite wisdom that helps us transmute the negative trait of obsessive attachment into a discerning awareness that we are all made up of the same primitive substratum.
Amitabha is a celestial buddha described in the scriptures of the Mahayana school of Buddhism. Amitabha is the principal buddha in the Pure Land sect, a branch of Buddhism practiced mainly in East Asia.
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One of the 5 Transcendent Buddhas;
He is ruler of the western paradise Sukhāvati, which is not to be understood as a location but as a state of consciousness. Amitābha is at the center of the worship of the Pure Land school of Chinese and Japanese Buddhism. He symbolizes mercy and wisdom.
In Mahayana, the Buddha of the Western Paradise (the Pure Land). Also encountered in the aspect of Amitayus (or Amitayus), Limitless Life. Pure Land Buddhists practice recitation of the name of Amitabha.
The name of the bodhisattva who established the Pure Land form of Buddhism. The power he gained from his merit as a bodhisattva allows him to help get to the Pure Land. They do not have to get there on their own power.
As recounted in the longer Sukhāvatīvyūhasūtra, numerous eons ago, a monk named Dharmākara vowed before the buddha Lokeśvararāja to follow the Bodhisattva path to buddhahood, asking him to set forth the qualities of buddha-fields (Buddhakṣetra).
Among the most famous were his vow that those who, for as few as ten times over the course of their life, resolved to be reborn in his buddha-field would be reborn there; and his vow that he would appear at the deathbed of anyone who heard his name and remembered it with trust.
Based on the larger and shorter versions of the Sukhāvatīvyūhasūtra as well as the apocryphal Guan Wuliangshou Jing (*Amitāyurdhyānasūtra), rebirth in Amitābha’s buddha-field became the goal of widespread Buddhist practice in India, East Asia, and Tibet, with the phrase “Homage to Amitābha Buddha”
(C. namo Amituo fo; J. Namu Amidabutsu; K. namu Amit’a pul) being a central element of East Asian Buddhist practice. Amitābha’s Indian origins are obscure, and it has been suggested that his antecedents lie in Persian Zoroastrianism, where symbolism of light and darkness abounds.
His worship dates back at least as far as the early centuries of the Common Era, as attested by the fact that the initial Chinese translation of the Sukhāvatīvyūhasūtra is made in the mid-second century CE, and he is listed in the Saddharmapuṇḍarīkasūtra (“Lotus Sūtra”) as the ninth son of the Buddha Mahābhijñā Jñānābhibhu.
The Chinese pilgrims Faxian and Xuanzang make no mention of him by name in their accounts of their travels to India in the fifth and seventh centuries CE, respectively, though they do include descriptions of deities who seem certain to have been Amitābha.
Scriptures relating to Amitābha reached Japan in the seventh century, but he did not become a popular religious figure until some three hundred years later, when his worship played a major role in finally transforming what had been previously seen as an elite and foreign tradition into a populist religion.
In the sixteenth century, the fifth Dalai Lama gave the title Paṇ Chen Lama to his teacher, Blo Bzang Chos Kyi Rgyal Mtshan , and declared him to be an incarnation of Amitābha (the Dalai Lama himself having been declared the incarnation of Avalokiteśvara, Amitābha’s emanation).
there are some intimations that Amita may actually have been the original name of this buddha, as evidenced, for example, by the fact that the Chinese transcription Amituo [alt. Emituo] transcribes the root word amita, not the two longer forms of the name.
The distinction between the two names is preserved in the Chinese translations “Wuliangguang” (“Infinite Light”) for Amitābha and Wuliangshou (“Infinite Life”) for Amitāyus, neither of which is used as often as the transcription Amituo.
Both Amitābha and Amitāyus serve as epithets of the same buddha in the longer Sukhāvatīvyūhasūtra and the Guan Wuliangshou jing, two of the earliest and most important of the sūtras relating to his cult.
Despite the fact that the two names originally refer to the same deity, they have developed distinctions in ritual function and iconography, and Amitāyus is now considered a separate form of Amitābha rather than just a synonym for him.
In tantric depictions he is usually red in color and is shown in union with his consort Pāndarā, and in East Asia he is commonly accompanied by his attendants Avalokiteśvara (Ch. Guanyin) and Mahāsthāmaprāpta.
The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism by Robert E. Buswell Jr. and Donald S. Lopez Jr.
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