Amidanyorai (阿弥陀如来)

Amidanyorai, being Amitaabha or Amitaayus in Sanskrit, is one of the Nyorai in Mahayana Buddhism. It is also called Amitabha Buddha or Midabustu.

The symbol of Sanmayagyo is a lotus (a lotus in full bloom in Vajradhatumandala and a blooming lotus in Garbha-mandala). Shuhi, Shuji or Bija (in Mikkyo) is hriiH.


Amitaayus' in Sanskrit means 'a person who has an immeasurable life,' and 'Amitaabha' means 'a person who has immeasurable light'; these show that he is a super-man who has no limit in time and space. These are freely translated as 無量寿仏 or 無量光仏 and are regarded as the Buddha of light who shines forth in this dark world. He has the Buddha land, the Land of Bliss in the west.


Generally, he has been depicted as wearing simple clothes with no accessories and shows a symbolic gesture with the fingers of Kubon Raigo-in, i.e., mudra for the nine possible levels of birth into Amida's paradise, Gokuraku (see Mudra for detail), mixed with Jo-in, i.e., samadhi mudra, Seppo-in, i.e., the exposition of the dharma mudra, Semui-in, i.e., mudra for bestowing fearlessness, and Yogan-in, i.e., wish-granting mudra. When enshrined as the Amida triad Kyoji, it is accompanied by the attendant figures Kannon-Bosatsu (i.e., Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva) and Seishi-Bosatsu (i.e., Mahasthamaprapta Bodhisattva). In Mikkyo, it is admired as one of the Nyorai of the five Buddhas (five Buddhas of wisdom).

Three Sutras of the Pure Land

According to "Muryoju-kyo Bussetu Muryoju-kyo Sutra," he willingly stepped down from the status of Buddha to Bosatsu and practiced ascetic training for the relief of all the living things under Lokeshvararaja Buddha, with the name Dharmakara. He is the sambhoga-kaya Buddha who had thought about the relief of living things for a very long time (contemplation of five kalpas) and became Buddha by finding a way to achieve birth in the pure land. He made 48 wishes for the relief of living things; among them the eighteenth wish, called 'Hongwan (本願),' is highly valued, particularly in Jodo-kyo. Additionally, it is considered that he continues to preach even now. In "Amida-kyo Sutra" he was praised by as many Buddhas as there were grains of sand in the Ganges River of the universe.
It says 'The power of Amidabutsu was extremely wonderful, and only Amidabutsu wished Hongwan and promised for the relief of all living things despite other Buddhas turning their backs against the relief of us, meaning the deadly, guilty living things.'
No Buddha could reach enlightenment as Buddha without ultimately depending on Amidabutsu. The phrase Tariki (Other-Power) Hongwan originated from this, and has been generally used in the sense of 'selfish dependence on others' or 'irresponsible,' in the broad sense. However, Other-Power here originally showed the power of Amidanyorai, while all other powers except his (but including Shaka's power) are called Jiriki (Self-Power).

The Jodo Shinshu sect

Particularly in the Jodo Shinshu sect, an ignorant, deluded person with earthly desires can become Buddha 'only' by Amidanyorai's Hongwan, as it were, or Tariki Hongwan (absolutely Other-Power), and even the power of Shaka as Buddha is denied as 'Self-Power.'

Tibetan Buddhism

In Tibetan Buddhism, 無量寿仏 is distinguished from 無量光仏. Amidanyorai in Japan is near to the latter. Furthermore, Panchen Lama, the second rank of dGe lugs pa, is regarded as an avatar of 無量光仏. According to the Tibetan Book of the Dead, he appears for the relief of the soul four days after death (next to Dainichinyorai, Ashukunyorai and Hoshonyorai).

Heresy (relationship to Zoroastrianism)

It is the Buddha who appeared in Mahayana Buddhism, and there is a theory that it originates from an Iranian faith such as Zoroastrianism. According to that theory, Ahura Mazda, the supreme god of light, is an original model of 無量光如来 and Zurvan, the god of immeasurable time, is an original model of 無量寿如来. Additionally, there is a theory that the area of Iran, the original place of Zoroastrianism and the area of ancient Babylonia, which were fertile and flourished, served as the basis for the Western Land of Bliss.

Influence on the Japanese

Since the Kamakura period in Japan, the words and phrases related to Amidanyorai had been seen in fully flourished Jodo-kyo.

Ohako, one's favorite stunt
As mentioned above, since the eighteenth wish among the 48 wishes in Jodo-kyo is seen to be the most important, Ohako (i.e., the eighteenth) means one's favorite stunt.

Amidakuji, lottery
The origin of this word is that although Amidakuji at present is shown in parallel lines, formerly it was shown in radiating lines, which looked like the halo of an Amidanyorai statue.

Tariki Hongwan
As mentioned above, it is used to show irresponsibility or a lack of effort, as transferred from the original meaning.

Mantra, Shingon

小咒 is on amirita teizei kara un.
大咒(無量寿如来根本陀羅尼) is noubouaratannoutoraya-yanoumakua riyamita-ba-yatatagyataya arakateisanmyakusanbodaya-tanya taonamiriteiamiritoudobanbei amiritasanbanbeiamiritagya rabeiamiritashitteiamiritatei seiamiritabikirandeiamirita bikirandagyamineiamiritagya gyanoukichikyareiamiritadon dobisowareisarabaaratasadaniei sarabakyaramakireisyakisyayougyarei sowaka

The Kumano Gongen deity
The Hachiman deity

Major examples in Japan:
National treasures
Statue at Chuson-ji Temple (Hiraizumi-cho, Nishi-iwai-gun, Iwate Prefecture) (among various Buddhas placed at Konjiki-do)
Statue at Kotoku-in Temple (Kamakura City, Kanagawa Prefecture) (Kamakura Great Buddha)
Statue at Byodo-in Temple (Uji City, Kyoto Prefecture) (made by Jocho, placed at Hoo-do)
Statue at Koryu-ji Temple (Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture) (placed at the auditorium)
Statue at Ninna-ji Temple (Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture) (one of the Amida triad, placed at Kondo)
Statue at Houkai-ji Temple (Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture) (placed at Amida-do)
Statue at Sanzen-in Temple (Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture) (one of the Amida triad, placed at Ojo Gokuraku-in)
Statue at Seiryo-ji Temple (Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture) (one of the Amida triad, the principal image of Buddha in Qixia Temple)
Statue at Joruri-ji Temple (Kizugawa City, Kyoto Prefecture) (Kutai Amitabha, Nine Figures of Amitabha)
Statue at Horyu-ji Temple (Ikaruga-cho, Ikoma-gun, Nara Prefecture) (one of the Amida triad, placed at Tachibana Fujin Zushi)
Statue at Jodo-ji Temple (Ono City, Hyogo Prefecture) (one of the Amida triad, made by Kaikei, placed at Jodo-do)

[Original Japanese]