Bosatsu, Bodhisattva (菩薩)

Bosatsu, or Bodhisattva (in Sanskrit) is a disciplinant who wants to become Buddha (tries to become Nyorai) in Buddhism.

Later Bosatsu, in spite of a disciplinant, became a target of people's belief because it was considered to live with people and lead people to Buddha's teaching.

It came from the phrase "bodhi-sattva" in Sanskrit.
Bodhi means 'awake,' and sattva means 'a living person' so that it was freely translated into 'the living things' or 'humanity.'
For this reason he is referred to in the two senses of 'a person who pursues enlightenment' and 'a person who has awakened' so that there are two kinds of Bosatsu in India, while in China 'an Indian Mahayana Buddhism monk' is also called Bosatsu. As a result, there are three kinds of Bosatsu. However, merely seeking enlightenment leads to the same as Shomon, Engaku and Bykakushibutsu, so that in order to avoid this, the Hannya-kyo sutra, a Mahayana sutra of the early stage, added Bodhisattva Mahasattva (菩薩摩訶薩) and Mahasattva (摩訶薩) (the great living thing) and differentiated Mahayana Bosatsu.

Additionally, in the Hannyashin-kyo sutra translated by Genjo there is a word, '菩提薩埵' in the latter part, which is said that it was intentionally divided into '菩提' and '薩埵' according to nirukti. In the Mahaprajnaparamita-sutra, Daihannyaharamitta-kyo Sutra translated by Genjo, it was described as Bodhisattva Mahasattva (菩薩摩訶薩).

The 52 ranks of Bosatsu

After the idea of Bosatsu was established, the rank of Bosatsu was produced next. This had been segmented and structured in accordance with the development of Mahayana Buddhism, but various theories emerged according to the interpretation of sutra. In "Kegon-kyo Sutra" and "Sutra of the Fundamental Vows of the Jeweled Bodhisattva," the status or grades of training were divided into 52 ranks, ranging from Myokaku, Tokaku, Jicchi (Ten Stages), Jueko (Ten Transferences), Jugyo (Ten Behavioral Activities), Juju (Ten Dwelling), Jushin (Ten Faith), and from this 52 ranks have often been adopted.


The last position of the 52 ranks for Bosatsu training, Bosatsu in Tokaku rank, gets this rank by overcoming Mumyo, abidya, of Ippon. It is also a rank with overcoming Bonno (earthly desires), and is seen as being the same as Buddha and Nyorai.


It is the fifty-first rank and one of the highest of the 52 ranks for Bosatsu training, and it means that its wisdom and virtue become equal to those of Myokaku, a Buddha of 略万徳円満.

Jicchi, Juchi, Ten Stages

From the forty-first through fiftieth in the 52 ranks of Bosatsu training
The 10 ranks from the highest are as follows: dharma-cloud, the finest wisdom, unperturbed state, afar practice, open mind, mastery of utmost difficulty, glowing wisdom, illumination, purity, and joy from the upper rank. It was named '地', 'a land' because it can be compared to a land putting on all things and giving benefit to them that Bosatsu gets the wisdom of Buddha, keeps holding without moving, bears the burden of all living things, teaches them and gives them benefit.

Jueko, Ten Transferences

From the thirty-first through fortieth in the 52 ranks of Bosatsu training
The 10 ranks from the highest are as follows: Transference of equalizing the boundless dharma realm; Transference of the liberation without any tie nor attachment; Transference of the mark of true suchness; Transference of viewing all sentient beings in equality and harmony; Transference of the good roots of equality and harmony; Transference of the store of boundless virtues; Transference of reaching everywhere; Transference of equalizing all Buddhas; Transference of non-destruction; and Transference of salvaging all sentient beings but detaching from any form of sentient being. They are the ranks in which a disciplinant does (廻施) all selfish and altruistic training that it had already done for the living things and tries to reach an enlightenment (仏果) by putting this good deed after Jugyo.

Jugyo, Ten Behavioral Activities

From the twenty-first through thirtieth in the 52 ranks of Bosatsu training
The 10 ranks, from the highest, are as follows: manifesting in all things the pure, final and true reality; perfecting Buddha's law by complete virtues; exalting the paramitas among all beings; unimpeded; appearing in any form at will; never out of order; without limit; never resenting; beneficial service; and joyful service. This is the rank where Bosatsu tries to relieve the living things in order to complete more altruistic training after getting a certification (印可) as a Buddhist (仏子) at the end of Juju.
Dana - Generosity, charity, giving of oneself; Sila - Morality, purity of conduct; Ksanti - Endurance, forbearance, patience; Virya - Diligence, zeal; Dhyana - Meditation, mental concentration; Upaya - The ways and means of emptiness and detachment; Pranidhana - Spiritual vows; Bala - Spiritual Powers; Jnana - Spiritual wisdom

Juju, Ten Dwellings

From the eleventh through twentieth in the 52 ranks of Bosatsu training
The 10 ranks from the highest are as follows: Kanjo, Abhiseka; Being the prince of the law; Being Buddha's son; Non-retrogression; The whole mind as Buddha's; Perfect expedience; Acquiring the seed of Tathagata; Unobstructed cultivation; Clear understanding and mental control; Setting objectives. It is called '住' in the sense that the mind of the disciplinant lives in Shintai, the real truth after Jushin. Another theory asserts that Jicchi of Bosatsu should be called Juju.

Jushin, Ten Faiths

From the first through tenth in the 52 ranks of Bosatsu training
The 10 ranks, from the highest, are as follows: Vow, Precept, Reflexive power, Non-retrogression, Concentration, Wisdom, Zeal, Remembrance, and Faith. This is the rank where a disciplinant has no doubt regarding the belief in Buddha's dharma.

Additionally, Jushin names generically the gebon, (i.e., outer stages) the ranks from Juju to Jueko (called naibon, i.e., inner stages or the three virtuous positions) and the ranks from Jushin to Jueko (called 凡).
Juchi and Tokaku names 因, Myokaku names 果, and the ranks from Juchi to Myokaku name 聖, which are in opposition to 凡

Suppositional idea
Although there could be various reasons behind the development of the Mahayana Buddhism movement, it can be thought to be a movement that emerged due to the fact that any Hinayana priest who performed the ascetic practices of Shomon could not become Buddha.

It was thought that there were two reasons for that, and the disciplinants who could not become Buddha were called as follows:

Shomon, who was awakened by Buddha's teaching
Engaku or Byakushibutsu, who did not preach in spite of reaching enlightenment by itself
Early in Mahayana Buddhism, these were called two vehicles and were regarded as being unable to become Buddha.

Bosatsu as a disciplinant
From the early stage of Buddhism, Buddha in the disciplinant age before enlightenment was called Bosatsu. In Jataka, Shaka's previous life story, a figure of Shaka's previous life was also called Bosatsu.

What was created as a representative of this Bosatsu was Miroku Bosatsu (Maitreya Bodhisattva), who was said to become Buddha next. Miroku Bosatsu is considered to appear in this world as 弥勒仏 after ascetic training for 5670 million years. Amitabha Buddha, which later became Amitabha Buddha, is a representative example.

Bosatsu for working in this world
Despite having reached enlightenment already, Bosatsu, who was prohibited from becoming Buddha, was created. This is because it was thought that the activity of Buddha itself had a restriction, so that a person who worked for Buddha hand and foot, as it were, was called Bosatsu.

Monju Bosatsu and Fugen Bosatsu, of the Amida triad, are examples of this. They are not only symbols of Shaka's functions but also work as functions themselves. Additionally, Kanzeon Bosatsu and Seishi Bosatsu are Bosatsu who work without regard to becoming Buddhas.

Mahayana priest in India
In China, since the details of the Indian situation were not heard, the priests of the early Mahayana Buddhism were given honorific titles, of Bosatsu in particular. Ryuju Bosatsu, Seshin Bosatsu and others were examples in this case.

Miroku Bosatsu needs attention. There were Miroku Bosatsu created as Bosatsu in Isshohusho (一生補処, the rank where a disciplinant could become Buddha by one more reincarnation) and Miroku who were told to edit Yugashijiron (there is another opinion that another person edited it but that Miroku was asked to pretend to be an editor (仮託説)).

Bosatsu in Japan
In Japan it was a subject of faith. The following major Bosatsu were greatly admired: Kannon Bodhisattva, Kannon Bosatsu, who is depicted as a mother; Miroku Bosatsu who relieves people in the far future; Fugen Bosatsu, who appears in the Hokke-kyo sutra, which says women can become Buddhas and has been deeply admired by women; Monju Bosatsu, who controls the wisdom; and Zijo Bosatsu, who is at the roadsides and nearest to the grass roots.

Syncretization of Shinto with Buddhism
As a stage of syncretization of Shinto with Buddhism there came the idea that the god of Japan hoped to escape from crime and achieve enlightenment as well as human beings. Based on that idea, Bosatsu-go (菩薩号) was used as a name of the god of Japan who came to believe in Buddhism. The Hachiman deity is representative of that.

Titles of high priests
In some cases the Imperial Court gave high priests the Bosatsu title. Gyoki Bosatsu is an example in this case.

[Original Japanese]