Five Buddhas in the Womb Realm (胎蔵界五仏)

The Five Buddhas in Womb Realm are a kind of venerable image in Buddhism. They are the five Buddhas depicted around the center of Taizokai (or Taizo) Mandala (the Womb Realm Mandala), one of Ryokai Mandala (Mandalas of the two Realms) that geometrically illustrate the world view of Esoteric Buddhism. Concretely, the five Buddhas are Dainichi Nyorai (Mahavairocana Tathagata), Hoto Nyorai (Ratnaketu Tathagata), Kaifukeo Nyorai (Samkusumitaraja Tathagata), Muryoju Nyorai (Amitabha Tathagata) and Tenkuraion Nyorai (Divyadundubhimeghairghosa Tathagata).

In Esoteric Buddhism, Kongokai Mandala (Diamond Realm Mandala) and Taizokai Mandala are the most valued of all mandalas, and these two make up the Ryokai Mandala (or Ryobu Mandala). Based on the sutras of Esoteric Buddhism that were established in India around the seventh century, these two mandalas both visualized the world view and the world of spiritual enlightenment in Esoteric Buddhism.
Moreover, the depiction on Taizokai Mandala is based on the theory explained in the Mahavairocana Tantra, and the mandala's name originated from Sanskrit words meaning 'mandala born from maternal mercy.'
This shows that the original Sanskrit does not include the word that means 'realm' ('kai' in Japanese), but in Japan the Mandala has been called the 'Taizokai' (Womb Realm) Mandala since the Heian period, because it makes a pair with the 'Kongokai' (Diamond Realm) Mandala.

The Taizokai Mandala consists of 12 parts, and at the center of the lotus flower, called the 'central eight-petal court,' Dainichi Nyorai is depicted. On the eight petals around Dainichi Nyorai are depicted the above-mentioned four Nyorai (Hoto, Kaifukeo, Muryoju and Tenkuraion) and four Bosatsu (Bodhisattvas), in other words Fugen (Samantabhadra), Monju (Manjusri), Kanzizai (or Kannon) (Guan Yin) and Miroku (Maitreya). Of these, Dainichi and the other four Nyorai are called the Five Buddhas in the Womb Realm. The following concerns which Nyorai (other than Dainichi) is depicted and in what direction.

Hoto Nyorai: The tathagata is depicted in the east (the top of the Taizokai Mandala; in the Kongokai Mandala, the west is the top) as a symbol of 'hosshin' (which means making up one's mind to seek spiritual enlightenment).

Kaifukeo Nyorai: The tathagata is depicted in the south (the right side of the Taizokai Mandara) as a symbol of 'shugyo' (making efforts to achieve spiritual enlightenment).

Muryoju Nyorai: The tathagata is depicted in the west (the bottom of the Taizokai Mandala) as a symbol of 'Bodai' (realizing spiritual enlightenment).

Tenkuraion Nyorai: The tathagata is depicted in the north (the left side of the Taizokai Mandala) as a symbol of 'Nehan' (completing spiritual enlightenment).

The photograph on the right shows the central eight-petal court, with the venerable image of Dainichi Nyorai depicted at the center and that of Hoto Nyorai depicted above Dainichi Nyorai. Then, in clockwise order, Fugen Bosatsu, Kaifukeo Nyorai, Monju Bosatsu, Muryoju Nyorai, Kanzizai Bosatsu, Tenkuraion Nyorai and Miroku Bosatsu are depicted. Incidentally, old works depicting only the Five Buddhas in the Womb Realm have rarely been found in Japan. In Enryaku-ji Temple's Hokke Soji-in Todo (East Pagoda), which was reconstructed in 1980, the Mandala of Five Buddhas in the Womb Realm, created by Horin MATSUHISA in the early Showa period, is placed.

[Original Japanese]