Kebutsu (化仏)

Kebutsu (the Artificial Buddha)

An abbreviation of Hengebutsu or Okebutsu (transformations of Buddha). It refers to an appearance of Buddha or Bosatsu (Bodhisattva) as Buddha, Bosatsu or Myoo (Atavaka, general of the heavenly cohorts, who was accused of eating human flesh), in order to relieve living things depending on the capability of people. A temporary figure of Buddha. An incarnation. In addition, according to hojin (Bliss Body; Reward Body) and ojin (Manifested Body) in the theory of trikaya (three bodies of the Buddha) are also called kebutsu. The Shakyamuni Buddha who appeared in this corrupt world is regarded as Ojin Buddha and the Amida Buddha of the Jodo (Pure Land) Sect is regarded as having changed himself from hojin in the Saiho Gokuraku Jodo (The West Pure Land (of Amida Buddha)) to hosshin (Dharma Body) to come to this corrupt world to welcome living things.

A small statue of Buddha which is placed on the head of Buddha statue or Bosatsu statue or on its halo, and a small image of Buddha or picture on the ceiling are also called kebutsu. In the case of Bosatsu, the Buddha statue on the head is called kebutsu in order to show honji-butsu (original Buddhist divinity). The Amida statue on the head of Kannon (Deity of Mercy) is an example. In addition, the 16 Buddha statues on the halo of the statue of Rushana-butsu (Rushana Buddha) in the Todai-ji Temple are also kebutsu, and the 6 Amida Nyorai (Amitabha Tathagata) statues which are thrown out of the mouth of the Kuya Shonin statue in the Rokuharamitsu-ji Temple in Kyoto are also said to be a kind of kebutsu. Moreover, the horse statue on the head of Bato Kannon (horse-headed Kannon), although it is not a Buddha statue, is also called kebutsu.

It is said that when Shakyamuni preached, a thousand lights and a thousand kebutsu appeared from Shakyamuni's byakugo (whorl of hair in the centre of the forehead of Buddha), which has been often adopted as a subject of Buddhist paintings.

[Original Japanese]