Kokuzo Bosatsu (虚空蔵菩薩)

Kokuzo Bosatsu is Ākāśagarbh or Gaganagajja in Sanskrit, and is a Bosatsu that is revered in Buddhism.


The Sanmayogyo Symbol is Hoken (treasured sword) and Nyoi hoju (wish-fulfilling jewel). Shushi (Mikkyo (Esoteric Buddhism)) (Shuji) is Trāh. Known mantras are 'OM vajraratna, OM trāh svāhā' and 'Namah Ākāśagarbhāya, OM arika mari muri svāhā,' known to be used in 'Kokuzo Gumonji-ho,' an incantation method to pray for enhanced memory skills.

Kokuzo' literally means 'to have Koku,' and the Kokuzo Bosatsu is a Bosatsu that has limitless wisdom and compassion like the wide universe. Therefore, this Bosatsu is worshiped for virtues such as wisdom, knowledge and memory. The incantation method 'Kokuzo Gumonji-ho' involves chanting mantras 1 million times over 100 days following certain rules, and those who complete this method become able to memorize, understand and never forget all Buddhist texts.

The legend that Kukai secluded himself in the Mikurodo caves at Muroto-misaki Cape to complete Kokuzo Gumonji-ho is well known, and Nichiren also worshiped Kokuzo Bosatsu for 21 days when he started to follow the teachings of Buddha at the age of twelve. Horin-ji Temple in Arashiyama, Kyoto (Nishikyo Ward Kyoto City) has an event called "thirteen visit," where boys and girls who have turned thirteen visit to receive wisdom from Kokuzo Bosatsu.

It is the central figure of the Garbha-mandala in Kokuzo-in, and is esteemed in Mikkyo as well.

The images hold a Hoken in the right hand and Nyoi-hoju in the left, and some images show their right palm facing downwards in a wish-granting mudra and hold Nyoi-hoju in the left. The latter image form is found in Honzon for Gumonji-ho and the National Treasure image owned by the Tokyo National Museum has this form.

Major examples of sculptures are the figures in Kakuan-ji Temple, Yamatokoriyama City Nara Prefecture and in Koryu-ji Temple Kodo, Kyoto City.

The wooden Kokuzo Bosatsu standing figure in Horin-ji Temple (Ikaruga-cho) in Ikaruga-cho Nara Prefecture is an old figure from about the seventh century, but it is not clear whether it was called a Kokuzo Bosatsu from the beginning. The Kudara Kannon in Horyu-ji Temple was called a 'Kokuzo Bosatsu figure' within the temple until the early Meiji Period.

Five Major Kokuzo Bosatsu
The Five Major Kokuzo Bosatsu is a group of figures consisting solely of Kokuzo Bosatsu. It expresses the five wisdoms of Koku Bosatsu with 5 Bosatsu figures, and is also said to be a different incarnation of Gochi-nyorai. The Five Major Kokuzo Bosatsu is the Honzon of prayers for good health and prosperity. The name, direction and body color of the Five Major Kokuzo Bosatsu are as follows.

Hokkai Kokuzo (center, white)
Kongo Kokuzo (east, yellow)
Hoko Kokuzo (south, blue)
Renge Kokuzo (west, red)
Goyo Kokuzo (north, black-purple)

An example of sculptures of the Five Major Kokuzo Bosatsu are the figures in Jingo-ji Temple Tahoto in Kyoto (early Heian Period, National Treasure). The Five Major Kokuzo Bosatsu figures in To-ji Kanchi-in Temple, Kyoto (Important Cultural Property) were brought back from Tang by Eun, who was the disciple of one of Kukai's disciples. The figures of Hokkai, Kongo, Hoko, Renge and Goyo sit on a lotus pedestal on top of a horse, lion, elephant, golden bird and peacock, respectively. The figures in Kanchi-in Temple were originally in Ansho-ji Temple (Kyoto City) and (Yamashina Ward Kyoto City).

[Original Japanese]