Shibosatsu (四菩薩)

Shibosatsu (shi means four), means four Bosatsu literally, is a combination of Bosatsu as the object of worship or construction of statues in the Buddhism. The meaning of it is different depending on the sect or the sutra.

Shibosatsu in the Esoteric Buddhism

There is a case that four Bosatsu in the 'Chudaihachiyoin' (the central eight-Petal Court) at the center of the 'Garbhadhatu Mandala' of the Esoteric Buddhism, Fugen Bosatsu. Monju Bosatsu, Kannon Bosatsu and Miroko Bosatsu are together called the shibosatsu. Usually, "shibosatsu" means this combination of Bosatsu in Esoteric Buddhism.

Shibosatsu in the Tendai sect

In the Tendai sect and its branches, four Bosatsu, Kongoho, Kongori, Kongoin and Kongogo, may be arranged as the wakiji (attendant figures) for the Amida Nyorai.

Although any one of the four Bosatsu, Kongoho, Kongori, Kongoin or Kongogo, is seldom constructed as an individual statue, these four are arranged at the East, South, North and West of the Amida Nyorai, drawn as one of the Gochi Nyorai (Five Buddha Statues representing Five Different Wisdom of Buddha), in the Diamond World Mandala of the Esoteric Buddhism. It is known that this format of the Amida Quintet (the Amida Nyorai and the four Bosatsu) statue was placed in the Jogyo zanmai-do hall at the Todo district, Mt. Hiei. As an existing old statue, the Gosonzo (quintet) (important cultural property) placed in the Jogyo-do hall of the Nikko Rinno-ji Temple is known.

Shibosatsu in the Kegon-kyo (Avatamsaka Sutra)

In the "Kegon-kyo" (Avatamsaka Sutra), the Shibosatsu consists of Hoe, Kudokurin, Kongodo and Kongozo.

Shibosatsu in the Nichiren sect and the Hokke sect

In the Nichiren sect and the Hokke sect, the Shibosatsu consists of Jogyo, Muhengyo, Jogyo and Anryugyo which are described in the "Hokekyo" (Lotus Sutra).

According to the fifteenth phrases of the jujiyujuppon (Emerging from the Earth), chapter 15 of the "Hokekyo," when Shaka Nyorai (Shakyamuni) was preaching, a crack appeared in the ground and then many Bosatsu emerged from it, which are called collectively "jiyu no Bosatsu" (Bosatsu appearing from underground). The leading Bosatsu of these were Jogyo, Muhengyo, Jogyo and Anryugyo and they are considered to guard the Buddhism in the mappo (the latter days of Buddhism) days after the death of Shaka. Nichiren, who insisted that the reason for the deterioration of the social order and disasters is people's belief in heresies, identified himself as the same kind of Jogyo Bosatsu.

Because these Shibosatsu were described in the Hokekyo as having bodies that were gold colored and having Sanjuniso (32 marks of Nyorai), they may not seem to be Bosatsu who are training to get enlightenment. It is thought that these Bosatsu were not the Bosatsu who were doing Bosatsu-gyo practice for the enlightenment of themselves, but the Nyorai, who had gotten enlightenment and entered the spiritual realm of Buddhahood, came to the Kukai (nine various realms except the Buddhahood) to give relief to the mappo days, called Daibosatsu (great Bosatsu). These Shibosatsu are also assigned to each of the jorakugajo (four virtues of nirvana).

In the Nichiren sect, the honzon (principal object of worship) may be the Great Mandala (the Nichiren chant 'Nam-myoho-renge-kyo' surrounded by the names of Nyorai and Bosatsu), the Issonsisi (Shaka Nyorai and wakiji of four Bosatsu) or the Ittoryosonsisi (hoto (treasure pagoda) surrounded by the Shaka Nyorai, the Taho Nyorai and the four Bosatsu). In all of these, the four Bosatsu mentioned above are described. By the way, it has been argued for a long time whether the Great Mandala, the Issonsisi or the Ittoryosonsisi should be the honzon of the Nichiren sect. But those details are beyond the objective of this article.

Additional information

Although various Bosatsu appear in the Buddhist scriptures and many Bosatsu are painted in the Mandalas, many of them were seldom constructed or made an object of worship as an individual statue.

[Original Japanese]