What does Buddha statue represent? And about the poses.(Japan)

(Last Updated On: 02/06/2019)




There are more than 75,000 Buddhist temples in Japan, each of which has multiple Buddha statues. Also, the countless Buddha statues stand to protect travelers on the roadside.

But looking closely, you will find that they are different buddha. Also, they hold various poses. For example, Miroku Bosatsu at Koryuji Temple which is meditating Buddha statue means the class and the role in the Boddhism World. 

There are 4 classes in the Buddha statue in Japan, and they have several types.  Among them, Tathagata and Bodhisattva have a form of pose. I would like to introduce what they mean.

Four classes of Buddha statues

Tathagata/Nyorai represents the appearance of Buddha(shakyamuni) who attain enlightenments and in the highest position. In other words, the Tathagata is an alias of Buddha. He has ten names.

It has 32 distinct physical features and 80 fine one, Sanjunisou-Hachijishukou“(三十二相八十種好). Cloth of Tathagata is very simple. And they don’t have any belongings except Bhaisajyaguru(the Healing Buddha/Yakushi-Nyorai(薬師如来).

 

Learn more the types of “Nyorai”

Bodhisatvaa/Bosatsu means who continue to training for helping out people, and seek enlightenments. In contrast to a Nyorai, they decorate themselves and have belongings.

Bodhisattva does not rely on the power of others, aiming for enlightenment on its own, and is said to have the 32 physical characteristics already.

Aside from Bato-kannon, the Bodhisattva’s face is  gentle like the Tathagata. However, unlike Tathagata, the reason why Bodhisattva’s decorations and clothes are gorgeous is because it shows Buddha’s appearance before enlightenment .

 

Learn about the types of “Bosatsu”

 

Vidyā-dhara/Myoo has a frightening appearance and furious face. Myoo beat demons, guard Buddhism and make unreasonable people a Believer by force.

Therefore, the Buddha statues have the expression of anger except Peacock Ming.

They are said whom Nyorai instructed or transform himself into Myoo.

 

Learn about the types of “Myoo”

Deva/Tembu(天部)

The origin of Deva/Tenbu are the ancient India Gods, and they guard Buddha and his doctrine.The introduction of Buddha statue to Japan was 6th century, Aska Period, by people from Korean Peninsula.







"In-zo"-Buddha hand

There are the four classes of Buddha statue, Nyorai, Bosatsu, Myoo and Tenbu. Nyorai have their own hand sign “In-zo”(印相).

Jo-in(定印)

The form of “Jo-in” is putting the hand on the other. This means meditating. Amitabha Tathagata, Amida-Nyorai(阿弥陀如来), makes the shapes of circles with the thumbs and the index fingers, “Amida-Jo-in”(阿弥陀定印). On the other hand, Gautama Buddha, “Shaka-Nyorai”(釈迦如来), just put the them to the others, “Zen-Jo-in”(禅定印) or “Hokai-Jo-in”(法界定印).

Shokuchi-in(触地印)

Shokuchi(触地) means touching a ground. “Shokuchi-in” shows enlightened Buddha made the demon submitted. But it is rarely seen in Japan.

Raigo-in(来迎印)

Raigo(来迎) means welcoming and leading people to the paradise of Buddhism. The right-hand raises lightly and the left-hand lowers. Both of them make the shapes of circles with the thumbs and the index fingers.

Semui-in(施無畏印) and Yogan-in(与願印)

Raigo(来迎) means welcoming and leading people to the paradise of Buddhism. The right-hand raises lightly and the left-hand lowers. Both of them make the shapes of circles with the thumbs and the index fingers.

Tenporin-in(転法輪印)/Seppo-in(説法印)

“Tenporin-in”, also known as “Seppo-in”, is the style of preaching(seppo 説法). It makes the rings with the thumbs and the index fingers before the chest.

Chigen-in(知拳印)

“Chigen-in” represents the fist of wisdom. It removes the ignorance of people and makes them see the wisdom of Buddha. The right hand holds the left hand’s index finger. It’s only for mahāvairocana, Dainichi-Nyorai(大日如来).

In the early modern period, Buddhism monk thought of the new interpretation for In-zo, which was named “Kuhon-in“(九品印). The forms represent the  nine ranks in the Paradise of Buddhism for people after dying.










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