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Amitabha

The name Amitabha (also Amita) means " Infinite Light " or "Boundless Light".

In Chinese he is called A-Mi-Tor-For. (Fig 1)
In Japanese he is called Amida Nyorai. (Fig 2)
In Tibetan he is called 'Od-Dpag-Med. (Fig 3)

Amitabha is one of the most important and popular buddhas of the Mahayana. Although there are six principal purelands (namely east, west, south, north, up, and down) described in the sutras, Amitabha is at the center of the worship of the Pure Land school of Chinese and Japanase Buddhism (Amidism), and this sect has been widespread in Asia.

This buddha resides in the western direction in the pureland called Sukhavati (Chinese:Ji-Ler-Shi-Jei, Tibetan: Dewachen). According to tradition Amitabha was a king who, having come in contact with the Buddhist teaching, renounced his throne and became a monk with the name Dharmakara. He took forty-eight vows obliging him to sustain beings on the path to enlightenment. One of the important vows was to refuse personal salvation, unless he should gain power to cause any being that remember his name with faith to him at the time of their death to be reborn in the pureland immediately after death. Through meditative practice, Dharmakara fulfilled his vows and eventually became Buddha Amitabha, ruler of Sukhavati. The being reborn in this land will achieve enlightenment without future rebirths.

Amitabha's meditative training particularly focuses on the powers of consciousness that enables ones to transfer their consciousness into the field of pure perception of Sukhavati at the time of their death. He is the pure expression of the wisdom of discriminating awareness, which transmutes the poison of attachment and desire. Amitabha's Discriminating Wisdom conquers the poison of the passions--all cravings, covetousness, greed and lust.

Sometimes Amitabha is depicted with patched saffron robes of a fully ordained monk, in some mandalas Amitaba is depicted in union with his wisdom consort Gokarmo, who embodies the pure element of fire. Most often he is seated in the middle of a lotus blossom, symbol of spiritual unfoldment, purity, the true nature of beings realized through enlightenment, and compassion, the purified form of passion.

Although Amitaba is usually depicted as red in color, his appearance various according to the different practices of tantra in relation to which he is visualized. This buddha normally sits in the full-lotus posture with his two hands resting on his lap in the gesture of meditative equipoise (dhyana mudra) and hold a begging bowl filled with nectar. He rules over the element of fire and personifies the skandha of perception.

He is most often depicted flanked by two eminent bodhisattvas, Avalokitesvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and Vajrapani, the Bodhisattva of Power.

His mantra is Om Amitabha Hrih.



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