Monday, August 15, 2016

Amitayus (Amitabha): "Buddha" of Limitless Life

Chinese Mahayana Buddhist altar in Taiwan shows Guan Yin, Amitābha "Buddha" (center), and Mahāsthāmaprāpta Bodhisattva, with swastika and Dharma wheels above and below (Miuki).
Amitayus ("Buddha of Infinite Life"), Berkeley Art Museum (Sftrajan/
Buddha Amitayus (Amida, Amitabha) or "Buddha of Limitless Life" is a Mahayana "Buddha" aspect or [Hindu] deity associated with meditations and mantras for long life.
Amitayus is in Mahayana and its related school Vajrayana considered another form of the Buddha Amitabha.

Tibetan Buddhist Amitayus thangka
The major Mahayana sutras describing Amitayus are the lesser and greater Sukhavativyuha where he teaches beings in the Pure Land of Amitabha and in the Amitayurdhyana Sutra. Often both names are used interchangeably.

The more specific sutra on Buddha Amitayus is the Arya Aparamita Ayurgyena Nama Mahayana Sutra or the Great Vehicle Sutra of Unfathomable Exalted Life and Transcendental Wisdom, although it is more like a hymn proclaiming the merits and virtues of Amitayus and giving the long mantra of Amitayus.
Amitayus is usually depicted seated in a meditation posture with a vase (kalasha) in his hands, which contains the elixir of immortality (amrita) and leaves of the ashoka tree. It symbolizes “a long life without the misery (shoka) of disease.”

On top of the vase there is sometimes an alms bowl. When one speak of Amitayus, “Limitless Life” refers to his blessings and virtues, while “Limitless Light” refers to his wisdom as Amitabha Buddha [a figure more popular in Mahayana Buddhism than the historical Buddha Shakyamuni].

The blessings, virtues, and wisdom of Amitayus are said to be limitless and so are his spiritual powers, his attributes, and his teachings....

In Tibetan Buddhism there are three major “Amitayus mantras” used to pray for long life and healing from disastrous diseases like cancer: NAMO RATNA TRA YAYA / OM NAMO BHAGAVATE / APARIMITA AYUR JÑANA / SUPINISH CHITATAYE / JORA JAYA / TATHAGATAYA / ARHATE SAMYAK SAM BUDDHAYA... More

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