The 7th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Acala Vidyārāja - Fudō Myōō (不動明王) Mantra
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Acala-vidyārāja is known in Japan as Fudō-myōō. He is a wrathful figure associated with Vairocana. He is frequently described as a messenger, but his main function in the Mahāvairocana Abhisaṃbodhi Tantra is as a destroyer of obstacles.
In the MAT he is described thus:
- "He holds a sword and a noose,
- his plaited hair hangs from the left of his head,
- he is well adorned and one of his eyes squints.
- He abides amidst his own light*,
- wrathfull seated upon a rock.
- His face is creased in anger,
- and he has a robust youthful form."
- - (MAT II.40. Hodge : 113)
* The Chinese version of the text has "His awe-inspiring and wrathful body emanates flames" (Linrothe : 152) which is more consistent with images. The flames in his aura are the flames which transmute mundane anger into the Mirror-like Wisdom.
Acala means "immovable". Vidya can mean knowledge, but is also a synonym for mantra and is frequently used to refer to magic. It can be taken to mean something like esoteric knowledge. Rāja means "king". He is also known simply as Acala (Fudō), or as Acalanātha, "immoveable lord". Fudō is also part of a group of Vidyārājas.
Fudō's seed syallble is hāṃ, or sometimes hammaṃ, which is a combination of the two final bīja's from his mantra.
|hāṃ in Siddhaṃ||hāmmāṃ in Siddhaṃ|
Tibetan - Uchen
नमः समन्त वज्राणां चण्ड महारोषण स्फोटय हूं त्रट हां मां
na maḥ sa maṃ ta va jrā nāṃ caṃ ḍa ma hā ro ṣa ṇa spho ṭa ya hūṃ traṭ hāṃ māṃ
namaḥ samanta vajrānāṃ caṇḍa mahāroṣaṇa sphoṭaya hūṃ traṭ hāṃ māṃ
The mantra comes from the Mahāvairocana Abhisaṃbodhi Tantra. It occurs for instance in chp. 4, the General Mantra Treasury (Hodge : 161). Acala is one of only three wrathful figures in the MAT along with Trailokyavijaya and Hayagrīva.
In the Siddhaṃ I have used the practice of indicating nasals in caṇḍa for instance by using the anusvāra on the prceeding vowel. The fact that the following consonant is ḍ tells us that the nasal must be of the same articulation, ie ṇ. In the Tibetan and Devanāgarī I have used conjunct consonants.
This is a wrathful mantra which includes words which must be understood in the context of Tantric Buddhism. For instance caṇḍa means "violent", mahāroṣaṇa means "great wrath", and sphoṭaya means "destroy". Anger is associated with, and transformed through Tantric practices into the Mirror like Wisdom of Akṣobhya that sees perfectly clearly. The energy of the anger is directed towards breaking through to Buddhahood, it breaks through spiritual ignorance. There is no sense in which this justifies expressing mundane anger towards people as the anger of the Bodhisattva arises out of Compassion for their suffering, and is rooted in Perfect Wisdom. The Mahāvairocana Abhisaṃbodhi Tantra insists that the mantra is to be recited while keeping Bodhicitta in mind:
- " Recollecting bodhicitta, the matrin
- Should mentally recite the Acala mantra,
- And make his Mudrā,
- And he will destroy all obstacles." (MAT III.4. Hodge : 154)
As well as destroying obstacles, the Acala mantra can be used for occupying the ground where a mandala is being created. Tantric texts seem to assume that creating a mandala is something that one does on an actual plot of land, although this could of course be symbollic.
In later tantric texts Chaṇḍa Mahāroṣaṇa becomes a distinct figure.
- Hodge, Stephen. The Mahāvairocana Abhisaṃbodhi Tantra : with Buddhaguhya's commentary. London, Routledge Curzon : 2003.
- Linrothe, Rob. Ruthless compassion : wrathful deities in early Indo-Tibetan esoteric Buddhist art. London, Serindia : 1999.
Note that the MAT is no longer extant in Sanskrit. Stephen Hodge's translation from the Tibetan is far superior to either Yamamoto's or Giebel's from Chinese.