The 8th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Akashagarba (S): Tibetan: Namkhai Nyingpo, "Matrix of the Sky." Akashagarba is the principle Bodhisattva of the Jewel Family. He is associated with the Eastern Wisdom through the dawning of Light from that direction. He wears a white robe and holds a Lotus with a large sword shedding that Light in his left hand. He is known for his Generosity and meritorious acts.
Ākāśagarbha Bodhisattva (Sanskrit: आकाशगर्भ बोधिसत्त्व; traditional Chinese: 虛空藏菩薩; pinyin: Xūkōngzàng Púsà; Korean: 허공장보살; Japanese: Kokūzō Bosatsu; Tibetan: Namkhai Nyingpo) is a Mahāyāna Bodhisattva who is associated with the great element (Mahābhūta) of space (ākāśa)
Painting of Ākāśagarbha Bodhisattva. Japan, 13th century
Ākāśagarbha is regarded[who?] as one of the eight great bodhisattvas. His name can be translated as "boundless space treasury" or "void store" as his Wisdom is said to be boundless as space itself. He is sometimes known as the twin brother of the "earth store" Bodhisattva Kṣitigarbha, and is even briefly mentioned in the Kṣitigarbha Bodhisattva Pūrvapraṇidhāna Sūtra.
Kūkai, the founder of Shingon Buddhism, is said to have repeatedly chanted a Mantra of Ākāśagarbha as a young Buddhist acolyte. As he chanted the Mantra, he experienced a vision whereby Ākāśagarbha told him to go to China to seek understanding of the Mahā Vairocana Abhisaṃ Bodhi Sūtra. Later he would go to China to learn Esoteric Buddhism from Huiguo, and then go on to found the Shingon school in Japan.
Two Mahāyāna sūtras are known to survive in which Ākāśagarbha Bodhisattva is a central figure:
《虛空藏菩薩經》 (Ākāśagarbha Bodhisattva Sūtra)
《虛空藏菩薩神咒經》 (Ākāśagarbha Bodhisattva Dhāraṇī Sūtra)
The Mantra of Ākāśagarbha is popularly used by Shingon Buddhists, Chinese Buddhists following esoteric practices, and by artists. It is believed to give rise to Wisdom and creativity, and dispel Ignorance.
Chinese: Namo Xukongzang Pusa
Korean: [[Namu Heogongjang Bosal
Vietnamese: Nam Mo Hu Khong Tang Bo Tat
Translation: Homage to Ākāśagarbha Bodhisattva
Another Mantra also exists for Ākāśagarbha Bodhisattva:
Sanskrit: namo ākāśagarbhāya oṃ ārya kamari mauli svāhā
Japanese pronunciation: nōbō akyasha kyarabaya on arikya mari bori sowaka
Tantric rituals surrounding Ākāśagarbha are only given to students initiated in esoteric Buddhist lineages by an approved teacher. Currently the Chinese (Hanmi) Esoteric School is teaching his tantric ritual to the general public.
Akasagarbha, who is regarded as the essence of ether, belongs to the group of eight great Bodhisattvas. He belongs to Ratnesa family. He is also called the Khagarbha. ‘Akasa’ and ‘Kha’ mean the sky or boundless space. The reason why the Bodhisattva is called Akasagarbha is explained thus in the Ta-fang-teng-ta-chi-ching" Suppose there is a millionaire who has limitless riches, an immeasurable store of large donations to people, specially to the poor and bereaved. Suppose that he opens his store to make offerings to those people as much as they want, and that he is thereby immensely satisfied. Like that rich man, does Akasagarbha Bodhisattva practice his meritoriaus acts".
According to Su-yao-I-Kuei, the man who wants to get Happiness and Wisdom, should devote himself to this Bodhisattva. The reason is that Sun, Moon and the stars are ll the incarnations of Akasagarbha (Taisho, XXI, 422b). Again, the Akasagarbha Bodhisattva Sutra (Hsu-kung yun-P’u-sa’ching) explains thus the devotion of his followers. "The devotees take bath in scented water, put on clean Clothes, burn Incense of aloe and turns his face to the east late at night. He brings before his mind the reddish Aruna (the dawn) and recite to him: "Thou great merciful one, dost appear and illuminate this World. Have mercy on me out of Compassion and protect me (Taisho, XIII, 672c). It goes on to say that the dawn Aruna appears in the east; the Bodhisattva Akasagarbha appears". Aruna is a Sanskrit word meaning the dawn. It can, therefore, be siad that the origin of the Bodhisattva lies in the World of celestial bodies….
Kokūzō Bosatsu 虚空蔵菩薩
Bodhisattva of Wisdom & Memory
Kokūzō is especially important to Japan's Shingon sect of Esoteric Buddhism (Mikkyō 密教). Kokūzō symbolizes the "vast and boundless" Buddha wisdom that permeates the Universe. In Japan, believers pray to Kokūzō to grant them Wisdom on their quest toward Enlightenment. They also pray to Kokūzō to improve their memory, technical skills, and artistic talents.
Kokūzō is often translated as Space Repository or Sky Repository (空 = Space, Sky; 蔵 = Repository), for Kokūzō's Wisdom and Compassion are said to be as boundless as the sky; Kokūzō personifies infinitely vast Wisdom and Compassion.
One who removes obstacles, one who helps people recognize & overcome their errors, one who encourages the practice of the Six Perfections, one who fulfills all wishes.
Invoked in the Gumonjihō 求聞持法, an esoteric rite to improve one's memory that involves reciting Kokūzō's morning star Mantra. Kūkai 空海 (774 - 835), the founder of Japan's Shingon sect, practiced this rite prior to achieving Enlightenment.
Identified with the planet Venus (Myōjō 明星) and with Aruṇa (charioteer of the sun in Hindu lore). Aruṇa also represents dawn. By tradition, the founder of Japan's Shingon sect -- Kūkai -- attained Enlightenment in the early dawn when Kokūzō appeared as the morning star and pierced Kūkai's mouth.
One of 13 Deities 十三仏 (Jūsanbutsu) of Japan's Shingon Sect; in this role, Kokūzō presides over the memorial service held on the 32nd anniversary after one's Death.
In the Womb World Mandala (Jp. = Taizōkai 胎藏界, Skt. = Garbhadhātu), Kokūzō appears as the central deity in the Court of Space (Kokūzō-in 虚空蔵院) wearing a crown of five gems, with right hand holding a sword and left a Lotus topped with a jewel. Kokūzō also appears in the Court of Shaka (Shakain 釈迦院) as Shaka's right-hand attendant; in this role, Kokūzō graps a fly whisk in one hand and a Lotus topped with a green gem in the other.
In the Diamond World Mandala (Jp. = Kongōkai; Skt. = Vajradhatu), Kokūzō appears as Kongōhō 金剛宝菩薩 (Skt. = Vajraratna), one of the 16 Great Bodhisattva; Kokūzō is also counted among the 16 Deities of the Auspicious Aeon.
Appears in five forms known as the Godai Kokūzō Bosatsu 五大虚空蔵菩薩 (Five Great Kokūzō); the five are manifestations of the Five Buddha (Gobutsu 五仏) and are invoked in the Godai Kokūzōhō 五大虚空蔵法, an esoteric rite for fulfilling wishes and averting misfortune.
Appears as the central object of worship in the Kokūzō Bosatsu Mandara 虚空蔵菩薩曼荼羅.
In Japan, Kokūzō is also worshipped as the patron of craftspeople and artisans.
On Japan's Honshu island, children who are 13 years of age still follow the custom of paying homage to Kokūzō in the hopes of becoming more intelligent.
Guardian of People Born in the Zodiac Years of the Ox and the Tiger. Click here to find your patron deity.
English Translations for Kokūzō
Womb of the Sky
Treasure of Emptiness
Bodhisattva of Space (Wisdom of Emptiness)
Vast & Boundless Vessel of Buddha's Wisdom
Bodhisattva of All-Encompassing Wisdom.
Space / Sky Repository (also Space / Sky Treasury)
Guardian of the Treasury of All Wisdom & Achievement