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魔 (Skt, Pali mara; Jpn ma )
A personification of evil. The Sanskrit word mara also means killing, death, pestilence, or obstacle, and in China it was translated as "robber of life." In Buddhist scriptures, Mara is the name of a devil king who rules over numerous devils who are his retinue. He is described as the [[great evil enemy] of Shakyamuni Buddha and his teachings. When Shakyamuni entered into meditation under the bodhi tree, Mara attempted to prevent him from attaining enlightenment but failed. After Shakyamuni's enlightenment, he also tried to induce the Buddha to abandon his intent to preach. Mara is identified with the devil king of the sixth heaven. The sixth heaven is the highest heaven in the world of desire, or the Heaven of Freely Enjoying Things Conjured by Others, and its ruler delights in manipulating others to submit to his will. In Buddhism, devils indicate those functions that block or hinder people's effort to complete their Buddhist practice.
In theistic religions the Devil, sometimes also known as Satan, Lucifer or Beelzebub, is a being completely opposed to God and to goodness. According to the Tipiṭaka, the Buddha was approached on several occasions by a spirit named Māra who tried to stop him from continuing his struggles for enlightenment, to tempt him and to encourage him to pass away (Sn.426; D.II,103). Many Buddhists believe that Māra is an actual being while others contend that it is really an allegory or a personification of negative states of mind. There would seem to be more evidence for this second opinion than for the first. This is apparent from the fact that the Pāḷi word māra means ‘death’ or ‘bringing death’ and that Māra’s three off springs are named Taṇhā, Aratī and Ragā, meaning Craving, Discontent and Lusting (S.I,124). Further, the Buddha describes the army that Māra used to attack him with as being made up of sensual desire, dislike, hunger and thirst, craving, sloth and laziness, fear, restlessness, gains, honour and fame, undeserved reputation and exalting oneself and disparaging others (Sn.436-8).
This interpretation is further supported by the fact that Buddhism sees evil as thoughts, speech and action motivated by ignorance rather than the machinations of a force external to the human mind. Māra is sometimes also called Antaka, the End-maker (S.I,72, Kaṇha, the Dark One (M.I,377), or Namuci, the Binder (D.II,259).
Buddhism and the Mythology of Evil, Trevor Ling, 1965.