The 8th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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In a previous life he was a garuda and, along with Vaishravana, had attacked two nagas who lived fearlessly on the ocean surface but were unable to harm them. The nagas explained that they had taken refuge in Buddha Kashyapa and their virtue protected them. Hearing this the two garudas also took refuge. The two nagas and two garudas all prayed to be reborn in the time of Buddha Shakyamuni in order to support him.
- Crystal Mirror, volume VI, Dharma Publishing 1984
One of the four heavenly kings of Buddhist mythology. This god is said to live halfway up the western side of Mount Sumeru and protect the western quarter. With his divine eyesight, he discerns evil, punishes evildoers, and causes them to aspire for Buddhahood. Wide-Eyed is also known as the lord of naga (dragons) and spirits called putana. Though the Sanskrit name Virupaksha was rendered in Chinese as "wide-eyed," it more literally means irregular-, abnormal-, or many-eyed. In Hindu mythology, Virupaksha is an epithet for the three-eyed god, Shiva.
- "This is the guardian king of the west, 'He who observes everything that happens in the kingdom', 'He who sees all'; he presides over the autumn." (p.247)
Virupaksha's army and attendants are composed of the nagas and putanas. The nagas are the dragons or serpents who dwell beneath the ocean and who control the tides, the flow of the rivers, and the rain. The nagas are one of the eight kinds of supernatural beings who are said to revere and protect the Dharma. The putanas are another type of hungry ghost who are associated with fevers but also with the protection of pregnant women.
The king of the Nagas is Virupaksha, one of the four Lokapala, or Celestial Guardians of the Four Cardinal Points. His kingdom is the continent west of Mount Meru but the chief residence of the Nagas is Bhogavati, 3,000 yoganas under the sea.
His body is red in colour. Virupaksha shows a wrathful appearance. His right hand holds a spear of three points, his left fist rests on his knee. Virupaksha can be recognized through the Chaitya symbol in his left hand.
Virupaksha lives in the city of Sudarsana on the west of Sumeru Mountain. His city is as beautiful as that of the three other kings. Virupaksha leads immeasurable serpent deities i.e. Nagas to protect Buddha dharma in the west.
Virupaksha leads besides the retinue of Nagas, innumerable spirits of sun and moon and others. They are all responsible for the protection of the Buddha dharma. Devotees worship these four maharajas in a group.
With one face and large round eyes, a brown moustache and beard, the right hand holds at the waist a writhing snake entwined around the upper arm - grey in colour with a white belly. With the left hand upraised, he holds a single white pearl-like drop with a lick of yellow flame extending upward from the center. Adorned with an ornate crown of gold, jewels and a small red ribbon at each side he is richly garbed in the raiment of a king, opulent with silk brocades and elaborate designs in varieties of colour.
From the set of the Four Guardian Kings of the Directions the other three are Vaishravana - the leader, Virudhaka and Dhritarashtra. Traditionally painted in association with the Buddha and 16 Great Arhats the full group would comprise a total of 25 figures: the buddha Shakyamuni together with the two foremost disciples - Shariputra and Maudgalyayana, the 16 Arhats, the attendant Dharmata and the patron Hvashang, together with the Four Kings
Translated as "Great Heavenly King Wide-Eyed," Dai Komoku-tenno is one of the Four Heavenly Kings. He lives halfway down the western side of Mount Sumeru and protects the western continent. With his divine eyesight, he is said to discern good from evil, punish those who do evil deeds, and to arouse the aspiration for attaining Buddhahood.
Everything in the world is constantly changing. Dai Komoku-tenno symbolizes being flexible and wise enough to deal with life. His special eyesight enables him to accurately perceive the nature of the world and thus make wise decisions.
Attendants are composed of the nagas and putanas. The nagas are the dragons or serpents who dwell beneath the ocean and who control the tides, the flow of the rivers, and the rain. They are one of the eight kinds of supernatural beings who are said to revere and protect the Dharma. The putanas are another type of hungry ghost who are associated with fevers and also with the protection of pregnant women.
Appearance: Dai Komoku-tenno has red skin; he is dignified and richly ornamented with precious gems. In his right hand, he holds a jewel, and in his left hand, a snake. His glare is deadly, for his penetrating eyes are also poisonous, so Dai Komoku-tenno stares unflinchingly at the jewel in his hand to avoid killing beings.
Virūpākṣa's association with serpents and water suggests a connection with the Vedic god Varuṇa. Initially a solar god, often paired with mitra, Varuṇa was the guardian of ṛta - the cosmic order. Later, in the Hindu Epics, he was relegated to being a protector of water and was associated with water spirits, such as nāgas. Some scholars point to similarities with the Greek Titan Uranus (the names are phonetically similar).
oṃ vi rū pā kṣa nā gā dhi pa ta ye svā hā