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Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Virudhaka (Skt. Virūḍhaka; Tib. Pak Kyepo; Wyl. 'phags skyes po; Eng. 'Noble Birth') — one of the Four Great Kings. Guardian King of the South and leader of the kumbhandas, fierce beings who reside in the desire realms of the heavens.
Virudhaka, along with the other guardian kings, protected Buddha Shakyamuni's mother before the prince was born and continued to assist him during his lifetime. Today he protects beings who have led a virtuous life from Yama, the Lord of Death, and uses his power to ward off anything that would disrupt the Dharma.
- Crystal Mirror, volume VI, Dharma Publishing 1984
Soon after usurping the prosperous kingdom built up by his father Bimbisara, the parricide Ajatashatru (ruled 491-461 BCE) went to war with his aged uncle Prasenjit, and gained complete control of Kashi. Just after this Prasenjit, like Bimbisara, was deposed by his son, and died. The new king, Virūḍhaka (in Pali Viḍūḍabha), then attacked and virtually annihilated the little autonomous tribe of Shakyas and Koliyas , in Himalyan foothills, and we hear no more of the people which produced one of the greatest of Nepalese, the Buddha.
Probably Virudhaka, like Ajatashatru of Magadha, had ambitions of empire, and wished to embark on a career of conquest after bringing the outlying peoples, who had paid loose homage to his father, more directly under the control of the centre; but his intentions were unfulfilled, for we hear no more of him except an unreliable legend that he was destroyed by a miracle soon after his massacre of Shakyas. A little later his kingdom was incorporated in Magadha.
A king of the state of Kosala in India during Shakyamuni's lifetime. His father was Prasenajit. According to the Increasing by One Agama Sutra, when Prasenajit ascended the throne, he wanted to take a consort from the Shakya tribe and had his wish conveyed to the Shakyas in Kapilavastu. The Shakyas were held to be of noble lineage. A Shakya named Mahanama conceived a plan to offer his maidservant's daughter, a beautiful woman, to the king in marriage, claiming that the daughter was his own. Prasenajit accepted, and together they had a son, Virudhaka. When Virudhaka was eight years old, Prasenajit sent him to Kapilavastu to have him learn archery from the Shakyas. While there, Virudhaka was ridiculed as the son of a maidservant; thus learning of his lowly birth and that his father had been deceived, he vowed to take revenge on the Shakyas. Later, upon succeeding to the throne after Prasenajit's death, he immediately led an army against Kapilavastu, destroying the Shakya kingdom. According to the sutra, seven days later, as the Buddha had predicted, a violent storm with heavy rain came up suddenly during the night, and Virudhaka and his warriors, who had been staying by the riverside, drowned, falling into the hell of incessant suffering. According to The Monastic Rules on Various Matters, while Prasenajit was away from the capital, Shravasti, Virudhaka usurped the throne. Informed of this, Prasenajit made his way to Rajagriha, the capital of Magadha under Ajatashatru's rule. After he arrived there, however, he became seriously ill and died. Soon after, Virudhaka massacred the majority of the Shakya tribe, taking revenge for the humiliation he had suffered as a youth.
Regal in stature, blue in colour, he has a full face with black eyebrows, moustache and beard. Large bulbous eyes gaze to the side. The right hand holds at the waist a long sword with the left cradling the blade across the chest. Adorned with an ornate headdress of gold and jewels, earrings and ribbons, he is richly garbed in the brocade raiment of a king, opulent with silks and elaborate design in a variety of colours. Seated on a light brown deerskin mat above a rocky bench, in a relaxed posture and wearing boots, the right foot is extended pressing on the back of a golden turtle. The left foot is held up by a Kumbhanda daemon, green and pink of colour, in an acquiescent kneeling posture. The head is encircled by an irregular dark green areola edged with licks of flame in various colours. The background is filled with swirling smoke, dark purple, and the foreground sparse and green.
Virudhaka, leader of the Kumbhanda, is a worldly guardian worshipped as a protector. He lives on the south side of the lower slopes of mount Meru in the Heaven of the Four Great Kings. Like the other Direction Kings, the leader Vaishravana, Virupaksha and Dritarashtra, he swore an oath of protection before the buddha Shakyamuni. The stories and iconography of the Four Guardian Kings arose originally with the early Buddhist sutras and became fully developed in the later Mahayana sutras. They are common to all schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Paintings of the Kings are generally found in association with a larger thematic set featuring the buddha Shakyamuni and the 16 Great Arhats.
His Chinese name is Mo-Li Hung, and he is associated with the Hindu god Yama, the god of death and the Underworld. He is King of the South, where he lives in a palace made of glass and rules over the Jambudvipa continent. He is known as "The One Who Enhances Virtue," using his Sword of Wisdom to control evil. Sometimes called "The Enhancement Heavenly King," by controlling evil he enhances or improves the lives of all sentient beings.
He is also King of the Kumbhandas, (demons shaped like gourds, or with a scrotum like one, and who drain the vitality of men) a kind of gourd-shaped demon. Sometimes he is depicted trampling a demon under foot, representing the control of evil, but also reminding us that all of these Kings have a wrathful aspect. The control of evil can be a messy business. His Sanskrit name "Virudhaka" indicates "growing large," with an overtone of bringing prosperity.
King Virudhaka. Guardian of the South and leader of the kumbhandas, fierce beings who reside in the desire realms of the heavens. Formerly a garuda, he converted along with Virudhaka. Today he protects beings who have led a virtuous life from Yama, the Lord of Death, and uses his power to ward off anything that would disrupt the Dharma. His touch is harmful to beings so he carries a sword to keep them at bay.
The Kumbhāṇḍas according to Sutherland are "a grotesque group of demons with testicles in the shape of a kumbha or pitcher". The Pāli commentaries describe them as having "huge stomachs, and their genital organs were as big as pots, hence their name". (DA.iii.964)
"virūḍhaka kumbhāṇḍāye" can be translated Virūḍhaka Lord of the Kumbhāṇḍas. Bonji Taikan has "yakṣādhipataye" but properly speaking Vaiśravaṇa is Lord of the Yakṣas, and Virūḍhaka is Lord of the Kumbhāṇḍas.