Sunday, July 27, 2014

Adibuddha 普贤王如来

Among the many endowments with which Nepal Mandala is blessed, few are more significant than its Buddhist heritage.
The closely packed Viharas distinguishing the townscapes, the glittering Stupas add lustre, and the glory of stone sculptures is everywhere. 
Bronzes, paintings, and manuscripts on Buddhist themes have spread the Valley's name far afield. But it is perhaps of great significance that here alone Mahayana Buddhism has survived as a living tradition. 
The Kathmandu Valley is not an immense museum of Buddhist antiques, but it is unique oasis of surviving Mahayana Buddhist doctrine, cultural practices and colorful festivals. 
These opening remarks of Mary Shepherd Slusser in Nepal Mandala, vol. 1, chapter 10, need no commentary as her sharp observation with academic understanding is a well established factor among the Nepalese Buddhism-scholars. 

Buddhism in the Valley, is believed to have influence people from the Buddha's time as there is ample evidence of Ananda's, the dearest disciple of the Buddha, visit of the Valley. 

But the traditional Buddhists believe that this Valley-a big lake in the pre-historic time was chosen by the Adi-Buddha-the Primordial or the Self-existent Buddha- who had revealed himself in the form of a flame issuing out of a lotus (Swayambhu Purana-a Buddhist chronicle- supports this belief). 
This Adi Buddha concept was conceived by Vajrayana-tantric sect in Mahayana- as an afterthought to five Dhyani Buddhas (meditating Buddhas). 

But he was accepted as the progenitor of the five Dhyani Buddhas and their families. 

In Nepal he is worshipped as Swayambhu-unborn or self-created- and the main stupa in Kathmandu is devoted to him.

Originally, since there were no divinities in Buddhism, there were no objects of worship, but during Hinayani phase the symbolic stupa, foot-prints, empty throne, bodhi tree, and the Dharma chakra filled this void and, at length, the image of Buddha himself-the credit for image cut goes to Mathura Art School of India, started most probably during the 1st century B. C. and 1st century A. D. 

As time went on, the orthodox Mahayana was superseded by more humane and liberal tantric aspect resulting in the powerful Vajrayana Buddhism which swept the religion-culture scene of India since 7th century A. D. 
Because of the free communications between India, Nepal and Tibet, this Vajrayana spread in the same century with changes as in Tibet it accepted the native Bon shamanism and the result was a powerful Lamaist tradition- hitherto maintained with great respect. 

In Nepal it seemed to have accepted the local Shivite cult. 

The rituals performed by the tantric Buddhist Priests of Nepal, Tibet and Shingon sect of Japan are based on the same tantric texts. 

Anyway, from 7th century onwards, we have ample evidence of this influential tantric Buddhism flourishing in the Valley. 

Lord Buddha had revealed the path of Mantra- later it was termed as Vajrayana- to his disciples having exceptional power as a shorter path to achieve enlightenment of buddhahood in a single life-span.

The iconography from Adi Buddha:

Though an abstract concept, he is given the iconography from of either Vajradhara or Vajrasattva open represented with his consort locked in sexual union (Mithun in Sanskrit and yabyum in Tibetan): seated in meditating position, heavily ornamented. 
with two of his four arms crossed on front of his chest, 
carrying in his hands the Vajra (thunderbolt) and the Ghanta (bell), 
the former, symbolizing shunyata (the Ultimate Reality or void), 
the latter Upaya (Skill in Means) . 

To sum up, the Adi Buddha or Swayambhu or Vajradhara or Samantabhadra is the 
abstract concept of the Ultimate Reality, 
which Vajrayana equates with Void or emptiness to imply that is a state of being of perfect spirituality, 
totally free from and existential of phenomenal bonds. 
Hitherto found evidence confirm his presence since 10th century onward. 
Vajrayanists believed from him the pancha dhyani Buddhas emanated.

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