Five Buddhas

In Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism, there are Five Buddhas known as Akshobhya, Ratnasambhava, Vairocana, Amitābha, and Amoghasiddhi. They are also called the “dhyani-buddhas”, each represents a different aspect of enlightened consciousness. Each Dhyani Buddha has a specific color and symbol.

  • Vairochana वैरोचन (white color, ether) – occupies the center and is the master of the temple.
  • Akshobhya अक्षोभ्य (blue color, water) – represents the cosmic element of consciousness and faces the east.
  • Ratna Sambhava रत्नसम्भव (yellow color, earth) – represents the cosmic element of sensation and faces the south.
  • Amitabha अमिताभ (red color, fire) – represents the cosmic element of Sanjna (name) and faces the West.
  • Amoghasiddhi अमोघसिद्धी (green color, air) – represents the cosmic element of conformation and faces the north.

The five Buddhas represent varied attributes and are shown in different postures. Images of the Five Buddhas are seen abound a stupa. Paintings of the five deities are also placed over the doorways of private residences.

BuddhaColorElementCosmos directionMudraTime of yearShakti

Vairocana Buddha

Vairocana Buddha is located in the sanctum of the Swayambhunath and is white in color. He is in Dharmachakraparvartana Mudra and the vehicle of Vairocana Buddha is a pair of lions.

Akshobhya Buddha

Akshobhya Buddha is one of the Pancha Buddhas symbolizing Akasha jnana and is blue in color. It means wisdom like space, all-pervasive, without periphery and without characteristics. In all stupas, the image of Akshobhya Buddha is always placed in the East. Akshobhya Buddha rides on the throne of an elephant symbolizing the steadfast nature of his Bodhisattva vows and is an Earth-touching gesture known as Bhu Sparsa Mudra.

Ratna sambhava Buddha

Ratna Sambhava is the Buddha born from Jewel, one of the Pancha Dhyani Buddhas and yellow in color. He holds the Cintamani jewel in his left hand which is kept on his lap. Ratna sambhava Buddha symbolizes Samatajnana which means the wisdom of equality and is placed in the stupa facing to the South. Ratna Sambhava Buddha’s posture is Varada Mudra, like boon giving known as with his right hand and rides on the horse throne symbolizing that he ferries over the suffering sentient beings with full vigor.

Amitabha Buddha

Amitabha Buddha is one of the Pancha Dhyani Buddhas representing Pratyavekshanajnana, the wisdom of discriminating awareness and is red in color. Amitabha Buddha is placed facing to the west in the stupa, rides on a peacock symbolizing that he can take away the suffering of others just as the peacock eats poisonous plants and yet his tail shines forth. Amitabha Buddha is in Dhyana Mudra.

Amoghasiddhi Buddha

Amoghasiddhi Buddha (अमोघसिद्धि बुद्ध) is one of the Pancha Dhyani Buddhas, represents Krityanusthan jnana, all accomplishing wisdom and is green in color. Amoghsiddhi Buddha is placed facing the north in the stupa and rides on Garuda. He is the lord of the north. He is in Abhaya Mudra and Abhaya means fearlessness. Amoghasiddhi Buddha symbolize the air element. The way recognize him from the Panchabuddha is that the idol is in a state of meditation protected by the fangs of seven serpents with the right hand held up to the chest and placed in the posture of Abhay, the left hand is placed on the lap.

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