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Page history last edited by patricia melero 11 years, 7 months ago



                                                                         The medicine buddha is most often depicted in Tibetan buddhism as azure

                                                                          blue, or more commonly known as Lapis Lazul. This specific color is  associated

                                                                          with a rare gemstone and is known among many ancient Asian cultures to cure physical

                                                                          ailments and moderate emotional swings.



Spiritual and physical healing are represented by the Medicine Buddha, Bhaishajyaguru. He is the Buddha of the eastern realm of the "Pure Lapis Lazuli," or Vaiduryanirbhasa, and is the bodhisattva who made the Twelve Great Vows as described in the Bhaiṣajyaguruvaiduryaprabharaja Sutra. In the realm of Vaiduryanirbhasa, he is attended to by the bodhisattva Suryaprabha, who symbolizes the radiance the sun, and by the bodhisattva Candraprabha, who symbolizes the radiance of the moon. In fact, in many images of Bhaishajyaguru, his two attending bodhisattvas are usually depicted simply as the sun and moon. The reason why the sun and the moon image(s) or Bodhisattvas are portrayed in many images of the Medicine Buddha is because they signify the extent of his protection; all day and all night. 


Although Bhaishajyaguru's mythology extends to early Buddhism, his exact origins are unclear, thus making him somewhat mysterious. Some have hypothesized that his origin is related to the Four Noble Truths, where the historical Buddha is alluded to as a physician trying to cure the ills (or suffering) of the world. The Medicine Buddha is also said to first be mentioned by the Shakyamuni Buddha in his "Sutra of Eight Thousand Verses Principally Revealing the Instructions on the Medicine Buddha," in the Shakyamuni Buddha's response to the question by the bodhisattva Manjushri who asked what would happen to humans when the Dharma is in decline. In this instance, the Medicine Buddha is mentioned only as the "Medicine Buddha" and does not yet have a name, although his Pure Land is mentioned with the same name it has today, thus the obsurity on his origination. The name Bhaisajyaguru comes from the White Lotus Sutra, or Saddharma Puṇḍarika, and is the name of a bodhisattva who offers himself to the Buddha by self immolation.


Bhaisajyaguru is usually portrayed as deep blue in color or, less often, as orange. He's dressed in bhikku's robes, holds his alms bowl in his left hand and makes the varada mudra with his right hand. Varada means 'granting wishes, conferring a boon, ready to fulfill requests or answer prayers'. Often in East Asian iconography, a medicine jar replaces the begging bowl in his left hand. Also in Tibetan images, a myrobalan plant (a plum-like fruit tree), thought to be a cure-all, grows out of the bowl.


The Twelve Vows

According to the Medicine Buddha Sutra,  upon attaining Enlightenment, the Twelve Vows of the Medicine Buddha are these:




     To illuminate countless realms with his radiance, enabling anyone to become a Buddha just like him.

     To awaken the minds of sentient beings through his light of lapis lazuli.

     To provide the sentient beings with whatever material needs they require.

     To correct heretical views and inspire beings toward the path of the Bodhisattva.

     To help beings follow the Moral Precepts, even if they failed before.

     To heal beings born with deformities, illness or other physical sufferings.

     To help relieve the destitute and the sick.

     To help women who wish to be reborn as men achieve their desired rebirth.

     To help heal mental afflictions and delusions.

     To help the oppressed be free from suffering.

     To relieve those who suffer from terrible hunger and thirst.

     To help clothe those who are destitute and suffering from cold and mosquitoes




                                       This image depicts the Medicine Buddha in the                                            The Medicine Buddha is most often seen holding

                                       lotus position with the presence of flowing robes.                                        the myrobalan plant in his right hand. The myrobalan

                                       In his left hand he holds a begging bowl, containing                                     plant is known as the "great medicine," curing the three

                                       long life nectar. This is a sign that he gives protection                                 basic types of illness of conflicting emotions- passion,

                                       from illness.                                                                                                  aggression, and ignorance.


Description of the Thangka- In this Thangka, Bhaisajyaguru, the Medicine Buddha, demonstrates the art of healing to his students inadvertently. The gods in on the top of the photo describe the lineage of medical teachings, including the 5th Dalai Lama, the eight Buddhas of Medicine, and an array of medical scholars.

                                                                                                         The Palace of the Buddha Bhaisajyaguru


This main palace of the Mandala of the Medicine Buddha is the location where the science of medicine is instructed. Shakyamuni Buddha, as Bhaisajyaguru, the Medicine Buddha, rests on a throne decorated with jewels at the center of the palace, at the center of Sudarsana, the city of medicine. In attendance are gods of the devaloka, hermit scholars, Hindu gods, Bodhisattvas and students. 



A)                                                                                                                                                               B)


A)While many images of the Medicine Buddha depict him in the Varada mudra, he is also depicted in the Goma-in mudra, which means calling the earth as a witness, also known as the "touching the earth mudra.


B)The Medicine Buddha is usually shown with his two attending Bodhisattvas, Suryaprabha and Chandraprabha, the splendors of the sun and the moon. If these two Bodhisattvas are not depicted, the sun and the moon will be shown as their representations instead, or in the absence of human or astrological images, two halos will be present; the darker halo is the moon while the lighter (or brighter) halo is the sun. In this image, the sun and the moon inhabit the top left and right hand corners.




The mind is the root of all sickness and spiritual conflict.  Much of the healing the Medicine Buddha promises, lies within ones mind.  One can overcome the inner sickness of the three poisons, by worshiping Bhaisajyaguru.  The practice of the Medicine Buddha fosters the ability to heal not only yourself but other people too.  To meditate on the Medicine Buddha can help diminish physical and mental ill.


A fashion in which one can worship Bhaisajyaguru is to set up a sculpture of Buddha and disperse flowers, burn incense, and sprinkle the the area with colorful flags.  For seven days and seven nights one should accept and reiterate the eightfold path, eat pure food, bathe in water and be clad in clean attire.  Towards all sentient beings there should arise the contemplations of peace, love, and equality.  One should play musical instruments and rejoice in song while circling to the right of the Buddha image.  The concentration on the 'name' of the Buddha is useful at the time of someones passing.


Japanese tradition- People stroke an area of the Yakushi statue (knees, back, head), then stroke the same part of their body, praying for Yakushi to heal their ailments.  In addition, the Hana-e-shiki ceremonyis held in honor of Yakushi every year from March 30th to April 5th at the Yakushi-Ji temple. During this ceremony one prays to the Buddha of Medicine for the peace of the country, abundant crops, and for bliss and affluence of the entire nation.  In 1107 Emperor Horikawa offered sacred flowers to the Healing Buddha in memory of his companion's betterment. This historical occurrence led to the annual event of offering flora, which is "Hana-e-shiki,".  The front area of the main hall's altar, where one worships is decorated with these flora.                              




Yakushi iconography-the Buddha of Healing and Medicine, is often shown holding a little container of herbal medicine in his left hand.  This jar sometimes is said to carry an emerald that has power to remedy the sick.  His right hand is in the mudra position signifying"No Fear". First, the fingers of Yakushi’s right hand are often slightly curled (this represents the granting of wishes). Second, sculptures, Yakushi's right hand forms the Triple World Mudra, in which the thumb touches either the index finger or middle finger. 


Tibetan tradition-Tibetan’s consider the Medicine Buddha empowerment to be the most effective blessing for healing, relinquishing sickness and for rekindling the healing wisdom every person owns. To meditate on the Medicine Buddha cures the body and mind, through reciting a mantra.  It is beneficial to recite this mantra, and also name of Bhaisajyaguru in the ear of a dying person, this can eliminate the suffering of the individual and promote their rebirth into the higher realms.  The Medicine Buddha mantra is effective for treating physical illness. One ritual to remedy disease is for patients to recite a mantra in the presence of a glass of water.  Thereafter the water is considered to have the blessing of the Medicine Buddha. Now the patient can gather the healing effects of the blessed water by drinking it until better.


 Mantra-long version

“In the Bhaiṣajyaguruvaiduryaprabharāja Sutra, the Medicine Buddha is described as having entered into a state of samadhi called "Eliminating All the Suffering and Afflictions of Sentient Beings." From this samadhi state he spoke the Medicine Buddha Dharani.


namo bhagavate bhaiṣajyaguru

vaiduryaprabharajaya tathāgatāya

arhate samyaksambuddhāya tadyathā:

oṃ bhaiṣajye bhaiṣajye mahābhaiṣajya-samudgate svāhā”



“Homage to the Blessed One, The Master of Healing,

The King of Lapis Lazuli Radiance, The One Thus-Come, The Worthy One,

The Fully and Perfectly Awakened One, thus: ‘Hail! Appear,

O Healer, O Healer, O Great Healer, O King of Healing!’ ”


 Mantra-short version                      


Om Bekandze Bekandze 

Maha Bekandze 

Radza Samudgate Soha



May the many sentient beings 

who are sick, 

quickly be freed from sickness. 

And may all the sicknesses of beings 

Never arise again." 


                                                             Mantra-short Version









Bhaisajyaguru entered into the Mahayana tradition in texts that can be dated to the 7th and 8th Century CE. These texts included the Bhaisajyaguru Sutra which tells of the event in which Shakyamuni Buddha reveals the existence of The Master of Healing, The Lapis Lazuli Radiance Tarthagata known as Bhaisajyaguru. This event takes place during the travels of the Buddha as he was traveling through various states to teach and transform the inhabitants when he arrived at Vaisali. He then resided under a tree with a gathering of 8,000 monks. Thirty six thousand Bodhisattva-mahasattvas, the king of the state, his great minsters, Brahmins, learned laymen, devas, nagas, and yaksas were also in attendance . At this assembly the Dharma Prince Manjusri arose from his seat, bared his shoulder on one side and while bowing to the Great One asked him to elaborate upon the forms and varieties of all the Buddhas names as to  grace all those that hear the names with a purification of their karma. In response to Manjursri's compassionate request the Buddha  begins to tell of the Buddha of Healing.  The Buddha told Manjusri "If you go eastward beyond as many Buddha fields as there are ten times the number of grains of sand in the Ganges river, you will find a realm known as 'Pure Lapis Lazuli'. The Buddha there is known as Master of Healing, the Lapis lazuli radiance Tathagata, Arhat, Perfectly Enlightened One, Perfect in Mind and Deed, Well-Gone, he who knows the world,  Unsurpassed Being,  Tamer of the Passions, Teacher of the Devas and Men, Buddha, and Lord. When that Buddha Lord the Master of healing set out on his Bodhisattva Path he made  twelve vows to enable sentient beings to obtain that which they seek. " The Buddha proceeds to describe the Twelve vows and the various methods to request aid, dispel disease and save one from the brink of death through the compassionate power of Bhaisajyraguru. Attending this gathering were Tweve Great Yaksas Generals, a race of beings sometimes depicted as demons, who each commanded an army of 7,000 Yaksas. After hearing the Buddha speak of Bhaisajyaguru they renounced their armies and vowed to take refuge in the Three jewels, never to fall in to woe some paths again. They also vowed to now help any beings that circulate this new sutra or those who accept and hold the name of the Master of Healing. The Buddha commends the Yaksa generals for their decision of compassion as it is the appropriate response after being graced by The Lapis Lazuli Light Radiance Tathagata. The Buddha then names this new sutra " The Merits of the Fundamental Vows of the Master of Healing, the Lapis Lazulu Radiance Tathagata." Then all of those in attendance who had heard the Buddha's teaching rejoiced.



Image of the Great gathering for the Bhaisajyaguru Sutra.

Painting in Paradise Cave No.12 China. Dating from Late Tang Dynasty.


Places associated with healing in Japan and China are often connected to the Master of Healing.  The current Gero-Onsen springs in Japan are said to be found by Yakushi- Nyorai, the Japanese form of The lapsis Lazuli Radiance Tarthagata.  One day a huge earthquake occurred on Gero-Onsen. The River and the springs dried up afterward.  One day an egret swooped down near the  Masuda River and stood for awhile. The  next day he came the same place and stood there. The egret kept retuning everyday.  They people wondered why, and followed the egret to where he was and they found a new powerful hot spring. They rejoiced. The egret then left his post and was never seen again. Where the egret had been the people noticed that there was a statue of Yakushi-Nyorai. They understood the egret to be a manifestation of Yakushi-Nyorai,  who had taken pity on them and told them the source of the Hot Springs which brings many healing benefits to those that enter its water.


 Bhaisajyaguru statue of Onsenji temple, Which celebrates the gift of the Healing Springs brought to the people by Yakushi-Nyorai. 


Bhaisajyaguru exists on a realm that is at an incredible distance from our own, As many Buddha feilds away as there in ten times the amount of granule of sand in the Ganges river. The tales of his merit on earth come almost solely from his power and grace alone as it reaches beings here. Rather than him traveling or emanating a physical form in our world.  



                                                                                                                                       While the Medicine Buddha is depicted

                                                                                                                                       as holding the myrobalan fruit in his right

                                                                                                                                       hand, this specific gesture (i.e. the palm

                                                                                                                                       facing outward) exemplifies the Buddha's

                                                                                                                                        gesture of supreme generosity.  


The Medicine Buddha sits on a lotus blossom upon a lions throne.

His left hand most often rests in his lap, palm upward,

usually depicting a gesture of meditate stability, representing the eradication

of sickness and suffering and the roots of samsara through the realization of

absolute truth. From the point of view of absolute truth, the cause of suffering

is the lack of contentment and the "addictive" quality of samsara. To indicate the

"need" for contentment, the Medicine Buddha holds the begging bowl.



The Medicine Buddha within ourselves-The Buddhist tradition identifies the Medicine Buddha as the best healer, but most importantly it defines that the greatest powers of healing rest within ourselves.  Therefore one can come to the realization that the Medicine Buddha is within us, the exterior world can never provide him.  The path to this discovery comes through the visualization of the Buddha.  It is the power of the mind that can poison and stifle us into emotional and physical sickness.  But our own mind can also hold the ability to transform those negative contemplations to good, where we ultimately become our own personal doctors.



"We have a pharmacy inside us that is absolutely exquisite. It makes the right medicine, for the precise time, for the right target organ - with no side effects."





















Birmbaum, Raoul. Healing Buddha. Boston: Shambala Publications inc, 1989.


















Comments (16)

Nicole said

at 5:29 pm on Apr 7, 2010

Hey guys, sorry I couldnt figure out the exact font and color scheme that was used throughout the piece. Youre more than welcome to change it if you want.

patricia melero said

at 5:50 pm on Apr 7, 2010

nicole!! no prob i can touch up the aesthetics of the page ;)........can you describe the iconography of "Yakushi" he has different hand gestures. Thanks

Nicole said

at 10:21 am on Apr 9, 2010

You guys, this looks amazing! Thanks so much for all your help.

Marnie said

at 10:53 pm on Apr 10, 2010

I really like the organization of your page and the color scheme! I really enjoyed reading his 12 Vows and the close up image of his hand with the lotus. I really think y'all colaborated on this page real well...4.5

spilot said

at 9:34 am on Apr 11, 2010

Well organized and very informative. Great job.

john.mcniece@colorado.edu said

at 11:20 pm on Apr 11, 2010

Nice use of blue text. And pictures. Very visual.

Hilary Peterson said

at 8:17 am on Apr 12, 2010

I really liked your page. There were a few formatting issues, but it may just be from my computer. It is interesting that Bhaishajyaguru Buddha is associated with the color blue because the Buddha I did, Vajradhara, is also associated with the color blue. Overall, good job!

millicent.rugg@... said

at 10:04 am on Apr 12, 2010

well organized and I really enjoyed all the images you found. The giant statue depiction is amazing! The page was well layed out and I also enjoyed you using colored text, it brightened up the page.

kodi said

at 11:01 am on Apr 12, 2010

This page was very informational! I really like the youtube video you posted, it had great imagery! 4/5

Stephanie Iwahashi said

at 1:42 pm on Apr 13, 2010

I thought the page was visually pleasing and I enjoyed watching the youtube video as well. It was organized well too. Nicely done. 4.5/5

chau.nhan@colorado.edu said

at 3:07 pm on Apr 13, 2010

great job. good use of colors and variety of information 5/5

phillip.dunlap@colorado.edu said

at 11:13 am on Apr 14, 2010

Very optically appealing page! Good information and surely lots of it.

christine.cayot@... said

at 3:51 pm on Apr 16, 2010

Nice job! the only thing that bothered me was the formatting of the descriptions of a few of the images. Other than that i enjoyed reading through this page.

Madelyn Morgan said

at 3:57 pm on Apr 17, 2010

I really liked the detail and analyzation of the images on the page. Nice organization and information. I loved the piece on the hot springs- I'm a fanatic!

nicole.broida@... said

at 12:41 pm on Apr 19, 2010

This page is great! I really enjoyed all of the images! There is a ton of really interesting information on here! It is very organized and you offer a realm of different information! Nice job! 5/5

Henry said

at 6:49 am on Apr 22, 2010

Thorough and informative. I appreciated the scope of your piece, it shows the broad appeal of this figure across much of the Buddhist world. There are a few details that would strengthen the presentation. It would have been useful to know where some of the images came from, such as the colossal Yakushi statue, which is presumably somewhere in Japan. As far as ritual, Tibetan rituals associated with Bhaishajyaguru are elaborate and intriguing, a brief explanation would significantly add to your work here. Lastly, there are two pieces of iconography that are essential to this Buddha and receive scant or no attention, the myrobalan plant (mentioned briefly) and the lapis lazuli stone. The latter has tremendous ritual and apotropaic significance due to its association with Bhaishajyaguru.
Overall, well done.

Grade: 4.5

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