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Buddha Of Fearlessness



Amoghasiddhi, a Dhyani Buddha 


     Amoghasiddhi is the last of the Five Dhyani or Five Wisdom Tathagatas.  They are believed to have originated from Vajrasattva, the Buddha of purification.  Of these five, Amoghasiddhi is the buddha of the north.  He is associated with energy and known as the Lord of Karma and the Buddha of unfailing accomplishment.  His name literally means infallible (amogha) success (siddhi).  He holds his hands in the Abhaya, fearlessness mudra.  Amoghasiddhi is the Buddha of all accomplishing wisdom.  He is venerated not only for his wisdom of success but he is also known to defeat envy.  As it says in Buddhist tradition, Devadatta, a very envious cousin of Amoghasiddhi once attempted to murder the Buddha by releasing a rampaging elephant into the Buddha's path to which Amoghasiddhi simply raised his mudra calming the beast, embodying both fearlessness and defeating envy. 

     He is often depicted as green and radiating green light as the color represents peace and tranquility of nature.  The color is calming, it is soothing to anxiety.  When meditated upon, Amoghasiddhi is said to help relinquish envy, calm anxiety and fear and reveal wisdom of accomplishment.  Amoghasiddhi reverses the negative failing of envy into the positive wisdom of accomplishment.  Envy is a positive emotion as it feeds ambition and pushes us to reach higher.  However, the bitterness generated towards the target of envy is a negative emotion.  When we can avert the associated bitterness and understand that the object of our envy is merely an agent leading us to greater Karma and better accomplishment, the message of Amoghasiddhi will be understood.       

     Amoghasiddhi wields the crossed vajra or double dorje.   The consort of Amoghasiddhi is the Green Tara.  She is believed to have emanated from Amoghasiddhi and like him, she is a deity of action in the Buddhist pantheon.  Amoghasiddhi rides the half-man, half-eagle mix Garuda (depicted below the lotus in the base of his statue in the below picture).  Garuda is associated with the Himalayas of the north, sharing a direction with Amoghasiddhi.  Garuda feeds on snakes and has an impeccable strength in vision to sense the serpent-like negative delusions that afflict our mortal frames.




Amoghasiddhi statue with crossed vajra upon Garuda 






Origin and Significance


     Amoghasiddi holds his place in Buddhist cosmology as one of the five Dhyani Buddhas.  The Dhyani Buddhas are highly important to Mahayana Buddhism, each rich with an abundance of significant symbolism.  Specifically, each Dhyani Buddah is th embodiment of a characteristic wisdom of the Buddha, and each is believed to be capable of overcoming a particular evil with a particular good. The five also individualy represent one of the five skandhas (form, consciousness, feeling, perception, and mental formations). As well, each is relevant as the representation of a wisdom, a direction, a color, a family, a poison, an action, a symbol, an element, a season and a mudra! Additionally, each has their own consort, vehicle, and their own pure land.

     As each buddha represents a family, they are often used as groupings for various tantras. Given the broad range of characteristics embodied by the Dhyani Buddhas, their significance can be attached to an aspect of daily life, and there is a keen likelihood that any happenstance, feeling, sight, etc. will be associated with one of them.  These connectiong to the common make them well known and reverd among practitioers.    

     The specific origin of these Buddhas is a bit sketchy at times. They are sometimes said to have "always been" and so their origin is only a matter of when they were cited in the writings. There were at first only two, Aksobyha, and Amitabha (representing wisdom and comapssion respectively). There was added Amoghasiddhi, Ratnasambhava, and Vairocana, who represented power, activity, and beauty. Vairocana is regarded as the central figure in a cross shape configuration of the five, with Amoghasiddhi heading the north, Aksobhya at the east, Ratnasambhava at the south and Amitabha at the west.



                         Amoghasiddhi (N)



                        (W) Amitabha ----- Vairocana ----- Aksobhya (E)



                            Ratnasambhava  (S)











Buddha Supreme and Eternal; The Radiant One

Immovable or Unshakable Buddha

Source of Precious Things or Jewel-Born One

Buddha of Infinite Light

Almighty Conquerer or Lord of Karma














dharmachakra (wheel-turning)

bhumisparsa (witness)

varada (charity)


abhaya (fearlessness)

Vija (Syllable)









jewel (ratna) or Three Jewels (triratna)


double thunderbolt







Type of wisdom

integration of the wisdom of all the Buddhas


wisdom of equality



Cosmic element (skandha)

rupa (form)

vijnana (consciousness)

vendana (sensation)

sanjna (name or perception)

samsakara (volition)

Earthly element






Antidote to

ignorance and delusion

anger and hatred

desire and pride


envy and jealousy











peacock (because of eyes on its plumes)

garuda (half-man, half-bird)

Spiritual son







White Tara




Green Tara



Abhirati, the Land of Exceeding Great Delight


Sukhavati, Western Paradise, or Pure Land



Find Original Table Here 




Connected Cosmologies




     Amoghasiddhi is one of the five Dhyani Buddhas (depicted furthest right in the above image). The other four are Vairochana, representative of dharma itself, Akshobhya, representative of wisdom, Ratnasambhava, representative of the underlying sameness of all things, and Amitabha, representative of compassion. Each of the Dhyani Buddhas is granted a distinct color as well. This establishes Vairochana as the head of the Dhyani Buddhas, as his color white is the summation of the other four (red, blue, yellow, and green). These five Buddhas serve as particular iconography for the historical Buddha's life, traits, and path to enlightenment. They also all serve to identify one negative emotion of motivation and transform it into a positive action. Vairochana transforms ignorance, Akshobhya transforms attachment, Ratnasambhava transforms pride, Amitabha transforms anger, and Amoghasiddhi transforms jealousy. Shedding these five traits and embracing only their positive aspects helps one on the path to enlightenment.  Amoghasiddhi is also commonly associated with the Green Tara as they both have strong connections to action. 

     Vairochana is the conqueror of ignorance and the leader of the five Dhyani Buddhas. His color is white, as it is a blending of all the colors of the other Dhyani Buddhas. Vairochana is typically depicted with the Dharmachakra mudra (Wheel of Dharma) to signify the teachings of the dharma and harkens to the Buddha's first sermon at Sarnath. 

     Akshobhya overthrows anger and attachment with the clarity of wisdom. He is associated with the color blue, and is depicted in the earth-touching mudra. This, of course, calls on the symbolic confrontation where the Buddha called on the earth as his witness to defeat Mara. Akshobhya is granted the east as his representative direction. 

     Ratnasambhava erodes pride with the understanding that all things are equal. He displays the Varada mudra to represent charity, which is why he is associated with the color yellow. Ratnasambhava represents the Buddha's entire outlook onto humanity rather than a specific occurrence in his life – which is suiting considering it applies to all points equally. His cardinal direction is the south. 

     Amitabha is depicted as red, for it is the color of compassion and love. Using these tools, Amitabha invalidates anger. He's generally associated with the properties of the lotus (his emblem) for being gentle, open and pure. Amitabha's hands are in the Dhyana mudra, meaning the mudra of meditation. His direction is the west.




Image Analysis










     Typical Depiction- In a majority of the painted iconic images of Amoghasiddhi, he is shown with a green body, which can be seen as nature's peace and tranquility. The green color is meant to calm anxiety because of its soothing and relaxing nature. To better understand the depth of meaning involved in Amoghasiddhi's portrayals, look specifically at the image below. This image is paint (specifically distemper) on cloth, from Tibet in the latter part of the 13th century. Amoghasiddhi is seated in his typical way (as described previously), with Manjushri on the right and Avalokiteshvara on the left. The other ten beings in the painting are bodhisattvas. He sits on a throne that is supported on the outer edges by naga deities, seen by their serpent-like hoods. The throne is also supported by kinnaras, or creatures who are half human and half bird (if in south-east Asia) or half human and half horse (if in India).




     Abhaya Mudra- Amoghasiddhi is often depicted using the Abhaya mudra, or fearlessness gesture. This mudra symbolizes peace, protection, and the dispelling of all fear, while also portraying an allaying of the senses. With the presentation of the Abhaya mudra, it is said to convert all jealousy and envy into wisdom. The mudra is meant to transform the delusion of jealousy into the wisdom of accomplishment. As seen in the images presented below, Amoghasiddhi is presenting the Abhaya mudra with his right hand, and holding an object near his stomach in his left hand. 







Double Vajra- Amoghasiddhi is holding the double vajra, a symbol of the consecutive conclusion of all actions. This emblem that points in the cardinal directions represents that there is nothing in any direction that Amoghasiddhi cannot accomplish.The double vajra is often carved in the base of Amoghasiddhi's statues, to symbolize the completion and consecration of the piece. 






















Comments (8)

nathan.bosso@colorado.edu said

at 9:05 am on Apr 12, 2010

very good page lots of information and very nice pictures.

emily.haugh@... said

at 9:34 am on Apr 12, 2010

This page is organized very well and presents a good amount of information although I think that the chart under origin and significance is a little overwhelming and I think the information would be more effective if it were presented in another form. 4.5/5

zoe.tomar@... said

at 1:05 pm on Apr 12, 2010

I agree with Emily that the chart under origins and significance can be a little confusing but I can definitely see the hard work that you put into making this page. I love all of the images and the fact that this Bodhisattva is attributed to fearlessness

lindsey.herron@... said

at 1:43 pm on Apr 12, 2010

I like that this page provides a chart to describe the origin of Amoghasiddhi because there is so much information to take in. The page uses a good variety of images and analysis of each.

lynn.miller@colorado.edu said

at 7:50 am on Apr 14, 2010

The first few paragraphs do a great job providing basic information about Amoghasiddhi which puts the rest of the page in context. I really appreciate that. I also like the images. Good job!

Nicole said

at 10:52 am on Apr 14, 2010

This is a very interesting Buddha. I like how he is considered to the Buddha of wisdom and yet also holds the mudra of fearlessness, I thought this was interesting and neat. I also really liked how your group didnt just focus on this specific Buddha (i.e. of the North) but also addressed the other Buddha's that make up the cardinal directions. The table that your group chose to include was also very detailed and extreamly helpful in understanding more about this Buddha and other Buddhas. Very well done.

Jeff Gary said

at 2:21 pm on Apr 16, 2010

Interesting and informative, I like the layout. I didn't find the chart confusing, just long but crazy informative! 5/5

Henry said

at 1:23 pm on Apr 18, 2010

Good work. A great deal of relevant information. The effort to link Amoghasiddhi with his other brothers in the pantheon was a nice touch. I would have liked to have seen some information about rituals associated with this Buddha or the Five Buddha Families generally. Also, were there no myths found surrounding this figure? Overall, well written, good formatting, and nice analysis of iconography.
Grade: 4.5

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