Medicine Buddha in East Asian Buddhism?

Medicine Buddha in East Asian Buddhism?

Postby Luke » Sat Apr 27, 2013 9:07 pm

I was just wondering what role Medicine Buddha plays in East Asian Buddhism. Is he popular or important in any East Asian Buddhist traditions? And what types of rituals/practices involving him do EA Buddhist schools have?

In Tibetan Buddhism, he seems to be moderate popular: He's not the most popular deity, but he's definitely not the least popular either. I was wondering how it is in the Buddhist traditions of other countries.
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Re: Medicine Buddha in East Asian Buddhism?

Postby dyanaprajna2011 » Sun Apr 28, 2013 5:15 am

Baisajyaguru plays a small role in East Asian Buddhism. He's venerated for his power to heal, both body and mind, so his mantra and/or dharani are occasionally chanted for such purposes, but that's really about it, that I'm aware of.
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Re: Medicine Buddha in East Asian Buddhism?

Postby PorkChop » Sun Apr 28, 2013 5:26 am

dyanaprajna2011 wrote:Baisajyaguru plays a small role in East Asian Buddhism. He's venerated for his power to heal, both body and mind, so his mantra and/or dharani are occasionally chanted for such purposes, but that's really about it, that I'm aware of.


In his book on the Medicine Master Sutra, Hsuan Hua of City of Ten Thousand Buddhas says they did/do Medicine Buddha practice in the morning, Shakyamuni mid day, and Amitabha in the evening.

I know in Japan Medicine Buddha (Yakushi Nyorai) is pretty big in Tendai and Shingon.
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Re: Medicine Buddha in East Asian Buddhism?

Postby dyanaprajna2011 » Sun Apr 28, 2013 5:42 am

PorkChop wrote:
dyanaprajna2011 wrote:Baisajyaguru plays a small role in East Asian Buddhism. He's venerated for his power to heal, both body and mind, so his mantra and/or dharani are occasionally chanted for such purposes, but that's really about it, that I'm aware of.


In his book on the Medicine Master Sutra, Hsuan Hua of City of Ten Thousand Buddhas says they did/do Medicine Buddha practice in the morning, Shakyamuni mid day, and Amitabha in the evening.

I know in Japan Medicine Buddha (Yakushi Nyorai) is pretty big in Tendai and Shingon.


Medicine Buddha tends to play a bigger role in Vajrayana schools like Tendai and Shingon. As far as other, 'sutrayana' schools go, he's not that big. Zen and Pure Land, as well as Nichiren, rarely mention him. He's more part of 'cultural Buddhism', or 'popular Buddhism', I guess you could say. Hsuan Hua tends to take his own path, which I think is awesome. He tries to bring to light all the various ideas and teachings across the board in Mahayana Buddhism, and combine them into one teaching, which is common of the Chinese Buddhism that he's a part of. He's done the same thing for the Surangama Sutra, trying to bring it back into a more prominent role in Mahayana Buddhism.
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Re: Medicine Buddha in East Asian Buddhism?

Postby plwk » Sun Apr 28, 2013 6:22 am

In East Asian Mahayana Tradition, they do contemplative recitation & bowing prostrations using His Name, recite His Mantra and Sutras and plus in the Chinese Mahayana, there is a sadhana which some have told me it's Tian Tai in origin, is a three part repentance ritual based on the Medicine Buddha Sutra texts known as 'The Compassionate Medicine Master Jeweled Repentance' which is recited annually during the prescribed liturgical celebration or like one organisation I know which does it once a month or any time of the year as deem fit, which can be done in one day or stretched to three days. So far, I have encountered two versions of this sadhana practice, one version here.

In the Chinese Mahayana Tradition, generally, the Medicine Buddha is the next most popular after Amitabha Buddha. In many Chinese Buddhist temples / monasteries / centres, they usually have the famous triad of Sakyamuni Buddha in the center, Amitabha Buddha on the right and Bhaisajyaguru on the left. I have read from some scholastic writings that formerly in ancient times, Akshobhya Buddha was popular but somehow eclipsed by Bhaisajyaguru later on perhaps due to myriad forces like political & social patronage rather than purely doctrinal issues.

In the East Asian Mahayana Trads that follow the Chinese liturgical & lunar calendar (with exception of Japan), He is commemorated on the last day of the 9th Lunar Month, depending on the year calculation which has the 29th or 30th day for that month. In bigger Chinese Mahayana temples / monasteries, they have a side shrine to the Medicine Buddha known as the 'Eastern Hall of Merits', normally on the left side of the main shrine hall and chants are offered at every New & Full Moon Upavasatha Days and special liturgical celebrations during the year and in the daily offerings.

His devotion is popularly practiced for mundane reasons like healing, overcoming / pacifying obstacles, longevity, for liberation of lower realms sentient beings as well and the supramundane ones as seeking birth in His Eastern Pure Lapis Lazuli Land for attainment and accomplishment of the Bodhisattva Path for Supreme Buddhahood for all parent sentient beings. So, they will have red paper dedication plaques for the above mentioned purposes on the altar in front and at the sides of the Bhaisajyaguru Buddha image, lighting of numerous lamps with the standard 49 lamps (as per the Sutra) and up until 108, hanging of various banners and streamers with the auspicious name or image of Bhaisajyaguru Buddha and His Bodhisattvas decorating the shrine hall, observing the vegetarian 8 Precepts for 7 days and nights as per the Sutra and other numerous offering activities.

Typically, in traditional East Asian Mahayana iconography:
a. The Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Radiance Tathagata would be depicted in Bhikshu robes, golden hue body (some modern renditions would depict him in lapis lazuli color), seated on a lotus throne, right hand holding a medicinal plant twig (varies with artforms, some depicting a rebirth mudra), left hand or both hands on each other upturned holding a stupa / pagoda or medicine bowl

b. The Buddha entourage: of the 'Eight Medicine Buddhas Brethren' either above or on the Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Radiance Tathagata's left / right sides
(6 Tathagatas: King of Clear Knowing, Melodious Ocean of Dharma, Supreme Glory Free From Sorrow, Stainless Excellent Gold, King of Melodious Sound & Glorious Renown of Excellent Sign, Sakyamuni Tathagata: as the Host Buddha of the current Dispensation in our Saha World and the main Host Buddha of the Eastern Pure Lapis Lazuli Land, the Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Radiance Tathagata)

c. The Bodhisattva entourage:
Eight Great Bodhisattvas: 2 Host Bodhisattvas of the Pure Lapis Lazuli Land: the Moon Radiance Bodhisattva on His Right (depicted as carrying a crescent moon or a Sutra text), the Sun Radiance Bodhisattva (depicted as carrying a sun or a medicine bowl), 6 other Bodhisattvas as per Sutra text: Manjusri Bodhisattva, Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, Mahastamaprapta Bodhisattva, Inexhaustible Intention Bodhisattva, Jewelled Udumbara Flower Bodhisattva, Medicine King Bodhisattva, Medicine Superior Bodhisattva and Maitreya Bodhisattva.

d. The Dharma Protectors entourage:
The 4 Great Heavenly Kings: Vaisravana, Virudhaka, Dhrtrarastra & Virupaksa.
The 12 Great Yaksa Generals: General Kimbhiro, General Vajra, General Mekhilo, General Antilo, General Anilo, General Santhilo, General Indalo, General Payilo, General Mahalo, General Cidalo, General Caundhulo, and General Vikalo.

Connection with the Amitabha Buddha & Sukhavati
http://cttbusa.org/medicine_master/sutra.htm
The merit, virtue, and adornments of this Land are identical to those of the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss."

Moreover, Manjushri, there may be those among the fourfold assembly of Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas and Upasikas, as well as other good men and women of pure faith, who accept and uphold the eight precepts either for one year or for three months, practicing and studying them.

With these good roots, they may vow to be born in the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss where the Buddha of Limitless Life dwells, to hear the Proper Dharma, but their resolve may not be firm.

However, if they hear the name of the World Honored One, Medicine Master Vaidurya Light Tathagata, then as the end of their lives draws near, before them will appear Eight Great Bodhisattvas, whose names are: Manjushri Bodhisattva, The Bodhisattva Who Observes the Sounds of the World, Great Strength Bodhisattva, Inexhaustible Intention Bodhisattva, Jeweled Udumbara Flower Bodhisattva, Medicine King Bodhisattva, Medicine Superior Bodhisattva, and Maitreya Bodhisattva.

Those Eight Great Bodhisattvas will appear in space to show them the way, and they will naturally be born by transformation in that Land, amid precious flowers of a myriad colors.
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Re: Medicine Buddha in East Asian Buddhism?

Postby Luke » Sun Apr 28, 2013 10:17 am

^Wow! Thanks for giving such a thorough answer, Plwk! :)
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Re: Medicine Buddha in East Asian Buddhism?

Postby Jikan » Sun Apr 28, 2013 12:35 pm

The central Buddha in the Hondo at Tendai Buddhist Institute is Medicine Buddha.

Image
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Re: Medicine Buddha in East Asian Buddhism?

Postby jikai » Sun Jul 21, 2013 12:44 pm

Jikan wrote:The central Buddha in the Hondo at Tendai Buddhist Institute is Medicine Buddha.

Image


This is also the case at the Tendai Hawaii Betsuin where he is flanked by his attendants Nikko and Gakko Bosatsu. Pictures can be seen at our Tendai Australia website. The Honzon Yakushi Nyorai statue at the Tendai Hawaii Betsuin was donated by the Nikko Toshogu complex.

Both the Hawaii and New York Tendai Betsuins do this in emulation of the Honzon at the Konponchudo on Hieizan.
When Dengyo Daishi built his hut (Ichijo Shikan In) on Hieizan he carved a statue of Yakushi Nyorai. To this day in Tendai services He is appealed to in order to safeguard the health of the Emperor and the nation.
Gassho,
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