Bhutans religion | Buddhism | The image of the Buddha | The original Buddha | The five tathagatas

The five Tathagatas

The Adibuddha* Vajradhara emanates into five dhyani or Tathagata* Buddhas, who embody the fundamental philosophical principles of the later Mahayana Buddhism. They are also called Buddhas of meditation.



Vairocana*, Akshobhya, Ratnasambhava*, Amithaba and Amoghasiddha* each stand for one the five wisdoms: the wisdom of universal lawfulness, the mirror-like wisdom, the wisdom of essential similarity, the wisdom of distinction and the wisdom of karmic completion. They are the remedies against the reasons for remaining in the cycle of rebirths: ignorance, hatred, pride, desire and greed.

The five dhyani Buddhas dwell in a sphere which is far above worldly concerns. In order to become actively effective, Buddha Amithaba*, from the group of the five dhyani Buddhas, for instance, manifests himself as Amitayus* on the level of Sambhogakaya. Here he can be reached in meditation, but also in prayers, and many believers turn to him in emergency situations.

Amitayus* belongs to the most venerated deities in Bhutan.

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Silver with partial fire-gilding, painted, set in with corals and turquois; 16th century; H: 35,5 cm; loan from the National Museum, Paro
Amitayus* is an emanation of the Buddha Amithaba*. The hand clasped in the gesture of meditation and the vase of long life show that the »clear sighted wisdom « of meditation takes away internal restraints on the path to enlightenment and holds the power to prolong life in the worldly area.


The crown of the Buddha (rignge ugyen), textile, papier mâché; L: 26 cm, H: 16 cm; loan from the Museum für Völkerkunde, Wien
The five-leaved crown shows one of the five tathagata* buddhas on each picture. By wearing the crown at specific festive ceremonies, the lama stands in connection with the represented buddhas. The crown, which is given a lama at his initiation, authorises him to perform tantric rites.