Amitābha

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See also: Amitabha

English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

A c. 1490–1550 Muromachi-period statue of the Amitābha Buddha from Japan, from the collection of the Guimet Museum in Paris, France

Borrowing from Sanskrit अमिताभ (amitābha, Immeasurable Light), from अमित (amita, unmeasured, boundless, infinite)[1] + आभा (ābhā, splendor, light).[2]

Pronunciation[edit]

Proper noun[edit]

Amitābha (usually uncountable, plural Amitābhas)

  1. (Buddhism) The name of a buddha; an artistic depiction of this buddha.
    1. In Pure Land Buddhism, a branch of Mahāyāna Buddhism, the name of the principal buddha regarded as of celestial origin.
      • 1990, Peter Harvey, “Buddhist Practice: Devotion”, in An Introduction to Buddhism: Teachings, History and Practices, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-30815-1, page 187:
        Devotion to Amitābha Buddha is found within most schools of the Mahāyāna, but is the essence of Pure Land practice, which centres on the ‘Buddha invocation’ (Ch. nien-fo, Jap. nembutsu). This is the repetition of ‘Nan-mo A-mi-t’o Fo’ (Ch.) or ‘Nama Amida Butsu’ (Jap.), translations of the Sanskrit ‘Namo Amitābhāya Buddhāya’, meaning ‘Hail to Amitābha Buddha’.
      • 1990, Kenneth K[en'ichi] Tanaka, “Pure Land Buddhist Development in India and China prior to Hui-yüan”, in The Dawn of Chinese Pure Land Buddhist Doctrine: Ching-ying Hui-yüan's Commentary on the Visualization Sutra (SUNY Series in Buddhist Studies), Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0-7914-0297-9, page 1:
        "Pure Land Buddhism" refers to a set of beliefs and practices that espouses for its aspirants the realization of the stage of non-retrogression (avaivartika; pu t'ui-chuan) either in the present life or through rebirth in a Buddha land or realm (Buddha-kṣetra; fo-kuo) called "Sukhāvatī" (Land of Bliss). [] The Buddha Amitāyus (Wu-liang-shou; Immeasurable Life) or Buddha Amitābha (Wu-liang-kuang; Immeasurable Light) is the 'transcendant' Buddha who presides over the Sukhāvatī world-realm.
      • 2004, Mark L. Blum, “Mahayana Scriptures”, in Kevin Trainor, editor, Buddhism: The Illustrated Guide, New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-517398-7, page 202:
        The Shorter Sukhavativyuha Sutra is chiefly concerned with describing the wonders of Amitabha Buddha's Pure Land, although it also discusses in some detail the characteristics of Amitabha himself.
      • 2004, Jacqueline I. Stone, “By the Power of One's Last Nenbutsu: Deathbed Practices in Early Medieval Japan”, in Richard K[arl] Payne and Kenneth K[en'ichi] Tanaka, editors, Approaching the Land of Bliss: Religious Praxis in the Cult of Amitābha (Kuroda Institute Studies in East Asian Buddhism; 17), Honolulu, Hi.: University of Hawai‛i Press, ISBN 978-0-8248-2578-2, page 77:
        Less well recognized, however, is the central role played in much of early medieval Pure Land Buddhism by deathbed practices and accompanying beliefs about the radical salvific power of one's last nenbutsu, whether understood as the contemplation of the Buddha Amitābha (or Amitāyus, Jpn. Amida) or the invocation of his name.
      • 2007, Amy McNair, “Salvation for One”, in Donors of Longmen: Faith, Politics, and Patronage in Medieval Chinese Buddhist Sculpture, Honolulu, Hi.: University of Hawai‛i Press, ISBN 978-0-8248-2994-0, pages 151–152:
        The overall programme of the Pure Land Hall represents the process of rebirth in Sukhāvatī, and the three standing Amitābhas in the shrine represent the three possible manifestations of Amitābha to the dying believer on earth, which is the beginning of that process.
      • 2013, Robert E[vans] Buswell Jr.; Donald S[ewell] Lopez Jr., “Amitābha”, in The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, ISBN 978-0-691-15786-3, page 35, column 1:
        In East Asia, the cult of Amitābha eventually became so widespread that it transcended sectarian distinction, and Amitābha became the most popular buddha in the region. In Tibet, Amitābha worship dates to the early propagation of Buddhism in that country in the eighth century, although it never became as prevalent as in East Asia.
    2. In Vajrayāna Buddhism, the name of the western buddha, one of the Five Dhyani Buddhas representing the five qualities of the Buddha.
      • 1827 July, “Asiatic Society of Calcutta”, in The Oriental Herald, and Journal of General Literature, volume XIV, number 43, London: Printed [by J. R. Gordon, 147, Strand] for the editor, and sold by all booksellers, OCLC 40958619, page 147:
        A letter from Mr. [Brian Houghton] Hodgson to Mr. Bayley, was then read, giving an outline of the theocracy of the Buddha system of Nepal. [] According to the information now communicated, the northern Buddhas acknowledge four sets of divine beings, or of superhuman objects of veneration. The first of these is, contrary to the generally supposed atheistical tendency of the faith, one primæval and uncreated deity. This first Buddha manifested five of his attributes, as five secondary Buddhas; in one of whom, Amitabha, or the 'immeasurably splendid,' in Prakrit and Pali, Amitabo, we recognise the Amito of the Japanese.
      • 2000, “Description of Illustrations”, in W[alter] Y[eeling] Evans-Wentz, editor, The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation: Or the Method of Realizing Nirvāṇa through Knowing the Mind, New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-513315-8, page xxi:
        In the upper corner, above Mañjushrī's sword, is the figure of the Dhyāni Buddha Amitābha, the 'One of Boundless (or Incomprehensible) Light', of whom the Tashi Lāmas are believed to be incarnations. [] Amitābha presides over the Western Paradise known as Devachān.
  2. (Hinduism) A class of deities.
    • 1840, H[orace] H[ayman] Wilson, transl., “Of the Seven Future Manus and Manwantaras. Story of Sanjná and Chháyá, Wives of the Sun. Sávarńi, Son of Chháyá, the Eighth Manu. His Successors, with the Divinities, &c., of Their Respective Periods. Appearance of Vishńu in each of the Four Yugas.”, in The Vishńu Puráńa, a System of Hindu Mythology and Tradition, Translated from the Original Sanscrit, and Illustrated by Notes Derived Chiefly from Other Puráńas, London: Published by John Murray, Albermarle Street, OCLC 492725401, page 267:
      In the period in which Sávarńi shall be the Manu, the classes of the gods will be the Sutapas, Amitábhas, and Mukhyas; twenty-one of each.

Alternative forms[edit]

Synonyms[edit]

Translations[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Monier Williams (1872), “अमित a-mita”, in A Sanskṛit–English Dictionary: Etymologically and Philologically Arranged with Special Reference to Greek, Latin, Gothic, German, Anglo-Saxon, and Other Cognate Indo-European Languages, Oxford: At the Clarendon Press, OCLC 3592375, page 76, column 1.
  2. ^ Monier Williams (1872), “आभा ā-bhā”, in A Sanskṛit–English Dictionary: Etymologically and Philologically Arranged with Special Reference to Greek, Latin, Gothic, German, Anglo-Saxon, and Other Cognate Indo-European Languages, Oxford: At the Clarendon Press, OCLC 3592375, page 124, column 2.

Further reading[edit]