1.4 PURE LAND OF AMITABHA BUDDHA

21.5 x 30 inch / 55.5 x 77 cms
Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha
 

This depiction of the visionary Western Paradise of Sukhavati is based on one of the oldest scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism, the Sukhavati -Vyuha, the description of the fortunate abiding.

This Thanka is intended to focus the mind of a believer who is close to death, so they can achieve rebirth in the Western Paradise of Sukhavati. This is thought to be possible for those who have lived pure lives focused on achieving wisdom and compassion to benefit all who suffer. Rebirth in this Pure Land is especially auspicious, as full enlightenment can be achieved directly here, without the need for future births.

In the center of the composition is the golden figure of Amitabha, the Buddha of infinite light and lord of Sukhavati. Amitabha sits in meditation on a lotus pedestal placed on an elaborate peacock throne located in front of his multistoried celestial palace. On the top of his palace are parasols waving in the wind, which symbolize his rule over this Pure Land. Amitabha holds a monk´s bowl (patra) bedecked in garlands, while golden rays of wisdom come from his heart. His hands are in the gesture of meditation (dhyana mudra). He is flanked by his two main Bodhisattvas, Padmapani (left) and Vajrapani (right), each holding a lotus. Six other Mahabodhisattvas sit in groups of three around a wind-tossed lotus lake in the center of a celestial garden. They are, on the left, Samantabhadra (top), Maitreya and Ksitigarbha (below), and on the right, Sarvaniva Ranaviskambhin (top), Manjushri and Akasagarbha (below).

The small lotus blossoms that appear on the left and right sides of the throne are the sites where worthy beings are miraculously reborn in Sukhavati in order to achieve complete freedom through the light of Amitabha´s wisdom. The small kneeling man and the two monks are being welcomed behind the entrance-gate by dancing female goddesses (dakinis) holding banners. Buddha himself comes towards them accompanied by his two disciples Shariputra and Mahamaudgaly, snd thrones are waiting for them.

Two other monks are making lavish offerings to Amitabha. These are depicted as a mound of wishing jewels in front of his throne. The eight auspicious signs are seen there, too. Devas and Devis floats above the palace, and other enlightened beings also are moving through the air.

In Sukhavati the devotee meets those compassionate and enlightened beings to whom he turned in life for spiritual help, as well as those who have reached this Pure Land before him. The lotus-born guru Padmasambhava and the protectress Green Tara appear on a cloud (to the left and right, at the level of Amithaba's shoulder). The Buddha appears in the tops of the trees as a symbol of the preaching of his pure doctrine, the Buddhadharma.

The Western Paradise Sukhavati is shown as an eternally blooming garden, rimmed by a square wall and surrounded by lotus lakes and decorative trees. The four other Pure Land paradises are shown as small palaces at the top of the painting. These are the paradises of the four other Tathagatas, the Dhyani Buddhas. From left to right they are the Pure Lands of Amogasiddhi, Ratnasmbhava, Vairocana, and Akshobya. Vajrapani appears in blue as a guardian of this auspicious Pure Land.

This paradise is a stopover on the way to full enlightenment, which is symbolized as two stupas in the two lower corners of the Thangka.