Myo-o is the Japanese term for Sanskrit "Vidyaraja," a group of warlike and wrathful deities known in English as the Mantra Kings, the Wisdom Kings, or the Knowledge Kings. Myo-o statues appear ferocious and menacing, with threatening postures and faces designed to subdue evil and frighten unbelievers into accepting Buddhist law. They represent the wisdom of Buddhism, protect the Buddhist teachings, remove all obstacles to enlightenment, and force evil to surrender. Introduced to Japan in 9th century, the Myo-o were originally Hindu deities that were adopted into Esoteric Buddhism to vanquish blind craving. They serve and protect the various Buddha, especially Dainichi Buddha. In most traditions, they are considered emanations of Dainichi, and represent Dainichi's wrath against evil and ignorance. In Japan, the Myo-o group is worshipped mostly by the Shingon Sect of Esoteric Buddhism. Among the individual Myo-o, the one named Fudo is the most widely venerated in Japan, although Aizen (this page) enjoys a relatively large following as well.
WHO IS AIZEN. Literally the Lust-Drenched Mantra King, The Impassioned One, patron of those caught by desire or attachment. Aizen is considered the god of love among Japan's Esoteric sects, the King of Sexual Passion, the one who converts earthly desires (love/lust) into spiritual awakening, and saves people from the pain that comes with love. Statues of Aizen typically depict the deity with three faces, three eyes, and six arms (which hold various weapons). Aizen often wears a crown containing a shishi (magical lion). Aizen's red body symbolizes the power to purify sexual desire. Aizen often carries a bow and arrow (like Cupid), and is enshrined at Kakuonji Temple in Kamakura. Today, Aizen is also revered in Japan's gay quarters as the patron of love. Aizen does not appear in Indian texts, and is unknown amoung India's deities. The primary source on Aizen is the Yogin Sūtra 瑜祇經 attributed to Vajrabodhi 金剛智. The sutra's full spelling is 金剛峯樓閣一切瑜伽瑜祇經 (Pavilion of Vajra Peak and all its Yogas and Yogins), which in Japanese is pronounced Kongōbu rōkaku issai yuga yugi kyō.
AIZEN MANTRA IN JAPANESE (ご真言)
おん まかあらぎゃ ばさら うしゅにしゃ ばさらさたば じゃうんばんこ
Photo courtesy Tokyo National Museum
AIZEN WISH-GRANTING JEWEL. Aizen is closely connected with the magical wish-granting jewel (Jp. = Houjyu 宝珠; Sanskrit = cintamani), as are other Buddhist deities, especially Nyoirin Kannon, Jizo Bosatsu, and Kichijouten. Depending on the deity involved, the jewel can signify the bestowal of blessings on all who suffer, grant wishes, pacify desires, and bring clear understanding of the Dharma (Buddhist law). In Aizen's case, worshippers often used the jewel to pray for success in their romantic relationships. One important ceremony was called the Jewel of Aizen Myōō Rite (如法愛染王法), pronounced Nyohō Aizen ō hō. The rite was used in the 13th and 14th centuries by esoteric sects to pray for the love and respect of others. This Aizen rite is a variant of the main esoteric ceremony known as the Wish-Granting Jewel Rite (如意宝珠法), pronounced Nyoi Hōju Hō. This rite began sometime in the late Heian period, spearheaded by the Daigo-ji Temple (Shingon sect) in Kyoto.
Source of Info on Wish-Granting Jewel: Ultimate Sacntuaries: The Aesthetics of Buddhist Relic Worship, Nara National Museum Exhibit Catalog, 2001, Printed by Nissha Printing Co. Ltd.
Mandala of Flaming Wish-Granting Jewel
Black-lacquered wood with
makie decorations (sprinkled metal filings)
H = 14.5 cm, width 9.2 cm, depth 9.0 cm
Japan, Nanbokucho - Muromachi Period
14th & 15th Century, Private Collection
Votive Image of Aizen Myōō Statue
Sandalwood, Height 11.1 cm
14th & 15th Century, Private Collection
PHOTO CREDITS: JEWEL MANDALA & AIZEN STATUE
Ultimate Sacntuaries: The Aesthetics of Buddhist Relic Worship
Nara National Museum, Exhibit Catalog
Copyright 2001. Printed by Nissha Printing Co. Ltd.
ESOTERIC BUDDHISM IN JAPAN. The teachings of Esoteric Buddhism are mystical and hard to understand, and require a high level of devotion and austerity to master. Elaborate and secret ritual practices (utilizing mantras and mudras and mandalas) are used to help partitioners develop and realize the eternal wisdom of the Buddha. This form of Buddhism is not taught to the general public, but is confined mostly to Buddhist believers, priests and those far along the path toward enlightenment. Esoteric Buddhism's main practitioners in Japan were Priest Kukai (+774 - 835) and Priest Saicho (+767 - 822). Kukai, also called Kobo Daishi, founded the Shingon Sect of Esoteric Buddhism, while Priest Saicho founded the Tendai Sect. In the Esoteric sects, the Myo-o protect Buddhism and force its outside enemies to surrender. Today, the Myo-o are revered mainly by the Shingon sect, which emphasizes the Great Sun Sutra (Maha-vairocana Sutra) and worships Dainichi Buddha as the Central "All-Encompassing" Buddha. Indeed, the Myo-o are forms of Dainichi, and represent Dainichi's wrath against evil and ignorance.
Aizen, Kamakura Era
Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine
in Kamakura. Located inside
LEARN MORE ABOUT AIZEN MYO-O AT THE
A-TO-Z PHOTO DICTIONARY (SISTER SITE)