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Bishamon (Bishamonten) Statues

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Sanpshot View of This Deity

God of Wealth & Treasure; one who hears everything; lord of north; patron of warriors; heals illness, expels demons & evil; defends the nation

Bishamon
Bishamonten
Tamonten
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毘沙門
毘沙門天
多聞天

Píshāmén
Pishamen
P'i-sha-men
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毘沙門

Vaisravana
Vaiśravaṇa
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वैश्रवण

Bisamun, Pisamun, Damun Cheonwang
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비사문

Nam to se, Rnam thos sras, Namthöse

BISHAMON CATALOG

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photos, and buy options.

WHO IS BISHAMON
God of Treasure, Wealth, & Warriors
Defender of Buddhist Faith
Expels Demons of Plague
Guards Buddhist Holy Places
Also called Tamonten
Guardian of Northern Quarter
One of Japan's 7 Lucky Gods
One of the Four Deva Kings
See Background Notes
 

Bishamonten Amulet, Click here for details & buy options.
Bishamonten Amulet, $95

Bishamonten Amulet, Click here for details and buy options
Bishamonten Amulet, $75

Bishamonten, Modern Cypress Statue, 15 cm in height
Bishamonten Standing Atop Demon, $170

Click here for details. Large Statue of Bishamonten (aka Tamonten)
Large Tamonten (aka Bishamonten, $599

Mini Bishamon Zushi Set Mini Bishamon Zushi Set
Mini Bishamon & Zushi Set = $182

Bishamon Netsuke
Bishamon Netsuke = $50

Netsuke Set of the Seven Lucky Deities of Japan

Bishamon is also available as
one of seven lucky deities
 in sets of the 7 Lucky Gods


Background Notes on Bishamon, Bishamonten, Tamonten


Sanskrit Seed Syllable for Bishamon

Sanskrit Seed Syllable
for Bishamonten

Pronounced
VAI
in Japan

spacer1Bishamonten = Japanese reading for Chinese characters
Japanese Reading = Bishamonten

Male, God of Wealth and Warriors, Defender of the Nation and of Buddhist faith. Of Hindu origin, like most of Japan's Buddhist deities. Also known as Tamonten (the Black Warrior), for he guards the northern quarter of the compass, which is associated with the color black. The term "ten" is Japanese word for the Sanskrit "deva."

In Japan, Bishamon is considered a dispenser of wealth and good fortune. He is the guardian of earthly treasures, gold mines, and precious metals, and venerated as a god of healing, with the power to save emperors from life-threatening illness and to expel the demons of plague. Bishamonten is usually clad in armor, with a spear in one hand and a pagoda in the other. He is the scourge of evil doers, and the most powerful among the Guardians of the Four Directions (Jp. = Shitenno; Skt. = Lokapala), who he commands. When portrayed among the Shitenno, he is known as Tamonten. Among the four, he alone is worshipped independently in Japan. He is also one of Japan's Seven Lucky Gods, in which role he is associated with the virtue "dignity." 

Bishamon's name in Sanskrit is Vaishravana, which translates as "one who hears everything in the kingdom." It is very likely that his imagery and iconography originated with the Hindu deity named Kubera / Kuvera. The small pagoda he often carries symbolizes the divine Buddhist treasure house. He is both a protector of and dispenser of its treasure -- he shares the pagoda's vast treasures with only "the worthy." In Japan, as a member of the Four Heavenly Kings, he is called Tamonten (Listens to Many Teachings), and in this capacity he protects the places where Buddha preaches and listens always to Buddha's teachings. Said to live halfway down the north side of Mount Sumeru, Bishamon/Tamonten protects the north, and commands two classes of mythical spirits and demons -- the Yasha (Yaksa) and the Rasetsu (Raksha).

SHITENNO - Tamonten, Protector of the North
Bishamonten is also known as Tamonten, the Guardian on the North, and the most powerful of the Four Heavenly Kings (Shitenno), the Guardians of the Four Directions. As a member of the Shitenno, he listens to sutras, protects holy places, carries a pagoda-shaped treasure house in his left hand, and a spear in his right. Associated with the color black (others say blue), Tamonten is the defender of the Buddhist faith and protector against demons. In Japanese statuary, he is often portrayed standing atop a demon or demons, symbolizing his ability to overcome evil. 

Mantra for Bishamonten / Tamonten
Bishamon Mantra

Tamonten spelling in Chinese and Japanese
Tamonten
Another name for Bishamonten

OTHER BISHAMONTEN ASSOCIATIONS

  • Kichijouten, Kichijoten, Kisshouten. Wife of Vishnu in Hindu myths; wife or sister of Bishamonten in Buddhist myths; goddess of fortune.
     
  • Kubera: Hindu God of Wealth. Says Meher McArthur, curator of East Asian Art at the Pacific Asia Museum (Pasadena): 

    "In Tibet and Nepal, Vaishravana (Jp. = Bishamonten / Tamonten) is closely related to the God of Wealth, Kubera, who is considered to be his most important manifestation. It is possible that Vaishravana is the Buddhist form of the earlier Hindu deity, Kuvera/Kubera, who was the son of an Indian sage, Vishrava, hence the name, Vaishravana. According to Hindu legend, Kubera performed austerities for a thousand years, and was rewarded for this by the greator god, Brahma, who granted him immortality and the position of God of Wealth, and guardian of the treasures of the earth. As Vaishravana, this deity also commands the army of eight Yasha (Yaksa), or demons, who are believed to be emanations of Vaishravana himself. The most important of these eight are the dark-skinned Kubera of the north and the white Jambala of the east. Each of these emanations holds a mongoose that spews jewels. In Tibet and Nepal, he is worshipped as the God of Wealth in all three manifestations: Vaishravana, Kubera, and Jambala."

    "In many Tibetan and Nepalese images of Kubera, the deity is shown as a plump figure wearing a crown, ribbons and jewelry, and holding a mongoose, representing this god's vistory over the naga (snake deities), who symbolize greed. As God of Wealth, Vaishravana/Kubera squeezes the mongoose and causes the creature to spew out jewels."

    < quoted from McArthur's book "Reading Buddhist Art: An Illustrated Guide to Buddhist Signs & Symbols." ISBN 0-500-28428-8, Published 2002 by Thames & Hudson. Click here to view or buy book at Amazon. >

Bishamonten, Kamakura Era, Nara, Japan
Kamakura Era
 Photo courtesy Nara Nat'l Museum

LEARN MORE ABOUT BISHAMON AT THE A-TO-Z
PHOTO DICTIONARY OF JAPANESE BUDDHISM (SISTER SITE)

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