What is Vajrayana?
Vajray?na, Mantray?na, Tantray?na, Tantric Buddhism and Esoteric Buddhism are the various Buddhist traditions of Tantra and "Secret Mantra", which developed in medieval India and spread to Tibet, Bhutan, and East Asia. In Tibet, Buddhist Tantra is termed Vajray?na, while in China it is generally known as Tángmì (, "Chinese Tantray?na") or Mìz?ng (, "church of Tantray?na"), in Pali it is known as Pyitsayãna (?) , and in Japan it is known as Mikky? (, "secret teachings").
Vajray?na is usually translated as Diamond Vehicle or Thunderbolt Vehicle, referring to the Vajra, a mythical weapon which is also used as a ritual implement.
Founded by medieval Indian Mah?siddhas, Vajray?na subscribes to the literature known as the Buddhist Tantras. It includes practices that make use of mantras, dharanis, mudras, mandalas and the visualization of deities and Buddhas. According to Vajray?na scriptures, the term Vajray?na refers to one of three vehicles or routes to enlightenment, the other two being the ?r?vakay?na (also known as the H?nay?na) and Mah?y?na.
|Tantra (; Sanskrit: , literally "loom, weave, system") denotes the esoteric traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism that co-developed most likely about the middle of the 1st millennium AD. The term tantra, in the Indian traditions, also means any systematic broadly applicable "text, theory, system, method, instrument, technique or practice".
Starting in the early centuries of common era, newly revealed Tantras centering on Vishnu, Shiva or Shakti emerged. In Buddhism, the Vajrayana tradition is known for its extensive tantra ideas and practices. Tantric Hindu and Buddhist traditions have influenced other Eastern religious traditions such as Jainism, the Tibetan Bön tradition, Daoism and the Japanese Shint? tradition.
In Tibetan Buddhist and Indian Hindu/Buddhist traditions, Shambhala (also spelled Shambala or Shamballa; Tibetan; Wylie: bde 'byung, pron. de-jung; Chinese: ; pinyin: ) is a kingdom hidden somewhere in Inner Asia. It is mentioned in various ancient texts, including the Kalachakra Tantra and the ancient texts of the Zhang Zhung culture which predated Tibetan Buddhism in western Tibet. The Bön scriptures speak of a closely related land called Olmolungring.
Hindu texts such as Vishnu Purana mention Shambhala as the birth place of Kalki, the final incarnation of Vishnu who will usher in a new Golden Age (Satya Yuga).
Whatever its historical basis, Shambhala gradually came to be seen as a Buddhist Pure Land, a fabulous kingdom whose reality is visionary or spiritual as much as physical or geographic. It was in this form that the Shambhala myth reached the West, where it influenced non-Buddhist as well as Buddhist spiritual seekers -- and, to some extent, popular culture in general.
K?kai () or also known posthumously as K?b?-Daishi (?), 774–835 CE was a Japanese monk, scholar, poet, and artist, founder of the Shingon or "True Word" school of Buddhism.
K?kai is famous as a calligrapher (see Shodo), engineer, and is said to have invented kana, the syllabary in which, in combination with Chinese characters (Kanji) the Japanese language is written (although this claim has not been proven).
His religious writing, some fifty works, expound the esoteric Shingon doctrine, of which the major ones have been translated into English by Yoshito Hakeda (see references below). K?kai is also said to have written the iroha, one of the most famous poems in Japanese, which uses every phonetic kana syllable.
Green Tara, painting by Prithvi Man Chitrakari, 1947.
Tara (Sanskrit: ?, t?r?; Tibetan language, Drolma) or ?rya T?r?, also known as Jetsun Dolma (Tibetan language: rje btsun sgrol ma) in Tibetan Buddhism, is a deity in Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism. She is known as the "mother of liberation", and represents the virtues of success in work and achievements. In Japan she is known as Tara Bosatsu (?), and little-known as Du?luó Púsà (?) in Chinese Buddhism.
Tara is a tantric meditation deity whose practice is used by practitioners of the Tibetan branches of Vajrayana Buddhism to develop certain inner qualities and understand outer, inner and secret teachings about compassion and emptiness. Tara is actually the generic name for a set of Buddhas or bodhisattvas of similar aspect. These may more properly be understood as different aspects of the same quality, as bodhisattvas are often considered metaphoric for Buddhist virtues.
The most widely known forms of T?r? are:
- Green T?r?, known as the Buddha of enlightened activity
- White T?r?, also known for compassion, long life, healing and serenity; also known as The Wish-fulfilling Wheel, or Cintachakra
- Red T?r?, of fierce aspect associated with magnetizing all good things
- Black T?r?, associated with power
- Yellow T?r?, associated with wealth and prosperity
- Blue T?r?, associated with transmutation of anger
- Cittamani T?r?, a form of T?r? widely practiced at the level of Highest Yoga Tantra in the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism, portrayed as green and often conflated with Green T?r?
- Khadiravani T?r? (T?r? of the acacia forest), who appeared to Nagarjuna in the Khadiravani forest of South India and who is sometimes referred to as the "Twenty-second T?r?"
There is also recognition in some schools of Buddhism of twenty-one T?r?s. A practice text entitled In Praise of the Twenty-one T?r?s, is recited during the morning in all four sects of Tibetan Buddhism.
The main T?r? mantra is the same for Buddhists and Hindus alike: o? t?re tutt?re ture sv?h?. It is pronounced by Tibetans and Buddhists who follow the Tibetan traditions as o? t?re tu t?re ture soha.