Amida 阿弥陀
KEY WORD : art history / iconography
Also Amida Nyorai 阿弥陀如来. Buddha of Infinite Light (Sk: Amitabha, Jp: Muryoukou 無量光), also Buddha of Infinite Life (Sk: Amitayus, Jp: Muryouju 無量寿). The term Amida probably derives from a combination of the Chinese translations of Amitabha and Amitayus. Amida is one of the Five Wisdom Tathagatas *gochi nyorai 五智如来; and one of the Buddhas of the Ten Directions. He is the most popular of the transhistorical Buddhas, whose paradise, or Pure Land joudo 浄土, lies in the west. Hence Amida is Buddha of the Western saihou 西方 Paradise of Ultimate Bliss gokuraku 極楽 (Sk: sukhavati). Although there are sculptures and paintings depicting Amida that date back to the 7c, worship of Amida and the desire for salvation was stimulated by the OUJOU YOUSHUU 徃生要集 (Essentials of Salvation), compiled by the Tendai 天台 monk Genshin 源信 (942-1017) in the late 10c as a manual to aid societies of Amidist believers. The OUJOU YOUSHUU focuses on the Three Pure Land Sutras, the three basic texts of the Japanese sects of Joudo 浄土 and Joudoshin 浄土真, which glorify the worship of Amida and the splendors of his paradise. These sutras also vividly describe sufferings of hell in the mappou 末法 age, third of the three periods known as the Former, Middle, and Latter Days of the Law, when there will be no practise of Buddhism and therefore no enlightenment. This text thus served as an important stimulus for production of art and architecture dedicated to Amida and his Pure Land in the late Heian period. Genshin's three dicta may be summed up as follows: despise this defiled world, long for rebirth in Amida's paradise, practice nenbutsu 念仏, the contemplation of the Buddha Amida, and/or chant his name. Initially Amidism was restricted to the clergy and the aristocracy, but later it gained greater popularity and spread out to all classes of society. The Pure Land sect of *Hounen 法然, the New Pure Land sect of *Shinran 親鸞, and the Ji Order, Ji 時 sect of *Ippen 一遍 represent the three main popular Amidist movements of the Kamakura period. While the various Amidist leaders had different emphases, generally they believed that Amida promised salvation in his paradise if they chanted the nenbutsu; Namu Amida Butsu 南無阿弥陀仏 (Homage to Amida Buddha). Amida Buddha was the main object of worship at Pure Land temples. Images of Amida may be seated or standing, single, paired with another Buddha, or in some other grouping. Amida may also be joined with bodhisattvas in a triad *Amida sanzon 阿弥陀三尊 or in a larger group. Unlike *Yakushi 薬師, who holds a medicine jar, Amida holds no attribute. Rather, different types of Amida images may be distinguished by other elements, notably their mudras *in 印. While Amida images display all the mudras associated with *Shaka 釈迦 except for the *shokuchi-in 触地印 (earth-touching mudra). the following three types of mudras especially are associated with the Three Classes and Nine Levels of birth in Amida's Paradise.

1 Jou-in 定印 also *zenjou-in 禅定印 (meditation mudra), associated with the Esoteric Amida who resides on the west in the *Ryoukai mandara 両界曼荼羅. In Pure Land Buddhism, jo-in is associated with the upper class, the top three levels of Amida's Paradise. See *jou-in Amida 定印阿弥陀.

2 *Seppou-in 説法印 (mudra of the exposition of the Dharma) is a form of the *tenbourin-in 転法輪印 (mudra for turning the Dharma-wheel), originally associated with Shaka. In Pure Land Buddhism it is associated with the middle class, the middle three levels of Amida's Paradise. See *seppou Amida 説法阿弥陀.

3 *Raigou-in 来迎印 (welcoming mudra); very much like the pair of mudras traditionally linked with Shaka; *semui-in 施無畏印 (mudra for bestowing fearlessness), raised right hand, and *yogan-in 与願印 (wish-granting mudra) lowered left hand, except on each hand the thumb touches one of three fingers. In Pure Land Buddhism, it is associated with the lowest class and the lowest three levels of Amida's Paradise. See *raigou-in Amida 来迎印阿弥陀, also *Amida kubon-in 阿弥陀九品印. Variant Amida forms include: *hafuki-no-Amida 歯吹きの阿弥陀 (Amida with mouth open); *gokoushii Amida 五劫思惟阿弥陀 (Amida contemplating for Five Kalpas); *guhari-no-Amida 紅玻璃阿弥陀 (red-skinned Amida); *houkan Amida 宝冠阿弥陀 (Amida with a Jeweled Crown). Several additional Amida image types are: Amida raigou 阿弥陀来迎 (Amida welcoming descent); *kubon raigou 九品来迎 (Amida of the nine levels of birth in Paradise); *mikaeri Amida 見返り阿弥陀 (Amida looking back); and *yamagoe no Amida 山越阿弥陀 (Amida coming over the mountain).

*gochidou 五智堂, *gobutsudou 五仏堂 

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