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Vairocana Buddha

By Devik Balami at
Vairocana Buddha Statue

Vairocana is one of the Five Dhyani Buddhas created by Adhi Buddha. In Sanskrit, the name vairocana means "luminous" or "embodiment of light". In Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, and Vietnamese Buddhism; Vairocana is called as Dari Rulai / Piluzhena Fo, Dainichi Nyorai, Nampar nangdze / Namnang, and Dai Nhat Nhu Lai respectively. In the above mentioned Buddhism, the Buddha is seen as the embodiment of Buddhist concept of Emptiness. While in Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism, Vairocana is considered as a Primordial Buddha and is located at the center. He is also referred to as the "great illuminating one," “the Life force that illuminates the universe," and importantly, "all-encompassing Buddha". Therefore, Vairocana is mentioned in different sutras.

In Brahma Net Sutra, it is written that Vairocana Buddha is seated on a top of a lotus pedestal and surrounding of that lotus there are thousands of flowers. These flowers are the Sakyamuni Buddhas, which supports a hundred million worlds. It is also mentioned that Sakyamuni Buddha is born in each world. They all attain Buddhahood at the same time under Bodhi tree. All these Sakyamuni Buddhas have Vairocana as their original body.

In Flower Garland Sutra, also called Avatamsaka, Vairocana is presented as the ground of being and the matrix from which all phenomena emerges. He is regarded as the Dharma Body of the historical Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama).

In Samantabhadra Meditation Sutra, also called as the "Sutra of Meditation on the Bodhisattva Universal Virtue", Vairocana is mentioned as a Buddha who has similar characteristics as that of Sakyamuni Buddha. And he roams around a place called "Always Tranquil Light".

Lotus Sutra, also called Saddharma Pundarika Sutra, is composed in the first century B.E.C. In this sutra, it is believed that Buddhas are said not to die even though their physical bodies degenerate. It is also mentioned that Buddha has explained that he has always lead the beings to their salvation and will always continue to do so. Therefore he is considered as the most sublime or truest reality in the universe.

In Mahavairocana Sutra, Vairocana is depicted as the universal Buddha from whom all other Buddha are originated. He is also represented as the source of enlightenment who helps others to be free from causes and conditions. It is also mentioned that Vairocana taught about the Dharma to Vajrasattva but it was incomprehensible to learn for them. That's why Vairocana provided esoteric techniques and rituals to help Vajrasattva to conceptualize the Dharma beyond verbal form. Therefore, Vairocana is also referred as a teacher, without whom there would have been no Buddhism, and also there would not have the path to enlightenment.

Even though Vairocana is mentioned in various Sutras, the doctrine of Vairocana Buddha is largely based on the teachings of the Mahavairocana Sutra. This Sutra is thought to be the earliest comprehensive manual of Buddhist tantra. It is believed that this Sutra is composed in the 7th Century.


Vairocana Buddha is often depicted as seated in the lotus pedal which is supported by a pair of two great lions. Symbolically, it is represented that when the lions roar, all other remains silent and listens to him. Likewise, when one is spreading Buddha's teachings almost all others remains silent and listens to the Buddha's valuable teachings. When Vairocana Buddha is depicted as meditating, it is believed that the image of Vairocana helps to transform the delusion of ignorance into the wisdom preached by the Dharma. Similarly, when Gautama Buddha turned the wheel of Dharma, it illuminated the hearts of people which was darkened by ignorance.

When Vairocana Buddha is depicted in Buddha statues, he is also shown in Dharma chakra mudra. This mudra is formed when the thumb and index finger of both hands touch at their tips to form a circle. The left hand faces inward which covers the right hand which is facing outward and the hands are held against the chest. The remaining fingers of both hands remain extended.

Since Vairocana is believed to be the aggregate of all the Dhyani Buddhas. Therefore, He has the complexion of pure white since white produced when all the colors merge together. His symbol is the dharma wheel. When all Five Dhyani Buddhas are depicted together in a mandala, Vairocana is placed in the center. He is often shown larger than other Buddhas around him. He is Lord of Akanistha Ghanavyuha Pure land which existed in the center. His consort is White Tara and his Bija starts with Om. In Vajrayana Buddhism, it is believed that Vairocana Buddha helps to overcome ignorance and delusion when a person chants his mantra.

Buddha Statues of Vairocana around the world

The largest bronze Buddha statue of Vairocana Buddha in the world is situated in Todai-ji temple of Nara in Japan.

175 feet tall Vairocana Buddha statue and 120 feet tall Shakyamuni Buddha statue were destroyed by Taliban at Bamyan in Afghanistan in 2001. They were amongst the large Buddha statue in the world.

The 9th century Mendut temple in Magelang, Indonesia was dedicated to Dhyani Buddha Vairocana. It was built by Sailendra dynasty. The temple consists of a three-meter tall stone statue of Vairocana Buddha in Dharmachakra mudra. The statue is flanked by the statues of Boddhisatva Avalokitesvara and Boddhisatva Vajrapani.

Completed in 2002, 502 feet tall Vairocana Buddha statue is the tallest statue situated in the Spring Temple Buddha of Lushan County, Henan, China.