Pure Land Buddhism - Amitabha Buddha
One of the most widely practiced Buddhist traditions in East Asia is Pure land Buddhism . Pure Land Buddhism is believed to be the early branch of Mahayana Buddhism and in Pure Land tradition , most of the Buddha teachings are mostly based on Amitabha Buddha or Amida Buddha . Pure Land is known by many names according to the countries culture and beliefs but it is globally known by the name Amidism . Pure Land has been the largest Buddhist school found in China and East Asia .
History of Pure Land Buddhism
It is believed that Pure Land Buddhism originate from India , and some believed that Pure Land originated in Kashmir and central Asia . The early sutras of Pure Land Buddhism were believed to be written in Gandhara language which is supposed to be related with Sanskrit . There are some images that showed Amitabha Buddha with Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara and Bodhisattva Mahasthaprapta , who were among the top eight Bodhisattvas. In early Pure Land Buddhist tradition , Pure Land Buddhist texts and practices were spread by Mahayana Buddhist teachings which also includes Nagarjuna and Vasuvandu .
Pure Land Buddhism was first introduced to China in early 147 CE when Kushan Buddhist monks Lokaksema started translating original Pure Land Buddhist sutras into Chinese . But the Pure Land Buddhism became prominent only after 3 Centuries after the foundation of Donglin Temple at Mount Lu in 402 CE. The Pure Land Teachings and practices quickly spread all over the China and was systemized by a series of elite monastic thinkers, like Huiyuan, Tanluan, Daochuo, and Shandao, and many other elite Buddhist thinkers and monks. In around 10th century, a Buddhist monk named Honen Shonin introduce Pure Land Buddhism in Japan and Pure Land teachings were spread to Japan and gradually becoming more prominent in Genshin and Fujiwara no Michinaga and other cities of Japan . Pure Land Buddhism has established a sect and is known by Judo Shu in Japan and has become a prominent Buddhist tradition in China, Japan , Korea , Taiwan and Vietnam .
Amitabha Buddha in Pure Land Buddhism
“Namo Amitabha Buddha”
Namo Amitabha Buddha is one of the most taught recitation in Pure Land Buddhism and this phrase is even known to Non-Buddhists, Dharma learner even though they do not possess the doctrines of Pure Land Buddhism. There are many Buddha who has existed in the history of mankind, and many are quite confused on who is Amitabha Buddha. According to Pure Land,
1. Amitabha Buddha is the one who has fulfilled his Fundamental Vow.
2. Amitabha Buddha is the one who vowed to deliver sentient beings from pain and suffering.
3. Amitabha Buddha is the one who grace the reciters of his name with his light.
4. Amitabha Buddha is the one who receives Reciters when they die.
One of the main reason that make Amitabha “Namo Amitabha Buddha” is that he is the one who fulfilled his fundamental vow. Even though all Buddha that existed have their own fundamental vow, the fundamental view that Amitabha Buddha took was different. It is believed that everyBuddha (the past and future) must under the Four Great Vows in order to attain Buddhahood. Amitabha Buddha undertook transcendent vows which were believed to surpass all the Great Four vows.
“Amitabha Buddha’s vows exceeds all” – said by Shakyamuni Buddha.
In Pure Land Buddhism, it is believed that upon reciting the chant of Amitabha Buddha, Amitabha Buddha protects the reciter day and night and doesn’t let any enemies to approach the reciters. And when they die, they are reborn in Pure Land as a matter of course. Even though the reciters are saint or ordinary, whether they know or don’t know how to practice dharma, as long as they recite the name of Amitabha Buddhawith resolve, they are reborn in Pure Land.
“Uninvited, He becomes a friend to multitudes of beings and shoulders their heavy karmic burdens”- Said in Amitabha Sutra.
It means that Amitabha Buddha doesn’t need to be invited or asked as long as the reciters chant his name, he redeems all the karmic hindrance.