The Medicine Buddha is the name often used to describe Bhaisajyaguru, who is known as being the Buddha of medicine and healing. The Medicine Buddha is described by his devotees as a type of doctor who is able to offer cures for suffering, with the medicine used being his teachings.
Before becoming wholly enlightened and becoming a Buddha, Bhaisajyaguru made 12 vows when he was still a bodhisattva. These 12 great vows were reflective of the actions that he planned on taking, and ultimately did take, when he was finally a Buddha and wholly enlightened.
1. To illuminate countless realms with his radiance, enabling anyone to become a Buddha just like him.
2. To awaken the minds of sentient beings through his light of lapis lazuli.
3. To provide the sentient beings with whatever material needs they require.
4. To correct heretical views and inspire beings toward the path of the bodhisattva.
5. To help beings follow the Moral Precepts, even if they failed before.
6. To heal beings born with deformities, illness or other physical sufferings.
7. To help relieve the destitute and the sick.
8. To help women who wish to be reborn as men achieve their desired rebirth.
9. To help heal mental afflictions and delusions.
10. To help the oppressed be free from suffering.
11. To relieve those who suffer from terrible hunger and thirst.
12. To help clothe those who are destitute and suffering from cold and mosquitoes.
These vows and other valuable teachings of Bhaisajyaguru are described in greater detail in the Medicine Buddha Sutra. In the Medicine Buddha Sutra, he is described as having entered into a deep state of meditation known as Samadhi. While in this state of Samadhi, which is known for being a form of extreme concentration, he spoke what is known as the Medicine Buddha Dharani, which is very similar to a mantra.
The Medicine Buddha Dharani is as follows.
namo bhagavate bhaisajyaguru
arhate samyaksambuddhaya tadyata:
om bhaisajye bhaisajye mahabhaisajya-samudgate svaha.
The last line of this Dharani, om bhaisajye bhaisajye mahabhaisajya-samudgate svaha, is typically used as the short mantra of the Medicine Buddha. There are, however, several other types of Medicine Buddha mantras.
In illustrations, the Medicine Buddha is very often shown in a seated position. He is adorned in the three robes of a typical Buddhist monk. In his left hand he is shown to be holding a jar of medicinal nectar on his lap, and in his right hand he is shown to be holding the stem of the fruit from a Myrobalan tree between his forefinger and his thumb. He is also very often shown with an aura that is the color of lapis lazuli. Because illustrations and descriptions can vary between different aspects of Buddhism, the Medicine Buddha is often also seen holding up a pagoda, which is symbolic of the 10,000 Buddhas.
Whether in Tibet or China, the Medicine Buddha mantra is recited in order to gain help from the Medicine Buddha with overcoming various types of sickness, including sickness of a spiritual nature, sickness of the physical nature, and sickness of a mental nature.
Offerings are often made to the Medicine Buddha with the hope that he will see fit to release his devotees from the suffering that has befallen them and ensure that all of their wishes for health and well-being are fulfilled.
The Medicine Buddha is not only considered to be the most powerful means of ensuring healing and increased vitality, but is also considered to be the best method of overcoming the sickness and suffering associated with mental and emotional concerns. What this means is that not only will followers of the Medicine Buddha be able to invoke healing for themselves and those they care about, but they will also be able to overcome hatred, anger, and the ignorance that is responsible for mental illness and also for the suffering of the soul.
It is believed that the Medicine Buddha mantra is an incredibly powerful means of seeking healing from physical sickness and also the purification of karma that could be considered to be negative.
One of the practices based around the Medicine Buddha mantra is completed by those who have been struck down by illness. The ill person is to recite the long-form version of the Medicine Buddha mantra 108 times. This mantra is said over a glass of water that is then considered to be blessed by the incredible power of the mantra and contains the blessing of the Medicine Buddha. The ill person is then to drink the now blessed water, thus absorbed the blessing and the power that accompanies the mantra. This is done every day until the individual is able to get relief from the illness and an effective cure.
The meaning of the Medicine Buddha mantra can be understood in several different ways, as is typical of many Buddhist mantras. However, one of the meanings for the mantra can be considered as the following.
May the many sentient beings
Who are sick
Quickly be freed from sickness
And may all of the sicknesses of beings never arise again
A better detailed breakdown of the longer version of the Medicine Buddha mantra can be seen as the following.
· Namo is thought to mean yielding or filled with trust
· bhagavate is referencing an intimate relation to the universe
· bhaisajya is referencing the name of the Medicine Buddha
· guru refers to spiritual master
· vaiduryaprabha is in reference to a divine blue light, much like the Lapis Lazuli
· rajaya is thought to mean Great King, which is a direct reference to the Medicine Buddha again
· tathagataya is said to mean once gone, or once here
· arhate is in reference to one who has conquered the natural cycle of life
· samyaksambuddhaya is said to mean perfectly enlightened
· tadyatha is said to mean “do it this way”
· bhaisajye bhaisajye is said to mean “doing away with illness and pain”
· mahabhaisajya is said to mean “doing away with darkness associated with spiritual ignorance”
· samudgate is said to be in reference to supreme heights
· svaha is recited as a means of allowing the Medicine Buddha to be aware that the prayer is being said in his name
Often featured in hospitals or in homes with those who have been struck by illness, the Medicine Buddha is considered one of the more popular deities.
Check out these Medicine Buddha items,
Medicine Buddha Statue
Medicine Buddha Thangka
Bhaisajyaguru, Medicine Buddha Thangka
Medicine Buddha, Bhaisajyaguru Thangka
Or, if you would like a Medicine Mala, we have one here. Medicine Mala