Chinese Buddhist Pantheon  


EIGHTEEN ARHATS (Lo-Hans), not depicted in this il us-
tration but often appearing in other versions of the Chinese
Buddhist Pantheon, are usual y represented as possessing vari-
ous kinds of supernatural power, symbolised either by objects
held in their hands or by wild animals crouching submissively
beside them. ese are perfected beings who have listened and
practised the teachings of the Buddha. In Chinese Buddhism
there are a number of famous groups of Arhants of which this
group of eighteen is the most popular.
IN THE GREAT HALL THE EIGHTEEN LOHANS ARE FOUND NINE ON
EACH SIDE OF THE WALLS. THE ABOVE PICTURE ONLY SHOWS PART OF
THE NINE LOHANS ON ONE SIDE. INCENSE ARE OFTEN OFFERED TO
THEM AS A MARK OF RESPECT FOR THEIR SPIRITUAL ATTAINMENTS.


e Buddhist Pantheon has a vast number of Deities in the
seemingly endless variation of forms so that it is quite impossible
to portray them in any one il ustration. Most of these Deities fall
into the category of Buddhas, Bodhisat vas, Arahants and other
Heavenly Beings. e il ustration of the Chinese Pantheon only
depicts the most popular Deities whom the Chinese adore and
there is another popular il ustration which includes the Eighteen
Lohans that can be found in many temples and homes of the
Buddhists.
escription of the hinese antheon
e Trinity of the Buddhas on the top row of the il ustration
consists of the historical SAKYAMUNI BUDDHA who is seated
in the centre and is at ended by his two foremost disciples. e
older monk standing on his left is MAHAKASYAPA, who later be-
came the First Patriarch of Buddhism after the Buddha's death.
e young monk on his right is ANANDA, his personal at endant,
who was well known for his great memory power and ability to
repeat accurately all the teachings that had been spoken by the
Buddha. He later became the Second Patriarch of Buddhism.


two most adored Buddhas of the distant past, whose exist-
ence were revealed to us by Sakyamuni Buddha himself, are
shown seated by his sides. AMITABHA BUDDHA, e Buddha
of Boundless Light and Limitless Life, the Creator of the West-
ern Paradise (Sukhavati) where all Pure Land Buddhists hope
to take rebirth into, sits on the right hand side of Sakyamuni
Buddha. BHAISAJYA-GURU, the Healing Buddha, the Creator
of the Eastern Paradise, also known as the Medicine Buddha
because of his healing powers, is seated on the left.
Just below the Buddhas are the ree Great Bodhisat vas. A
Bodhisat va or P'usa, in Chinese, is an Enlightened Being who
forsakes Nirvana and accepts rebirth into the suffering worlds
of Samsara for the sake of relieving the pains of sentient beings
and leading them to the path of enlightenment. e six sam-
saric realms or worlds are those belonging to the gods, asuras,
humans, animals, ghosts and hel -beings.
KUAN SHIN YIN P'USA or Avalokitesvara Bodhisat va can be
seen seated just below Sakyamuni Buddha and is flanked by her
two famous disciples `GOLDEN YOUTH' and `JADE GIRL'. Being
the personification of Compassion, Kuan Yin is easily the most
popular of all the Deities of the entire pantheon.
WEN-SHU P'USA or Manjusri Bodhisat va, the embodiment
of Wisdom, is the figure seated upon the lion which represents
the `wild mind' which meditation transforms. PU HSIEN P'USA
or Samantabhadra Bodhisat va, the personification of Perfect
Activity and Happiness, is depicted as seated upon the white


elephant. She also represents active love, virtue, diligent training
and patience.
TI-TSANG WANG P'USA or Ksitigarbha, the embodiment of
Benevolence, the only Bodhisat va depicted in a monk's at ire,
is seated just below Kuan Yin P'usa. His two disciples, a father
and son combination, are MUNG KUNG and monk TAO MING.
MI-LO FWO or Maitreya Buddha, or the Buddha-to-come and
often referred to as the Laughing Buddha, sits below Ti-tsang
P'usa. He is flanked by KUAN TI, the Protector of the Buddhist
religion, on his right, and WEI-TO, the Protector of Buddhist
Dharma, on his left.
e rest of the magnificent figures, all clad in complete armour,
are the famous SI-TA-TIEN-WANG, or the Four Great Kings of
Devas. ese Four Guardian Kings of the four directions rep-
resent the protection of the Buddhas and the Patriarchs and are
actively involved with the affairs of the world. MO-LI CHING,
the Guardian of the East, holds a magical mandolin or p'i-pa,
while MO-LI HAI, the Guardian of the West, has with him the
magic dragon. On the other side, MO-LI SHOU, the Guardian of
the North, is seen holding an umbrel a, at the elevation of which
darkness envelopes the world or a violent and thunderous storm
commences. MO-LI HUNG, the Guardian of the South, who
possesses a black countenance and ferocious expression, has in
his hand a precious sword.

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