Yao Shih Fwo -- Bhaisajyaguru Buddha  


Yao Shih Fwo, one of the three foremost Buddhas of the
Chinese Pantheon, is a Buddha of the past era. Bet er known
to the people as the Buddha of Medicine or the Master of
Healing, he is dear to the hearts of many, for they have indeed
received his blessings in the forms of miraculous cures from all
kinds of il ness. e Buddha's efficacy in preventing calamities
and granting prosperity besides curing il ness has at racted a
steady number of believers and devotees since the time of the
Eastern Chin Dynasty (AD 317420) to the present day. e
Sutra of the Buddha of Medicine (Bhaisajyaraja Sutra) was also
translated into Chinese at that period of time which provided a
full account on the peerless Buddha, his Paradise and his Twelve
Great Vows. However the later translation made by Tripitaka
Master Hsuan Tsang, the famous monk of the Tang Dynasty,
known as e Sutra of the Master of Healing (Bhaisajyaguru-
Vaidurya-Prabhasa Tathagata), is the more popular Sutra which
is widely read by most people today.
e title `Master of Healing', is a literal translation of his Sanskrit
name `Bhaisajyaguru', the Buddha who favours worshippers with
relief from the troubles of the world. Apart from curing il ness,
warding such calamities as famine, drought and plague, granting
longevity and assisting the dead, Yao Shih Fwo is known to have
dispensed al kinds of mundane benefits to those who pray to him.


Despite his great popularity, temples dedicated to him are very
scarce so that those who wish to worship him may do so at tem-
ples where his images can be found. He is often found in a triad
with Sakyamuni Buddha and Amitabha Buddha, and his sym-
bols are either the medicine bowl or the pagoda. When depicted
alone, he holds his symbol with his left hand and he is normal y
at ended to by his prominent disciples, the Great Bodhisat vas
`Radiance of the Sun' and the `Radiance of the Moon'.
In the Sutra of the Master of Healing Sakyamuni Buddha de-
scribed Yao Shih Fwo to Manjusri Bodhisat va thus:
"Eastward from here, beyond Buddha-land about ten times as
numerous as the sands of the Ganga, there is a world cal ed `e
Pure Crystal Realm', the Paradise of Yao Shih. Its Buddha has
a few titles, such as e Master of Healing, Azure Radiance
Tathagata, e Arhat of Perfect Knowledge, the Perfect Mind
and Deed, e Well Departed Sugata, e Knower of the World,
e Peerless Nobleman, e Man Who Brings e Passion of
Men Under Control, the Teacher of Devas and Men...."
While still a bodhisat va, he made Twelve Great Vows to free
living beings from the bondage of karma. He vowed to guard
their progress towards enlightenment, to help them keep their
precepts, to free them from the snares of wrong religious prac-
tices and false doctrines, to provide food and drink for the hun-
gry, to restore the bodies of the deformed, to rescue those facing
execution and to lead them to a happy and tranquil life. e
full text of the Twelve Vows cannot be given ful y here but the



YAO SHIH FWO -- BHAISAJYAGURU BUDDHA


Seventh Vow, which specifical y pledges to relieve man of physi-
cal il ness and to dispel his spiritual confusion, earned him the
title of `Physician of Soul', runs like this:
"I vow that, after my reincarnation and having attained Per-
fect Enlightenment, those who are tormented by diseases, who
have nobody to whom they can seek for help, without a refuge,
without a doctor, without medicine, without relatives, without a
home; these poor and miserables beings shall all of them be free
from diseases and pains, and shall enjoy perfect health of body
and mind, once my name reaches their ears. ey shall have
families, friends and properties a-plenty, and shall all be brought
to the supreme Enlightenment of Buddha."
rough the perfection of these Great Vows, the bodhisat va has
attained Buddhahood and thus became known as Yao Shih Fwo,
the Buddha who is able to bestow all kinds of benefits to those
who have faith in him.
In the same Sutra the Buddha Sakyamuni also revealed to
Manjusri that:
"A woman may suffer from great pain while giving birth. If she
can whole-heartedly worship the Buddha of Medicine and to
invoke the name Tathagata, worship Him, and make offerings
to Him, all pain will vanish, the newly born will have a sound
and healthy body; whoever sees him will rejoice at his being so
clever, so strong and healthy; and no demon comes to rob him
of his vitality."


It is because of past good roots in your previous lives that you are
now reading about this great Buddha. It means that you have the
rare opportunity to cultivate and to generate good karma for the
future. To do so you need only to cherish the name of this World-
honoured Master of Healing whole-heartedly and without a doubt.
Daily you should contemplate on his vows or his form, recite his
name and make offerings to him with what you can. rough this
devotion you wil easily learn to practise compassion and loving-
kindness to those who are unfortunate, il , lost, hungry or are in
pain and distress. It wil also lead you pray and wish happiness on
al sentient beings. e prayer which comes out from your heart
that is ladened with feelings of concern for others' wel -being is of
course the best that you can offer to the Buddha, but here is the
universal prayer which is on the lips of many:
"NAMO HSIAO-TSAI YEN SHOU YAO SHIH FWO"
ose who wish may also recite this Sanskrit praise:
"NAMO BHAGAVATE BHAISJYAGURU BUDDHA YA"
In the Sutra of the Master of Healing the Buddha also revealed
to Manjusri the great dharani (mystical formula) which one
should recite for the purpose of delivering beings from their dis-
eases and miseries:
"NAMO BAHGAVATE BHASAJYAGURU-VAIDURYA-PRABHA-RAJAYA.
TATHAGATAYA ARHATE SAMYAKSAM-BUDDHAYA TADYATHA
OM BHASAJYE BHAISAJYE-BHAISAJYA-SAMUDGATE SVAHA"
Regarding the efficacy of this great prayer the Buddha said:


"Manjusri, if you see a pious man or woman who suffers from
a disease, you shall do the fol owing whole-heartedly for these
people: let them keep clean by taking frequent baths and rinse
their mouths, give them food, medicine and clean water, and re-
cite the Dharani for a hundred and eight times, then all diseases
will disappear entirely. If one should have a particular wish, he
should concentrate and recite the magical formula. en he will
fulfill all he wishes, he will be without disease, and will live
longer. After his death, he will be born in paradise without hav-
ing to return to this world, and will in the end attain perfect
Enlightenment...."
While reciting the above dharani or the Buddha's name, one
should contemplate on the Buddha's image and then one may
arrive at the state of the Buddha-recitation samadhi when one
is reciting and yet not reciting, not reciting and yet reciting. For
those who do not have an image of the Buddha, either of the two
pictures on Yao Shih Fwo should serve the purpose. e same
is true of all the il ustrations of the Buddhas and Bodhisat vas
provided in this book; they are all suitable objects of meditation
or contemplation.
Here is a simple method of practice which may be of some help
to those who have no idea of how to pray and therefore are
not likely to have a Buddha image. Worship can be practised
anywhere but a quiet and clean room is the most suitable. Place
before you the image or picture of the Buddha that you would
like to worship. Gaze at the picture for a minute or two to calm
your mind and generating the desire to worship. Lightly close



BHAISAJYAGURU -- TIBETAN DEPICTION


your eyes and imagine that the Buddha has manifested before
you. Make three bows as a gesture of reverence. Make known
the purpose or motivation of your worship i.e., praying for long
life for one's parents or the wel -being of certain friends. Softly
or mental y recite his name -- in the case of this Buddha:
"NAMO HSIAO-TSAI YEN SHOU YAO SHIH FWO..."
or one may choose to recite the great dharani from 9 up to 108*
times with utmost sincerity and reverence. It may take a great
deal of effort at the beginning of the practice to hold the prayer
with ful concentration, but after some time, with perseverance,
the result of one-pointedness wil be felt. In the midst of prayers
one should first imagine that the Buddha is happy with one's
effort, then he gives his blessings by radiating pure light onto
oneself. e Buddha's light fil s up the entire body with its radi-
ance purifying one's defilements or il ness. One should generate a
very happy feeling for this blessing and be moved to practise such
virtues as loving-kindness and compassion towards al other sen-
tient beings so that, without hesitation, one immediately transfers
al such blessings received to them. is is done by imagining that
the radiance of one's own body is absorbed by al beings in the
universe which wil help purify their bad karma and cause them
to be happy in the future. In case one is praying for the Buddha's
blessings for a friend, one should then imagine that he is sit ing
in front of oneself so that al the light that is radiated from the
Buddha wil flow into his body thus benefiting him solely. After
the prayers one should sit for a short while to feel the calm and
blissful feelings that one has built up and then sincerely pray that
al beings too wil be blessed with such happiness.

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