Three Buddha Hall

          

This main hall is located beside the right side of the giant statue of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha. In the main hall there are three big statues of Buddha. Three Buddha statues symbolizing the Three Bodies and in Sanskrit it calls “Trikaya” where “Tri” means “Three” and “Kaya” means “Body”. The three Buddha is known as Sakyamuni Buddha in the middle, on the right side Amitabha Buddha and on the left Medicine Buddha. They are in the meditation posture sitting on a lotus throne symbolizing purity and life. Typically, lotus stems sprout at the bottom of a lake or river and grow upward through murky water.  The lotus blooms when the bud reaches the surface of the water, a process that is often compared to the Buddha’s journey through a world of pain and suffering toward the attainment of enlightenment.

The Three Great Buddhas in the front have names and attributes, but their real purpose is to remind us of the Buddha Nature in every sentient being.  Thus they are "special" in their function, but their nature is no more special than that of all things; it is just that they have realized (made real) that Nature.

 

Medicine Buddha

            Let's start our examination of the Three Buddhas with the figure on the right.  This is Bhaishajyaguru, better known as "The Medicine Buddha”.  He is holding a pagoda, symbol of the Buddha's body.  Pagodas developed from Indian stupas, which in turn developed from mounds of earth piled over a human being's earthly remains.  So the pagoda is a kind of reliquary wherein the Buddha's remains are deposited.

His history as Bhaishajyaguru hints at this possibility.  While still a Bodhisattva, he made Twelve Vows which were extraordinary in their depth.  The Vows are lengthy, but can be summarized as: (1) to radiate light to all beings; (2) to proclaim his healing power; (3) to fulfill the desires of all beings; (4) to lead all by the Mahayana way; (5) to reinforce all in observing ethics; (6) to heal; (7) to lead all to Enlightenment; (8) to change women into advantaged men in their next appearance; (9) to ward off false teaching and endorse the truth; (10) to save all beings from a bad rebirth; (11) to feed the hungry; and (12) to clothe the naked.  He resides over the Pure Land of the East.  Note that several of the Vows focus on healing both the bodies and the minds of devotees; thus, when he attained Buddha-hood, he was called the Medicine Buddha.

Amitabha Buddha

Amitabha Buddha is one of the most popular figures at Mahapanya Temple. In Chinese, "Amitabha Buddha" is pronounced "O-Mi-To-Fo" or "A-Mi-To-Fo."  This is used as a greeting and farewell, as a thanks and a blessing, by monastics and laity. It is also, of course, chanted in the Buddha Hall (also called the "Main Shrine").

The Amitabha Buddha is seated at the left side of the Hall.  He holds a lotus, which, among its many meanings, symbolizes potential.  The lotus is rooted in mud, grows up through water, and blossoms out into the air.  So we are born in this world and, through successive stages, reach our full potential.  Look above the Buddhas and notice the lotus motif in the architecture; this is continued throughout the Temple's corridors, etc.

Legend says that Amitabha was ages ago a king who heard the preaching of the Buddha of his age.  He renounced the throne and became a monk named Dharmakara.  He received instruction from the Buddha Lokeshvararaja, and resolved through forty-eight vows to find a Buddha-land.  Exploring many lands to assess their perfections, he then brought together the best traits of all to create Sukhavati, the Western Pure Land, where he now rules.  Anyone who chants his name with sincerity will be transported there upon their death.

 

Sakyamuni Buddha

Finally, we turn to the central figure in the Hall, and the Central Point of the Temple: the Shakyamuni Buddha, formerly Siddhartha Gautama.  His story is well known.  Born a prince in a small kingdom of northern India, he was protected from the less pleasant aspects of life.  After beholding an old man, a sick man, and a dead man (as well as a monk), he left the palace at age 29 and spent six years searching for The Answer.  Finally, sitting under a fig tree, he resolved to remain unmoved until he attained Enlightenment.  And so he did, through his understanding of Dependent Origination, the idea that everything arises in connection to everything else, and thus all things in this world are impermanent.  He returned to society and taught until his death (or "final Nirvana") at age 80.  He left behind a great body of teachings ("The Dharma") and a well-established monastic order ("The Sangha").  His teachings have remained relevant to this day.

In the Pilgrimage section, I have used various aspects of the Buddhas to distinguish one Buddha from another.  Briefly:

Amitabha is the Dharmakaya, representing the Mind

Bhaishajyaguruis theSambhogakaya, representing the Speech

Shakyamuni is the Nirmanakaya, representing the Body

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Mahapanya Vidayalai, 635/1 Thammonovithi Road, Hatyai, Songkhla, Thailand, 90110 Tel/Fax: +66-74-243558

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