Vajrayāna, Mantrayāna, Esoteric Buddhism refer to the various Buddhist traditions of Tantra and “Secret Mantra”, which are systems of beliefs and practices that developed in medieval India and spread to Tibet and East Asia under varying names and forms.
In Tibet, Buddhist Tantra is termed Vajrayāna, while in China it is generally known as Tángmì and in Japan it is known as Mikkyō.
This tradition or school of thought emerged later than Mahayana in the 8th century in India. Even though the teachings of Vajrayana are similar to what Buddha taught in his lifetime namely nonviolence and compassion, there is also the influence of Padmasambhava, an influential scholar also referred to as second Buddha.
The esoteric Buddhist pantheon was mostly developed in India, but also came to include local influences. Esoteric Buddhism saw shift from the historical Shakyamuni Buddha to the transcendental Mahavairochana, also termed “Great sun”. Shakyamuni was considered a form of Mahavairochana, the eternal Buddha and Dharmakaya. The major Buddhas of the esoteric pantheon are the Five Tathagatas.
MaaDhatvishvari and MahaVairochana (Om)
Vairochana (also Mahāvairochana, Sanskrit: वैरोचन) is a celestial buddha. Vairocana is also seen as the embodiment of the Buddhist concept of Emptiness. In the conception of the Five Buddhas of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism, Vairocana is at the centre and is considered a Primordial Buddha. The position of Vairochana in Buddhism is similar to that of Mahadev in Hinduism.
Maa Dhatvishvari or White Tara is the consort of Mahavairochana. She is known as the mother of liberation and came to be considered as the “Mother of all Buddhas”. Many believe she is of the same form as goddess saraswati in Hinduism.
Tārā remains very popular in Tibet, Mongolia, Nepal, Bhutan, and is worshiped in a majority of Buddhist communities throughout the world. She is known as Tara Bosatsu (多羅菩薩) in Japan, and occasionally as Duōluó Púsà (多羅菩薩) in China.
In Vajrayana Buddhism, the Five Tathāgatas (pañcatathāgata) i.e. the Five Great Buddhas are representations of the five qualities of Buddha. These five Buddhas feature prominently in various Buddhist Tantras and are the primary object of realization and meditation in Buddhism.
When represented in a Vairochana mandala, the 5 Buddhas are arranged like this:
Amitabha (west) Vairochana (principal deity/center) Akshobhya (east)
Their 5 consorts are the 5 female Buddhas. These Five Female Buddhas are a set of figures visualized in meditation. They embody aspects of wisdom, and through visualizing them and reciting their mantras gradually something of that wisdom ‘rubs off’.
In Buddhism it is believed that enlightenment is obtained through the union of wisdom and compassion. The figures of father-mother Buddha Mandala are meditation tools, where the male deity representing compassion, and the female representing wisdom or insight.
Thus we have got the Five buddha families (Sanskrit. Pañcakula)—
- Buddha family (Skt. tathāgatakula)
- Vajra family (Skt. vajrakula)
- Ratna or jewel family (Skt. ratnakula)
- Padma or lotus family (Skt. padmakula)
- Karma or action family (Skt. karmakula)
Maa Lochanā and Akshobhya (Hrim)
In Vajrayana Buddhism, Akshobhya (Sanskrit: अक्षोभ्य) is one of the Five Wisdom Buddhas, who represents Consciousness as an aspect of reality. Akshobhya is the embodiment of ‘mirror Knowledge’. A Knowledge of what is real, and what is Illusion, or a mere reflection of actual reality.
Akshobhya is associated with the element of water. Even if the surface of the ocean is blown into crashing waves, the depths remain undisturbed, imperturbable. Water carves through solid rock, but calmly, without violence. When frozen, it is hard, sharp, and clear like the intellect, but to reach its full potential, it must also be fluid and adaptable like a flowing river. These are all the essential qualities of Akshobhya.
Maa Lochanā is the consort of Akṣobhya. She is also blue in colour, and her name means “The Eye”, or the “Clear Visioned One”. She is associated with pure awareness, she represents the pure, simple, direct awareness of things as they are. Her left hand is in the dhyana mudra and holds a vajra-bell, while her right hand is in the bhūmisparśa mudra.
Maa Mamaki and Ratnasambhava (Srim)
Ratnasambhava is one of the Five Dhyani Buddhas of Vajrayana. Ratnasambhava’s mantras focus on developing Equanimity and equality and, in Vajrayana Buddhist Thought is associated with the attempt to destroy Greed and pride. His consort is Mamaki.
Ratnasambhava is associated with the jewel Symbol, which corresponds with his family, Ratna or jewel. He is usually colored yellow or gold. In the idol he is shown in the Mudra of giving.
Maa Mamaki is one of the five female buddhas and the consort of Ratnasambhava.Her name means “she who makes everything her own.” She holds a jewel in her hand, a jewel that fulfills all wishes.
Maa Śyāmatārā and Amoghasiddhi (Krim)
Amoghasiddhi is the last of the Five Dhyani Bhddhas. He is the Buddha of Action with all-accomplishing wisdom. One of the five transcendent buddhas. he believed to have originated from Vajrasattva, the Buddha of purification. He is associated with energy and known as the Lord of Karma and the Buddha of unfailing accomplishment. His name literally means infallible (amogha) success (siddhi). He is venerated not only for his wisdom of success but he is also known to defeat envy.
He is often depicted as green as the color represents peace and tranquility of nature. The color is calming, it is soothing to anxiety. When meditated upon, Amoghasiddhi is said to help relinquish envy, calm anxiety and fear and reveal wisdom of accomplishment. Amoghasiddhi reverses the negative failing of envy into the positive wisdom of accomplishment.
He holds his hands in the Abhaya, fearlessness mudra.
Maa Śyāmatārā, also known as GreenTara, is the consort of Amoghasiddhi. Syamatārā is regarded as a Bodhisattva of action and represents the virtues of success in work and achievements. Many believe she is of the same form as goddess kali in Hinduism.
Atiśa Dīpaṃkar śrījñāna, an Indian Buddhist monk and scholar revered by Buddhists as a leading teacher in the later dissemination of Buddhism, was a devotee of Green Tārā.
Maa Pandaravasini and Amitabha (Nrim)
Amitābha (Sanskrit: अमिताभ) is a celestial Buddha, known for his longevity attribute and the aggregate of distinguishing (recognition) and the deep awareness of individualities. Amitābha is a compound of the Sanskrit words amita (“without bound, infinite”) and ābhā (“Light, splendor”). Consequently, the name is to be interpreted as “he who possesses Light without bound”.
He can also be seen holding a Lotus in his hands while displaying the meditation mudrā.
Paṇḍāravāsinī is the consort or prajñā of Amitabha. Paṇḍāravāsinī is light red in colour, and her name means “the White Robed One” which suggests that she is vested with purity. She holds her hands together at her breast in the anjali mudra, and is clasping the stems of two lotuses. Upon the lotus at her left shoulder rests a vajra bell, and on the lotus at her right shoulder rests a vase of immortality.
Thus, it seems the basic underlying philosophy of hinduism and buddhism is same only. So already there is integration and nothing much is left to be accomplished.