Five Wisdom Tathagata Buddhas

Unknown1600 - 1799

Hong Kong Heritage Museum

Hong Kong Heritage Museum
Hong Kong, Hong Kong

In the ritual practices of Tibetan Esoteric Buddhism it is recognised that if the practitioner relies only on recitation of Esoteric incantations and observation of mandalas, it is impossible to reach the realm in which one becomes a Buddha, and for this it is also necessary to practice the five forms of meditation in order to acquire the five types of wisdom. When Sakyamuni completed the ten steps in the practice of becoming a Bodhisattva, he also entered samadhi. At this time the Buddhas of the Ten Directions anointed him and he practised the five forms of evidential bodhi, thus becoming the Vairocana (Mahavairocana-tathagata) (Tibetan: rnam-par-snang-mdzad) possessor of the five jinas or types of wisdom, and was transformed as the representation of the Five Wisdom Buddhas of the Five Directions. The lower half of this thangka depicts him enduring the disciplines entailing suffering (lower right corner), the second his Esoteric practices (lower centre) and debating Buddhist concepts, demonstrating the path Sakyamuni had to follow to acquire the five types of wisdom. In the upper half of the thangka is the pentad of the Five Wisdom Tathagata Buddhas: centre, Vairocana (Tibetan: rnam-par-snang-mdzad); upper left, the Aksobhya Buddha (Tibetan: mi-bskyod-pa); upper right, Amitabha (Tibetan: 'od-dpag-med); lower left, Ratnasambhava (Tibetan: rin-chen 'byung-ldan); and lower right, Amoghasiddi (Tibetan: don-yod-grub-pa).


  • Title: Five Wisdom Tathagata Buddhas
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date: 1600 - 1799
  • Physical Dimensions: w500 x h770 mm
  • Type: Thangka

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