Five buddha families

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Five buddha families (Skt. pañcakula; Wyl. rigs lnga, Tib. rik nga) —

  1. buddha family (Skt. tathāgatakula; Wyl. de bzhin gshegs pa'i rigs)
  2. vajra family (Skt. vajrakula; Wyl. rdo rje'i rigs)
  3. ratna or jewel family (Skt. ratnakula)
  4. padma or lotus family (Skt. padmakula; Wyl. pad ma'i rigs)
  5. karma or action family (Skt. karmakula)


Diagram of the Five Buddha Families[1]
family buddha vajra ratna padma karma
direction centre east south west north
colour blue white yellow red green
family symbol eight-spoked wheel vajra jewel lotus double vajra or sword
masculine buddha[2] Vairochana[3] Vajrasattva-Akshobhya[4] Ratnasambhava Amitabha Amoghasiddhi
wisdom[5] wisdom of dharmadhatu mirror-like wisdom wisdom of equality wisdom of discernment all-accomplishing wisdom
poison[6] delusion or ignorance anger pride desire jealousy
skhanda[7] form consciousness feeling perception formations
feminine buddha[8] Dhatvishvari Buddhalochana or Mamaki Mamaki or Lochana Pandaravasini Samayatara
element[9] space water earth fire air

Notes

  1. Version based on the Nyingma, inner tantras
  2. each family is associated with one of the buddhas of the five families
  3. in the Sarma tantras, Akshobhya is often at the centre of the mandala, instead of Vairochana
  4. in the Sarma tantras, Vairochana is often in the eastern direction, instead of Akshobhya
  5. each buddha is associated to one of the five wisdoms
  6. each wisdom is a transmutation of one of the five poisons
  7. each buddha is associated to one of the five skandhas
  8. in union with each of the five buddhas
  9. each female buddha represents the purity of one of the five elements

Further Reading

  • Chögyam Trungpa,
    • Journey Without Goal: The Tantric Wisdom of the Buddha, The Collected Works of Chögyam Trungpa, Volume Four (Boston & London: Shambhala, 2003), Ch. 9 'The Five Buddha Families'.
    • The Lion’s Roar: An Introduction to Tantra, The Collected Works of Chögyam Trungpa, Volume Four (Boston & London: Shambhala, 2003), Part Two, Ch. 7 'The Five Buddha Families and Mahamudra'.

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