Yakushi Nyorai, Medecice Buddha

Yakushi Nyorai

Sanskrit letter representing Yakushi Nyorai

Yakushi Nyorai is the medecine Buddha and very important in Japanese Buddhism. Here is a short biography of him with his mantra.

Buddhism, especially esoteric Buddhism, has a very elaborate pantheon
of Buddhas and othe dieties.  Yakushi Nyorai is one of them.
 He is not a major Buddha in its importance but he is in the
tier 2 ranking.  He is very important and popular in
Tibetan, Tendai and Shingon (the 3 major esoteric schools).

Yakushi Nyorai in a Temple in Zushi city Kanagawa prefecturephoto courtesy of the Jushi city
Board of education


Yakushi (Baisajyaguru in Sanskrit) is called the medecine
Buddha in English.  His Chinese characters mean: 薬:
Medecine and 師: master (as in teacher).  He is cherished in
Japan as he is the master of the Eastern Pure Land (Lapus Lazuli) and
helps people in this mortal life by granting them relief  from

According to the texts dedicated to him (theYakushi-kyō)
, he  was a Boddhisatva who made
twelve vows upon becoming a Buddha.  The twelve vows are:

  1. To illuminate countless realms with his radiance, enabling
    anyone to become a Buddha just like him.
  2. To awaken the minds of sentient beings through his light of
    lapis lazuli.
  3. To provide the sentient beings with whatever material needs
    they require.
  4. To correct heretical views and inspire beings toward the
    path of the Bodhisattva.
  5. To help beings follow the Moral Precepts, even if they
    failed before.
  6. To heal beings born with deformities, illness or other
    physical sufferings.
  7. To help relieve the destitute and the sick.
  8. To help women who wish to be reborn as men achieve their
    desired rebirth.
  9. To help heal mental afflictions and delusions.
  10. To help the oppressed be free from suffering.
  11. To relieve those who suffer from terrible hunger and thirst.
  12. To help clothe those who are destitute and suffering from
    cold and mosquitoes


Most of the time, Yakushi Nyorai is depicted seating, draped
in simple robes .  His right hand is often held up, palm open
and facing the viewer, with fingers slighty curled.  This is
the mudra (hand gesture) of Semui-in having the meaning of “fear

In hs left hand, he very often holds a small jar said to
contain medicine or a magical emarald capable of healing.  

If you look at the very top of this page, you’ll see another
picture of Yakushi and you can also see these characteristics.

When in temples, his statues are often surounded by others.
 Most of the time, it is flanked by statues of the twelve
heavenly generals, each representing one of his vows.  Other
times, Yakushi is also flanked on the left by the Nikko (sunlight)
Buddha and on the right by the Gakko (moonlight) Buddha.

He is very popular in the Kansai area of Japan as it is where
Buddhism first took hold in Japan and he was one of the first Buddha to
come to Japan.  Older temples, especially in the Tendai and
Shingon traditions, are dedicated to Yakushi Nyorai.  

Rub me for healingIt
is not uncommon for worshippers to rub the statues of Yakushi Nyorai
while praying for healing.  They usually rub the corresponding
area on the statue and then rub their own afflicted area. It is said to
grant healing.

The statue to the left is in Todai-ji, Nara, just outside the
main hall where you can see the Big Buddha.

Medecine Buddha Mantra

Calling the name of Yakushi, the medecie Buddha, is said to enlist his assistance.
 The Sanskrit reading of his mantra is Om huru huru candāli
mātoungi svāhā.

ん ころころ せんだり 

まとうぎ そわか

The Japanese version reads:
Om Koro koro sendali matougi sokawa.

My personal experience

I’m not a very religious man but upon visitng Hieizan (the
headquarters of the Tendai sect) I prayed at the site dedicated to
Yakushi Nyorai and I had a vision of him welcoming me in a land filled
with his followers who made the vow to help heal the rest of the world.
 I took it as a sign that my chosen profession, 
massage therapist, was  the right one for me.

I later bought a small sandalwood statue of him and it now
adorns my altar.




With gratitude,signature Hugo

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