In the 9th century, the esoteric Buddhist pantheon in Japan came to incorporate several new deities: the Myo-Os. Venerated as the ‘Kings of Light and Wisdom’ and represented in multiple forms, Myo-Os were hierarchically placed next to the buddha and bodhisattva, i.e. Myo-Os ranked third important position, while the fourth rank was given to the devas in the Ten-bu group. Myo-Os are considered to be the “incarnation of the cosmic Buddha”.
Among the Five Great Kings, Fudo Myo-O, alternatively Acalanatha or Vidyaraja, holds the most important position. Acala is the destroyer of delusion and a principal protector of Buddhism. The Sanskrit term acala means "immovable". His immovability, thus, refers to that aspect of mind (Buddha Nature) which is forever unmoved -- perfectly stable and unchanging. Despite his fearsome appearance, his role is to aid all beings by showing them the true essence of the teachings of the Buddha, leading them into perfect mental discipline.
Beginning with the development of Vajrayana/esoteric Buddhism in Japan – against its historical backdrop, this book is perhaps the first to comprehensively study the complex nature of Fudo Myo-O and his diverse representations in the Japanese sculptures and paintings. Together with a generous supplement of illustrative photographs, the author shows wide-ranging artistic creations of Fudo in Japan from the 9th to the 14th centuries CE – highlighting his nature, characteristics, and iconographic peculiarities, among several other aspects.
Sampa Biswas, a Ph.D in Art History, is currently teaching Art of China and Japan in the Department of History of Art, National Museum Institute, New Delhi, as a visiting scholar.