The Medicine Rudra Shiva
Bhaiṣajya-guru (भैषज्यगुरु), formally Bhaiṣajya-guru-vaidūrya-prabharāja (भैषज्यगुरुवैडूर्यप्रभाराज, ‘Medicine Master and King of Lapis Lazuli Light’), is the Shiva of healing and medicine in Himalaya Mahāyoga Shaivita and Raudriya. Commonly referred to as the „Medicine Shiva”, he is described as a doctor who cures suffering using the medicine of his teachings. On achieving Shivahood, he became the Shiva of the eastern realm of Vaidūrya-nirbhāsa, or „Pure Lapis Lazuli”. A Sanskrit manuscript of the Bhaiṣajya-guru-vaidūrya-prabharāja Sūtra was among the textual finds at Gilgit, Pakistan, attesting to the popularity of Bhaiṣajya-guru in the ancient northwest Indian kingdom of Gandhāra. The manuscripts in this find are dated before the 7th century, and are written in the upright Gupta script. Bhaisajyaguru has 7 bodies and 12 warriors (Yakas).
Although Bhaishajyaguru’s mythology extends to early Shaivita, Rudra or Indra Deva, his exact origins are unclear, thus making him somewhat mysterious. Bhaisajyaguru is usually portrayed as deep blue or emerald in color or, less often, as orange. He’s dressed in samnyasin’s robes, holds his alms bowl in his left hand and makes the varada mudra with his right hand. Varada in Yoga means 'granting wishes, conferring a boon, ready to fulfill requests or answer prayers’. Often in East Asian iconography, a medicine jar replaces the begging bowl in his left hand. Also in Himalayan images, a myrobalan plant (a plum-like fruit tree), thought to be a cure-all, grows out of the bowl.
Yakushi in Japan is the Rudra Shiva of Healing and Medicine, is often shown holding a small jar of medicine in his left hand, while his right hand is in the mudra position meaning „No Fear.” Yakushi’s full name is Yakushirurikō 薬師瑠璃光, which means Medicine Master of Lapis Lazuli Radiance. Yakushi Nyorai is often protected and surrounded by the Jūni Shinshō (Twelve Generals), ferocious warriors said to represent the Twelve Vows of the Yakushi Nyorai. Yakushi is also commonly flanked on the left by Nikkō (Sunlight Bosatsu) and on the right by Gakkō (Moonlight Bosatsu). He is also one of the Thirteen Deities (Jūsanbutsu 十三仏), who preside over the memorial services after one’s death. Yakushi Nyorai is said to radiate blue light to help sentient beings achieve enlightenment, and thus this divinity is commonly associated with other light beings, including Nikkō (Sunlight Master), Gakkō (Moonlight Master). The main sutra for Yakushi is the Yakushi-kyō 薬師経 (Skt. Bhaisajyaguru-sutra) or Scripture of the Master of Healing, in which, while still a spiritual healing master, Yakushi made 12 Vows.
In most spiritual and religious traditions visualizing the deity or deities as being present in front of one, one prays to them, and by doing so hopefully one receives their blessing, which benefits one in some way. In the Shaivita tradition, however, we regard the blessing and the power and the qualities of the deities as being innate, as being recived within one’s own mind and spirit. The ancient teachings that tell us even seeing an image of the Medicine Shiva can confer inconceivable benefits also reveal that just hearing the name of the Medicine Shiva brings the same benefits.
It is in Yoga, the dominant Shaiva tradition of East Asia, that the Medicine Shiva, The Medicine Great Yogi first appears. Veneration of this Lord of Healing became one of the most popular and widespread devotional groups. According to Shaiva tradition there are infinite Devas, rishis, and deities. They represent various aspects of the absolute Shiva-nature, such as compassion, wisdom, power, and emptiness. The Medicine Rudra Shiva embodies the healing aspect.
Mantras are powerful in curing diseases when recited with a sincere heart, deep concentration, and proper intentions. The Great Compassion Mantra and the Medicine Rudra Shiva Mantra are two such examples. When recited, each Mantra generates a tremendous amount of merit and has amazing healing and transforming effects. Confession is another practice that helps to restore and maintain our health. sychologically, repentance is believed to release impure thoughts and worrisome guilt that act like toxins in our bodies. It alleviates our mental burdens and reduces the potential for illness.
„Bhai” is the esoteric symbol of Bhaisajyaguru, the Medicine Rudra-Shiva in Siddham ora Devanangari script. It is pronounced “bhai” or „bhei”, as long vow „ai” or „ei” in Sanskrit. After each session of Bhaishajya Dharma cultivation, we transfer the merit therefrom accrued to the living so that they too share your benefits of health, wealth, and freedom from karmic defilements (vighna). You will appreciate that Bhaisajyaguru Dharma is a Pure Land cultivation that not only benefits the practitioner after his death but also throughout his life.
Himalayan Shaivitas consider the Medicine Shiva Empowerment to be the most powerful blessing for healing, dispelling sickness and for awakening the innate healing wisdom that lies within every individual. The practice of the Medicine Shiva meditation (sadhana), and all the other ways of connecting to the blessings of the Medicine Shiva are said to be much more effective when one has received the Medicine Shiva Empowerment (Sanskrit: abisheka diksha) from a qualified Guru (Shaivita Yoga or Tantra meditation master). Medicine Shiva is one aspect of awakened mind, which the practitioner’s (and the vajra master’s) vast real unconditioned (non conceptual) mind. In this empowerment the Guru reminds us, in a sense, of our deep innate connection with the Medicine Shiva.
Many people are distressed by anxiety, agitation, improper desires, and delusional thought. These torments not only disturb our psychological well-being and eventually take a toll on our physical health, they also hinder our ability to perceive the truth of life and attain enlightenment. When we recite the name of the Shiva, the torment of improper and delusional thoughts will cease and our mental anguish will evaporate. The heart calms down, the mind is awakened and purified, and no greed, anger, ignorance, or other toxins will arise, thus giving us greater protection from illness and delivering us from our ignorance. Reciting the Shiva’s name also helps us to reduce our bad karma, eliminating as many misdeeds as there are grains of sand in the Ganges. A Shaivita saying tells us, “Reciting the Shiva’s name once can diminish one’s bad karma, and bowing to the Shiva can increase one’s good karma.” Thus, reciting the Shiva’s name is an effective practice for healing the distress of our minds and bodies, as well as benefiting our cultivation and awakening us to the truth of life.
The Medicine Shiva is the highest possible model of a healer. Among the 12 vows the Medicine Shiva is said to have taken is that of curing just by the invocation of his name or the thought of Him. He was worshipped as the dispenser of spiritual medicine that could cure spiritual, psychological, and physical disease. But this Shiva is not worshipped simply for healing powers alone; he is the form of the Shiva-nature that we aspire to realize in ourselves. Through the practice of meditation on the Medicine Shiva, one can generate enormous healing power for self and for the healing of others.
As Shaiva Mahayoga spread throughout the Far East, it took with it Ayurveda, the sacred medical system of India meaning the „science of long life,” and the worship of the Medicine Shiva, White Shiva Healer. The spread of Mahayoga to China, Japan, and the kingdoms of Southeast Asia had a benevolent effect on public health. Hospitals, leper wards, and dispensaries were established in the larger monasteries, and were supported by income from „compassion fields.” Perhaps nothing better illustrates the union of religion and medicine in Shaivita than the fact that the greatest of the Mahayoga philosopher-saints were also great physicians, who wrote important medical works. According to the Himalayans, all medical knowledge has a sacred origin and is ascribed to the wisdom of the Shiva, the Lord God.
Our mind is constantly exploring the world around us and as a result, illusory thoughts are always arising and ceasing. Our over-active mind rarely gets a chance to rest. The constant stream of thoughts we experience can affect our ability to concentrate without interruption and can have a negative affect on our daily life. In addition to psychological health risks, one’s physiology can also be adversely affected by an overwhelming amount of mental activity. The brain can cease to function properly due to our continual clutter of thoughts or an instance of severe mental excitation. For example, when one experiences a tremendous surprise, the face may appear discolored, the hands and feet become cold, and one’s ability to concentrate normally will be impaired. However, if this person can take a deep breath to slow down the heartbeat and calm the emotions, the presence of tranquility will return the body to its normal state and the chance for harming any vital organs will decrease. Through the meditative practice of breathing slowly and concentrating on the breath, one’s psychological and physiological well-being can dramatically improve. Through meditation, our body achieves a greater state of balance and our breathing becomes regulated. Our mind becomes focused, clear, and organized. Desires are dissolved and improper thoughts are eliminated. When our mind is clear and focused at all times, even as we walk, sit, and sleep, we will be calm and peaceful, which eventually results in a greater degree of overall health – both mental and physical.
A measure of the high regard with which physicians were held in Himalayas is shown in the title accorded to the greatest ones among them, an epithet for enlightments rishis: „The All Knowing One.” Ideally a doctor was expected to practice compassion at all times, and equally towards all beings, to perfect his skill for their sake, and to remember always that a physician is a representative of the Medicine Shiva, Vaidya Shiva and the holy lineage of medicine teaching. Astrologically, the day of the Medicine Shiva is the eighth day of the lunar month (tithi). At that time, his power and that of all the healing deities is said to be especially strong. This is when rituals for healing and for making medicines are performed.
In India, most monastics are well educated in the five sciences, especially in medicine, which they are required to study. Because knowledge of medicine is mandatory for monastics, throughout Shaivita history there are many well-known monastic physicians, medical scholars, and medical texts. For example, in the Shaivita sutras, we find countless references to and discussions about medicine. Evidence also demonstrates that Shaivita has made a significant contribution to the world of medicine not only through the development of respectable health theories and principles but also through actual practice. While by no means an exhaustive list, the following are brief accounts of Shaivita Yoga masters who have stood out in the history of Shaivita medicine.
Anyone who wishes healing or knows of those who do can practice this meditation on the Medicine Shiva. First, find a quiet and comfortable space. Then, while breathing deeply for a few moments, relax and empty your mind. In that void, picture the Medicine Shiva, radiant and translucent blue, holding the myrobalan plant in the fingers of his right hand, which is extended on his knee in the gesture of giving. His left hand rests in his lap and holds a begging bowl filled with healing nectar. He is dressed in the three monastic robes and sits in the full lotus posture on a thousand-petaled lotus, which itself sits on a jeweled throne.
Our world is ailing from a broad range of modern diseases that, while not actually classified as standard medical illnesses, still cause overwhelming suffering and need to be treated. Some of these are environmental diseases, which include pollution, resource destruction, and loud noise, and societal diseases, including violence, harassment, materialism, kidnapping, and crime. There are also, educational diseases, such as the physical and emotional abuse of students and the growing lack of respect for authority, and economic diseases, such as opportunism, greed, and corruption. There also exist religious diseases, which could be explained as superstitious practices, religions that encourage harmful practices, and incorrect interpretations of religious concepts. Relationship diseases refer to infidelity, polygamy, and rape, and mental diseases include jealousy, distrust, and resentment. We may seek a doctor’s help for physical illness, but the diseases listed above can only be cured by our own efforts to develop our character, cultivate our wisdom, and practice the Dharma. Shaivita can be used as a medicine to cure our minds of destructive and unhealthy thoughts, which create the conditions for all of the diseases mentioned above. A pure mind creates a pure world, and the wondrous Dharma is the perfect medicine to guide us to healthy thoughts, healthy behavior, and healthy lives.
See the space around you as a beautiful landscape holding objects of offering, everything that is beautiful and pleasing to you. Mentally give all of the most precious offerings to the Medicine Shiva. Invite Him to bestow his blessings and to sit on your head. Pray that he bestow his healing power upon you. Then see it radiate out to those others you know who need healing, and see it flow out to the entire Earth. From the heart center of the Medicine Shiva, see rays of light as bright as one hundred rising suns radiate into yourself and others, dispelling disease and suffering. Bask in the light. Afterwards, visualize yourself and all beings dissolving into a state of emptiness. Try to remain in that space free from thought, mingling with the state of the Medicine Shiva’s mind. The most important aspect of this meditation, the essence of the healing practice, is to have strong selfless compassion (karuna) for others, and to have fervent trust and confidence.
Ancient teachings tell us that merely seeing the Medicine Rudra Shiva, or even seeing an image of the Medicine Shiva, or hearing the name of the Medicine Shiva, can confer inconceivable benefits. In Tibetan images of the Medicine Shiva, Vaidya Shiva the left hand typically holds a blooming myrobalan plant. Tibetan medicine recognizes three basic types of illness, the root causes of which are the conflicting emotions — passion, aggression, and ignorance. Myrobalan is the only herb in the Tibetan pharmacopoeia that can aid in healing each of these three types of diseases. This is like the action of the Shiva of Healing, who has the power to see the true cause of any affliction, whether spiritual, physical or psychological, and who does whatever is necessary to alleviate it.
Medicine Shiva, Rudra Shiva, Teacher of Medicine, King of Lapis Lazuli Light, Rudra-Bhaishajya, Bhaishajyaguru, Vaidurya. His radiant body is azure blue. His left hand is in the meditation mudra and holds a begging bowl full of long life nectar in his lap. As a sign that he gives protection from illness, his right hand is outstretched in the gesture of giving and holds the „great medicine”, the myrobalan plant (a-ru-ra).
Seven Forms of Yakushi 七仏薬師
„Some Sanskrit and Chinese texts describe seven 'bodies’ or emanations that Bhaisajyaguru (Yakushi) can assume during his functions as a healer. One of these emanation bodies (Japanese: Busshin) is sometimes considered as an independent deity in Japan — known as Zen Myōshō Kichijō-ō Nyorai, who is often confused with Yakushi Nyorai. The emanations are usually represented above the image of Yakushi or in the aureole. They are usually seated and display various gestures. They are sometimes just represented by their seed syllables, written in Sanskrit Siddham characters.”
Shichibutsu Yakushi 七仏薬師
The Seven Healing Shiva’s in order of distance from our world (far to close):
1. Zen Myōshō Kichijō-ō Nyorai 善名称吉祥王 (also spelled Zen Myosho Kichijo-o; virtuous name, king of happiness)
2. Hōgatsu Chigen Kō-on Jizai-ō Nyorai 宝月智厳光音自在王 (also spelled Hogetsu Chigen Ko-on Jizai-o; precious moon, majesty of wisdom, luminous sound, and independent king)
3. Konjiki Hōkō Myōgyō Jōju 金色宝光妙行成就 (also spelled Konjiki Hoko Myoko Joju Nyorai)
4. Muyu Saishō Kichijō 無憂最勝吉祥 (also spelled Muyu Saisho Kichijo Nyorai)
5. Hokkai Raion 法海雷音 (also spelled Hokkairaion Nyorai)
6. Hokkai Shōe Yuge Jinzū 法海勝彗遊戯神通 (also spelled Hokaisho Sui Yuge Jintsu Nyorai)
7. Yakushi Rurikō 薬師瑠璃光 (the full name of Yakushi Nyorai, Bhaishajya-Guru)
The mind is the root of all sickness and spiritual conflict. Much of the healing the Medicine Shiva or Rudra-Bheshajya-Shiva promises, lies within ones mind. One can overcome the inner sickness of the three poisons, by worshiping Bhaisajyaguru. The practice of the Medicine Shiva fosters the ability to heal not only yourself but other people too. To meditate on the Medicine Shiva can help diminish physical and mental ill. A fashion in which one can worship Bhaisajyaguru is to set up a sculpture of Shiva and disperse flowers, burn incense, and sprinkle the the area with colorful flags. For seven days and seven nights one should accept and reiterate the eightfold path, eat pure food, bathe in water and be clad in clean attire. Towards all sentient beings there should arise the contemplations of peace, love, and equality. One should play musical instruments and rejoice in song while circling to the right of the Shiva image. The concentration on the 'name’ of the Shiva is useful at the time of someones passing.
The twelve warriors of Bhaisajyaguru
Bhaisajyaguru as Yakushi Nyorai in Japan also commands twelve warriors (sometimes considered as Yaksas or riches), called Shinsho in Japan (or Daisho in the Butzsuzo-zu-i). They are believed to protect the faithful by presiding over the day-light hours, the months and the directions of space. They are twelve, or sometimes only nine, generals whose armies wage war on sickness. These twelve warriors are also representative of the twelve vows of Bhaisajyaguru. They are said to command the 80,000 pores of the skin, thus defending the health of the faithful in the name of Bhaisajyaguru. Although described in Sanskrit, Chinese and Japanese texts, the attributes assigned to them, as well as their colours (and sometimes their names), may vary. The paintings of central Asia (from Khara-khoto especially) represent them as Indian Yaksas, with fierce expressions, adorned like Devas or Asuras: they are then considered as the guardians of space (Dikpalas). Particularly in China and Japan, they are also treated as the guardians of the four cardinal points (Lokapalas or Caturmaharajas), as warriors in armour. They are rarely represented inde-pendently of Yakushi Nyorai, without whom they would have no existence.
They are (in the order given by the Butsuzo-zu-i and the Bukkyo Daiji-ten):
Khumbira (Japanese Kubira), yellow, armed with a vajra.
Vajra (Japanese Bazara, Bajira), white, armed with a sword.
Mihira (Japanese Mekira), yellow, armed with a vajra.
Andira (Japanese Anteira) green, armed with a mallet or a fly-whisk.
Anila (Japanese Anira), red, armed with a trident or an arrow.
Sandilya (Japanese Sandeira), grey, armed with a sword or a conch shell.
Indra (Japanese Indara, Indatsura), red, armed with a staff or a halberd.
Pajra (Japanese Haira) red, armed with a mallet, a bow or an arrow.
Mahoraga (Japanese Makora, Makura), white, armed with an axe.
Sindura (Kimnara, Japanese, Shindara), yellow, armed with a rope or a fly-whisk and a pilgrim’s staff (khakkara).
Catura (Japanese Shotora), blue, armed with a mallet or a sword.
Vikarala (Japanese Bikyara), red, armed with a three-pointed vajra.
They are usually represented standing, in armour, in a martial or menacing stance, helmeted or with their hair in spikes, wearing a fierce expression. In Japan, after the Kamakura period (1185—1333), these twelve warriors were sometimes confused (or associated) with the twelve animals (Juni Shi) of the twelve-year cycle.
The practice of Medicine Shiva, Medicine Guru, the Supreme Healer is not only a very powerful method for healing and increasing healing powers both for oneself and others, but also for overcoming the inner sickness of attachment, hatred, and ignorance, thus to meditate on the Medicine Shiva can help decrease physical and mental illness and suffering. The Medicine Rudra Shiva mantra is held to be extremely powerful for healing of physical illnesses and purification of negative karma. One form of practice based on the Medicine Shiva is done when one is stricken by disease. The patient is to recite the long Medicine Shiva mantra 108 times over a glass of water. The water is now believed to be blessed by the power of the mantra and the blessing of the Medicine Shiva himself, and the patient is to drink the water. This magical healing practice is then repeated each day until the illness is cured.
oṃ bhaiṣajye bhaiṣajye mahābhaiṣajya-samudgate svāhā ||
oṃ bhai ṣa jye bhai ṣa jye ma hā bhai ṣa jya sa mu dga te svā hā ||
ओं भैषज्ये भैषज्ये महाभैषज्यसमुद्गते स्वाहा ||
oṃ bhaiṣajye bhaiṣajye mahābhaiṣajye bhaiṣajyarāje samudgate svāhā ||
There are many variations on this mantra, and some other mantras and dhāraṇī associated with Bhaiṣajyarāja. In Sanskrit bhaiṣajya can mean: curativeness, healing efficacy; a ceremony performed as a remedy for sickness; any remedy, drug or medicine; the administering of medicines. Guru is teacher, thus Bhaishajya is the “master of healing.” He’s also known as Bhaisajyarāja, “raja” meaning „king”. The word svāhā comes from Vedic ritual.
Namu Yakushi Nyorai! (Jpn.)
Namo Bhaishajya Guru! (Skt.)
On koro koro sendari matôgi sowaka (Jpn.)
Om huru huru candâli mâtàngi svâhâ (Skt.)
Om heal, heal Candâli Mâtàngi svâhâ
May these ancient teachings bring you enlightenment, and may you share it freely with those around you. Blessings!