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Symbolism of the five Dhyani Buddhas

The five Dhyani Buddhas are mentioned in most of the tantric systems and represent various physical and mental aspects. Here are given only some of the most common explanations and representations of these so-called 'Heads of the five Buddha-families'.

It should be noted though that many different forms of each deity exist, and different Tantras can have slightly different explanations (for example, in the Kalachakra Tantra, five Dhyani Buddhas are mentioned, and most have different colors and shapes).

The five Dhyani Buddhas are also often found on the crown on the head of tantric Buddhas, like this:

Mental symbolism of the five Dhyani Buddhas
Deity
Delusion
Enlightened Mind
Vairochana Buddha
Ignorance, Delusion
All encompassing Dharmadhatu Wisdom
Akshobhya Buddha
Anger, Hatred
Mirror like Wisdom
Ratnasambhava Buddha
Pride, Miserliness
Wisdom of Equality
Amitabha Buddha
Desire, Lust
Discriminating Wisdom
Amoghasiddhi Buddha
Jealousy, Fear
All Accomplishing Wisdom

Physical symbolism of the five Dhyani Buddhas
Deity
Element
Sense
Medical/Physical
Organ
Vairochana Buddha
Space
Sight
Energy Channels
Heart
Akshobhya Buddha
Water
Sound
Blood Flow
Kidney
Ratnasambhava Buddha
Earth
Smell
Flesh
Splen
Amitabha Buddha
Fire
Taste
Body Heat
Liver
Amoghasiddhi Buddha
Air
Touch
Inner Winds
Lungs

Names and relation to other Buddhas & Bodhisattvas
Deity(Sanskrit)
English Name
Consort
Bodhisattva
Wheel Turning Buddhas
Vairochana Buddha
Illuminating
White Tara
(Vajradhatvisvari)
Samantabhadra
Krakucchanda
Akshobhya Buddha
Unshakable
Lochana
Vajrapani
Kanakamuni
Ratnasambhava Buddha
Jewel Born
Mamaki
Ratnapani
Kashyapa
Amitabha Buddha
Infinite Light
Pandara
Avalokiteshvara
Shakyamuni
Amoghasiddhi Buddha
Conqueror
Green Tara
Vishvapani
Maitreya

Imagery symbolism of the five Dhyani Buddhas
Deity
Color
Direction
Gestures (Mudra)
Vairochana Buddha
White
Center
Dharmachakra
Turning the
Dharma-wheel
(teaching)
Akshobhya Buddha
Blue
East
Bhumisparsa
Earth-touching
Ratnasambhava Buddha
Yellow
South
Varada
Bestowing, giving
Amitabha Buddha
Red
West
Dhyana
Meditation
Amoghasiddhi Buddha
Green
North
Abhaya
Fearlessness

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