The Medicine Buddha, or Bhaiṣajyaguru, is as his name suggests connected with healing. His mantra exists in both long and short forms. In its long form it is:
namo bhagavate bhaiṣajyaguru vaidūryaprabharājāya tathāgatāya arhate samyaksambuddhāya tadyathā: oṃ bhaiṣajye bhaiṣajye bhaiṣajya-samudgate svāhā.
The short form is:
(tadyathā:) oṃ bhaiṣajye bhaiṣajye mahābhaiṣajye bhaiṣajyarāje samudgate svāhā.
“Bhaisajya” means “curativeness” or “healing efficacy,” while “guru” means “teacher” or “master.” Thus he’s the “master of healing.” He’s also known as Bhaisajyaraja, “raja” meaning “king.”
The short form of the mantra could roughly be translated as “Hail! Appear, O Healer, O Healer, O Great Healer, O King of Healing!” The optional “tadyathā” at the beginning means “thus,” and it’s not really part of the mantra, but more of an introduction.
The long version could be rendered as, “Homage to the Blessed One, The Master of Healing, The King of Lapis Lazuli Radiance, The One Thus-Come, The Worthy One, The Fully and Perfectly Awakened One, thus: ‘Hail! Appear, O Healer, O Healer, O Great Healer, O King of Healing!’ ”
In Tibetan pronunciation, the mantra comes out as:
(Tad-ya-ta) Om Be-kan-dze Be-kan-dze Ma-ha Be-kan-dze Ra-dza Sa-mung-ga-te So-ha
(Tibetan is from an entirely different language group from Sanskrit, and so it’s even harder for Tibetans to approximate Sanskrit pronunciations than it is for English speakers).
Bhaiṣajyaguru is one of a set of eight healing Buddhas, which includes Shakyamuni, the historical Buddha. Bhaiṣajyaguru is the head Buddha of the group.
He is Lapis Lazuli blue in color, although sometimes he’s depicted as golden-skinned. He is dressed in the robes of a bhikṣu (monk). His left hand rests in his lap in the mudra (hand gesture) of meditation, while in his right hand, held palm upwards at the right knee, he holds a branch of the healing myrobalan plant.
In his left hand, which rests in his lap in the dhyana (meditation) mudra, he holds a bowl of amrita — the nectar of immortality.
The idea of the Buddha as healer goes back — as a metaphor — to the days of the historical Buddha. It’s said, in fact, that the formula of the Four Noble Truths is based on a medical model of diagnosis, etiology, prognosis, and therapy. The Buddha demonstrates in the historical teachings a good knowledge of anatomy and physiology, at least by the standards of his time, and although he almost certainly wasn’t trained in the medical arts he seems to have had some knowledge of them.
Later texts, like Santideva’s “Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life,” take up the notion of the Enlightened ones being healers, referring to the Buddha as “the Omniscient Physician who removes every pain.” He also expresses the aspiration, “May I be the medicine and the physician for the sick. May I be their nurse until their illness never recurs.”
- The h in “bh” is lightly aspirated, similar to the English “abhor”
- ā is like a in father
- e is ay in lay
- v is pronounced halfway between English v and w. If in doubt, then a w sound will do
- ṣ represents the “sh” sound in the English word “shine”
- In Tibetan pronunciation “svāhā” becomes “soha.” This is technically incorrect from a Sanskrit point of view, but it also has many centuries of tradition behind it, and in any event few Westerners pronounce Sanskrit correctly either! Still, outside of the Tibetan tradition it’s probably best to revert to the best approximation possible of the Sanskrit, where both a’s are long (as in father), and the v comes close to being an English “w” sound.
The following essay, written by Srivandana, was originally published in Dharma Life magazine, and is reprinted here by generous permission of the author
Source – WildMind