Fudō Myōō (不動明王) (role )



Originating in the Hindu pantheon he came to be regarded as one of the five wise kings who despite his stern countenance is a saver of souls. His attributes are the sword with which he fights evil and the rope which he uses to lasso individuals who can be saved.

Anyone familiar with Fudō Myōō knows that he is always accompanied by flames. Daisetz T. Suzuki tells us why: "Acala's [the ancient Indian name for Fudō Myōō] anger burns like a fire and will not be put down until it burns up the last camp of the enemy: he will then assume his original features as the Vairocana Buddha, whose servant and manifestation he is. The Vairocana holds no sword, he is the sword itself, sitting alone with all the worlds within himself."

Quote from: Zen and Japanese Culture, Daisetz T. Suzuki, Bolingen Series LXIV, Princeton University Press, 1993, p. 90.


Patricia Graham in her paper 'Naritasan Shinshōji and Commoner Patronage During the Edo Period' notes some of the prominent iconographic features of Fudō. "He either stands or sits on a rock with his body framed by a aura of fire. His facial expression is fierce, with one eye peering up and the other down and two fangs, also pointing in opposite directions. He usually holds a sword in his right hand to slash demons and a cord in his left to bind them and also to capture devotees and lead them into Paradise."