You may have noticed my preoccupation with the Four Guardan Kings of Buddhist cosmology of late. Truth be told, I’m very worried for the planet and all of the breathing beings in it. As it is the role of the Four Guardians to protect the world and its inhabitants, I figure it can’t hurt to spend some time every night reciting the Maha-samaya Sutta and otherwise beseeching them for help and protection. I’ve also found some more information and mantras of the Four Great Kings which I’ll include below.
Mantras of the Four Great Kings
King of the East. White in colour, holding a lute. King of the Gandharvas (celestial musicians). Dhṛtarāṣṭa means “watcher of lands”.
There is a king Dhṛtarāṣṭra in the Mahābhārata. The war amongst his children and those of his younger brother Pāndhu for the throne of the Kurus – the Kauravas and the Pāndavas – forms the main action of the Mahabhārata war around which the epic revolves (Basham : 408). It is thought that the story recount a real war, although the dates are disputed.
oṃ dhṛ ta rā ṣṭra ra lā pra vā dha na svā hā
oṃ dhṛtarāṣṭra ralāpravādhana svāhā
I have followed the spelling of Bonji Taijkan which I think is correct, but have also seen “dhṛtarāśtra” and “dhṛtarāṣṭṛa” in reputable sources.
King of the South. Green in colour and holding a sword. King of the Kumbhāṇḍas, his name means “ever growing”.
The Kumbhāṇḍas according to Sutherland are “a grotesque group of demons with testicles in the shape of a kumbha or pitcher”. The Pāli commentaries describe them as having “huge stomachs, and their genital organs were as big as pots, hence their name”. (DA.iii.964)
oṃ vi rū ḍha ka kuṃ bhāṃ ḍā dhi pa ta ye svā hā
oṃ virūḍhaka kumbhāṇḍādhipataye svāhā
“virūḍhaka kumbhāṇḍāye” can be translated Virūḍhaka Lord of the Kumbhāṇḍas. Bonji Taikan has “yakṣādhipataye” but properly speaking Vaiśravaṇa is Lord of the Yakṣas, and Virūḍhaka is Lord of the Kumbhāṇḍas. I have taken a liberty here (the kind that tests the patience of traditionalists), but one that makes sense. Sometimes the tradition is wrong, or corrupt.
King of the West. Red in colour; holding a stūpa, and snake (or nāga). King of the Nāgas. His names means something like “all seeing”.
Virūpākṣa’s association with serpents and water suggests a connection with the Vedic god Varuṇa. Initially a solar god, often paired with mitra, Varuṇa was the guardian of ṛta – the cosmic order. Later, in the Hindu Epics, he was relegated to being a protector of water and was associated with water spirits, such as nāgas. Some scholars point to similarities with the Greek Titan Uranus (the names are phonetically similar).
oṃ vi rū pā kṣa nā gā dhi pa ta ye svā hā
oṃ virūpākṣa nāgādhipataye svāhā
“virūpākṣa nāgādhipataye” can be translated as Virūpākṣa Lord of the Nāgas.
“Nāga” in Pāli and modern Indian languages means elephant, and is also sometimes applied to any large animal such as a bull. The Buddha is refered to a a great Nāga.
King of the North. Yellow in colour. Holding a (victory) banner and mongoose spitting jewels. King of the Yakṣas
The name means….. Vaiśravaṇa is also known as Kubera under which name he appears in the Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa. He goes by the name Vaiśravaṇa in the Mahābharata where he is the son of Pulstya, and half brother of Rāvaṇa. Kunera is a god of wealth and good fortune – which is what the mongoose spitting out jewels symbolises. Vaiśravaṇa is the patron deity of the city of Khotan.
oṃ vai śra va ṇa ye svā hā
oṃ vaiśravaṇaye svāhā