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(Pinyin: Xūkōngzàng Púsà)
(romaji: Kokūzō Bosatsu)
(RR: Heogongjang Bosal)
Wylie:nam mkha'i snying po
THL: Namkhé Nyingpo
VietnameseHư Không Tạng Bồ Tát
Venerated byMahāyāna, Vajrayāna

Akashagarbha (Skt. Ākāśagarbha; Tib. ནམ་མཁའི་སྙིང་པོ་, Namkhé Nyingpo, Wyl. nam mkha'i snying po; C. Xukongzang pusa; J. Kokuzo bosatsu) is a bodhisattva who is associated with the great element (mahābhūta) of space (Skt. ākāśa). The name means 'nucleus of space.' He is also sometimes called Gaganagañja, which means "sky-jewel."

Akashagarbha is one of the eight great bodhisattvas. In the Tibetan tradition, he is often depicted as blue, yellow or green in colour and holding a sword to cut through the destructive emotions.


Ākāśagarbha statue in Jingo-ji, 9th century

Ākāśagarbha is regarded as one of the eight great bodhisattvas. His name can be translated as "boundless space treasury" or "void store" as his wisdom is said to be boundless as space itself. He is sometimes known as the twin brother of the "earth store" bodhisattva Kṣitigarbha, and is even briefly mentioned in the Kṣitigarbha Bodhisattva Pūrvapraṇidhāna Sūtra.

Kūkai, the founder of Shingon Buddhism, met a famous monk who is said to have repeatedly chanted a mantra of Ākāśagarbha as a young Buddhist acolyte. Kūkai took a tutorial with him on Kokuzou-Gumonji (a secret doctorine method, 虚空蔵求聞持法).[1] As he chanted the mantra, he experienced a vision whereby Ākāśagarbha told him to go to Tang China to seek understanding of the Mahāvairocana Abhisaṃbodhi Sūtra.[2] Later he would go to China to learn Tangmi from Huiguo, and then go on to found the Shingon sect of esoteric buddhism in Heian Japan.


There are several Mahāyāna sūtras in which Ākāśagarbha Bodhisattva is a central figure:

  • 《大集大虚空藏菩薩所問經》 (Ārya Gaganagañja Paripṛcchā Nāma Mahāyāna Sūtra T.0404)
  • 《虛空藏菩薩經》 (Ākāśagarbha Bodhisattva Sūtra T.405)
  • 《佛説虚空藏菩薩神呪經》(Buddha Speaks the Ākāśagarbha Bodhisattva Dhāraṇī Sūtra T.406)
  • 《虛空藏菩薩神呪經》(Ākāśagarbha Bodhisattva Dhāraṇī Sūtra T.0407)
  • 《虛空孕菩薩經》 (Ākāśagarbha Bodhisattva Sūtra T.0408)
  • 《觀虚空藏菩薩經 》(The Meditation on Ākāśagarbha Bodhisattva Sūtra T.0409)
  • 《虚空藏菩薩能滿諸願最勝心陀羅尼求聞持法》(The Method of the Victorious, Essential Dharāṇi for Having Wishes Heard by the Bodhisattva Space-Store Who Can Fulfill Requests T.1145)
  • 《大虚空藏菩薩念誦法》 (The Method of Invoking the Great Ākāśagarbha Bodhisattva T.1146)
  • 《聖虛空藏菩薩陀羅尼經》 (Dhāraṇī of the Space-Store Bodhisattva T.1147)
  • 《佛説虚空藏陀羅尼》 (Buddha Speaks the Ākāśagarbha Dharāṇi T.1148)
  • 《五大虚空藏菩薩速疾大神驗祕密式經》(The Five Great Ākāśagarbha Bodhisattvas Sūtra T.1149)
  • 《虛空藏菩薩問七佛陀羅尼呪經》(Ārya Saptabuddhaka Sūtra or Dhāraṇī of the Space-Store Bodhisattvaʼs Questions to Seven Buddhas T.1333)
  • 《如來方便善巧呪經》 (Incantation of the Tathāgatas' Skillful Means T.1334)

Additionally, he appears briefly in the final chapter of the Kṣitigarbha Bodhisattva Pūrvapraṇidhāna Sūtra, requesting the Buddha preach on the benefits of praising both the Sūtra and Kṣitigarbha.[3]

Five Great Ākāśagarbhas

The Five Great Ākāśagarbhas are manifestation of the Five Wisdom Buddhas in Esoteric Buddhism. They are said to bring about an increase of benefits such as good health. Within the traditional mandala, they are arranged as follows:

Name Direction Color Associated Buddha
Dharmadhātu Ākāśagarbha (法界虚空蔵) Center White Vairocana
Vajradhātu Ākāśagarbha (金剛虚空蔵) East Yellow Akṣobhya
Ratnaprabha Ākāśagarbha (宝光虚空蔵) South Blue Ratnasambhava
Padma Ākāśagarbha (蓮華虚空蔵) West Red Amitābha
Karma Ākāśagarbha (業用虚空蔵) North Black Amoghasiddhi


Akasagarbha at Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, Singapore.

The mantra of Ākāśagarbha is popularly used by Shingon Buddhists, practitioners of Tangmi, and by artists. It is believed to give rise to wisdom and creativity, and dispel ignorance.

  • Chinese: 南無 虚空藏 菩薩 nāmo xūkōngzàng púsà
  • Korean: Namu Heogongjang Bosal
  • Vietnamese: Nam mô Hư Không Tạng Bồ Tát
  • Translation: Homage to Ākāśagarbha Bodhisattva

Another mantra also exists for Ākāśagarbha Bodhisattva:

  • Sanskrit: namo ākāśagarbhaya oṃ ārya kamari mauli svāhā
  • Chinese: 南牟,阿迦捨,揭婆耶,唵,阿唎,迦麼唎,慕唎,莎嚩訶!
  • Japanese pronunciation: nōbō akyasha kyarabaya om arikya mari bori sowaka
  • Translation: In the name of ākāśa-garbhāya Om Flower-Garland Lotus-Crown may it be accomplished


  1. Koya-san Fudoin 高野山不動院
  2. Abe 2013, p. 74.
  3. Śikṣānanda 2003, pp. 89-93.


Further reading

  • Jamgön Mipham, A Garland of Jewels, (trans. by Lama Yeshe Gyamtso), Woodstock: KTD Publications, 2008, ISBN 978-1934608036

External links

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