Five Tathāgatas

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The Five Tathāgatas (Skt. pañcatathāgata; T. de bzhin gshegs pa lnga; C. wuzhi rulai/wu fo) are a grouping of buddhas found in Vajrayana Buddhism that correspond to the five wisdoms of the Sanskrit Mahayana tradition. According to Williams, et al, they are emanations and representations of the five qualities of the primordial buddha (ādibuddha, in the form of Vairocana or Vajradhara) which is associated with Dharmakaya.[1]

These are also known as the five conquerors (pañcajina). They are also sometimes called the "dhyani-buddhas", a term first recorded in English by Brian Hodgson, a British Resident in Nepal,[2] in the early 19th century, and is unattested in any surviving traditional primary sources.[3]

These five Buddhas feature prominently in various Buddhist Tantras and are the primary object of realization and meditation in Shingon Buddhism, a school of Vajarayana Buddhism founded in Japan.

The five tathāgatas are:

  1. Vairocana
  2. Akshobhya
  3. Ratnasambhava
  4. Amitabha
  5. Amoghasiddhi


  1. Williams, Wynne, Tribe; Buddhist Thought: A Complete Introduction to the Indian Tradition, page 210.
  2. Bogle (1999) pp. xxxiv-xxxv
  3. Saunders, E Dale, "A Note on Śakti and Dhyānibuddha," History of Religions 1 (1962): pp. 300-06.


  • Princeton Dict icon 166px.png Buswell, Robert E.; Lopez, Donald S. (2014), The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism, Princeton University 
  • Kalupahana, David J. (1991), Buddhist Thought and Ritual, Paragon House 
  • Keown, Damien (2003), A Dictionary of Buddhism, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-860560-9 
  • Thrangu Rinpoche (author) & Peter Roberts (translator) (1998). The Five Buddha Families and The Eight Consciousnesses. Boulder, CO, USA: Published by the Namo Buddha Seminar. Source: [1] (accessed: November 22, 2007)

Further reading

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