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Trikāya (T. sku gsum; C. sanshen; J. sanshin; K. samsin 三身) is an important concept within the Sanskrit Mahayana tradition that refers to three forms or aspects of buddhahood. This is also understood as three different manifestations or dimensions of a buddha.

These three dimensions are:

  1. The Dharmakāya or body of dharma which embodies the very principle of enlightenment and knows no limits or boundaries;
  2. The Sambhogakāya or body of mutual enjoyment which is a body of bliss or clear light manifestation;
  3. The Nirmāṇakāya or created body which manifests in time and space.


The etymology of the Sanskrit term trikāya:

  • tri - means 'three'
  • kāya - literally means ‘body’ but can also signify dimension, field or basis. This term designates the different manifestations or dimensions of a buddha.


According to Patrul Rinpoche and Khenpo Pema Dorje:

The nature as it appears is the nirmanakaya mandala,
The nature as it is is the sambhogakaya mandala,
The all-pervading aspect is the dharmakaya mandala.[1]

See also


  1. Pelzang, Khenpo Ngawang (2004), Chapter 4.


  • Pelzang, Khenpo Ngawang (2004), A Guide to 'The Words of My Perfect Teacher' . Shambhala Publications. Kindle Edition.

External links

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