Bālāditya (n.d.) A king of Magadha said to have lived around the sixth century who was a devout Buddhist. He erected a temple at Nālandā Monastery, and monks from throughout India assembled to celebrate its completion. According to The Record of the Western Regions, Mihirakula, the ruler of the neighboring kingdom of Cheka, opposed Buddhism and attempted to conquer Bālāditya. When Mihirakula attacked Magadha, the people united against him and took him prisoner. Bālāditya intended to put Mihirakula to death but released him instead, moved by his own mother’s plea that he act compassionately.
Bamboo Staff school A reference to any of several different groups of Brahmans in Shakyamuni’s day known under this name. Followers of these groups are said to have carried staves, and the members of one such group are known to have killed Maudgalyāyana. Maudgalyāyana came across some Brahmans of the Bamboo Staff school who engaged him in discussion, whereupon he refuted their teacher. Enraged, they beat him to death with their staves.
beings of the two worlds and the eight groups The beings who assembled to listen to the preaching of the Lotus Sutra. They are listed in the “Introduction” chapter of the sutra. They are beings who reside in the two worlds, the first two divisions of the threefold world: the world of desire and the world of form. The eight groups are a further division of the beings of the two worlds. They are: (1) the gods of the world of desire, (2) the gods of the world of form, (3) dragon kings and their followers, (4) kimnara kings and their followers, (5) gandharva kings and their followers, (6) asura kings and their followers, (7) garuda kings and their followers, and (8) the king of the human world (Ajātashatru) and his followers.
benevolent gods See heavenly gods and benevolent deities.
Benevolent Kings Sutra A sutra regarded as the concluding sutra of the Wisdom sutras. It enumerates seven disasters that will occur when the correct teaching perishes, and stresses the need to attain perfect wisdom.
Bimbisāra A king of the state of Magadha in India and a devout follower of Shakyamuni. He is also known as the father of Ajātashatru.
Bodhidharma The founder of Zen Buddhism in China. The date of Bodhidharma’s birth is not clear, and the year of his death is regarded by some to be 528, and others, 536. He is said to have lived to be 150.
bodhisattva (Skt) A being who aspires to attain Buddhahood and carries out altruistic practices to achieve that goal. Compassion predominates in bodhisattvas, who postpone their own entry into nirvana in order to lead others toward enlightenment.
bodhisattvas as numerous as the dust particles of a thousand worlds An expression commonly used to refer to the countless Bodhisattvas of the Earth who appear from beneath the earth in the “Emerging from the Earth” chapter of the Lotus Sutra. “Numerous as the dust particles of a thousand worlds” derives from the “Supernatural Powers” chapter of the sutra.
Bodhisattvas of the Earth The innumerable bodhisattvas who appear in the “Emerging from the Earth” chapter of the Lotus Sutra and are entrusted by Shakyamuni with the task of propagating the Law after his passing. In several of his writings, Nichiren Daishonin identifies his own role with that of their leader, Bodhisattva Superior Practices.
bodhisattvas of the essential teaching Bodhisattvas taught by the true Buddha, that is, the Buddha whose true identity is revealed in the essential teaching (the latter fourteen chapters) of the Lotus Sutra. In this teaching, Shakyamuni reveals his true identity as the Buddha who attained enlightenment in the remote past. The disciples he has taught in this capacity since the time of his enlightenment are the bodhisattvas of the essential teaching. They are also known as the Bodhisattvas of the Earth who appear in the “Emerging from the Earth” chapter of the Lotus Sutra, the first chapter of the essential teaching. Shakyamuni entrusts them with the mission of propagating the essence of the sutra, the Mystic Law, in the Latter Day of the Law.
bodhisattvas of the theoretical teaching Bodhisattvas who are followers of a provisional Buddha. They include the bodhisattvas Manjushrī, Universal Worthy, Perceiver of the World’s Sounds, and Medicine King. A provisional Buddha is a Buddha who, in order to save the people, assumes a transient role in accordance with their capacity, not revealing his true identity. In the pre-Lotus Sutra teachings and in the theoretical teaching (the first fourteen chapters) of the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni did not reveal his original enlightenment in the remote past but assumed the provisional status of a Buddha who had first attained enlightenment in that lifetime. The bodhisattvas whom he taught in this capacity are called bodhisattvas of the theoretical teaching. This term is used in contrast to the bodhisattvas of the essential teaching, or the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. Bodhisattvas of the theoretical teaching are said to appear in the Former and Middle Days of the Law and spread provisional Mahayana or the theoretical teaching of the Lotus Sutra, in contrast to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, who appear in the Latter Day and devote themselves to spreading the Mystic Law, the essence of the Lotus Sutra.
Boundless Practices One of the four bodhisattvas who lead the Bodhisattvas of the Earth.
Brahmā A god said to live in the first of the four meditation heavens in the world of form above Mount Sumeru and to rule over the sahā world. In Indian mythology he was regarded as the personification of the fundamental universal principle, and in Buddhism he was adopted as one of the two major tutelary gods, together with Shakra.
Brahmā Excellent Thought Sutra A sutra in which a Brahmā king named Excellent Thought comes to the sahā world from an eastern realm of the universe and listens to Shakyamuni Buddha’s preaching of the bodhisattva way. The sutra discusses the doctrines of non-substantiality and nonduality.
Brahma heaven Another name for the first of the four meditation heavens in the world of form above Mount Sumeru.
Brahmā Net Sutra A sutra that sets forth the Mahayana precepts—the ten major precepts and forty-eight minor precepts. This sutra was highly valued in China and Japan because it describes the precepts for Mahayana bodhisattvas, and many commentaries were written on it. In Jana, Dengyō used this sutra to repudiate the Hinayana precepts observed by the six schools of Nara, emphasizing the necessity of embracing Mahayana precepts.
Buddha Eye One of the Buddhas who appear in the esoteric teachings. Also called Buddha Mother, this Buddha is said to give birth to all other Buddhas.
Buddhahood Also referred to by the word enlightenment. The supreme state of life in Buddhism, characterized by boundless wisdom and compassion. In this state one is awakened to the eternal and ultimate truth that is the reality of all things. Buddhahood is regarded as the goal of Buddhist practice and the highest of the Ten Worlds.
Buddha Infinite Life Sutra Also, the Buddha of Infinite Life Sutra and the Two-Volumed Sutra. One of the three basic scriptures of the Pure Land school. It relates how Bodhisattva Dharma Treasury made forty-eight vows and, on fulfilling them, became a Buddha called Infinite Life or Amida. It describes this Buddha Infinite Life’s pure land and explains that one can be reborn there after death if one has faith in this Buddha.
Buddha land The place where a Buddha dwells. Since Buddhism views the environment as part of oneself, the term Buddha land is often used simply to refer to the enlightened state or absolute happiness that Buddhas enjoy, and does not necessarily indicate a paradise or land removed from mortal sufferings.
Buddhamitra (n.d.) The ninth of Shakyamuni’s twenty-four successors. The king of the country where he lived was strongly attached to Brahmanism and tried to rid the land of all Buddhist influence. Determined to make the king overcome his prejudice, Buddhamitra is said to have walked back and forth in front of the palace for twelve years, bearing a red flag. The king was moved by his resolve and allowed him to debate with a Brahman teacher. Buddhamitra refuted his opponent and thus converted the king to Buddhism.
Bun’ei era The period in Japan from 1264 to 1275. In 1275, the era name changed to Kenji. Accordingly, among letters written by the Daishonin in 1275, some are dated the twelfth year of Bun’ei, and others, the first year of Kenji.