Guardians of the Buddha / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Niō (仁王) are two wrathful and muscular guardians of the Buddha standing today at the entrance of many Buddhist temples in East Asian Buddhism in the form of frightening wrestler-like statues. They are dharmapala manifestations of the bodhisattva Vajrapāṇi, the oldest and most powerful[citation needed] of the Mahayana Buddhist pantheon. According to scriptures like the Pāli Canon as well as the Ambaṭṭha Sutta, they travelled with Gautama Buddha to protect him. Within the generally pacifist tradition of Buddhism, stories of dharmapalas justified the use of physical force to protect cherished values and beliefs against evil. They are also seen as a manifestation of Mahasthamaprapta, the bodhisattva of power that flanks Amitābha in Pure Land Buddhism and as Vajrasattva in Tibetan Buddhism.[1]

A famous Japanese wooden Kongorikishi (Agyō) statue at Tōdai-ji, Nara (World Heritage Site). Made by Unkei and Kaikei in 1203. National Treasure of Japan.
Statue of a Jīngāng Lìshì, one out of several thousand stone statues, located at the Maijishan Grottoes, Gansu, China. (World Heritage Site). Carved during the Song dynasty (960–1279).