Madhyāntika A disciple of Ānanda. He is regarded as the third of the twenty-four successors of Shakyamuni Buddha.
Magadha The most powerful of the sixteen great states in India in the time of Shakyamuni Buddha. Magadha, with Rājagriha as its capital, covered an area south of the Ganges River in what is now the state of Bihar in northeastern India. Eagle Peak, Buddhagayā (the place of Shakyamuni’s enlightenment), and Bamboo Grove Monastery were located in this kingdom. Shakyamuni taught widely in the kingdom, ruled in his lifetime by Bimbisāra and then by his son Ajātashatru, and it became the center of Buddhism and Buddhist culture. Bimbisāra and later Ajātashatru became followers of Shakyamuni Buddha.
Mahādeva A monk who lived about one hundred years after Shakyamuni and provoked the first division within the Buddhist Order. It is said that, before joining the Buddhist Order, he killed his father, his mother, and an arhat. He later advanced his own arbitrary views regarding the nature of an arhat, and controversy over them precipitated a schism in the Order.
Mahākāshyapa One of Shakyamuni’s ten major disciples; he was known as the foremost in dhūta, or ascetic, practices. After Shakyamuni’s passing, he became head of the Buddhist Order.
Mahāprajāpatī Also known as Gautamī or Gotamī. Foster mother to Shakyamuni and the younger sister of Māyā, Shakyamuni’s real mother. Mahāprajāpatī raised Shakyamuni when Māyā died shortly after his birth. Later she became the first nun admitted to the Buddhist Order.
mahāsattva (Skt) A “great being,” another term for bodhisattva.
Mahāvairochana Often referred to as the Thus Come One Mahāvairochana. A Buddha mentioned in the Mahāvairochana and the Diamond Crown sutras, worshiped by adherents of the esoteric teaching and regarded by them as the Buddha of the Dharma body who personifies the unchanging truth of all phenomena and who is the source from which all Buddhas and bodhisattvas spring.
Mahāvairochana Sutra One of the three basic scriptures of the True Word school. References to it in Nichiren Daishonin’s writings are to a Chinese translation done in 725 by Shan-wu-wei with I-hsing’s assistance. In this sutra, Mahāvairochana Buddha describes the way to obtain Buddha wisdom, defining the aspiration for enlightenment to be the cause, great compassion to be the foundation, and skillful means to be the way of realization.
Mahayana The great vehicle teaching, or the teaching that expounds the enlightenment of all and aims at the salvation of all living beings. It expounds the bodhisattva practice as the means toward the enlightenment of both oneself and others, in contrast to Hinayana, the teaching that aims only at personal salvation, or attaining the state of arhat.
Mahayana ordination platform Also, a Mahayana ordination hall or Mahayana ordination center. A place where the ceremony for conferring Mahayana precepts is conducted. Before Dengyō, priests in Japan had been ordained exclusively in the Hinayana precepts. Dengyō repeatedly sought imperial permission to establish a Mahayana ordination center at Mount Hiei, over the objections of the Buddhist schools in Nara. Permission was finally granted in 822, seven days after Dengyō’s death, and a Mahayana ordination platform was erected there in 827.
Maheshvara A god who reigns over the major world system. Originally one of the major Hindu gods, his name means God of Great Freedom.
mahoraga (Skt) One of the eight kinds of nonhuman beings said to protect Buddhism. Mahoraga means great serpent.
Maitreya A bodhisattva predicted to succeed Shakyamuni as a future Buddha. He is said to have been reborn in the Tushita heaven and to reside in the inner court of this heaven, where he is now expounding the teaching to the heavenly beings. It is believed that he will reappear in this world 5,670 million years after Shakyamuni’s death to save people. Maitreya is traditionally regarded as the teacher of Asanga, a scholar of the Consciousness-Only doctrine, who by means of supernatural powers is said to have ascended to the Tushita heaven in order to receive the bodhisattva’s instruction. However, some scholars have come to identify Asanga’s teacher with a historical personage named Maitreya.
major world system Also, thousand-millionfold world. One of the world systems in ancient Indian cosmology. A world consists of a Mount Sumeru, its surrounding seas and mountain ranges, a sun, a moon, and other heavenly bodies, extending upward to the first meditation heaven in the world of form and downward to the circle of wind that forms the basis of a world. One thousand worlds make up a minor world system; one thousand minor world systems constitute an intermediate world system; and one thousand intermediate world systems form a major world system. Therefore, one major world system comprises one billion worlds. There were thought to be countless major world systems in the universe.
major world system dust particle kalpas (Jpn sanzen-jintengō) An immensely long period described in the “Parable of the Phantom City” chapter of the Lotus Sutra to indicate how much time has passed since Shakyamuni, as the sixteenth son of the Buddha Great Universal Wisdom Excellence, preached the Lotus Sutra to his voice-hearer disciples.
Malaya, Mount A mountain in southern India. It was noted for its sandalwood trees.
mandala (Skt) An object of devotion on which Buddhas and bodhisattvas are depicted or a mystic doctrine is expressed. The Sanskrit word mandala was translated in China as meaning “perfectly endowed” or “cluster of blessings.” In Nichiren Daishonin’s writings, the Gohonzon is also called a mandala because it embodies all the practices and resulting virtues of all Buddhas.
mani (Skt) A jewel. The mani jewel also refers to a particular kind of jewel, which is said to have the power to remove misfortune, make muddy water clear, and cure illness.
manifested body One of a Buddha’s three bodies. It is the physical form in which a Buddha appears in the world in order to save the people.
mani jewel See mani.
Manjushrī Leader of the bodhisattvas of the theoretical teaching. He represents the virtues of wisdom and enlightenment and, together with Bodhisattva Universal Worthy, is depicted in the sutras as one of the two bodhisattvas who attend Shakyamuni Buddha.
mantra (Skt) A formula consisting of secret words or syllables that is said to embody mystic powers. Mantras are employed in the practice and ritual of Esoteric Buddhism, where they are believed to help achieve union with Mahāvairochana Buddha. The Sanskrit word mantra was translated into Chinese as “true word” (Jpn shingon).
many-times recitation See doctrine of many-times recitation.
Many Treasures A Buddha who appeared seated within the treasure tower in order to lend credence to Shakyamuni’s teachings of the Lotus Sutra and to begin the Ceremony in the Air. According to the “Treasure Tower” chapter of the Lotus Sutra, he dwells in the Land of Treasure Purity in the east. While still engaged in bodhisattva practice, he pledged that even after having entered nirvana he would appear in order to attest to the validity of the Lotus Sutra, wherever it might be taught.
Marīchi A god originally regarded as a deification of the sun’s rays. In Buddhism, generally represented as a vassal going before the god of the sun. Marīchi was said to possess the power to become invisible and defeat an enemy without being captured and, for this reason, was worshiped particularly by the samurai in Japan. Some statues and writings depict Marīchi as female.
Masakado (d. 940) Taira no Masakado, a distinguished warrior of the Taira clan who exercised great power in eastern Japan. He attacked government offices in the Kanto area and adopted the title of “New Emperor.” Soon thereafter, however, his forces were routed, and he was killed by his cousin, Taira no Sadamori, with the support of Fujiwara no Hidesato.
Maudgalyāyana One of Shakyamuni’s ten major disciples, known as the foremost in transcendental powers. Born to a Brahman family in Magadha, he was a close friend of Shāriputra from childhood. They were at first disciples of Sanjaya Belatthiputta, one of the six non-Buddhist teachers, but later became followers of Shakyamuni.
Medicine King A bodhisattva said to possess the power to cure physical and mental diseases. The “Medicine King” chapter of the Lotus Sutra describes how he practiced austerities in a previous lifetime as a bodhisattva called Gladly Seen by All Living Beings.
Medicine Master Also, the Buddha of Medicine or the Buddha of Healing. The Buddha of the Pure Emerald World in the east, he is also known as the Buddha of the Eastern Region or the Thus Come One of the Eastern Region. While a bodhisattva, he made twelve vows to cure all illnesses and to lead all people to enlightenment. Belief in this Buddha was popular in both China and Japan, and many statues were made of him. Bhaishajyaguru, the Sanskrit name of this Buddha, means the “teacher of medicine.”
Medicine Master Sutra A sutra that emphasizes the blessings of the Buddha Medicine Master. First, the sutra recounts a previous life of the Buddha Medicine Master in which, as a bodhisattva, he made twelve great vows to benefit the people. The great benefit of invoking his name is then described. The sutra also explains the seven disasters and asserts that making offerings to the Buddha Medicine Master is the way to avert them and restore peace to the land.
Medicine Superior One of the two bodhisattvas said to heal physical and spiritual illnesses, the other being Medicine King. According to the “King Wonderful Adornment” chapter of the Lotus Sutra, in a previous life these two bodhisattvas were the princes Pure Storehouse and Pure Eye who converted their father, King Wonderful Adornment, to the correct teaching.
meditation master A priest who has attained the level of meditation in which one is able to focus the mind on one point and remain in a state of concentration in order to eradicate illusions and contemplate the truth. “Meditation Master” was often applied as an honorific title, as is the case with the titles “Dharma Teacher” and “Discipline Mater.”
Meditation on the Buddha Infinite Life Sutra Also, the Meditation Sutra. One of the three basic scriptures of the Pure Land school. According to the sutra, it was expounded by Shakyamuni at Rājagriha in Magadha at the request of Vaidehī, who was grieving over the evil acts of her son, Ajātashatru. Shakyamuni used his supernatural powers to show her the various pure lands, including Amida’s pure land. Since Vaidehī preferred Amida’s pure land over all others, Shakyamuni expounded sixteen types of meditation for attaining rebirth there.
meditation on the five elements An esoteric form of meditation intended to let one realize that self and environment are composed of the five elements of earth, water, fire, wind, and space; that the five parts of the body, namely, crown, face, chest, abdomen, and knees, are governed by the five syllables of the esoteric mantra, avarahakha; and that one’s own life is ultimately one with the five Buddhas who are embodiments of the five aspects of Mahāvairochana Buddha’s wisdom.
Meditation Sutra An abbreviated title for the Meditation on the Buddha Infinite Life Sutra. See Meditation on the Buddha Infinite Life Sutra.
medium kalpa A unit of time in ancient Indian cosmology. Medium kalpa can refer to either of two different periods of time. One is any of the twenty kalpas that constitute each of the four kalpas of formation, continuance, decline, and disintegration. (According to one account, a medium kalpa is 15,998,000 years.) The other is a total of those twenty kalpas or the period of any of the four kalpas mentioned above. See also kalpa; kalpa of continuance.
Miao-lo (711–782) Also known as Chan-jan, the Venerable Ching-hsi, the Great Teacher Ching-hsi, and the Great Teacher Miao-lo. The sixth patriarch of the T’ien-t’ai school, counting from T’ien-t’ai. He is revered as the restorer of the school and wrote commentaries on T’ien-t’ai’s major works, contributing to a clarification of the school’s teachings. His principal works are The Annotations on “The Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra,” The Annotations on “The Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra,” and The Annotations on “Great Concentration and Insight.”
Middle Day of the Law Also, the period of the Counterfeit Law. The second of the three periods following a Buddha’s death. During this time the Buddha’s teaching gradually becomes formalized, the people’s connection to it weakens, and progressively fewer people are able to gain enlightenment through its practice. Some sources define the Middle Day of the Law of Shakyamuni as lasting a thousand years, while others define it as five hundred years.
Middle Way The way that transcends extremes. Thus the term “Middle Way” also indicates the true nature of all things, which cannot be defined by the extremes of existence and nonexistence.
Mihirakula (n.d.) A king of the ancient kingdom of Cheka in India. He turned against Buddhism and banished the Buddhist monks. He later attempted to conquer Magadha but was instead captured by King Bālāditya, who was a Buddhist. Released through the mercy of Bālāditya’s mother, Mihirakula then fled to Kashmir and later killed its king. He went on to attack Gandhāra where he destroyed temples and stupas and killed half of the people because they were Buddhists. That same year, however, he died and is said to have fallen into the hell of incessant suffering.
Minamoto clan Also known as the Genji clan. The warrior clan that established the Kamakura shogunate, Japan’s first military government. In the late twelfth century, the Minamoto clan defeated the rival Taira clan, and Minamoto no Yoritomo, the head of the clan, established the Kamakura government. Both the Minamoto and the Taira clans were offshoots of the imperial family.
Minamoto no Yoritomo (1147–1199) The first shogun of the Kamakura government, who initiated a state administration by the warrior class. He shifted the virtual power of government from the imperial court in Kyoto to Kamakura.
Minamoto no Yoriyoshi (988–1075) A military commander of the Heian period. In the mid-eleventh century he was assigned to subdue the rebellious Abe family in the northern province of Mutsu, a campaign that saw ultimate success after years of engagement. Yoriyoshi is credited with later solidifying the independent power of the Minamoto family and contributing to the ascendancy of the warrior class. Yoriyoshi also established a shrine dedicated to the god Hachiman at Kamakura, and revered Hachiman as his clan deity.
Minamoto no Yoshinaka (1154–1184) A powerful commander of the Minamoto clan in Japan, he was instrumental in the defeat of the ruling Taira clan. He was killed while vying for power with his cousin, Minamoto no Yoritomo, who then became the first shogun of the Kamakura shogunate.
Minamoto no Yoshitomo (1123–1160) A military leader and the father of Minamoto no Yoritomo, the founder of the Kamakura shogunate. At the time of the Hōgen Disturbance, a conflict arising from rivalries within the imperial family, he fought victoriously on the side of the reigning emperor Goshirakawa, while his father Tameyoshi backed the Retired Emperor Sutoku, who was defeated. Tameyoshi received a death sentence, which was carried out soon afterward by Yoshitomo.
Minamoto no Yoshitsune (1159–1189) Half brother of Minamoto no Yoritomo, he was instrumental in Yoritomo’s victory over the Taira, or Heike, clan, leading Minamoto forces to victory at the decisive sea battle of Dannoura. Later he contended for power with Yoritomo, who had become the first shogun of the Kamakura government, but was defeated and forced into hiding. Yoshitsune was eventually betrayed and killed by a member of the Fujiwara family who sought to gain favor with Yoritomo, but who was instead attacked by him and destroyed.
Mo Hsi The royal consort of King Chieh, the last ruler of the Hsia dynasty in ancient China. After defeating her father in a military campaign, Chieh took Mo Hsi as his wife. She won great favor with him because of her beauty, and he indulged her selfish demands. As a result, he failed to govern wisely, acted cruelly, and was eventually overthrown by T’ang, the founder of the Yin (also called Shang) dynasty.
Mononobe no Moriya (d. 587) A leading court official who opposed Buddhism and fought against Soga no Umako, a rival chief official who supported Buddhism.
Moon of Deliverance A bodhisattva who, during the ceremony described in the Flower Garland Sutra, begged Bodhisattva Diamond Storehouse to preach the ten stages of development. See also fifty-two stages of bodhisattva practice.
Moriya See Mononobe no Moriya.
Mother of Demon Children A demoness said to have been a daughter of a yaksha demoness in Rājagriha. She is said to have fed the babies of others to her own children. In the “Dhāranī” chapter of the Lotus Sutra, however, she and the ten demon daughters pledge to protect the votaries of the Lotus Sutra.
mudra (Skt) Signs and gestures made with the hands and fingers, which symbolize the enlightenment and vows of the Buddhas and bodhisattvas. Mudras are employed in the esoteric True Word school, which regards them as a way of achieving union with Mahāvairochana Buddha.
Munemori (1147–1185) Taira no Munemori, the second son of Taira no Kiyomori. The last head of the Taira clan. Under pressure from the rival Minamoto clan, Munemori fled westward from the capital, Kyoto, with Emperor Antoku. The Taira forces were finally defeated, however, at the naval battle of Dannoura. Munemori cast himself into the sea, but was captured by Minamoto no Yoshitsune and later beheaded.
mutual possession of the Ten Worlds The principle that each of the Ten Worlds contains all nine others as potential within itself. This is taken to mean that all beings of the nine worlds possess the potential for Buddhahood.
Myoho-renge-kyo (Jpn) (1) The Mystic Law, or Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. (2) The Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law, the Chinese translation of the Lotus Sutra by Kumārajīva. “Myoho-renge-kyo” is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese title.
Myōun (1115–1183) The fifty-fifth and fifty-seventh chief priest of Enryaku-ji, the head temple of the Tendai school in Japan.
Mystic Law The ultimate truth of life and the universe, the Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.