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Trikaya (त्रिकाय)

Sanskrit. ‘Three bodies’. Name of a doctrine in Mahayana Buddhism that says that a buddha has three bodies, i.e. nirmanakaya (निर्माणकाय), i.e. the ‘body of transformation, that is to say the physical body in which the Buddha manifested himself as Gautama or the Sakyamuni Buddha; sambhogakaya (संभोगकाय), i.e. the ‘body of enjoyment, such as manifested by Amitabha (fig.), Vajrasattva (fig.) and Manjushri (fig.), in which a bodhisattva completes his vows and becomes a buddha; and  dharmakaya (धर्मकाय), i.e. body of law or ‘having the law for body, which is the embodiment of the truth itself, and hence also called body of truth’ or body of reality’; it is commonly seen as transcending the forms of physical and spiritual bodies, such as the manifestation of Vairochana (fig.) and Adi-Buddha. In Chinese tradition, the three Buddhas depicted together in Chinese temple halls are also known as the Trikaya and typically include Sakyamuni, Amitabha, and Bhaisajyaguru (fig.), i.e. the Master of Healing or Medicine Buddha (fig.). Vajrayana Buddhism sometimes refers to a fourth and fifth body called svabhavikakaya, i.e. the essential body, and mahasukhakeya, i.e. the ‘great bliss body’ or ‘body of wisdom’, respectively. As such, this interpretation has parallels with the Five Great Buddhas, also referred to as the Five Jinas, Five (Wisdom) Tathagatas, and Five Dhyani Buddhas. These Five are most commonly said to be Akshobhya (fig.), Ratnasambhava (fig.), Vairochana, Amitabha, and Amoghasiddhi, and are believed to be emanations and representations of the five qualities of the Adi-Buddha, the supreme primordial Buddha in the Vajrayana sect of Mahayana Buddhism, who created himself from the original void and who is also known as the Dharmakaya Buddha.