The Story of Amoghavajra

During the Tang Dynasty, there was a Buddhist monk named Amoghavajra(不空). He was appointed as the head of the monastery and was able to control the hundred gods. Emperor Xuanzong of Tang treated him with respect.

One year, there was a drought. Emperor Xuanzong ordered Amoghavajra to pray for rain. Amoghavajra said that he would need to wait until the next day to pray, otherwise the rain would be too heavy and violent. Emperor Xuanzong then ordered Vajra Tripitaka to set up an altar and pray for rain. As expected, it rained heavily and continuously. People were swept away and drowned in the streets.

Emperor Xuanzong quickly summoned Amoghavajra and asked him to stop the rain. Amoghavajra then went to the temple’s courtyard and built five or six dragons out of mud. He poured water on the dragons and spoke nonsense to them. After a long time, he started laughing at them. Soon after, the rain stopped and the sky cleared up.

Emperor Xuanzong also once ordered the Taoist priest Luo Gongyuan and Amoghavajra to pray for rain together. They both reported the results of their prayers to Emperor Xuanzong. Emperor Xuanzong called them both in and asked them about it. Amoghavajra said, “I burned white sandalwood dragons yesterday when I prayed for rain.” Emperor Xuanzong asked his attendants to scoop up some of the rain water in the courtyard and sniff it. Sure enough, it had a sandalwood scent.

Amoghavajra had no other rules when he prayed for rain. He would simply set up a few beautiful seats, rotate a wooden statue about a few inches long in his hands, chant a mantra, and throw the statue up. The statue would then stand up on the seat on its own. When the statue’s mouth started to show teeth and its eyes started to blink, rain would fall.

唐梵僧不空,得總持門,能役百神,玄宗禮之。歲旱,命祈雨。不空言可過某日,今祈之必暴。上乃命金剛三藏,設壇請雨。果連淋注不止。坊巿有漂溺者。遽召不空止之。遂於寺庭,建泥龍五六。乃溜水,胡言詈之。良久,復置之大笑。有頃雨霽。玄宗又嘗詔術士羅公遠與不空祈雨。互陳其効。俱召問之,不空曰:「臣昨焚白檀香龍。」上命左右掬庭水嗅之,果有檀香氣。每祈雨,無他軌則,但設數繡座,手旋數寸木神,念咒擲之,自立於座上。伺木神口角牙出,目瞚,雨輒至。出酉陽雜爼

🎨The 24th scroll of the Ming Dynasty painted scroll “The Origin and Manifestation of the Buddhas” depicts “Heavenly Soldiers Protecting the Country”. This is a miracle of the Buddhist monk Amoghavajra, who was a disciple of Vajrabodhi, one of the three great masters of tantric Buddhism in the Tang Dynasty.

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