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One of a large number of so-called celestial buddhas known to Mahāyāna Buddhists in India during the first millennium, Akṣobhya was believed to inhabit a paradise-like world system far to the east, known as Abhirati (extreme delight). Bodhisattvas reborn there could make rapid progress toward buddhahood, while śrāvakas could achieve arhatship within a single life. Belief in Akṣobhya appears to have emerged in India around the beginning of the first millennium c.e. and spread widely in Buddhist communities before being eclipsed by the growing popularity of Amitābha. Today Akṣobhya is known mainly as one of the five directional buddhas who appear in tantric ritual texts.


Chang, Garma C. C., ed. The Dharma-Door of Praising Tathāgata Akṣobhya's Merits (partial translation of the Akṣobhyavyūha). In A Treasury of Mahāyāna Sūtras: Selections from the Mahāratnakūṭa Sūtra, tr. Buddhist Association of the United States. University Park and London: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1983.

Dantinne, Jean, trans. La splendeur de l'inébranlable (Akṣobhyavyūha). Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium: Institut Orientaliste, 1983.

Nattier, Jan. "The Realm of Akṣobhya: A Missing Piece in the History of Pure Land Buddhism." Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 23, no. 1 (2000): 71–102.

Jan Nattier