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Acalanatha (अचलनाथ)

Sanskrit. ‘Immovable protector’. Name of a Hindu deity that in the late 7th century was incorporated into esoteric Buddhism as a servant of the Buddha. During the Tang Dynasty he became known in China as Budong, i.e. the ‘Immovable [one]’, and was later imported into Japan as Fudo Myoo (fig.), ‘Immovable Bright King’, which is usually shortened to Fudo. Acalanatha is described to be a powerful deity, who protects all the living by burning away all obstacles, thus aiding them towards Enlightenment. He is typically portrayed with a blue complexion, holding a vajra sword in one hand and a lariat, i.e. a rope used as a lasso or for tethering, in the other, which he uses to bind ghosts and evil spirits. He is usually seated in the lotus position, often in front of a flaming nimbus and sometimes on a rock, i.e. a symbol of his steadfastness, though he may also be depicted in a standing pose (fig.), with or without a flaming nimbus, which is said to be the flame of the Garuda (fig.), a savage, firebreathing, mythological bird. Hence, in iconography, the features of a bird can sometimes be discovered entangled in the flames (fig.). Acalanatha is sometimes portrayed with one fang pointing up and another pointing down, and a braid on one side of his head. In Japan, Fudo is descrbed as having 8 to 48 boy servants, though he is usually portrayed with just 2 of those boy servants in attendance (fig.), namely Kimkara or Kongara (矜羯羅 - fig.) and Cetaka or Seitaka (制吒迦 - fig.). In Tibetan Buddhism, Acalanatha is sometimes described as an emanation of Akshobhya (fig.), who also has a blue complexion and whose name equally means the ‘Immovable One’. However, he is also named as one of the Five Kings of Light or Five Kings of Mystical Knowledge, i.e. wrathful deities who represent the power of the jinas, i.e. the five dhyani buddhas or transcendental buddhas, and in that role Acalanatha is described to correspondent to Vairochana (fig.). In China, he is deemed the protector of those born in the Year of the Rooster. He is in short also referred to as Acala.