The Four Heavenly Kings
The Four Guardians or Kings
The Four Heavenly Kings - Buddhism and Hinduism
The Four Heavenly Kings are a rather interesting part of the Buddhist and Hindu belief system. The Four Heavenly Kings originally were gods from Hinduism. It was later that they were incorporated into Buddhism. It could be said that Buddhism originally was a radical form of Hinduism. It came from China and India first, then spread to the rest of Asia. After that, it spread even further of course.
Hinduism is one of the older religious systems that we know of. It also is one of the most complex religions. It is a great goal to understand it more, as so many in our world hold Hinduism or some form of it to be true.
During its history, Hinduism led way to many different sects holding rather diverse beliefs at times. It takes a lot of study to fully understand Hinduism, to get the most accurate view you can of it.
The Four Heavenly Kings
The Four Heavenly Kings is the focus here in this hub. If you look for information on these kings, you will find it most often aligned with Buddhism. As I stated before, they were originally gods of Hinduism, and that is a good base to know about them.
In the Buddhist faith, the Four Heavenly Kings are also four gods, and each god watches over each one of the four directions in our world. You may have heard them referred to as the Guardians of the directions.
These kings are referred to of course, in many different languages, but all are referring to the Four Kings, as a group. Below I give a listing of the name of the language or people group, and the name they give to "The Four Heavenly Kings", and then the translation in English.
Names of the Four Heavenly Kings in Different Languages
In Vietnamese -Tu Thien Vuong - Four Heavenly Kings
In Thai -Chatumaharaja - Four Great Kings, or Chatulokkban - Four Guardians of the World
In Tibetan - Rgyal chen bzhi - Four Great Kings
In Chinese - Si Da Tianwang - Four Great Heavenly Kings
In Korean - Sadae Cheonwang - Four Great Heavenly Kings
In Sanskrit - Lokapala - Guardians of the World
In Mongolian - Maharanja - Four Great Kings
In Japanese -Shitenno - Four Heavenly Kings
Where are the Four Heavenly Kings?
They live in the Caturmaharajika heaven. Pali Catummaharajika, or "Of the Four Great Kings," This is on the lover slopes of the Sumeru Mountain. This is the lowest of the six worlds of the devas and Kamadhatu.
What do the Four Heavenly Kings Do?
These kings help to protect the Dharma, Buddha, and the followers of Buddhism from evil. They are in position to fight and protect. By the orders of Sakra the four kings and their helpers are to protect Trayastrimsa in particular. They had been previously attacked by the Asuras, and once threatened to end the kingdom of the devas.
The four heavenly kings also send out messengers to see what is going on among humans on the earth. They are looking for virtue and morality in particular, and then report back on their findings. They report to the assembly of the Trayastrimsa devas.
This comes from Buddhist legend of course, the idea that there are four heavenly kings that protect the world. The legends tell of how each one of the kings, leads his own mighty celestial army against evil. Again, going way back, these legends are taken from older Hindu mythology.
To see any of the photos a bit larger, simply click on the image itself. Some of them can be enlarged to see more detail.
There are so many things we can learn about other cultures and belief systems. No matter who we are, or what we believe, I think there is so much to gain from looking at other religions and worldviews.
We can often see the differences so clearly, but sometimes it is also good to see the similarities. For instance, I know of other religions that esteem virtue and morality, and have a strong sense of the evil in the world.
© 2012 Paula