Vimalakīrti (Sanskrit: विमल vimala "stainless, undefiled" + कीर्ति kīrti "fame, glory, reputation") is the central figure in the Vimalakirti Sutra,[1] which presents him as the ideal Mahayana Buddhist upāsaka ("lay practitioner")[2] and a contemporary of Gautama Buddha (6th to 5th century BCE).[1] There is no mention of him in Buddhist texts until after Nāgārjuna (1st century BCE to 2nd century CE) revived Mahayana Buddhism in India.[3] The Mahayana Vimalakirti Sutra also spoke of the city of Vaisali[4] as where the lay Licchavi bodhisattva Vimalakirti was residing.[5]

Vimalakirti, 8th century wall painting, Dunhuang

As a Zen PatriarchEdit

The Vimalakīrti Nirdeśa Sūtra characterizes Vimalakīrti as a wealthy patron of Gautama Buddha.[6] Unlike many other figures of the Mahayana literature, such as Avalokiteśvara, he is generally taken to be a historical figure like Gautama Buddha, rather than mythic or legendary, and as such Vimalakīrti is not commonly venerated on altars or in tantric rituals,[7] but as a prehistoric zen, i.e., chan preacher.[citation needed]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "The Vimalakirti Sutra: The Dharma-Door of Nonduality". Retrieved April 17, 2013.
  2. ^ "Vimalakirti and the Doctrine of Nonduality". Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved April 17, 2013.
  3. ^ Thurman, Robert (2000). The Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti: A Mahayana Scripture. Pennsylvania State University Press. p. ix. ISBN 0271012099.
  4. ^ The Holy Teaching of Vimalakīrti: A Mahāyāna Scripture. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. 1991. p. 20. ISBN 978-81-208-0874-4.
  5. ^ Thurman, Robert. "VIMALAKIRTI NIRDESA SUTRA". Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  6. ^ Baroni, Helen Josephine (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Zen Buddhism. The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 369. ISBN 9780823922406.
  7. ^ Leighton, Taigen Dan. "Boddhisattvas of Compassion Lesson 8: Vimalakirti". Ashoka: the eDharma learning center. DharmaNet International. Retrieved 22 August 2014.

External linksEdit