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Fudo Myo-O


fudo image

Many swords have decorative carvings called 'horimono'. These were often used to invoke the help of the favorite deity, or god, of the owner of the sword. One of the most popular of these horimono, is the image of the Buddhist deity Fudo-Myo-O (Acala). Surrounded by flames, he is the foremost of the five 'Kings of light' in esoteric Buddhism. His angry stare, indicates his judiciary position, intolerant of evil and wickedness. Fudo-Myo-O, the Immovable King of light, holds a rope in his left hand and a straight double-edged sword in his right hand. The hilt of the sword is a vajra (esoteric Buddhist ritual implement). The three prongs of the vajra represent the Buddha, the Lotus and the ultimate reality. The rope is to bind the enemies of enlightenment whilst the sword is to cut through the illusionary world to the ultimate reality. Carvings of Fudo-Myo-O come in several different forms. Sometimes it is the simple sanscrit character for Fudo. There are also several variations of Fudo depicted by a dragon, wrapped around a sword, the dragon a symbolization Fudo's rope.

The patron deity of Japanese swordsmen, Fudo is the representation of the immovable state of mind, that swordsmen try to attain through regular practice. This does not mean to become static, but to be unmoved by the distractions of the illusionary world and to see the ultimate reality beyond the illusions of life and death.

Paul Martin