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Four Heavenly Kings


Four Heavenly Kings

Korean statue of Gwangmok Cheonwang (Virūpākṣa)

In Buddhism, the Four Heavenly Kings are four gods, each of whom watches over one cardinal direction of the world. In Chinese, they are known collectively as the "Fēng Tiáo Yǔ Shùn" (simplified Chinese: 风调雨顺; traditional Chinese: 風調雨順; literally: "Good climate") or "Sì Dà Tiānwáng" (Chinese: 四大天王; literally: "Four Great Heavenly Kings").

The Four Guardian Kings in Burmese depiction.


  • Nomenclature 1
  • The Four Heavenly Kings 2
  • Music 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


The Kings are collectively named as follows.

Language Written form Romanization Translation
Sanskrit चतुर्महाराज Caturmahārāja Four Great Kings
Lokapāla Guardians of the world
Sinhalese සතරවරම් දෙවිවරු Satharawaram Dewi Four Privileged/Bestowed Gods
Burmese စတုလောကပါလ
loan of caturlokapāla
loan of caturmahā + king nats
Chinese 天王 Tiānwáng Heavenly kings
四天王 Sì Tiānwáng Four heavenly kings
四大天王 Sì Dà Tiānwáng Four great heavenly kings
Korean 천왕 Cheonwang Heavenly kings
사천왕 Sacheonwang Four heavenly kings
사대천왕 Sadae Cheonwang Four great heavenly kings
Japanese 四天王 Shitennō Four heavenly kings
Vietnamese 四天王 Tứ Thiên Vương Four heavenly kings
Tibetan རྒྱལ༌ཆེན༌བཞི༌ rgyal chen bzhi four great kings
Mongolian Махаранз Maharandz loan of mahārāja
Thai จาตุมหาราชา Chatumaharacha loan of caturmahārāja
จตุโลกบาล Chatulokkaban loan of caturlokapāla

The Four Heavenly Kings

The Four Heavenly Kings are said to currently live in the Cāturmahārājika heaven (Pali Cātummahārājika, "Of the Four Great Kings") on the lower slopes of Mount Sumeru, which is the lowest of the six worlds of the devas of the Kāmadhātu. They are the protectors of the world and fighters of evil, each able to command a legion of supernatural creatures to protect the Dharma.

Sanskrit romanization
वैश्रवण (कुबेर)
Meaning he who hears everything he who causes to grow he who upholds the realm he who sees all
Description This is the chief of the four kings and protector of the north. He is the ruler of rain. His symbolic weapons are the umbrella or pagoda. Wearing heavy armor and carrying the umbrella in his right hand, he is often associated with the ancient Indian God of wealth. Associated with the color yellow or green.
Chief of the four kings and protector of the north
King of the south and one who causes good growth of roots. He is the ruler of the wind. His symbolic weapon is the sword which he carries in his right hand to protect the Dharma and the southern continent. Associated with the color blue.
King of the south and one who causes good growth of roots
King of the east and God of music. His symbolic weapon is the pipa (stringed instrument). He is harmonious and compassionate and protects all beings. Uses his music to convert others to Buddhism. Associated with the color white.
King of the east and God of music
King of the west and one who sees all. His symbolic weapon is a snake or red cord that is representative of a dragon. As the eye in the sky, he sees people who do not believe in Buddhism and converts them. His ancient name means he who has broad objectives. Associated with the color red.
King of the west and one who sees all
Pali romanization
वेस्सवण (कुवेर)
Vessavaṇa (Kuvera)
Thao Kuwen
Thao Wirunhok
Thao Thatarot
Thao Wirupak
เวสวัณ, เวสสุวัณ
Wetsawan, Wetsuwan
Burmese ဝေဿဝဏ်(ကုဝေရ)
Kuvéra (or) Wéthawún Nat Min
Virúlaka Nat Min
Daddáratá Nat Min
Virúpekka Nat Min
Traditional/Simplified Chinese
多聞天王 / 多闻天王
Duō Wén Tiānwáng
增長天王 / 增长天王
Zēng Zhǎng Tiānwáng
持國天王 / 持国天王
Chí Guó Tiānwáng
廣目天王 / 广目天王
Guăng Mù Tiānwáng
毗沙門天 / 毗沙门天 留博叉天 / 留博叉天 多羅吒天 / 多罗吒天 毗琉璃天 / 毗琉璃天
Hepburn romanization
多聞天 (毘沙門天)
Tamon-ten (Bishamon-ten)
romanized Korean
Sino-Vietnamese Đa Văn Thiên Tăng Trưởng Thiên Trì Quốc Thiên Quảng Mục Thiên
Tibetan alphabet and romanization རྣམ་ཐོས་སྲས་ Namthöse) ཕགས་སྐྱེས་པོ་ (Phakyepo) ཡུལ་འཁོར་སྲུང་ (Yülkhorsung) ཡུལ་འཁོར་སྲུང་ (Chenmizang)
Color yellow or green blue white red
Symbol umbrella sword pipa serpent
mongoose stupa
stupa pearl
Followers yakṣas kumbhāṇḍas gandharvas nāgas
Direction north south east west

All four serve Śakra, the lord of the devas of Trāyastriṃśa. On the 8th, 14th and 15th days of each lunar month, the Four Heavenly Kings either send out messengers or go themselves to see how virtue and morality are faring in the world of men. Then they report upon the state of affairs to the assembly of the Trāyastriṃśa devas.

On the orders of Śakra, the four kings and their retinues stand guard to protect Trāyastriṃśa from another attack by the Asuras, which once threatened to destroy the kingdom of the devas. They are also vowed to protect the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Buddha's followers from danger.

Statues of the Four Heavenly Kings. From left to right: Vaiśravaṇa, Virūḍhaka, Dhṛtarāṣṭra, and Virūpākṣa.

According to Vasubandhu, devas born in the Cāturmahārājika heaven are 1/4 of a krośa in height (about 750 feet tall). They have a five-hundred-year lifespan, of which each day is equivalent to 50 years in our world; thus their total lifespan amounts to about nine million years (other sources say 90,000 years).

Painting of Kōmokuten (Virūpākṣa), the Guardian of the West (one of the Four Guardian Kings). 13th century.

The symbols that the Kings carry also link the deities to their followers; for instance, the nāgas, magical creatures who can change form between human and serpent, are led by Virūpākṣa, represented by a snake; the gandharvas are celestial musicians, led by Dhṛtarāṣṭra, represented with a lute. The umbrella was a symbol of regal sovereignty in ancient India, and the sword is a symbol of martial prowess. Vaiśravaṇa's mongoose, which ejects jewels from its mouth, is said to represent generosity in opposition to greed.





Heavenly Kings





龍千玉(long qian yu) was performed the song as backgrounded in the Hokkien karaoke in the song titled 傷痕 (Meaning:bruise.)

See also


  • Chaudhuri, Saroj Kumar. Hindu Gods and Goddesses in Japan. New Delhi: Vedams eBooks (P) Ltd., 2003. ISBN 81-7936-009-1.
  • Nakamura, Hajime. Japan and Indian Asia: Their Cultural Relations in the Past and Present. Calcutta: Firma K.L. Mukhopadhyay, 1961. Pp. 1–31.
  • Potter, Karl H., ed. The Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies, volume 9. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1970–. ISBN 81-208-1968-3, ISBN 81-208-0307-8 (set).
  • Thakur, Upendra. India and Japan: A Study in Interaction During 5th cent.–14th cent. A.D.. New Delhi: Abhinav Publications, 1992. ISBN 81-7017-289-6. Pp. 27–41.

External links

  • Schumacher, Mark. "Shitenno - Four Heavenly Kings (Deva) of Buddhism, Guarding Four Cardinal Directions". Digital Dictionary of Buddhism in Japan.
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