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Amitabha is the Buddha of Limitless Light (or Life). Properly transcribed as Amitābha, meaning the Buddha of Limitless Light or Amitāyus (the Buddha of Limitless Life). A Buddha who possesses infinite meritorious qualities; who expounds the dharma in his pure paradise (Sukhāvatī) in the West. According to tradition Amitābha was in ancient times a king who, having come in contact with the Buddhist teaching, renounced his throne and became a monk with the name of Dharmakāra. He resolved to become a Buddha and in this way to come into possession of a paradise in which all who call his name might be born into a life of unbounded joy. This is the result of his forty-eight vows 四十八願, the most important of which are the eighteenth 十八願 and nineteenth 十九願, in which he promises not to achieve supreme perfect enlightenment until he have saved all sentient beings in his paradise. Amitābha is thus the primary deity of the Pure Land school 淨土宗 of Buddhism which developed and spread in China, Vietnam, Korean and Japan. In iconographic art, Amitābha is usually portrayed as having two assistants: Avalokiteśvara 觀音 (also considered as his incarnation) who appears on his left and Mahāsthāmaprāpta 勢至 who appears on his right. He is also one of the five buddhas 五佛 of the vajradhātu. The basic doctrine concerning Amitābha and his vows can be found in the Amitābha-sūtra阿彌陀經 and the Sutra of Infinite Life 無量壽經.

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