The Four Heavenly Kings
The 4 Guardian deities of the Buddhist pantheon. In Pali, they are known as Catumahārāja (Thai: Chatumaharacha). Each of them watch a cardinal direction of Earth. They have vowed to protect the Buddha, Dhamma and theirt devotees from evil and danger. Together with Indra, the King of Tāvatiṃsa Heaven (Thai: Phra Inn), the 4 Heavenly kings and their retinue maintain the cosmic balance of good and evil, guarding against the Asuras, who seek to destroy Tāvatiṃsa Heaven and its inhabitants.
The 4 Heavenly Kings are:
1) Vaisravana /Vessavana/ Kubera (also known as Tao Wetsuwan in Thai) who also holds dominion over rain. He is the leader of the 4. Pictures and statues of him depict him in several forms, sometimes holding a club, stupa, umbrella, or even a mongoose. He is also known as the deity who brings wealth, and in Vajrayana Buddhism, he is depicted as Kubera, the Wealth Deity. Vaisravana is loosely translated as “he who hears everything”, and he leads the Yakshas to watch over the Northern direction. He is usually depicted in yellow or green.
2) Dhrtarastra/Dhatarattha (also known as Tao Thatarot in Thai) grasps a stringed instrument known as a Pipa, and is known as the Deity of Music. He promotes harmony and compassion. Together with his retinue of Ghandharvas, he presides over the Eastern direction. He is usually depicted in white. Dhrtarastra is loosely translated as “he who watches over the lands”.
3) Virudhaka/Virulhaka (also known as Tao Wirunhok in Thai), which loosely translates as “he who brings growth”. He is the ruler of the wind, and brings good crops and harvests. He is armed with a sword, and with his retinue of Khumbhanda, oversees the Southern direction. He carries a sword and is usually depicted in blue.
4) Virupaksa/ Virupakkha (also known as Tao Wirupak), which loosely translates as “he who sees everything”, and is known to watch over Buddhist devotees from the sky. He carries a red cord, or sometimes a snake, which in fact is a Naga. With his retinue of Nagas, he watches over the West. He is usually depicted in red.« Back to Glossary Index