King of the South – Virudhaka

Virudhaka is a major deity in . Virudhaka is a symbol of and progress. Virudhara is the ruler of the wind. His sword is to protect and also to symbolize power over .

Virudhaka is the Guardian of the Southern Direction. Virudhaka, leader of the , is a worldly guardian worshipped as a protector. He lives on the south side of the lower slopes of in the Heaven of the Four Great . He is a fierce being who resides in the of the heavens.

Iconography of Virudhaka

Virudhaka Thangka Art

Virudhaka the king of the South. He is the ruler of the wind. And is the who helps cause good growth of roots or crops.

Virudhaka is also known as Virūḷhaka, Thao Wirunhok, Virúlaka Nat Min, Zēng Zhǎng Tiānwáng, Zōchō-ten, Jeungjang-cheonwang.

Virudhaka rules over Kumbhanda, which is a group of dwarfish and is considered as one of the lesser in Buddhism.

Virudhaka is often associated with the color blue. His symbol is a sword and he the king of the south.

Virudhaka in Mahayana Buddhism

Virudhaka Thangka Art

Virūdhaka is the name of a king that caused one of ’s nine torments according to appendix 12 of the 2nd-century Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra (chapter XIV). When king Virūdhaka and his army massacred the , the Buddha had a headache.

Story of Prince Virudhaka

was a country of many kingdoms, and wars frequently broke out among them. But, according to the of the Buddha, the Law of is always applicable to individuals as well as to whole nations.

One should therefore treat the citizens of other nations with all the due respect they deserved. According to historical records, the Buddha’s home country, Kapilavastu, had a very strong neighbor known as the Kingdom of Kosala, whose King was named Prasenajit (in Pali, Pasenadi). These two countries had numerous conflicts for many generations.

Before the Buddha was , King Prasenajit sent an ambassador to the people to court one of their Royal Princesses. But, the Sakyas were a proud people. They considered the Kosalans to be barbarians and refused to send in a Princess as a bride. But, King Prasenzjit was a military strong man, and so, to avoid bloodshed, the Sakya General Mahanama, told the Buddha’s father, King Suddhodana:

“I had an idea. Kosala is a very strong country militarily and politically. If we had a conflict with them, we may not be a match. I have a beautiful and attractive slave. Let us lie to them that she was my daughter and send her out as a Royal bride.”

However, during those days, marriages between two different classes (such as between a Princess and a worker) were unheard of. This is of course cheating and therefore the Buddha disagreed, saying that it was not a proper manner to treat another nation with lies. But, no one listened and so a slave girl from Kapilavastu was sent to King Prasenajit to become a Royal Queen.

The King and Queen of Kosala soon gave birth to Prince Virudhaka (literally, precious stones). The Royal couple later became followers of the Buddha. When Prince Virudhaka was about eight years old, he was sent to Kapilavastu to learn weaponry, specializing in arrows.

That was just the when the Buddha was returning to his hometown to see his family ten years after his . The Sakyas were very excited and they built a huge, magnificent, and gorgeous platform to welcome the Buddha back home, decorated with beautiful carvings and with incense sticks. The workers then put up a holy to prepare for Buddha’s sermon.

Prince Virudhara was just a small kid. He played in the streets of the city with his school friends and soon wandered into the huge platform.

When the Sakya soldiers saw him playing in what was considered to be a holy altar, their Commander got furious the descendant of a slave should not be seen inside a Royal building and mixed with high-class Brahmins.

He ordered the soldiers to kick out the young Prince Virudhaka and the workers to resurface and repaint any areas touched by a lowly human being. Such areas were considered to be dirty and had to be covered with fresh soil or paint.

Prince Virudhara was angry about this whole affair and vowed that

“When I become King of Kosala, I will take revenge against the Sakyas.”

When the Buddha learned of the incident, he knew that the fate of his own country was dated, because everything that the Sakya people did was against international protocol.

After King Suddhodana passed away, General Mahanama became the King of Kapilavastu. Many years passed and there had been between the two countries because both the King and Queen of Kosala (together with Crown Prince Jeta) were the Buddha’s followers.

But the world is such an impermanent place to live that one day, peace came to an end when King and Queen Prasenajit went outside his palace to inspect his own subjects. Prince Virudhara had staged a military coup, seizing power from the King and killing his stepbrother the Crown Prince Jeta.

In the confusion, King Prasenajit and his “slave” Queen fled to Kapilavastu to seek political asylum. Soon King Prasenajit, now about 80 years old, died of sickness and was buried with much pomp and circumstances.

Meanwhile, Prince Virudhara, having seized power, announced that he was now King of Kosala and declared war on Kapilavastu.

When the Buddha learned of the impending conflict, he tried to stop the advancing Kosalan army by meditating under a dead tree on the face of the advancing King Virudhara.

The King did not like the Buddha at all, but he stopped his chariot and asked him,

“You should be meditating under a , not under a dead tree.”

“You are right, ” replied the Buddha,

“but what is the use of a Bodhi tree without love and peace?”

It was customary those days in that an army had to retreat if they came across a holy man on the way, and what they met was the Buddha. Therefore, following the international protocol of those days, King Virudhara ordered his army to return home.

But soon King Virudhara mounted a second assault and a third assault, but each time he met the Buddha seating underneath a dead tree facing the advancing army. So according to Indian international protocol, the Kasolan Army returned home.

The fourth time, however, the Buddha was not there, and King Virudhara’s army marched straight towards Kapilavastu.

“My Lord Buddha, ” said Ananda, one day at the , “why are you so sad?”

“The Sakya people will be massacred in a week,” replied the Buddha sadly. “They broke international protocol and insulted a Royal Prince from their neighborhood Kingdom. They never felt sorry for what they did nor gave an apology. No matter what his ancestors were, a human being should be treated with respect. Therefore, the karma of the Sakya people had ripened and there is little I can do to help.”

“But, that is my country,” protested Maha-, one of Buddha’s Senior students. “I will do whatever I can to help Kapilavastu out!”

“It is their sin and no one will escape the law of karma.” said the Buddha. “If they do not confess that they are wrong, no one can save them!”

The Kingdom of Kapilavastu was now surrounded by the Kasolan troops. Maha-Maudgalyayana, an expert in performing mystic powers, flew into the city and put 500 Sakyas into his begging . Then, he took the bowl with him and flew out to safety. But, when he opens his begging bowl and looked inside, there weren’t any people. All he had was a bowl of bloody ! Now, he understood that the Law of karma is the supreme law of the and no one is above it!

After many days of the war, General Mahanama gave in and surrendered. During ancient times, “surrender” also meant death and King Virudhaka immediately ordered a massacre of all 30,000 Sakyas.

“No matter what, ” said General Mahanama to King Virudhaka, “you are still my adopted grandson. I have a last request.”

“What is it?”

“It is not easy to kill that many people. I beg you to let some people out. I am now going to submerge into the river while my people are fleeing. Once I come out of the water, you can start the killing.” said General Mahanama.

“Good,” King Virudhaka burst into laughter. “I want to see how long can you stay underwater.”

So the Sakyas started to flee, and King Virudhaka laughed loudly at the embarrassment of his enemies, thinking that it was funny to see them getting out in a mess. But when most of the Sakyas had fled, King Virudhaka, became curious, “how come General Mahanama stays underwater for so long?” He sent his soldiers to check it out.

“Your Majesty, ” replied his soldier after the investigation, “General Mahanama is dead. He gave up his life to save his own people.” bursting into tears as he made his report.

Thus, King Virudhaka, the son of the Buddha’s devoted follower, killed his own family and massacred another nation. But shortly after his victory, a occurred in his Palace. Was it an “accident” or was it an act of his enemies, or was it fire from Heaven, no one knew. But no one seemed to care and he and his Queen were killed in that fire.

Finally, another Buddha’s follower, King Ajatasatru, consolidated both Kingdoms to form the Empire of Rajagrha.

The first story is about the massacre of the Sakya clansmen by the Crystal King (Virudhaka). Before the advent of Sakyamuni Buddha, there was near town a village inhabited by fishermen, and in it was a big pond.

It happened that because of a great drought, the pond ran dry and all the fish were caught and eaten by the villagers.

The last fish taken was a big one and before it was killed, a boy who never ate fish played with it and thrice knocked its head.

Later, after Sakyamuni Buddha’s appearance in this world, King Prasenajit who believed in the Buddha-dharma married a Sakya girl who then gave birth to a prince called Crystal.

When he was young, Crystal had his schooling in Kapila which was then inhabited by the Sakya clansmen. One day while playing, the boy ascended to the Buddha’s seat and was reprimanded by others who dragged him down.

The boy cherished a grudge against the men and when he became king, he led his soldiers to attack Kapila, killing all its inhabitants. At the same time, the Buddha suffered from a headache that lasted three days.

When His disciples asked Him to rescue the poor inhabitants, the Buddha replied that a fixed Karma could not be changed. By means of his miraculous powers, Maudgalyayana rescued five hundred Sakya clansmen and thought he could give them refuge in his own bowl which was raised up in the . When the bowl was brought down, all the men had been turned into blood.

When asked by His chief disciples, the Buddha related the story (Kung an) of the villagers who in days gone by had killed all the fish (in their pond); King Crystal had been the big fish and his soldiers the other fish in the pond; the inhabitants of Kapila who were now killed had been those who ate the fish, and the Buddha Himself had been the boy who thrice knocked the head of the big fish.

Karma was causing Him to suffer from a headache for three days in retribution for his previous activity. Since there could be no escape from the effects of a fixed Karma, the five hundred Sakya clansmen, although rescued by Maudgalyayana, shared the same fate. Later, King Crystal was reborn in hell. (As cause produces an effect which in turn becomes a new cause) the retribution (theory) is inexhaustible. The law of causality is really very dreadful.

Virudhaka in Sanskrit

virudhaka Thangka with silk frame
virudhaka with

Virudhaka is the name of one of the four world guardians. He is the guardian of the south and chief of kumbhanda. Virudhaka is known as Pag pi kye bo in .

Virudhaka is the Guardian of the Southern Direction. Virudhaka, leader of the Kumbhanda, is a worldly guardian worshipped as a protector. He lives on the south side of the lower slopes of Mount Meru in the Heaven of the Four Great Kings. He is a fierce being who resides in the desire realms of the heavens.

Like the other Direction Kings, the leader Vaishravana, Virupaksha, and swore an oath of protection before the buddha .

The stories and of the Four Guardian Kings arose originally with the early and became fully developed in the later .

They are common to all schools of . of the Kings are generally found in association with a larger thematic set featuring the Buddha Shakyamuni and the Sixteen Great Elders/.

Mantra of Virudhaka

Old statue of virudhaka
Old statue of virudhaka

vi ru dha ka kum bham da dhi pa ta ye sva ha

om virudhaka kumbhandadhipataye

Virudhaka for Success & Progress


Mantra of Virudhaka Maharaj from Lotus Sutra

Agane gane gauri gandhari chandali pukkasi samkule vrusali sisi savaha.

Here is the list of the ancient and statues collected by the different of the world.

Direction Gaurdien – Virudhaka Thangka

Virudhaka old thangka

This is the thangka of the heavenly king Virudhaka. He is the kind of the south. This thangka was handpainted on by using mineral pigment in .

Origin Tibet
Name Virudhaka
Tibetan རྒྱལ་ཆེན་རིགས་བཞི།
Chinese  四大天王
Lineage Buddhist
Material Mineral Pigment on cotton
 Publication Publication
Classification Deity
Appearance King
Gender Male

Virudhaka Thangka Sketch on Paper

Virudhaka Thangka Sketch on Paper
Virudhaka Thangka Sketch on

This Sketch is the collection of the . Paper is the base of this sketch. This sketch is from Eastern Tibet.

Maharaj Virudhaka is depicted in the center of the thangka with a sword in the right hand which symbolizes symbolize power over ignorance and the dharma protector.

His left hand is holding a flaming jewel adorned with an ornate golden jeweled crown, the flaming aureole surrounded further by smoking dark clouds, richly adorned in royal attire of and .

Origin Eastern Tibet
Date Range 1960
Lineage Buddhist
Name Virudhaka
Tibetan རྒྱལ་ཆེན་རིགས་བཞི།
Chinese  四大天王
Material Ground Paper
Collection Rubin Museum of
Classification Deity
Appearance King
Gender Male

Virudhaka Statue

Statue of Virudhaka
Statue of Virudhaka

The statue of Virudhaka is originated from Tibet. Virudhaka, the king of North is the collection piece of Museum, New Delhi.

Virudhaka is in a wrathful appearance. His right-hand holds a sword. His left hand rests on top of the sword. He is standing of . He leads an assembly of Kumbhandas to serve as the guardian of Buddha dharma in the south direction.

Origin Tibet
Name Virudhaka Virudhaka
Tibetan Name རྒྱལ་ཆེན་རིགས་བཞི།
Chinese Name  四大天王
Gender Male
Lineage Buddhist
Classification Deity
Appearance King
Collection Tibet House Museum, New Delhi
Virudhaka Statue, Tibet House Museum, New Delhi

Virudhaka Wooden Statue

Old statue of virudhaka
Old statue of virudhaka

This statue is the collection of Museum der Kulturen, Basel. The statue is originated from Tibet. Virudhala Statue is made with between 1600 – 1699.

Virudhaka is the king of the south and the leader of the Kumbhanda.

Origin Tibet
Name Virudhaka
Tibetan Name རྒྱལ་ཆེན་རིགས་བཞི།
Chinese name 四大天王
Gender Male
Date Range 1600 – 1699
Size 19cm (7.48in) high
Material Wood
Appearance King
Lineage Buddhist
Classification Deity
Collection Museum der Kulturen, Basel
Direction Guardian South
Leader of Kumbhanda
Virudhaka Statue, Museum der Kulturen, Basel

Virudhaka Art

This Virudhaka Thangka is from the photo archive collection of the new Shechen Monastery in , . The Thangka is originated in Tibet around 1800 – 1899.

Origin Tibet
Name Virudhaka
Tibetan Name རྒྱལ་ཆེན་རིགས་བཞི།
Chinese Name 四大天王
Gender Male
Date Range 1800 – 1899
Lineage Buddhist
Collection Shechen Archives – photographs
Classification Deity


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About sadiksha

Namaste! I am a Nepali Art Dealer specialized in Mandala and Thangka paintings. I love to write articles about the monastic culture of the Himalayas.

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