Nirmanakaya

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Nirmanakaya (devanāgarī: निर्माणकाय nirmāṇakāya) is a Buddhist term for a physical body of a Buddha created to be manifested in time and space. In the Theosophical view this concept refers to the Masters of Wisdom:

These Nirmanakayas are the Bodhisattvas or late Adepts, who having reached Nirvana and liberation from rebirth, renounce it voluntarily in order to remain invisibly amidst the world to help poor ignorant Humanity within the lines permitted by Karma.[1]

Theosophical view

H. P. Blavatsky wrote in her Theosophical Glossary the following:

Nirmânakâya (Sk.). Something entirely different in esoteric philosophy from the popular meaning attached to it, and from the fancies of the Orientalists. Some call the Nirmânakâya body “Nirvâna with remains” (Schlagintweit, etc.) on the supposition, probably, that it is a kind of Nirvânic condition during which consciousness and form are retained. Others say that it is one of the Trikâya (three bodies), with the “power of assuming any form of appearance in order to propagate Buddhism” (Eitel's idea); again, that “it is the incarnate avatâra of a deity” (ibid.), and so on. Occultism, on the other hand, says: that Nirmânâkaya, although meaning literally a transformed “body”, is a state. The form is that of the adept or yogi who enters, or chooses, that Post mortem condition in preference to the Dharmakâya or absolute Nirvânic state. He does this because the latter kâya separates him for ever from the world of form, conferring upon him a state of selfish bliss, in which no other living being can participate, the adept being thus precluded from the possibility of helping humanity, or even devas. As a Nirmânakâya, however, the man leaves behind him only his physical body, and retains every other “principle” save the Karmic--for he has crushed this out for ever from his nature, during life, and it can never resurrect in his post mortem state. Thus, instead of going into selfish bliss, he chooses a life of self-sacrifice, an existence which ends only with the life-cycle, in order to be enabled to help mankind in an invisible yet most effective manner. (See The Voice of the Silence, third treatise, “The Seven Portals”.) Thus a Nirmânakâya is not, as popularly believed, the body “in which a Buddha or a Bodhisattva appears on earth”, but verily one, who whether a Chutuktu or a Khubilkhan, an adept or a yogi during life, has since become a member of that invisible Host which ever protects and watches over Humanity within Karmic limits. Mistaken often for a “Spirit”, a Deva, God himself, &c., a Nirmânakâya is ever a protecting, compassionate, verily a guardian angel, to him who becomes worthy of his help. Whatever objection may be brought forward against this doctrine; however much it is denied, because, forsooth, it has never been hitherto made public in Europe and therefore since it is unknown to Orientalists, it must needs be “a myth of modern invention”--no one will be bold enough to say that this idea of helping suffering mankind at the price of one's own almost interminable self-sacrifice, is not one of the grandest and noblest that was ever evolved from human brain.[2]
According to the Occult teachings, however, Siddhas are the Nirmânakâyas or the “spirits” (in the sense of an individual, or conscious spirit) of great sages from spheres on a higher plane than our own, who voluntarily incarnate in mortal bodies in order to help the human race in its upward progress. Hence their innate knowledge wisdom and powers.[3]

Buddhist view

Notes

  1. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings, vol. 12 (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1991), 31.
  2. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Theosophical Glossary (Krotona, CA: Theosophical Publishing House, 1973), 231.
  3. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. II, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 636, fn.