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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Nirmāṇakāya

In Mahāyāna Buddhism, one of the three “vestures” or “bodies” (TRIKĀYA) of the Buddha, the other two being Sambhogakāya and Dharmakāya. Its literal meaning is “Transformation Body” and was postulated to refer to the Body “in which a Buddha or Bodhisattva appears on earth.” But according to Helena P. BLAVATSKY this is incorrect. A Nirmānakāya, she says, is a person who has left the physical body after death, but retains every other principle except the kāma-rūpa or body of lower desires (although in another article [CW VII:188 fn.] Blavatsky states that Nirmānakāya are the astral forms of Adepts). Instead of entering the deserved bliss of the after-life, “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 . . . Verily a guardian angel, to him who becomes worthy of his help” (Theosophical Glossary, p. 231). In contrast, a person who chooses to live in the Sambhogakāya or Dharmakāya vestures loses all contact with the physical world. The Nirmānakāya vesture can be made visible or invisible at will.

V.H.C.

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