Mara (Buddhism)

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Māra's attack on Buddha (symbolized by the throne); 2nd century, Amaravati ( Museum Guimet )
Daughters of the Demon Mara (glazed terracotta tile, 1460–1470, southern Burma (Myanmar), Asian Art Museum, San Francisco)

Mara (or Māra ) ( derived from Sanskrit from marati , “to die”, “to murder”) is the principle of death and disaster in Buddhism .

It represents a symbol of the painful world of samsara , and in its embodiment of death, together with aging, forms the twelfth link in the chain of dependent arising . Personified, he is described as the tempter and so sometimes compared to the Christian devil .

Origin and occurrence

In the legends, Devaputra Māra is the antagonist of Buddha Shakyamuni . His three daughters Ratī , lust, Aratī , dissatisfaction and Tanhā , greed are considered to be his assistants . He appears several times in the life history of the Buddha. The most important appearance is the one immediately before its enlightenment (see below). As a metaphor , Māra stands for “that which causes suffering”. In this sense, the five groups of worldly existence, the so-called skandhas, belong to it, those factors which determine the attachment to a worldly, non-enlightened existence.

Hermann Oldenberg suspects a pre-Buddhist origin and sees the original idea of ​​the Māra in the figure of the death god Mrityu of the Kāthaka- Upanishad .

Māra in legend

When Buddha Shakyamuni was on the verge of enlightenment under the Bodhi tree , Māra used all his strength to prevent him. To do this, he evoked appearances such as armies of violent warriors in order to make him angry, or women who wanted to give themselves to him and riches in order to seduce him. However, Buddha saw through his intentions, realizing that everything offered to him is ephemeral and like an illusion. In a final attack, Māra tried to persuade the Buddha to enter nirvana immediately . However, this refused because he first wanted to find students in order to enable his teaching to spread. Māra herself sank into a puddle, the illusion was cut through by the Buddha's enlightenment like a diamond (see Diamond Sutra ).


Individual evidence

  1. Klaus-Josef Notz: The Lexicon of Buddhism. Freiburg, 1998, ISBN 3-451-04700-4
  2. Devaputra is a title of ruler introduced by the Kuschanas .
  3. ^ A b Hermann Oldenberg: Buddha - life, teaching, community. Berlin, 1881, reprint: ISBN 3-8262-1509-5

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