Ksitigarbha – Earth Matrix

Bodhisattvas vow to remain on Earth until all suffering on Earth is relieved. Ksitigarbha took this one step further, vowing not to become a Buddha until all beings are saved and all hells are emptied. Ksitigarbha is the Bodhisattva of the Hell Beings. Ksitigarbha’s myth appears in the Sutra of the Great Vow of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, a Sanskrit text in the form of a dialogue between Buddha Shakyamuni and Ksitigarbha. Centuries before the time of Buddha Shakyamuni, Ksitigarbha was a young and devout Brahmin girl named “Sacred Girl” or “Holy Girl.” Distraught by the death of her irreverent mother, whom she feared was destined for Hell; Sacred Girl sold all her possessions to make offerings to the Buddha and spent all her time petitioning for mercy for her mother’s soul. (Although Sacred Girl is identified as a Brahmin, the story, philosophy, rituals and her fears are not consonant with Hinduism but are very Buddhist. She is essentially identified as a precursor to historical Buddhism.) While praying in a temple, she heard the disembodied voice of Buddha advise her to go home and chant repetitions of his name if she wished to save her mother. She did so; eventually experiencing a vision journey to Hell whose guardian informed her that because of her piety and good deeds, she had accrued enough merit to liberate her mother. Although happy, Ksitigarbha was shocked at the suffering she witnessed in Hell and so made her famous vow. Ksitigarbha heals the sick, comforts the grieving and the depressed and provides spiritual protection. She provides safety in the face of evil. Ksitigarbha trounces Demons. Ksitigarbha travelled east through Asia with Buddhism where she also resonated with the non-Buddhist population and was incorporated into Taoist and Shinto practices, too. Ksitigarbha is now almost universally envisioned and depicted as male.




Dizang (China); Jizo (Japan); Sai Nyingpo (Tibet)






Ksitigarbha is typically envisioned as a monk


The wish-granting jewel; pilgrim’s staff

Sacred site:

Mount Jiuhua, one of China’s four sacred Buddhist Mountains. The entire mountain is sacred to Ksitigarbha and contains many shrines and temples dedicated to her (or him, as the case may be).


Chant her mantra for safety, protection and relief if menaced by nightmares, night paralysis, malevolent spirits or any kind of danger: OM KSHITIGHARBHA BODHISATTVA YAH


  • Bodhisattva
  • Buddha
  • Jizo
  • Koyasu


Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes. />Judika Illes.

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