Buddhism developed the concept of a timeless and universal buddha. This primordial buddha (Skt. Adi-Buddha) is indistinguishable from pure wisdom, has no form, transcends all concepts, and therefore cannot be described in words or depicted. The five Transcendent Buddhas are manifestations of this ultimate reality and are thus aspects of the pure truth. Each one is associated with a specific cardinal point, a colour, an aspect of teaching, as well as particular symbols:
Akshobhya, ‘the Immovable One’, is associated with the eastern quarter. His colour is blue, and he is depicted showing the ‘earth witness’. He is considered the embodiment of triumph over and passions.
, ‘Infinite Light’, is associated with the western quarter. His colour is red, and he is depicted showing the gesture of . He is considered the embodiment of and intuitive wisdom.
Ratnasambhava, ‘Born of a Jewel’, is associated with the southern quarter. His colour is yellow, and he is depicted showing the wish-fulfilling gesture. He stands for help and support on the path to spiritual.
Amoghasiddhi, ‘He of Infallible Accomplishment’, is associated with the northern quarter. His colour is green, and he is depicted showing the gesture of fearlessness. He is considered the embodiment of protection and encouragement.
Vairocana, ‘the Resplendent One’, is the central figure of the five Transcendent Buddhas. His colour is white; it contains the colours of the other four. Considered the embodiment of all aspects of wisdom, he is depicted showing the gesture of, and occasionally with four faces.