Although the essence of the Buddha is by definition beyond conceptual understanding, Buddhist art has nonetheless developed visual expressions of the enlightened state.
The five Tathagata Buddhas dwell in sphere that is far above earthly concerns. They embody the fundamental philosophical principles of later Mahayana Buddhism and are also referred to as contemplation or victor Buddhas. They denote the etheric embodiments of the Buddhahood as these can be recognized and their qualities experienced invisualising forms of meditation.
The terms Tathagata can be translated as Thus-Come-One, or according to another interpretation, as˜Thus-Gone-One. What is meant by these terms is someone who has realised˜thusness, thusness referring to the ungraspable transcendent realidy of all things. Tathagata was the one most frequently term used by the historical Buddha when referring to him.
Each of the five represents one of the five transcendental insights that is an antidote to the five mental poisons. According to Tantric philosophy these poisons are not destroyed or suppressed, which would merely intensify their effect, but transformed into their positive counterparts. They are the remedies against the reasons for continuing entanglement in the ongoing cycle of rebirth, the five poisons of anger and hatred, pride, desire and greed, envy and jealousy, delusion and ignorance.