Lokapala is derived from the Sanskrit word "lok" (people) and "pala" (protector/caretaker), or "caretaker of people."
Caturmaharajika means four great kings "whose abodes are the four sides of Meru, and who also serve as protectors of the world", and refers to "guardians of the world", specifically the four guardian kings of Mount Meru. They are also known as the four heavenly kings, and are said to "currently live in the Cāturmahārājika heaven ... on the lower slopes of Mount Sumeru, which is the lowest of the six worlds of the devas of the Kāmadhātu."
As the Four heavenly kings, they are "the protectors of the world" who fight off evil, "each able to command a legion of supernatural creatures to protect the Dharma."
The Four Heavenly Kings consist of:
- Vaiśravaṇa (Kubera), he who hears everything, protector of the North, whose followers are yakṣas ;
- Virūḍhaka, he who causes to grow, protector of the South, whose followers are kumbhāṇḍas;
- Dhṛtarāṣṭra, he who upholds the realm, protector of the East, whose followers are gandharvas; and
- Virūpākṣa, he who sees all, protector of the West, whose followers are nagas.
- Vaiśravaṇa represents generosity and wealth, providing freedom by way of bestowing prosperity;
- Virūḍhaka represents the growth of belief in the Buddha and faith in his Dharma:
- Dhṛtarāṣṭra represents the maintenance of the mindful state through meditation; and
- Virūpākṣa represents the vigilance of the mind by keeping the Five Precepts.
Originally posted: September 20, 2003 1431H
Update edited: March 2, 2013 1853H
Lokapalas and caturmaharajikas in Chilas und Thalpan (Nordpakistan); http://www.thewalt.de/lokapala/lokap_engl.htm
Four male gate keepers: http://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?title=Four_male_gate_keepers
Four heavenly kings: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Heavenly_Kings
Guardians of the directions: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guardians_of_the_directions
Five Precepts: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Precepts#Chinese_Mahayana_texts