Vimalakīrti (Sanskrit: विमल vimala "stainless, undefiled" + कीर्ति kīrti "fame, glory, reputation") is the central figure in the Vimalakirti Sutra, which presents him as the ideal Mahayana Buddhist upāsaka ("lay practitioner") and a contemporary of Gautama Buddha (6th to 5th century BCE). There is no mention of him in Buddhist texts until after Nāgārjuna (1st century BCE to 2nd century CE) revived Mahayana Buddhism in India. The Mahayana Vimalakirti Sutra also spoke of the city of Vaisali as where the lay Licchavi bodhisattva Vimalakirti was residing.
The Vimalakīrti Nirdeśa Sūtra characterizes Vimalakīrti as a wealthy patron of Gautama Buddha. Unlike many other figures of the Mahayana literature, such as Avalokiteśvara, he is generally taken to be a historical figure like Gautama Buddha, rather than mythic or legendary, and as such Vimalakīrti is not commonly venerated on altars or in tantric rituals, but as a prehistoric zen, i.e., chan preacher.