Manjusri is a bodhisattva; a yidam in Tibetan Buddhism and associated with prajna. Manjusri means gentle glory, he is considered a youth Manjusrikumarabhuta. He is an important Bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism. He figures in the Prajnaparamita sutra and symbolises prajna. He is accorded Vimala,his pure land as per the Lotus sutra located in the East. He is a meditational deity and is a fully enlightened Buddha in Vajrayana Buddhism. He figures in Manjusrimula-kalpa and Manjusrinamasamgiti. His consort is Sarasvati in some traditions.
Manjusri is male and wields a flaming sword in his right hand which is symbolic of cutting down ignorance. In his left hand he holds the Prajnaparamita sutra supported by a lotus symbolising attainment of ultimate realisation from the blossoming of wisdom. In Japanese and Chinese art, his sword is replaced by a ruyi scepter. In China he is called Wenshu and is associated with the mountain Wutai. In Tibet he manifests in many Tantric forms; Yamantaka is popular in Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. He is called Monju in Japan. In Indonesia he was revered by the Sailendra dynasty,patrons of Mahayana Buddhism, during the 8th century.
The non-tantric forms of Manjusri have one head and two arms.The usual form is white or yellow, seated in dhyanasana, meditative posture with left hand holding a pustaka or book,right hand holds khadga or sword,maybe seated on a lion;sometimes in dhyanasana vitarka mudra, holding stem of lotus with pustaka on the flower,right hand having the khadga.
The dharmachakramanjusri is depicted in dhyanasana , in dharmachakramudra, with stems of lotuses supporting khadga and pustaka. Another form Manughosa is white,seated in dhyanasana,vitarka and varada mudras, holding lotus stems with pustaka and khadga at shoulder level. The other forms include maharajalilamanjusri , Dharmasankhasamadhimanjusri. The tantric forms have one head and more than two arms or more than one head and two or more arms. Manjuvajra is also a tantric form having three heads ,six arms. Yamanataka rhas nine heads,34 arms,16 legs and is fierce from to conquer Yama, the God of death.
Painting of Manjusri, Prajnaparamita Sutra manuscript, Ranjana script, Nalanda, Bihar, 700-1100 CE.
By Asia Society created the file. Artwork created by an anonymous ancient source. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Manjusri,Yulin Caves,7th -14th century, Gansu, China.
By Anonymous artist-craftsmen of the Tang-Yuan Dynasties (Yulin Caves, Gansu Province, China) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Manjusri debates Vimalakirti, Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra, Mogao Caves,Tang Dynasty,Dunhuang,7th-8th century, China.
By File created by user “pandahermit.” Artwork created by anonymous ancient source. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Hachiji-Monju/Ashtasikha Manjusri with eight attendants,13th century, Japan.
By English: Unknown [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Manjusri with another bodhisattva and donors,painting,13th century,Tibet,Walters Museum.
By Anonymous (Tibet) – Walters Art Museum: Home page Info about artwork, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18843075
Mandala of the forms of Manjusri,14th century,Tibet.
See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Manjusri and Sarasvati,mural, Padmasambhava Buddhist Vihara, Namdroling Monastery,20th century,Karnataka,India
By Christoper J. Fynn (Own work (photograph)- artist of mural anonymous) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Manjusri,painting by Cecilia at Buddhafield Festival, 2006
By John Wigham (originally posted to Flickr as Manjusri) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
- Thomas, P/Epics, myths and legends of India, Bombay : D. B. Taraporevala and Sons.
- Fisher,Robert E./Buddhist art and architecture,London : Thames and Hudson,1993.
- Gordon,Antoinette K/The iconography of Tibetan Lamaism,New Delhi : Mumshiram Manoharlal Publishers,1998.
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