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Manjusri Kumara (bodhisattva of wisdom), India, Pala dynesty, 9th century, stone, Honolulu Academy of Arts.jpg
Mañju?r? Pala Dynasty, India, 9th century CE.
(Pinyin: Wénsh? Púsà)

(Pinyin: Wénsh?sh?lì Púsà)

(Pinyin: Mànsh?shìlì Púsà)

(Pinyin: Miàojíxiáng Púsà)
(romaji: Monju Bosatsu)
(romaji: Monjushiri Bosatsu)
(romaji: Monju Bosatsu)
(romaji: My?kissh? Bosatsu)
(RR: Munsu Bosal)
(RR: Mansu Bosal)

(RR: Myokilsang Bosal)
Mongolian? ?
Wylie: 'jam dpal
THL: jampal

Wylie: 'jam dpal dbyang
THL: Jampalyang
VietnameseV?n Thù S? L?i B? Tát
Di?u c
Di?u Cát Tng
Di?u Âm
Venerated byMahayana, Vajrayana
P religion world.svg Religion portal

Mañju?r? is a bodhisattva associated with prajñ? (insight) in Mah?y?na Buddhism. His name means "Gentle Glory" in Sanskrit.[1] Mañju?r? is also known by the fuller name of Mañju?r?kum?rabh?ta,[2] literally "Mañju?r?, Still a Youth" or, less literally, "Prince Mañju?r?". Another deity by the name of Mañju?r? is Mañjugho?a.

In Mah?y?na Buddhism

Manjushri statue. Lhalung Gompa, Spiti Valley, India

Scholars have identified Mañju?r? as the oldest and most significant bodhisattva in Mah?y?na literature.[3] Mañju?r? is first referred to in early Mah?y?na s?tras such as the Prajñ?p?ramit? s?tras and through this association, very early in the tradition he came to symbolize the embodiment of prajñ? (transcendent wisdom).[2] The Lotus Sutra assigns him a pure land called Vimala, which according to the Avatamsaka Sutra is located in the East. His pure land is predicted to be one of the two best pure lands in all of existence in all the past, present, and future. When he attains buddhahood his name will be Universal Sight. In the Lotus S?tra, Mañju?r? also leads the Nagaraja's daughter to enlightenment. He also figures in the Vimalak?rti S?tra in a debate with Vimalak?rti where he is presented as an Arhat who represents the wisdom of the H?nay?na.

An example of a wisdom teaching of Mañju?r? can be found in the Sapta?atik? Prajñ?p?ramit? S?tra (Taish? Tripi?aka 232).[4] This s?tra contains a dialogue between Mañju?r? and the Buddha on the One Sam?dhi (Skt. Ekavy?ha Sam?dhi). Sheng-yen renders the following teaching of Mañju?r?, for entering sam?dhi naturally through transcendent wisdom:

Contemplate the five skandhas as originally empty and quiescent, non-arising, non-perishing, equal, without differentiation. Constantly thus practicing, day or night, whether sitting, walking, standing or lying down, finally one reaches an inconceivable state without any obstruction or form. This is the Samadhi of One Act (yixing sanmei, ?).[5]

Vajray?na Buddhism

Within Vajray?na Buddhism, Mañju?r? is a meditational deity and considered a fully enlightened Buddha. In Shingon Buddhism, he is one of the Thirteen Buddhas to whom disciples devote themselves. He figures extensively in many esoteric texts such as the Mañju?r?m?lakalpa[2] and the Mañju?r?n?masamg?ti. His consort in some traditions is Saraswati.

The Mañju?r?m?lakalpa, which later came to classified under Kriy?tantra, states that mantras taught in the ?aiva, Garu?a, and Vaiava tantras will be effective if applied by Buddhists since they were all taught originally by Mañju?r?.[6]


Mañju?r? is depicted as a male bodhisattva wielding a flaming sword in his right hand, representing the realization of transcendent wisdom which cuts down ignorance and duality. The scripture supported by the padma (lotus) held in his left hand is a Prajñ?p?ramit? s?tra, representing his attainment of ultimate realization from the blossoming of wisdom. Mañju?r? is often depicted as riding on a blue lion or sitting on the skin of a lion. This represents the use of wisdom to tame the mind, which is compared to riding or subduing a ferocious lion.

In Chinese and Japanese Buddhist art, Mañju?r?'s sword is sometimes replaced with a ruyi scepter, especially in representations of his Vimalakirti Sutra discussion with the layman Vimalakirti.[7] According to Berthold Laufer, the first Chinese representation of a ruyi was in an 8th-century Mañju?r? painting by Wu Daozi, showing it held in his right hand taking the place of the usual sword. In subsequent Chinese and Japanese paintings of Buddhas, a ruyi was occasionally represented as a Padma with a long stem curved like a ruyi.[8]

He is one of the Four Great Bodhisattvas of Chinese Buddhism, the other three being K?itigarbha, Avalokite?vara, and Samantabhadra. In China, he is often paired with Samantabhadra.

In Tibetan Buddhism, Mañju?r? is sometimes depicted in a trinity with Avalokite?vara and Vajrapi.


A mantra commonly associated with Mañju?r? is the following:[9]

o? arapacana dh

The Arapacana is a syllabary consisting of forty-two letters, and is named after the first five letters: a, ra, pa, ca, na.[10] This syllabary was most widely used for the G?ndh?r? language with the Kharoh? script but also appears in some Sanskrit texts. The syllabary features in Mah?y?na texts such as the longer Prajñ?p?ramit? texts, the Gaavy?ha S?tra, the Lalitavistara S?tra, the Avata?saka S?tra, the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya, and the M?lasarv?stiv?da Vinaya.[10] In some of these texts, the Arapacana syllabary serves as a mnemonic for important Mah?y?na concepts.[10] Due to its association with him, Arapacana may even serve as an alternate name for Mañju?r?.[9]

The Sutra on Perfect Wisdom (Conze 1975) defines the significance of each syllable thus:[]

  1. A is a door to the insight that all dharmas are unproduced from the very beginning (?dya-anutpannatv?d).
  2. RA is a door to the insight that all dharmas are without dirt (rajas).
  3. PA is a door to the insight that all dharmas have been expounded in the ultimate sense (param?rtha).
  4. CA is a door to the insight that the decrease (cyavana) or rebirth of any dharma cannot be apprehended, because all dharmas do not decrease, nor are they reborn.
  5. NA is a door to the insight that the names (i.e. n?ma) of all dharmas have vanished; the essential nature behind names cannot be gained or lost.

Tibetan pronunciation is slightly different and so the Tibetan characters read: o? a ra pa tsa na dh (Tibetan: , Wylie: om a ra pa tsa na d+hIH).[11] In Tibetan tradition, this mantra is believed to enhance wisdom and improve one's skills in debating, memory, writing, and other literary abilities. "Dh" is the seed syllable of the mantra and is chanted with greater emphasis and also repeated a number of times as a decrescendo.

In Buddhist cultures

A painting of the Buddhist manjusri from the Yulin Caves of Gansu, China, from the Tangut-led Western Xia dynasty

In China

Mañju?r? is known in China as Wenshu (Chinese: ; pinyin: Wénsh?). Mount Wutai in Shanxi, one of the four Sacred Mountains of China, is considered by Chinese Buddhists to be his bodhimaa. He was said to bestow spectacular visionary experiences to those on selected mountain peaks and caves there. In Mount Wutai's Foguang Temple, the Manjusri Hall to the right of its main hall was recognized to have been built in 1137 during the Jin dynasty. The hall was thoroughly studied, mapped and first photographed by early twentieth-century Chinese architects Liang Sicheng and Lin Huiyin.[12] These made it a popular place of pilgrimage, but patriarchs including Linji Yixuan and Yunmen Wenyan declared the mountain off limits.[13]

Mount Wutai was also associated with the East Mountain Teaching.[14] Mañju?r? has been associated with Mount Wutai since ancient times. Paul Williams writes:[15]

Apparently the association of Mañju?r? with Wutai (Wu-t'ai) Shan in north China was known in classical times in India itself, identified by Chinese scholars with the mountain in the 'north-east' (when seen from India or Central Asia) referred to as the abode of Mañju?r? in the Avata?saka S?tra. There are said to have been pilgrimages from India and other Asian countries to Wutai Shan by the seventh century.

According to official histories from the Qing dynasty, Nurhaci, a military leader of the Jurchens of Northeast China and founder of what became the Qing dynasty, named his tribe after Mañju?r? as the Manchus.[16] The true origin of the name Manchu is disputed.[17]

Monk Hanshan () is widely considered to be a metaphorical manifestation of Mañju?r?. He is known for having co-written the following famous poem about reincarnation with monk Shide:

Drumming your grandpa in the shrine,
Cooking your aunts in the pot,
Marrying your grandma in the past,
Should I laugh or not?


In Tibet

In Tibetan Buddhism, Mañju?r? manifests in a number of different Tantric forms. Yam?ntaka (meaning 'terminator of Yama i.e. Death') is the wrathful manifestation of Mañju?r?, popular within the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. Other variations upon his traditional form as Mañju?r? include Namasangiti, Arapacana Manjushri, etc. In Tibetan Buddhism, Mañju?r? is also a yidam.

In Nepal

According to Swayambhu Purana, the Kathmandu Valley was once a lake. It is believed that Mañju?r? came on a pilgrimage from his earthly abode-Wutaishan(five-peaked mountain) in China. He saw a lotus flower in the center of the lake, which emitted brilliant radiance. He cut a gorge at Chovar with his flaming sword to allow the lake to drain. The place where the lotus flower settled became the great Swayambhunath Stupa and the valley thus became habitable.

In Indonesia

In eighth century Java during the Medang Kingdom, Mañju?r? was a prominent deity revered by the Sailendra dynasty, patrons of Mahayana Buddhism. The Kelurak inscription (782) and Manjusrigrha inscription (792) mentioned about the construction of a grand Prasada named Vajr?sana Mañju?r?g?ha (Vajra House of Mañju?r?) identified today as Sewu temple, located just 800 meters north of the Prambanan. Sewu is the second largest Buddhist temple in Central Java after Borobudur. The depiction of Mañju?r? in Sailendra art is similar to those of the Pala Empire style of Nalanda, Bihar. Mañju?r? was portrayed as a youthful handsome man with the palm of his hands tattooed with the image of a flower. His right hand is facing down with an open palm while his left-hand holds an utpala (blue lotus). He also uses the necklace made of tiger canine teeth.

In other traditions

In Hindu tradition, Manjushri has been depicted as emanation of Shiva.[20]




  1. ^ Lopez Jr., Donald S. (2001). The Story of Buddhism: A Concise Guide to its History and Teachings. New York, USA: HarperSanFrancisco. ISBN 0-06-069976-0 (cloth) P.260.
  2. ^ a b c Keown, Damien (editor) with Hodge, Stephen; Jones, Charles; Tinti, Paola (2003). A Dictionary of Buddhism. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-860560-9 p.172.
  3. ^ A View of Manjushri: Wisdom and Its Crown Prince in Pala Period India. Harrington, Laura. Doctoral Thesis, Columbia University, 2002
  4. ^ The Korean Buddhist Canon: A Descriptive Catalog (T 232)
  5. ^ Sheng-Yen, Master (?)(1988). Tso-Ch'an, p.364
  6. ^ Sanderson, Alexis. "The ?aiva Age: The Rise and Dominance of ?aivism during the Early Medieval Period." In: Genesis and Development of Tantrism, edited by Shingo Einoo. Tokyo: Institute of Oriental Culture, University of Tokyo, 2009. Institute of Oriental Culture Special Series, 23, pp. 129-131.
  7. ^ Davidson, J. LeRoy, "The Origin and Early Use of the Ju-i", Artibus Asiae 1950,13.4, 240.
  8. ^ Laufer, Berthold, Jade, a Study in Chinese Archaeology and Religion, Field Museum of Natural History, 1912, 339.
  9. ^ a b Buswell, Robert. Lopez, Donald. The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism. 2013. p. 527
  10. ^ a b c Buswell, Robert. Lopez, Donald. The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism. 2013. p. 61
  11. ^ [1] - Visible Mantra's website
  12. ^ Liang, Ssucheng. A Pictorial History of Chinese Architecture. Ed. Wilma Fairbank. Cambridge, Michigan: The MIT Press, 1984.
  13. ^ *See Robert M. Gimello, "Chang Shang-ying on Wu-t'ai Shan", in Pilgrims and Sacred Sites in China:, ed. Susan Naquin and Chün-fang Yü (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992), pp. 89-149; and Steven Heine, "Visions, Divisions, Revisions: The Encounter Between Iconoclasm and Supernaturalism in K?an Cases about Mount Wu-t'ai", in The K?an, pp. 137-167.
  14. ^ Heine, Steven (2002). Opening a Mountain: Koans of the Zen Masters. USA: Oxford University Press. p. [2]. ISBN 0-19-513586-5.
  15. ^ Williams, Paul. Mahayana Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations. 2000. p. 227
  16. ^ Agui (1988). (the Origin of Manchus). Liaoning Nationality Publishing House. ISBN 9787805270609.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  17. ^ Yan, Chongnian (2008). ? (). Zhonghua Book Company. ISBN 9787101059472.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  18. ^ "?:?" (in Chinese). Beijing: NetEase Buddhism Channel. 2014-12-10.
  19. ^ . "" (in Chinese). Zhejiang.
  20. ^ Doniger 1993, p. 243.


Further reading

Harrison, Paul M. (2000). Mañju?r? and the Cult of the Celestial Bodhisattvas, Chung-Hwa Buddhist Journal 13, 157-193

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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