Author Topic: 8 Great Bodhisattvas  (Read 40620 times)

Positive Change

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8 Great Bodhisattvas
« on: July 31, 2012, 08:22:35 PM »
Eight Great Bodhisattvas, or 'Eight Close Sons' — the main bodhisattvas in the retinue of Buddha Shakyamuni:

Eight great bodhisattvas from the Longchen Nyingtik Field of Merit

Each fulfils a particular role to help beings. Symbolically they represent the pure state of the eight consciousnesses.

Although the eight bodhisattvas or ‘close sons of the Buddha’ all possess the same qualities and powers, each one displays perfection in a particular area or activity.

1. Manjushri embodies wisdom
2. Avalokiteshvara embodies compassion
3. Vajrapani represents power
4. Ksitigarbha increases the richness and fertility of the land
5. Sarvanivaranavishkambhin purifies wrong-doing and obstructions
6. Maitreya embodies love
7. Samantabhadra displays special expertise in making offerings and prayers of aspiration
8. Akashagarbha has the perfect ability to purify transgressions.

Among the immeasurable qualities of the Buddha, eight of his foremost qualities manifest as the eight bodhisattvas:

1. The personification of the Buddha’s wisdom is Bodhisattva Manjushri
2. The personification of the Buddha’s compassion appears as Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara
3. The personification of the Buddha’s power or capacity is Bodhisattva Vajrapa?i
4. The personification of the Buddha’s merit arises as Bodhisattva K?itigarbha
5. The personification of the Buddha’s qualities appears as Bodhisattva Sarvanivara?avi?hkambhin
6. The personification of the Buddha’s activity is Bodhisattva Maitreya
7. The personification of the Buddha’s aspirations is manifest as Bodhisattva Samantabhadra
8. The personification of the Buddha’s blessings arises as Bodhisattva Akasagarbha

Shakyamuni Buddha and the 8 Great Bodhisattvas

Big Uncle

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Re: 8 Great Bodhisattvas
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2012, 07:07:11 AM »
Oh! My favourite Bodhisattva is Manjushri, probably because I have an innate need for lots of wisdom to counter all the delusions and humongous chunk of ignorance that I possess. I really think he is our best bet towards gaining any type of attainments in this day and age.

Namo Guru Manjugoshaya!
We take heartfelt refuge in the Guru, the great One with Gentle Speech!

Manjushri is a bodhisattva associated with transcendent wisdom (Skt. prajña) in Mahayana Buddhism. In Esoteric Buddhism he is also taken as a meditational deity. The Sanskrit name Mañjusri can be translated as "Gentle Glory". Mañjusri is also known by the fuller Sanskrit name of Mañjushrikumarabhuta.

In Mahayana Buddhism

Scholars have identified Mañjusri as the oldest and most significant bodhisattva in Mahayana literature. Mañjusri is first referred to in early Mahayana texts such as the Prajñaparamita sutras and through this association very early in the tradition he came to symbolize the embodiment of prajña (transcendent wisdom). 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 Sutra, Mañjuhri also leads the Naga King's daughter to enlightenment. He also figures in the Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra in a debate with Vimalakirti Bodhisattva.

An example of a wisdom teaching of Mañjushir Bodhisattva can be found in the Saptasatika Prajñaparamita Sutra (Taishi Tripitaka 232). This sutra contains a dialogue between Mañjusri and the Buddha on the One Practice Samadhi (Skt. Ekavyuha Samadhi). Master Sheng-yen renders the following teaching of Mañjusri, for entering samadhi 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).

In Esoteric Buddhism

Within Esoteric Buddhism, Mañjusri is a meditational deity, and considered a fully enlightened Buddha. In the Shingon school of Esoteric Buddhism, he is one of the thirteen deities to whom disciples devote themselves. He figures extensively in many Esoteric Buddhist texts such as the Mañjusri-mula-kalpa and the Mañjusrinamasangiti. His consort in some traditions is Saraswati.

Je Tsongkhapa, who founded the Gelug lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, is said to have received his teachings from visions of Mañjusri.


Mañjusri 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 lotus held in his left hand is a Prajñaparamita sutra, representing his attainment of ultimate realization from the blossoming of wisdom. Mañjusri 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.

He is one of the Four Great Bodhisattvas of Chinese Buddhism, the other three being: Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, and Bodhisattva Samantabhadra. In China, he is often paired with Bodhisattva Samantabhadra.

In Tibetan Buddhism Manjushri is sometimes depicted in a trinity with Avalokitehvara (Tib. Chenrazig) and Vajrapani (Tib. Channa Dorje).

A mantra commonly associated with Mañjusri is the following:

"om a ra pa ca na dh"
Tibetan pronunciation is slightly different and so the Tibetan characters read: om a ra pa tsa na dh?? ( Wylie: om a ra pa tsa na d+hIH) (Skt. om arapacana dhi)

This mantra is believed to enhance wisdom and improve one's skills in debating, memory, writing, and other literary abilities. "Dhi" 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
In China

Mañjusri is known in China as Wénshu .Wutai Shan in Shanxi, one of the Four Sacred Mountains of Buddhism in China, which also had strong associations for Taoists, is considered by Chinese Buddhists to be his earthly abode. He was said to bestow spectacular visionary experiences to those on selected mountain peaks and caves there. In Wutai Shan'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. These made it a popular place of pilgrimage, but patriarchs including Linji and Yun-men declared the mountain off limits. Being in the North of China and revered, Mount Wutai was also associated with the Northern lineages of Zen.

According to a legend, Nurhaci, a military leader of the Jurchen tribes in northeast China and founder of what became the Chinese imperial Qing Dynasty, believed himself to be a reincarnation of Mañjusri. He therefore is said to have renamed his tribe the Manchu.

In Tibet
In Tibetan Buddhism, Mañjusri manifests in a number of different Tantric forms. Yamantaka (meaning 'terminator of Yama i.e. Death') is the wrathful manifestation of Mañjusri, popular within the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. Other variations upon his traditional form as Mañjusri include Guhya-Manjusri, Guhya-Manjuvajra, and Manjuswari. The two former appearances are generally accompanied by a shakti deity embracing the main figure, symbolising union of form and spirit, matter and energy.

Jamgon Ju Mipham Gyatso, also known as Mipham the Great, was considered to be a human manifestation of Manjushri.

In Nepal
According to Swayambhu Purana, the Kathmandu Valley was once a lake. It is believed that Mañjusri saw a lotus flower in the center of the lake and cut a gorge at Chovar to allow the lake to drain. The place where the lotus flower settled became Swayambhunath Stupa and the valley thus became habitable.

In Japan
Late apocryphal traditions held that Mañjusri (Monju or Monjushiri in Japanese) "invented" nanshoku or male homosexual love.

In Indonesia
In 8th century ancient Java during the era of Medang Kingdom, Manjusri was a prominent boddhisattva deity revered by the Sailendra rulers, the patron of Mahayana buddhism. The Kelurak inscription and Manjusrigrha inscription mentioned about the construction of a grand prasada named Vajrasana Manjusrigrha (house of Manjusri) identified today as Sewu temple, located just 800 meters north of Prambanan Hindu temple complex. Sewu is the second largest Buddhist temple in Central Java after Borobudur. The depicition of Manjusri in Sailendra art of ancient Java is similar to those of Pala style of Bihar, Nalanda. Manjusri was portrayed as a youthful handsome man with the palm of his hands tattooed with the image of flower. His right hand lied down in open palm while his left hand holding an Utpala (blue lotus). He also uses the necklace made of tiger canine teeth.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2012, 07:17:42 AM by Big Uncle »


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Re: 8 Great Bodhisattvas
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2012, 05:17:45 PM »
Here's some info on Samanthabadra, a major Mahayana bodhisattva who is often paired with Manjushri. In the Tientai school of Chinese Buddhism, Vairochana is considered as the Buddha's Dharmakaya and he is flanked by Manjushri and Samanthabadra. Here is a short write up of him from the Chinese perspective. His most popular prayer, the King of Prayers, is used extensively by both Tibetan and Chinese Buddhists alike.

Buddha and Bodhisattva Directory

Samantabhadra. The word Samanta means, "universally extending." Bhadra means "great virtue." The word samantabhadra means as Universal Virtue and Universal Worthy. This bodhisattvas usually rides on a six-tusked white elephant. The six tusks represent overcoming attachment to the six senses. They also represent the Six Perfection's (paramitas)- charity, morality, patience, diligence, contemplation, and wisdom - or the six ways in which the bodhisattvas pursue their spiritual cultivation so that they may attain enlightenment and save other living creatures. Those who frequently worship Bodhisattva Samantabadhra would gradually receive his blessing and would become energetic and persistent in their practice of the six paramitas.

Like Manjushri, Samantabhadra was an assistant to Sakyamuni Buddha. Historically, there are four famous bodhisattva in the East Asia; each symbolizes the Buddha's emphasis on different aspects of Dharma practices. They are Avalokitesvara's compassion, Manjushri's wisdom, Samantabhadra's practice, and Ksitigarbha's vow. Samantabhadra is also called the Great Conduct Bodhisattva, a name that reflects his practice of Buddhism through his famous Ten Great Vows.

Samantabadra is a cosmic entity embodying all the bodhisattva practices and merits which must be fulfilled in order to attain Buddhahood. According to the Flower Garland Sutra, bodhisattva practitioners must dedicate all of their efforts to the enlightenment of all sentient beings and sacrifice everything for the welfare of all. In this way, the boundaries of selfhood and the limitation of self-effort are transcended, and one enters into the ocean of merits of all beings, an ocean of merits which is the Samantabhadra's omnipresent body of virtue.

In the Avatamaska Sutra it is recorded that Bodhisattva Samantabadhra makes 10 great vows concerning his Buddhist practice which becomes the leading guidelines of all Bodhisattvas. They are:

1.To venerate all buddhas.

2.To make praises to the infinite number of buddhas.

3.To make offerings to buddhas, the most meaningful offering is to practice the Buddhist teachings so as to benefit oneself and others.

4.To repent and reform all karmic hindrance, accumulated from our thoughts, words, or actions throughout our past reincarnations.

5.To rejoice and join other's merit and virtue.

6.To pray that the Dharma wheel (Buddha's teachings) will be turned (passed on).

7.To petition that the Buddhas remain in the world to benefit more people.

8.To always follow the Buddha's path (teachings) in order to attain enlightenment.

9.To live harmoniously with all living beings. I.e., to respect all sorts of beings, and be as attentive to them as he would to his own parents or even to the buddhas.

10.To reflex all accumulating merits and virtue back to all living beings for their salvation.

The above ten vows conclude the combination of seeking enlightenment for themselves (the first eight vows) and saving others (the last two vows) by helping them attain enlightenment is typical of the vows of bodhisattvas.

A Chines Buddhist monk named Hui-Chih went to O-Mei Mountain in China's Xhsi-Thuan Province in 399 A.D. and built a temple devoted to Samantabhadra. Since then O-Mei Mountain becomes the sacred site of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva. In Japan, Samantabhadra is known as Fugen.

According to the Tibetan Nyingma tradition, the Vajrayana Samantabhadra (Tibetan: kun tu zang po) is a primordial (Adi) buddha. With his naked deep blue body in union with his white consort, he represents the symbol of dharmakaya and is of central significance in the Mahamudra teaching.

Positive Change

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Re: 8 Great Bodhisattvas
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2012, 05:49:25 PM »

Vajrapani mantra:

Om Vajrapani Hum

Pronunciation notes:

a is pronounced as u in cut
? is like a in father
j is hard, like j in judge
uu is long, like oo in book
m in hum is pronounced ng, as in long

Vajrapani doesn’t, to many newcomers to Buddhism, look very Buddhist at all. He is a Bodhisattva who represents the energy of the enlightened mind, and his mantra also symbolizes that quality.

Vajrapani is pictured dancing wildly within a halo of flames, which represent transformation.

He holds a vajra (thunderbolt) in his right hand, which emphasizes the power to cut through the darkness of delusion. Vajrapani looks wrathful, but as a representation of the enlightened mind, he’s completely free from hatred.

Vajrapani’s mantra is simply his name, which means "wielder of the thunderbolt", framed between the mystical syllables Om and H?m. This mantra helps us to gain access to the irrepressible energy that Vajrapani symbolizes. A familiarity with Vajrapani does, of course, help here, although the sound of the mantra is itself rather energetic.

The Bodhisattva Vajrapani

Vajrapani is a member, along with Avalokiteshvara and Manjushri, of the trinity of Bodhisattvas known as the Three Family Protectors. The Buddha family of which Vajrapani is the protector is the Vajra (thunderbolt) family, which includes Akshobya (the lord of the Vajra family) and Yamantaka.

Vajrapani (Holder of the Thunderbolt) represents the energy of the enlightened mind, and energy that breaks through delusion. He dances wildly within a halo of flames, which represent the transformative power of Awakening. He holds a vajra (thunderbolt) in his right hand, which emphasizes the power to cut through the darkness of delusion.

Non-Buddhists (and Theravadin Buddhists) seeing Vajrapani for the first time may wonder how such a wrathful-looking figure could possibly fit with the peaceful associations they have with the Buddhist tradition, although such figures are actually very common in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.

Of course it’s not really possible adequately to represent the qualities of Enlightenment in any image, and so even the peaceful forms of Buddhas and bodhisattvas are to some extent misleading.

Enlightened beings do not, in reality, sit around all day on lotuses smiling serenely. The Buddha himself was fearlessly active in engaging with the other religious figures and philosophers of his day. His fearless approach to life is perhaps characterized mostly clearly by his encounter with Angulimala, who was an infamous bandit who killed his victims and added a finger from each to the garland he wore around his neck (his name means "Garland of Fingers"). Although warned to stay away from this dangerous figure, the Buddha insisted on going into the forest to confront Angulimala, who converted to Buddhism, became a monk, and eventually became Enlightened.

Therefore, it’s just as appropriate to represent an Enlightened being as dancing wildly, naked and fearless.

Another way of looking at the apparent fierceness of Vajrapani and other "wrathful" figures is to consider what a Buddha looks like from the point of view of that part of ourselves that doesn’t want to change. We may, at some level, want to meditate, to live ethically, and so on, but other parts of us are profoundly threatened by the possibility of change.

Our habits can form a kind of "sub-personality" that can try to hijack our lives. After all, habits of denial, craving, and aversion face extinction if we continue to practice the path of mindfulness and compassion, so it’s not surprising that they sometimes put up a protest. From the point of view of those powerful and yet primitive parts of ourselves, Enlightenment, rather than looking attractive, seems to be threatening and demonic.

Because of this dual nature, Vajrapani has his peaceful forms as well, and early depictions of him, while muscular and athletic, are nothing like the wild figure depicted above.

Vajrapani’s origins

Vajrapani has his origins in the Pali canon, as a Yaksha, or nature spirit. In this story, in the Digha Nikaya, a Brahmin (priestly) youth named Ambattha, is first of all rude to the Buddha, believing him to be of a lower social caste, and then refuses to answer a question the Buddha — who is unfailingly polite in the encounter — puts to him about his ancestry.

After Ambattha refuses to answer the question twice, the Buddha reminds him that there is a traditional belief that if you refuse to answer the question of an enlightened one three times, your head will split in seven pieces. Of course this never happens, but "Vajirapani" (the Pali form of his name) appears, ready to make good on the ancient prophecy. Ambattha is of course terrified and promptly answers the Buddha’s question.

Vajrapani also has his mythic roots in Indra, the Indian thunder god. He’s thus connected to Zeus and Jupiter, who, along with Indra, are all variants of the same thunderbolt-wielding sky-deity. ("Dyaus" is Sanskrit for "sky," and Indra is also known as "Indra Dyaus." "Zeus" is the Greek form of Dyaus. Jupiter is "Dyaus-piter" or "sky father.")

The earliest depictions of Vajrapani, as we noted above, are not particularly wrathful. In this image, from the second century, both the Buddha (seated) and Vajrapani (standing) are sculpted in classic Greek style. Vajrapani here is shown as a powerful muscular figure protecting the Buddha, and his iconography is essentially that of Herakles (Hercules). The characteristics he shares with the later form are the vajra (thunderbolt), his powerful frame, and his semi-nakedness, which is typical of a Greek athlete.

In later forms, as Vajrapani becomes more other-worldly, he is shown as being dark blue in color. He perhaps borrows this color from Akshobhya, the head of the Vajra Family. But this is also the color of a thunder cloud.

He represents the power, energy, and fearlessness of the Buddhas. He stands in (or rather is caught in) the warrior pose that will be familiar to those who practice Hatha Yoga. In his outstretched right hand he wields a vajra, and his left hand holds a lasso with which to bind demons.

Vajrapani wears a loin-cloth around his hips. The cloth is made from the skin of a tiger. He is adorned with the five-pointed Bodhisattva crown, but the crown bears five skulls. He has necklace hanging to his belly, but he also has a snake around his neck. Snakes and dragons are associated with clouds and rain, fitting in with Vajrapani’s origins as a god of thunder.

Vajrapani has a bulging third eye in the center of his forehead. Just as Ambattha’s hairs stood on end when he encountered Vajirapani, so the bodhisattva’s hair flies wildly in the air.

Although Vajrapani and other similar figures are often described as "wrathful" it’s important to realize that they do not represent ordinary anger, but simply the power and fearlessness of the awakened mind. There is no place in Buddhist practice for "righteous anger," and despite his appearance Vajrapani is a profoundly compassionate figure.


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Re: 8 Great Bodhisattvas
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2012, 06:33:00 PM »
Here's an interesting account of Ksitigarbha from wikipedia:

As a Brahmin Maiden
The story of Ksitigarbha is first described in the Sutra of The Great Vows of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, one of the most popular Mahayana Buddhist sutras. This sutra is said to have been spoken by the Buddha towards the end of his life to the beings of the Trayastrimsa Heaven as a mark of gratitude and remembrance for his beloved mother, M?y?dev?.[1] But most scholars believe the sutra was compiled in China.[2] It stated that Ksitigarbha practiced filial piety as a mortal, which eventually led to making great vows to save all sentient beings. In the Ksitigarbha Sutra, the Buddha states that in the distant past eons, Ksitigarbha was a Brahmin maiden by the name of Sacred Girl. She was deeply troubled when her mother died, because she had often been slanderous towards the Triple Gem. To save her from the great tortures of hell, the girl sold whatever she had and used the money to buy offerings that she offered daily to the Buddha of her time, known as The Buddha of Flower of Meditation and Enlightenment. She prayed fervently that her mother be spared the pains of hell and appealed to the Buddha for help.[3]
While she was pleading for help at the temple, she heard Buddha telling her to go home, sit down, and recite his name if she wanted to know where her mother was. She did as she was told and her consciousness was transported to a Hell Realm where she met a guardian who informed her that through her fervent prayers and pious offerings, her mother had accumulated much merit and had already ascended to heaven. Sacred Girl was greatly relieved and would have been extremely happy, but the sight of the suffering she had seen in Hell touched her heart. She vowed to do her best to relieve beings of their suffering in her future lives of kalpas.[3]

As a Buddhist monk

There is a legend about how Ksitigarbha manifested himself in China, and chose his bodhimanda to be Mount Jiuhua, one of the Four Sacred Mountains of China in Buddhism.
In the Eastern Han dynasty, during the reign of Emperor Ming, Buddhism started to flourish, reaching its peak in the era of the Tang Dynasty, eventually spreading to Korea. At the time, monks and scholars arrived from those countries to seek the Dharma in China. One of these pilgrims was a former prince from Silla named Kim Gyo-gak who became a monk under the name of Earth Store (Also called Jijang, the Korean pronunciation of Dizang).[4] He went to Mount Jiuhua in present-day Anhui Province. After ascending, he decided to build a hut in a deep mountain area so that he may be able to cultivate.
According to records, the monk was bitten by a poisonous snake, but did not move, thus letting the snake go. A woman happened to pass by and gave the monk medicines to cure him of the venom, as well as a spring on her son's behalf. For a few years, the monk continued to meditate in his hut, until one day, a scholar named Chu-Ke led a group of friends and family to visit the mountain. Noticing the monk meditating in the hut, they went and took a look at his condition. They had noticed that the monk's bowl did not contain any food, and that his hair had grown back.
Feeling pity on the monk, Scholar Chu decided to build a temple as an offering to the monk. The whole group descended the mountain immediately to discuss plans to build the temple. Mount Jiuhua was also property of a wealthy person named the elder Wen-Ke, who obliged to build a temple on his mountain. Therefore, Wen-Ke and the group ascended the mountain once more and asked the monk how much land he needed.
The monk replied that he needed a piece of land that could be covered fully by his kasaya. Bewildered that a piece of sash could not be enough land to build a temple, the monk surprised them as he threw the kasaya in the air, and the robe expanded in size, covering the entire mountain! Elder Wen-Ke had then decided to renounce the entire mountain to the monk, and became the monk's protector. Sometime later, Wen-Ke's son also left the home life to start his life as a monk.
The monk lived in Mount Jiuhua for seventy five years before passing away at the age of ninety-nine. Three years after his nirvana, his tomb was opened, only to reveal that the body had not decayed. Because the monk led his wayplace with much difficulty, most people had the intuition to believe that he was indeed the transformation body of Ksitigarbha.
Monk Jijang's well-preserved, dehydrated body may still be viewed today at the monastery he built on Mount Jiuhua.

Traditional iconography
In Buddhist iconography, Ksitigarbha is typically depicted with a shaven head, dressed in a monk's simple robes (unlike most other bodhisattvas, who are dressed like Indian royalty). In his left hand, Ksitigarbha holds a wish granting jewel; in his right hand, he holds a monk's staff called in Japanese a shakujo (??) (jingle staff), which is used to alert insects and small animals of his approach, so that he will not accidentally harm them. Such a staff is traditionally carried by monks. In the Chinese tradition, Ksitigarbha sometimes is seen wearing a Vairocana crown.
Like other Bodhisattvas, Ksitigarbha usually is seen standing upon a lotus base, symbolizing his release from the karmic wheel of rebirth. Ksitigarbha's face and head are also idealized, featuring the third eye, elongated ears and the other standard attributes of an enlightened being.


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Re: 8 Great Bodhisattvas
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2012, 05:01:05 AM »
His Holiness the 14th the Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso, is the head of state and spiritual leader of the Tibetan people.  Tibetan Buddhists believe him to be the manifestation of the Bodhisattva of Compassion, Avalokite?vara

Avalokite?vara (Sanskrit “Lord who looks down") is a bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas. Portrayed in different cultures as either male or female, Avalokite?vara is one of the more widely revered bodhisattvas in mainstream Mahayana Buddhism, as well as unofficially in Theravada Buddhism.

The original name for this bodhisattva was Avalokitasvara. The Chinese name for Avalokite?vara is Gu?nshìy?n Púsà, which is a translation of the earlier name "Avalokitasvara Bodhisattva." This bodhisattva is variably depicted as male or female, and may also be referred to simply as Gu?ny?n.

In Sanskrit, Avalokitesvara is also referred to as Padmap?ni ("Holder of the Lotus") or Loke?vara ("Lord of the World"). In Tibetan, Avalokite?vara is known as Jainraisig,) and is said to be incarnated in the Dalai Lama, the Karmapa and other high lamas.

The name Avalokite?vara is made of the following parts: the verbal prefix ava, which means "down"; lokita, a past participle of the verb lok ("to notice, behold, observe"), here used in an active sense (an occasional irregularity of Sanskrit grammar); and finally ??vara, "lord", "ruler", "sovereign" or "master". In accordance with sandhi (Sanskrit rules of sound combination), a+i?vara becomes e?vara. Combined, the parts mean "lord who gazes down (at the world)". The word loka ("world") is absent from the name, but the phrase is implied.

It was initially thought that the Chinese mis-transliterated the word Avalokite?vara as Avalokitasvara which explained why Xuanzang translated it as Gu?nzìzài instead of Gu?ny?n. However, according to recent research, the original form was indeed Avalokitasvara with the ending a-svara ("sound, noise"), which means "sound perceiver", literally "he who looks down upon sound" (i.e., the cries of sentient beings who need his help; a-svara can be glossed as ahr-svara, "sound of lamentation"). This is the exact equivalent of the Chinese translation Gu?ny?n. This etymology was furthered in the Chinese by the tendency of some Chinese translators, notably Kumarajiva, to use the variant Gu?nshìy?n (literally "he who perceives the world's lamentations" -- wherein lok was read as simultaneously meaning both "to look" and "world" (Skt. loka; ) This name was later supplanted by the form containing the ending -??vara, which does not occur in Sanskrit before the seventh century. The original form Avalokitasvara already appears in Sanskrit fragments of the fifth century.

The original meaning of the name fits the Buddhist understanding of the role of a bodhisattva. The reinterpretation presenting him as an ??vara shows a strong influence of Hinduism, as the term ??vara was usually connected to the Hindu notion of Krishna (in Vaisnavism) or ?iva (in ?aivism) as the Supreme Lord, Creator and Ruler of the world. Some attributes of such a god were transmitted to the bodhisattva, but the mainstream of those who venerated Avalokite?vara upheld the Buddhist rejection of the doctrine of any creator god.

An etymology of the Tibetan name Jänräsig (Jainraisig) is jän (eye), rä (continuity) and sig (to look). This gives the meaning of one who always looks upon all beings (with the eye of compassion).


Mahayana account

According to Mah?y?na doctrine, Avalokite?vara is the bodhisattva who has made a great vow to assist sentient beings in times of difficulty, and to postpone his own Buddhahood until he has assisted every being on Earth in achieving Nirv??a. Mah?y?na s?tras associated with Avalokite?vara include the following:

•   Saddharma Pu??ar?ka S?tra (Lotus S?tra)
•   K?ra??avy?ha S?tra
•   Prajñ?p?ramit? H?daya S?tra (Heart S?tra)
•   Mah?karu?? Dh?ran? S?tra (N?laka??ha Dh?ra??)
•   Avalokite?vara Ek?da?amukha Dh?ra?? S?tra
•   Cund? Dh?ra?? S?tra

The Lotus S?tra (Skt. Saddharma Pu??ar?ka S?tra) is generally accepted to be the earliest literature teaching about the doctrines of Avalokite?vara. These are found in the Lotus S?tra chapter 25, The Universal Gateway of Avalokitasvara Bodhisattva. This chapter is devoted to Avalokitasvara, describing him as a compassionate bodhisattva who hears the cries of sentient beings, and who works tirelessly to help those who call upon his name. A total of 33 different manifestations of Avalokitasvara are described, including female manifestations, all to suit the minds of various beings. The chapter consists of both a prose and a verse section. This earliest source often circulates separately as its own s?tra, called the Avalokitasvara S?tra and is commonly recited or chanted at Buddhist temples in East Asia. When the Chinese monk Faxian traveled to Mathura in India around 400 CE, he wrote about monks presenting offerings to Avalokite?vara. When Xuanzang traveled to India in the 7th century, he provided eyewitness accounts of Avalokite?vara statues being venerated by devotees of all walks of life, from kings, to monks, to laypeople. Avalokite?vara remained popular in India until the 12th century when Muslim invaders conquered the land and destroyed Buddhist monasteries.

In Chinese Buddhism and the Sinosphere, practices for an 18-armed form of Avalokite?vara called Cund? are very popular. These practices have their basis in early Indian Esoteric Buddhism. Cund? is also referred to as "Cund? Buddha-Mother" or "Cund? Bhagavat?." The popularity of Cund? is attested by the three extant translations of the Cund? Dh?ra?? S?tra from Sanskrit to Chinese, made from the end of the seventh century to the beginning of the eighth century. In late imperial China, these early traditions of Esoteric Buddhism are known to have been still thriving in Buddhist communities. Robert Gimello has also observed that in these communities, the esoteric practices of Cund? were extremely popular among both the populace and the elite.

In Zen Buddhism, Avalokite?vara was equated with Bodhidharma in his Nirmanakaya form and Shaolin monks worshipped him as Vajrapani is his Sambogakaya form.

In the Tiantai school, six forms of Avalokite?vara are defined. Each of the bodhisattva's six qualities are said to break the hindrances respectively of the six realms of existence: hell-beings, pretas, animals, humans, asuras, and devas. These six qualities are listed below.

1.   Great compassion
2.   Great loving-kindness
3.   Lion-courage
4.   Universal light
5.   Leader of devas and human beings
6.   The great omnipresent Brahman

Tibetan account

In the Tibetan tradition, Avalokite?vara is seen as arising from two sources. One is the relative source, where in a previous eon (kalpa) a devoted, compassionate Buddhist monk became a bodhisattva, transformed in the present kalpa into Avalokite?vara. That is not in conflict, however, with the ultimate source, which is Avalokite?vara as the universal manifestation of compassion. The bodhisattva is viewed as the anthropomorphised vehicle for the actual deity, serving to bring about a better understanding of Avalokite?vara to humankind.  Seven forms of Avalokite?vara in Tibetan Buddhism.

1.   Amoghap??a: not empty (or unerring) net, or lasso.
2.   Sahasrabhujalokeshvara : 1000-hand and 11-eye,
3.   Hayagriva: with the head of a horse
4.   Ekadasamukha: with 11 faces
5.   Cund?
6.   Cintamani-cakra: wheel of sovereign power
7.   Arya Avalokite?vara: great compassionate Avalokite?vara ; the Holy sovereign beholder of the world (loka), a translation of ??vara, means "ruler" or "sovereign", holy one.

Theravada account

In Sri Lanka, Avalokite?vara is still venerated as Natha-deva, and his image is sometimes mistaken for that of the bodhisattva Maitreya.

Although mainstream Theravada does not worship any of the Mahayana bodhisattvas, Avalokite?vara is popularly worshiped in Burma, where she is called Lokanat, and Thailand, where she is called Lokesvara.

Modern scholarship

Western scholars have not reached a consensus on the origin of the reverence for Avalokite?vara. Some have suggested that Avalokite?vara, along with many other supernatural beings in Buddhism, was a borrowing or absorption by Mahayana Buddhism of one or more Hindu deities, in particular Shiva or Vishnu (though the reason for this suggestion is because of the current name of the bodhisattva:

Avalokit*E*svara, not the original one: Avalokit*A*svara.  The Japanese scholar Shu Hikosaka on the basis of his study of Buddhist scriptures, ancient Tamil literary sources, as well as field survey, proposes the hypothesis that, the ancient mount Potalaka, the residence of Avalokite?vara described in the Gandavyuha Sutra and Xuanzang’s Records, is the real mountain Potikai or Potiyil situated at Ambasamudram in Tirunelveli district, Tamil Nadu.  Shu also says that mount Potiyil/Potalaka has been a sacred place for the people of South India from time immemorial. With the spread of Buddhism in the region beginning at the time of the great king A?oka in the third century B.C.E., it became a holy place also for Buddhists who gradually became dominant as a number of their hermits settled there. The local people, though, mainly remained followers of the Hindu religion. The mixed Hindu-Buddhist cult culminated in the formation of the figure of Avalokite?vara.

In Theravada, Loke?vara, "the lord, ruler or sovereign beholder of the world", name of a Buddha; probably a development of the idea of Brahm?, Vishnu or ?iva as lokan?tha, "lord of worlds". In Indo-China especially it refers to Avalokite?vara, whose image or face, in masculine form, is frequently seen, e.g., at Angkor. The name Loke?vara should not be confused with that of Lokesvararaja, the Buddha under whom Dharmakara became a monk and made forty-eight vows before becoming Amitabha Buddha.

Mantras and dharanis

Mah?y?na Buddhism relates Avalokite?vara to the six-syllable mantra:

o? ma?ipadme h??

Due to his association with this mantra, Avalokite?vara, in Tibetan Buddhism, is also called Shadakshari, which means "Lord of the Six Syllables." Recitation of this mantra along with prayer beads is the most popular religious practice in Tibetan Buddhism. The connection between this famous mantra and Avalokite?vara occurs for the first time in the K?ra??avy?ha S?tra. This text is first dated to around the late 4th century CE to the early 5th century CE.  In this s?tra, a bodhisattva is told by the Buddha that recitation of this mantra while focusing on the sound can lead to the attainment of eight hundred sam?dhis. The K?ra??avy?ha S?tra also features the first appearance of the Cund? Dh?ra??, which occurs at the end of the s?tra text. After the bodhisattva finally attains sam?dhi with the mantra "o? ma?ipadme h??", he is then able to observe 77 ko??s of fully enlightened buddhas replying in one voice with the Cund? Dh?ra??:

nama? sapt?n?? samyaksa?buddha ko??n?? tadyath?
o? cale cule cund? sv?h?

In Shingon Buddhism, the mantra for Avalokite?vara is:
o? arolik sv?h?

The Mah?karu?? Dh?ra?? (Great Compassion Dh?ra??), also called the N?laka??ha Dh?ra??, is an 82-syllable dh?ra?? for Avalokite?vara.

Thousand-armed Avalokitesvara

One prominent Buddhist story tells of Avalokite?vara vowing never to rest until he had freed all sentient beings from samsara. Despite strenuous effort, he realizes that still many unhappy beings were yet to be saved. After struggling to comprehend the needs of so many, his head splits into eleven pieces. Amitabha Buddha, seeing his plight, gives him eleven heads with which to hear the cries of the suffering. Upon hearing these cries and comprehending them, Avalokite?vara attempts to reach out to all those who needed aid, but found that his two arms shattered into pieces. Once more, Amitabha Buddha comes to his aid and invests him with a thousand arms with which to aid the suffering multitudes.

 The Bao'en Temple located in northwestern Sichuan province, China has an outstanding wooden image of the thousand armed Avalokite?vara, an example of Ming Dynasty decorative sculpture.

Tibetan Buddhist beliefs concerning Chenrezig

Avalokite?vara is an important deity in Tibetan Buddhism, and is regarded in the Vajrayana teachings as a Buddha.

In the Mahayana teachings he is in general regarded as a high-level Bodhisattva. The Dalai Lama is considered by the Gelugpa sect and many other Tibetan Buddhists to be the primary earthly manifestation of Chenrezig. The Karmapa is considered by the Karma Kagyu sect to be Chenrezig's primary manifestation. It is said that Padmasambhava prophesied that Avalokite?vara will manifest himself in the Tulku lineages of the Dalai Lamas and the Karmapas. Another Tibetan source explains that Buddha Amitabha gave to one of his two main disciples, Avalokite?vara, the task to take upon himself the burden of caring for Tibet. That is why he has manifested himself not only as spiritual teachers in Tibet but also in the form of kings (like Trisong Detsen) or ministers.

Other manifestations popular in Tibet include Sahasra-bhuja (a form with a thousand arms) and Ek?da?amukha (a form with eleven faces.)

In Tibetan Buddhism, Tara came into existence from a single tear shed by Chenrezig. When the tear fell to the ground it created a lake and a lotus opening in the lake revealed Tara. In another version of this story, Tara emerges from the heart of Chenrezig. In either version, it is Chenrezig's outpouring of compassion which manifests Tara as a being.


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Re: 8 Great Bodhisattvas
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2012, 09:07:22 AM »
1. Manjushri embodies wisdom
2. Avalokiteshvara embodies compassion
3. Vajrapani represents power
4. Ksitigarbha increases the richness and fertility of the land
5. Sarvanivaranavishkambhin purifies wrong-doing and obstructions
6. Maitreya embodies love
7. Samantabhadra displays special expertise in making offerings and prayers of aspiration
8. Akashagarbha has the perfect ability to purify transgressions.


My first Bodhisattva is of course Avalokitesvara in the female form of the Buddha of Great Compassion. I learned his Great Compassion mantra by heart and recited it everyday for many years. This simple but profound practice brings calm and peace in one daily life.

The second Boddhisattva I knew was of course Maitreya in the form of the future Buddha. He was in the form of the "Fat Buddha". Not much came out of it initially. Just my experience. Of course later when I started to practice Gaden Lhagyama, we visualize Lama Tsongkhapa emerging from Maitreya's heart. He in the form of a 16 years old prince.

Later I were introduced to Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha . I read her sutra and story about the life she became a boddhisattva. She was a Brahman girl who through her infinite compassion saved her mother from Avici Hell and her vows of not becoming a Buddha until the hells are cleared.

Later I would introduced to Manjushri, the Boddhisattva of Wisdom through the teachings of of Lama Tsongkhapa who is a manifestation of Manjushri. And of course Vajrapani, the Boddhisattva of power. The last Buddha of this fortunate eon. And from the King of prayers, we have the Samantabadhra, "Chief amongst the awakened ones' sons". He is the Bodhisattva of Aspiration. In order to be like him, we dedicate all our virtues that we possess.

I am not familiar with Sarvanivaranavishkambhin and Akasagarbha until I read this post. Here I research about these 2 boddhisattvas.

Akasagarbha or Kokuzo in Japanese represents the immense vastness of Buddha’s wisdom. Akasagarbha, who is regarded as the essence of ether, belongs to the group of eight great Bodhisattvas. He belongs to Ratnesa family. He is also calle dthe Khagarbha. ‘Akasa’ and ‘Kha’ mean the sky or boundless space. The reason why the Bodhisattva is called Akasagarbha is explained thus in the Ta-fang-teng-ta-chi-ching" Suppose there is a millionaire who has limitless riches, an immeasurable store of large donations to people, specially to the poor and bereaved. Suppose that he opens his store to make offerings to those people as much as they want, and that he is thereby immensely satisfied. Like that rich man, does Akasagarbha Bodhisattva practice his meritoriaus acts".

According to Su-yao-I-Kuei, the man who wants to get happiness and wisdom, should devote himself to this Bodhisattva. The reason is that Sun, Moon and the stars are ll the incarnations of akasagarbha (Taisho, XXI, 422b). Again, the akasagarbha-bodhisattva sutra (Hsu-kung yun-P’u-sa’ching) explains thus the devotion of his followers. "The devotees take bath in scented water, put on clean clothes, burn incense of aloe and turns his face to the east late at night. He brings before his mind the reddish Aruna (the dawn) and recite to him: "Thou great merciful one, dost appear and illuminate this world. Have mercy on me out of compassion and protect me (Taisho, XIII, 672c). It goes on to say that the dawn Aruna appears in the east; the Bodhisattva Akasagarbha appears". Aruna is a Sanskrit word meaning the dawn. It can, therefore, be siad that the origin of the Bodhisattva lies in the world of celestial bodies…

Bodhisattva Sarvanivarana Vishkambhin is also a celebrated Bodhisattva mentioned in the Guna Karandavyuha sutra who effaces all the sins of the devotees. Sarvanivarana Vishkambhin is either blue or white in color. Sarvanivarana Vishkambhin displays the Bhumisparsa Mudra with his left hand and Santikaran Mudra with his right hand (thumb and index finger being joined to form a loop). In some instances he is also described as blue in color. Sarvanivarana Vishkambhin holds a sword with his right hand and holds the banner marked with a Visvavajra in his left hand.

In Guna Karandavyuha sutra, it says that when Buddha Shakyamuni was about to give a discourse on this sutra, he sat in an ecstatic Samadhi called Sarvasansodhana i.e. the purifier of everything. Golden rays of light illuminating the whole province were seen originating from some unknown region in that place. At that time Bodhisattva Sarvanivarana was also present there. Sarvanivarana was struck by that and asked the reason. Buddha Shakyamuni told him that Lord Avalokiteshvara was preaching for the sinners of Avichi Hell and the rays, after purifying the sinners, were to come there to tame the ignorant and evil doers. Thereafter, at the request of Bodhisattva Sarvanivarana, Lord Buddha performed many other discourse sessions over the grandeur of Avalokiteshvara and his philanthropic activities which are described in the Guna Karandavyuha sutra.

The Swayambhu legend states that Great Odiayana Acharya from Kapilavastu came to Kathmandu to pay homage to Lord Swayambhu. He once sat in meditation on the southern mountain with a view to obtain great eight powers (Sanskrit: Astasiddhi). He then performed a fire Puja or Yajna where he sacrificed live fishes (Sanskrit: Matsya Ahuti). Pleased with this act of sacrifice, Kamadhenu cow blessed him and predicted that he would gain eight great powers in the near future. At this Lord Avalokiteshvara in his Sukhavati heaven understood that Odiyana Acharya was performing non-virtuous action due to his ignorance. In order to stop this act he called Bodhisattva Viskambhin and told him to go to the place where Odiyana Acharya was meditating. Bodhisattva Viskambhin thus stopped him from his wrong doing and blessed him with eight great powers. Then Great Odiayana Acharya performed other austerities and Sadhanas dedicated to Akasha Yogini according to the instruction of Bodhisattva Vishkambhin. Later on Bodhisattva Vishkambhin issued a stream of light into a boulder and Odiyana Acharya continued to pay homage to this sacred boulder as the emanation of Bodhisattva Vishkambhin. This boulder exists still near Pharping and called Phanikeshar Vitaraga.


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Re: 8 Great Bodhisattvas
« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2012, 03:26:06 PM »
These great 8 Boddhisattvas are wonderful... and so are their consorts too... thought I'd share some here... And let's start with Manjushri's who is none other then Saraswati

Female Buddha Saraswati is the Goddess of Knowledge, Arts and Music, and is the consort of Manjushri, Buddha of Wisdom. She is also considered the peaceful form of Palden Lhamo, wrathful Dharma Protector.

In Buddhist iconography she is frequently depicted with one face and two arms. Her body is white in colour, she holds a vina, a stringed musical instrument and sits on a swan. Her vina represents her mastery of skills in all arts and composition and the 84,000 teachings of Buddha reverberate within the sound of her Vina.

Her spiritual energy in the form of sound that helps to transform the mind (Mantra):



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Re: 8 Great Bodhisattvas
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2012, 06:59:08 PM »
Tara is a female Bodhisattva who is said to have been formed from tears shed by Avalokitesvara. These stemmed from his realization of how many suffering beings there were dependent on his deliverance. Like Avalokitesvara, it is Tara's compassionate nature that she is noted for. There are twenty-one forms of Tara but it is Green Tara and White Tara that are the most popular. White Tara is portrayed as having seven eyes, one on each hand and foot and three in her face.

Tara is not only a bodhisattva, but also a goddess. Her name can have two meanings: either “star” or “one who takes across.” Tara’s name means “One Who Saves”. Her compassion for living beings and her desire to save them from suffering is said to be stronger than a mother’s love for her children. Tara is the Bodhisattva who represents the miraculous activity of all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future.

Tara overcomes unharmonious conditions and destroys external threats and obstructions. She is the ultimate reality, the true body of the Buddhas. She is the immovable source from which the miraculous saving activities emerge. Tara shakes the three worlds, dispels the effects of poison, eliminates conflicts
and nightmares, cures diseases, and overcomes ghosts and demons.

Tara is the savior from the eight dangers. Just by being called to help, she instantaneously saves the faithful from attacks by: 1. lions and pride; 2. wild elephants and delusions; 3. forest fires and hatred; 4. snakes and envy; 5. robbers and fanatical views; 6. prisons and avarice; 7. floods and lust; and 8. demons and doubts. Her left hand is raised with extended three fingers upward, in the gesture of granting refuge in the Three Jewels of Buddhism—the Buddha (Teacher), the Dharma (Teaching), and the sangha (Community).

In Tibet Tara is the consort of Avalokiteshvara and is called “Drolma”. Many in Tibet consider her their Mother, just as Avalokiteshvara is their Father. Not only is she the Mother of Tibet, but also the “Mother of All the Buddhas” because she is a manifestation of the Prajna-paramita or “Perfection of Wisdom.”

White Tara is a goddess which embodies the spirit of Compassion. She wears the Bodhisattva ornaments. A Bodhisatva vow is to continue to return to this world until the enlightenment of allsentient beings. The White Tara “Vow” is to know her love, to know love, and the inate desire that arises from love which is to share love with all, recognizing our oneness. The Rainbow Body practice is often identified with her. The white of her light when put through the prism of this life shines through as a rainbow, representing the diversity of all life.

She is the experience of oneness of all colors, all beings and her love and compassion for all comes from loving herself which is all. She has seven eyes, the two usual ones, one in the middle of her forehead and eyes in her hands and feet. This symbolizes that all of her activities are done with omniscient awareness. She is said to bring health and prolong life. Operating from the space of this compassionate love generates a long and fulfilling life.

The Myth of White Tara
The myth of the White Tara began when she showed up as the tear of Avalokiteshvara. She appeared when Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of all Buddhas, moved into a state of compassion, when his mind and his heart met in wisdom, and the suffering he saw because the the lack of this balance, made him cry.
Then he could see Her, or it is said she appeared. For that is who she is, the compassion expressed in that tear. It could be said the tear cleared the eye to see her. She is the expression of compassion. It is time to let the waters flow, let our tears cleanse and nourish, let it dissolve fear in all its manifestations especially hatred.

White Tara is an emanation of Tara who is connected with longevity. One calls on her for health, strength, and longevity. Her white colour indicates purity, but also indicates that she is Truth complete and undifferentiated.

She wears the Bodhisattva ornaments. She has seven eyes: the two usual eyes, plus an eye in the centre of her forehead and eyes in her hands and feet. These indicate that she sees all suffering and all cries for help, even in the human world, even in the worlds of pain, using both ordinary and psychic or extraordinary means of perception.

She carries day lotuses.This Tara is also known as Samaya Tara, meaning Vow Tara. This refers to Tara’s
vow to save all beings and also to our vow, which is a Bodhisattva vow like Tara’s.Whereas the Green Tara is a young girl and has a mischievous or playful nature, the White Tara is represented as a mature woman, full-breasted and wise. Some practitioners comment that the energy of the two Taras feels a little different.

Green tara is very immediate and quick. One calls to her for immediate assistance, and also often for help with worldly things like lover, wealth and so on, as well as spiritual things. She feels very close.

White Tara seems to help more with longer-term problems, particularly problems of physical or mental health. It sometimes seems as if she is more distant, harder to contact at first. Then it is as if she sends us healing energies and mystical power and understandings.

Tara’s Vow
Long ago in an age before which
there was nothing else,
the Victorious One, the Tathagata Dundubhisvara
came into existence and was known as the Light
of the Various Worlds.
The Princess “Moon of Wisdom”
had the highest respect for his teaching,
and for ten million, one hundred thousand years,
made offerings to this Enlightened One,
to his attendant Sravakas,
and to countless members of the Sangha of Bodhisattvas.

The offerings she prepared each day
were in value comparable to all the precious things
which filled a distance of twelve yojanas
in each of the ten directions,
leaving no intermediate spaces unfilled.

Finally after all this
she awoke to the first concepts of Bodhi-Mind.
At that time some monks said to her:
“It is as a result of these,
your roots of virtuous actions,
that you have come into being in this female form.
If you pray that your deeds accord with the teachings,
then indeed on that account you will change your form
to that of a man, as is befitting.”

After much discourse she finally replied,
“In this life there is no such distinction
as “male” and “female,”
neither of “self-identity,”
a “person”
nor any perception,
and therefore attachment to ideas
of “male” and “female”
is quite worthless.
The weak-minded are always deluded by this.”

And so she vowed:
“There are many who wish to gain enlightenment
in a man’s form,
and there are but few who wish to work
for the welfare of living beings
in a female form.
Therefore may I, in a female body,
work for the welfare of beings
right until Samsara has been emptied.”


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Re: 8 Great Bodhisattvas
« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2012, 08:22:18 AM »
I like Maitreya a LOT! Although I do not wish to meet Him in my samsaric lives in the future but rather meet Him in Heaven. It is said that when Maitreya's time come, He will only teach the Sutra. this means there will be no more Tantra to help liberate us faster! Scary... That is why before Buddha Sakyamuni's teachings are over, I want to attain realization.  :P


Maitreya is a bodhisattva who in the Buddhist tradition is to appear on Earth, achieve complete enlightenment, and teach the pure dharma. According to scriptures, Maitreya will be a successor of the historic Sakyamuni Buddha. The prophecy of the arrival of Maitreya references a time when the Dharma will have been forgotten on Jambudvipa. It is found in the canonical literature of all Buddhist sects (Therav?da, Mah?y?na, Vajray?na), and is accepted by most Buddhists as a statement about an event that will take place when the Dharma will have been forgotten on Earth.

Maitreya currently resides in the Tushita Heaven, said to be reachable through meditation. Sakyamuni Buddha also lived here before he was born into the world as all bodhisattvas live in the Tusita Heaven before they descend to the human realm to become Buddhas. Although all bodhisattvas are destined to become Buddhas, the concept of a bodhisattva differs greatly in Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism. In Theravada Buddhism, a bodhisattva is one who is striving for full enlightenment, whereas in Mahayana Buddhism, a bodhisattva is one who has already reached a very advanced state of grace or enlightenment but holds back from entering nirvana so that he may help others.
In Mahayana Buddhism, once Maitreya becomes a Buddha, he will rule over the Ketumati Pure Land, an earthly paradise sometimes associated with the Indian city of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. In Mahayana Buddhism, Buddhas preside over a Pure Land (the Buddha Amitabha presides over the Sukhavati Pure Land, more popularly known as the Western Paradise).

According to tradition, Maitreya will be the fifth Buddha of the present kalpa and his arrival will occur after the teachings (dharma) of the current Gautama Buddha are less meaningfully communicated.
Maitreya's coming is characterized by a number of physical events. For example, the oceans are predicted to decrease in size, allowing Maitreya to traverse them freely. These events will also enable the reintroduction of the "true" dharma to the people, in turn allowing the construction of a new world.

His arrival signifies the end of the middle time, the time between fourth Buddha, Gautama Buddha, and the fifth Buddha, Maitreya, which is viewed as a low point of human existence. Maitreya Buddha will be born in a time when humans will live to an age of eighty thousand years, in the city of Ketumat?, whose king will be the Cakkavatt? Sankha. Sankha will live in the palace where once dwelt King Mah?panad?, but later he will give the palace away and will himself become a follower of Maitreya Buddha.

The scriptures say that Maitreya will attain bodhi in seven days (which is the minimum period), by virtue of his many lives of preparation for Buddhahood.

At this time a notable teaching he will start giving is that of the ten non-virtuous deeds (killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, divisive speech, abusive speech, idle speech, covetousness, harmful intent and wrong views) and the ten virtuous deeds (the abandonment of: killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, divisive speech, abusive speech, idle speech, covetousness, harmful intent and wrong views).


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Re: 8 Great Bodhisattvas
« Reply #10 on: August 04, 2012, 04:23:16 PM »
"All who comprise the great assemblage of Bodhisattvas are equally powerful and equally beneficial to countless beings, so that all things seem to be at their command. Sometimes beautiful lotuses and lotus trees are caused by them to grow from the middle of the ocean, or a teardrop is transformed into an ocean.  Everything in nature is at the Bodhisattva's call.  Fire can appear as water; water can appear as fire. It is all because of the strength of the Bodhisattva's attitude, the aspiration and action. For us this says that the practice of compassion must be given full consideration, and it must at all times be in our awareness and at all times performed."

~ 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, teaching on Compassion.  (Extract of article in I K H  newsletter  at Ngawang Geleg's site.)


The term bodhisattva literally means "essence of Bodhi" [budh- =  awakening or, enlightenment;] hence, one on the way to Awakening.  Bodhisattvas are considered to be of various degrees of attainment or rank relating to their level (Skt. bhumi) on the 10-step path [some traditions give 13] towards buddhahood.

The highest level of these are known as the Great Bodhisattvas, and these compassionate activity-beings are 8 in number.  They can be thought of as "occupying" the intermediate directions of space, if we consider the transcendent buddhas who head the five Buddha Families as situated at the cardinal points of a mandala. 

There are at least two different lists and some variations in "attributes," which in iconography means characteristic implements (or sceptres.) 

 Mipham (1846-1912) lists [see Tashi Prayer]:

Manjushri (Jampelyang) has a blue utpala flower [like Green Tara's]
Vajrapani (Chana Dorje) - vajra
Avalokiteshvara (Chenresi) - white lotus
Maitreya (Jampa) - naga tree
Kshitigarbha (Sai Nyingpo) - jewel
(Sarva)Nivarana-vishva-kambin  - moon
Akashagarbha - [blazing] sword
Samantabhadra (Kuntu-zangpo) - sun


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Re: 8 Great Bodhisattvas
« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2012, 05:20:38 AM »
Akasagarbha Bodhisattva

Akasagarbha, who is regarded as the essence of ether, belongs to the group of eight great Bodhisattvas. He belongs to Ratnesa family. He is also calle dthe Khagarbha. ‘Akasa’ and ‘Kha’ mean the sky or boundless space. The reason why the Bodhisattva is called Akasagarbha is explained thus in the Ta-fang-teng-ta-chi-ching" Suppose there is a millionaire who has limitless riches, an immeasurable store of large donations to people, specially to the poor and bereaved. Suppose that he opens his store to make offerings to those people as much as they want, and that he is thereby immensely satisfied. Like that rich man, does Akasagarbha Bodhisattva practice his meritoriaus acts".

According to Su-yao-I-Kuei, the man who wants to get happiness and wisdom, should devote himself to this Bodhisattva. The reason is that Sun, Moon and the stars are the incarnations of akasagarbha (Taisho, XXI, 422b). Again, the akasagarbha-bodhisattva sutra (Hsu-kung yun-P’u-sa’ching) explains thus the devotion of his followers. "The devotees take bath in scented water, put on clean clothes, burn incense of aloe and turns his face to the east late at night. He brings before his mind the reddish Aruna (the dawn) and recite to him: "Thou great merciful one, dost appear and illuminate this world. Have mercy on me out of compassion and protect me (Taisho, XIII, 672c). It goes on to say that the dawn Aruna appears in the east; the Bodhisattva Akasagarbha appears". Aruna is a Sanskrit word meaning the dawn. It can, therefore, be siad that the origin of the Bodhisattva lies in the world of celestial bodies….

Prajna Akas'agarbha Moving Meditation
The Prajna Akasagarbha is an esoteric Buddhist healing dharma practice which literally means, 'wisdom hidden in the womb of space'. This ancient dharma practice of Akasagarbha Bodhisattva, which was hidden in China for centuries, is considered a key to enlightenment, valued for its ability to increase physical vitality and energy, and bring forth rapid spiritual progress.

Akas'agarbha Bodhisattva is a great Master who attained enlightenment under the guidance of Shakyamuni Buddha and Manjusri Bodhisattva. The Prajna Akas'agarbha dharma was developed by Akas'agarbha with the help of Manjusri over a period of 49 days, and it is the actual practice Akas'agarbha used to awaken. In essence, it is a sequence of movements (mudras) combined with visualizations and a mantra that help to align the individual to the universe and awaken the sleeping seeds of Alaya consciousness in the body.

Because Akas'agarbha Bodhisattva is considered the guardian of the treasury of wisdom,

seekers of wealth & abundance call upon him and follow his guidance.

The actual practice consists of sixteen mudras, sixteen visualizations, and a mantra. When practiced diligently, it helps the practitioner experience the gravitational pulls of the heavenly bodies, grasp the rhythm of nature, and attain health, prosperity, and wisdom. It flows like water and moves slowly with great depth. It is fun to do and suitable for all ages and abilities. Wear comfortable clothing.