Bearer of the Wisdom Sword
Dorje Shugden is a sublime emanation of Venerable Manjushri, Buddha of Wisdom. Highly attained masters like Mahasiddha Tagphu Pemavajra, Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche and Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche have mentioned this in their teachings and written works.
Venerable Manjushri’s name is a combination of ‘Manju’, which means gentle and ‘Shri’, which means brilliance. Therefore Manjushri literally means ‘Gentle Brilliance’.
Manjushri is really a fully enlightened being and has manifested as the Bodhisattva student of Buddha Shakyamuni. In the Sutra Revealing the Abode of Manjushri, Buddha explains that in the remote past, Manjushri attained full Enlightenment in his pure land as a Buddha called Tathagata Lamp of the Nagas. In the same Sutra, Buddha also describes how Manjushri manifests countless emanations to help sentient beings in many worlds and planes of existence.
Although Manjushri appeared as a disciple of the Buddha, he had great power himself to help sentient beings. Sometimes people would come to Buddha for help and advice but Buddha would refer them to Manjushri because they had a stronger karmic link with him. Some had such a strong connection with Manjushri that through his blessings and skill, they were able to develop very powerful realizations.
Thus, Manjushri features extensively in the scriptures of the Sutra and Tantra teachings. In the form of a Yidam (meditational deity), Manjushri appears as a 16 year-old youth wearing the six ornaments of a Bodhisattva.
He carries the fiery sword of wisdom in his right hand that he brandishes against the darkness of ignorance. In his left hand, he holds the stem of a lotus that blooms with the Perfection of Wisdom scripture resting on it.
Both the sword and the scripture denote Manjushri’s ability to bestow wisdom as a means to liberate sentient beings. Thus, Dorje Shugden closely resembles Manjushri, by holding up in the air a flaming sword of wisdom.