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The bodhisattva Mañjushri

Mañjushri (Skt. Mañjuśrī; Tib. འཇམ་དཔལ་, འཇམ་དཔལ་དབྱངས་, Jampalyang, Wyl. 'jam dpal dbyang; Chi. 文殊, Wenshu, Pin. Wénshū)) or Mañjughosha (Skt. Mañjughoṣa; Tib. འཇམ་དབྱངས་, Jamyang, Wyl. ‘jam dbyangs; 'the Gentle Voiced') or is

  1. one of the eight great bodhisattvas who were the closest disciples of the Buddha. In this form, he sometimes appears whitish-green in colour and holding a lily to symbolize renunciation of the destructive emotions.
  2. the embodiment of the knowledge and wisdom of all the buddhas, traditionally depicted with a sword in his right and a text in his left hand.

In The Array of Virtues of Manjushri’s Buddha Realm the Buddha proclaims:

The benefit accomplished for beings by Manjushrikumarabhuta[1] in each eon is not performed even by trillions of buddhas.[2]

Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo says:

In definitive terms, Mañjushri, you are now, and from the very beginning you have always been, a genuine buddha, in whom all the qualities of abandonment and realization are totally perfected, because you completely traversed all ten bhumis, such as the Joyous and so on, and purified the two obscurations, together with any latent habitual tendencies, many incalculable aeons ago. Nevertheless, from a merely provisional perspective, you appear as the foremost of all the bodhisattvas, and demonstrate the means of training as a bodhisattva in the presence of all the victorious ones and their heirs throughout the ten directions.
Moreover, from the perspective of the mantrayana, there is no doubt whatsoever that you, Mañjushri, are a buddha. In fact, this is even stated in the sutras. In the The Array of Virtues of Manjushri’s Buddha Realm, for example, it says you have completed the ten bhumis. And in two other sutras—the Shurangama-samadhi Sutra and the Angulimala Sutra—you are clearly referred to as a buddha. [3]

Manjushri's initial prayers of aspiration

In The Array of Virtues of Manjushri’s Buddha Realm we read about the extraordinary aspirations Manjushri made in a past life as King Akasha:

For as long as beginningless cyclic existence
Has occurred in the past,
I shall now engage in limitless deeds
For the sake of beings.[4]
In the presence of the World’s Protector,[5]
I direct my mind toward supreme awakening.
I will serve all beings,
And free them from poverty and misery.
I shall not aspire or be eager
To quickly awaken to buddhahood.
Rather, throughout the reaches of the future,
I shall act for the benefit of every single being.

Normally, a Buddha would prophesy a bodhisattva's future enlightenment, but King Akasha had the great confidence to proclaim:

I make my own prophecy,
As there is no doubt of my buddhahood.[6]


Teachings Given to the Rigpa Sangha

Empowerments of Manjushri Given to the Rigpa Sangha

Further Reading

  • Jamgön Mipham, A Garland of Jewels, (trans. by Lama Yeshe Gyamtso), Woodstock: KTD Publications, 2008

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