Dharmapala Thangka CentreSchool of Thangka Painting

4.32 Sita Manjushri

Full View Detail 1: Detail 2: Detail 3: Detail 4: Detail 5: Vajrapani Detail 6:

Around the first century, Mahayana Buddhism came into existence emphasizing the ideal of a Bodhisattva. Although Bodhisattvas aspire to reach Buddhahood, their efforts are not directed toward their own benefit but, rather, toward helping all sentient beings attain enlightenment. At the same time, Mahayana Buddhism developed the gradual path of the perfections [paramitas].

On the last grade dwell the "great beings" [mahasattva]. Having overcome the three root poisons - hate, desire, and ignorance - they have attained the "path of no more learning". Because they do not fall again into the cycle of rebirth and are full of compassion toward the world, they dedicate their store of merit toward the welfare of all beings. For that reason, practitioner; venerate and address them with prayers.

According to both Mahayana and Vairayana Buddhism, although Bodhisattvas have transcended the world of suffering, they choose to remain in the world to act as saviors and helpers for others on the path to enlightenment. As a result, a certain emphasis, developed for the benefit of beings, is attributed to each bodhisattva. Avalokiteshvara, Manjushri, and Vajrapani embody the three main virtues of Mahayana Buddhism: compassion, wisdom, and . In most Buddhist texts, Manjushri, the "king of speech," is listed as the first Bodhisattva.

He is an emanation of Buddha Shakyamuni, born out of a golden ray of light that emerged from Shakyamuni's forehead. The ray of light penetrated the sacred Jambu-tree that prows on Mount Pancasirsha. [This mountain has five peaks, consisting of diamond, saphire, ruby, emerald and lapis lazuli.] Out of the tree, a lotus - the symbol of purity - came forth, and in its delicate white blossom was prince Manjushri, the manifestation of the wisdom of all Buddhas.

Saints and teachers especially qualified in preaching the Buddhist doctrine were inspired and taught by Manjushri. For example, the great Tibetan scholar Thonmi Sambhota - first minister of Songtsen Gampo [569-649] - was sent to India in order to create the Tibetan script based on its model. He is considered to be an incarnation of Manjushri Padmasambhava and the great reformer Tsongkhapa [1357-1419] are believed to be emanations of the Bodhisattva as well. Many great Tibetan scholars, particularly the heads of the Shakya school, are said to be his incarnations - spiritual sons of Manjushri. Folk tradition sees him as the "divine architect" and god of agriculture.

This Thangka illustrates Manjushri in a heavenly landscape. He appears in his white form as the "soft, white lord," Sita Manjushri [´jam dbyangs dkar po]. Although, like all transcendental Bodhisattvas, he aspires to the Buddha throne, he is represented in the full attire of a universal ruler. He wears a silken loin cloth richly adorned with gold, a beautifully embroidered cape, as well as thirteen ornaments: earrings, two necklaces, rings on the arms, wrists, anklets, and feet, and a belt. On his head he wears the Sambhogakaya crown, adorned with five jewels.

His hair is tied in a knot, topped by a naming jewel. His expression is peaceful; he smiles knowingly. He sits on a lotus and a moon disc, his legs crossed in the vajrasana position. In his left hand, poised in the gesture of teaching, he holds the stem of the blue lotus with a scripture.

His right hand opens downward in the gesture of giving. Between his fingers he grasps the stem of a second lotus, out of which emerges his blazing sword of wisdom. Above his head the blue Buddha Aksobhya, the lord of the east, resides.

He demonstrates the gesture of touching the earth with his right hand. To the left, a yogin with a skull cup and an unidentified meditation belt appears. To the right we find the figure of a monk scholar whose headwear indicates that he belongs to the Drukpa Kagyu school.

In the lower left, the "soft lord with the lion's voice" Vadasimha Manjushri [´jam dbyangs smra seng] appears, riding a lion. To the right, Vajravina Sarasvati, the goddess of "melodious voice," resides. Depicted in white, she plays the Indian lute [vina], her main identifying feature.

Source: Dr. Andrea Loseries-Leick in Tibetan Art Calendar 1999 [December]

Measurements: 51 x 76
Price: on request
Shipment: Parcel Service from Germany or Nepal
Color: Color Version
Material: Natural Stone Colors