Dharmapala Thangka CentreIconography

Tibetan Iconography


Manjushri, personification of Transcendent Wisdom, and embodiment of the discriminative awareness [prajna] He is also the first among other Boddhisattvas mentioned in Mahayana Buddhist scriptures. In the Namasangiti [Mahayana scripture] he is called 'Adi-Buddha', or pre-moral Buddha, while in some of the text of sutras he is referred to as an historical character.

Chinese Buddhist cannon claims that Manjushri was informed by Gautama Buddha to turn the Wheel of Buddha's Law for the salvation of the Chinese and the place chosen for the manifestation was Pancasirsha [mountain of five peaks of five different colors of diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, rubies, and lapis lazuli]

When the time came for the manifestation of Manjusri, Gautama Buddha caused a golden ray to burst from his forehead. It pierced a jambu-tree, which grew from the foundation of mountain Pancasirsha. A lotus sprang from the tree, and 'from the interior of the flower was born the prince of sages, Arya Manjusri. His color was yellow; he had one face and two arms; in the right hand he brandished the sword of Wisdom; in his left, he carried a book on a lotus utpala; he was endowed with the superior and inferior marks of beauty; he was covered with many ornaments and he was resplendent

In the Svayambhu-purana, it is related that Manjusri left Mount Pancasirsha to visit the shrine of Svayambhu [presently in Katmandu], which was on a mountain in the center of Lake Kalihrada. He found the lake filled with aquatic monsters and the temple inaccessible. He therefore 'opened with his sword a valley on the southern side of the lake [presently CHOVAR], the waters of the lake drained through the opening, leaving dry land at the bottom, and this was the Katmandu, the capital city of Nepal. So, he is believed as founder of civilization in Nepal and a 'Wanderer' [mendicant Buddhist priest] who propagated Buddhism into Nepal.

The Tibetan King in the eleventh century, the Tsong-Kha-pa, also the founder of Ge-lug-pa School of Tibetan Buddhism, which the Dalai Lama have been head of the sect, was believed as manifestation of Manjusri.

Manjusri belongs to the group of eight Dhyani-Boddhisattva, and is therefore represented like a prince with all the Boddhisattva ornaments. He sometime has a small image of Dhyani-Buddha Akshobhya in his crown. Manjusri is worshiped in different forms and name. Like he is in one form found seated on lion is known as Manjughosa. These different forms of him are practiced for different purpose of Buddhist Sadhana, has two distinctive types: one with the sword and book, which is his more usual form, and the other with the utpala or blue lotus.

The sword symbolizes the cleaving asunder [dissipating] of the clouds of Ignorance; the book is the prajnaparamita, Treatise on Transcendent Wisdom.