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- 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.
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,
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.
- Jamgön Mipham, A Garland of Jewels, (trans. by Lama Yeshe Gyamtso), Woodstock: KTD Publications, 2008
- Manjushri series on Lotsawa House
- A Few Remarks—An Explanation of the Praise to Noble Mañjushri known as Glorious Wisdom’s Excellent Qualities
- Manjushri outline page at Himalayan Art Resources
The personification of the Mahayana notion of insight or wisdom (prajñā), Mañjuśrī or “Gentle Glory,” often functions in Mahayana texts as interlocutor: his pointed questions to the Buddha elicit the teachings his audience needs in order to grasp even the subtlest points of doctrine.
Like insight, Mañjuśrī is ever new; he is often portrayed as a golden-complexioned, sixteen-year-old “Crown Prince” holding aloft the sword of wisdom in one hand, and a Perfection of Wisdom book (Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra) in the other.
The bodhisattva appears in the earliest datable literary evidence of Mahayana works available in any language, the Chinese translations prepared during 168–189 CE by the Indo-Scythian scholar Lokakṣema and his team of translators.
The Crown Prince was renowned in Nepal as the creator of the Kathmandu Valley; the Svayambhūpurāņa reports that Mañjuśrī split a mountain in two with his sword to drain the waters of the Kālīhrada and open the space.
On the lighter side, Birnbaum 2005 is especially strong on Mañjuśrī’s place in Chinese Buddhism, Harrington 2004 emphasizes his place in Indian Buddhist literature, and Suzuki 1921 touches on his Japanese incarnations.
“Gentle Voice”; one of the two most important Bodhisattvas in Mahāyāna Buddhism (along with Avalokiteśvara). Mañjuśrī seems to derive from a celestial musician (Gandharva) named Pañcaśikha (Five Peaks),
Among Mañjuśrī’s many forms, the most famous shows him seated in the lotus posture (Padmāsana), dressed in the raiments of a prince, his right hand holding a flaming sword above his head, his left hand holding the stem of a lotus that blossoms over his left shoulder, a volume of the Prajñāpāramitā atop the lotus.
Mañjuśrī first comes to prominence in the Vimalakīrtinirdeśa, which probably dates no later than the first century CE, where only Mañjuśrī has the courage to visit and debate with the wise layman Vimalakīrti and eventually becomes the interlocutor for Vimalakīrti’s exposition of the dharma.
In the Ajātaśatrukaukṛtyavinodana, it is revealed that Mañjuśrī inspired Śākyamuni to set out on the bodhisattva path many eons ago, and that he had played this same role for all the buddhas of the past; indeed, the text tells us that Mañjuśrī, in his guise as an ever-youthful prince, is the father of all the buddhas.
The bull-headed deity Yamāntaka is said to be the wrathful form of Mañjuśrī. Buddhabhadra’s early fifth-century translation of the Avataṃsakasūtra is the first text that seemed to connect Mañjuśrī with Wutaishan (Five-Terrace Mountain) in China’s Shaanxi province.
Wutaishan became an important place of pilgrimage in East Asia beginning at least by the Northern Wei dynasty (424–532), and eventually drew monks in search of a vision of Mañjuśrī from across the Asian continent, including Korea, Japan, India, and Tibet.
The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism by Robert E. Buswell Jr. and Donald S. Lopez Jr.