The 8th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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He is the protector and guide of The Buddha, and rose to symbolize The Buddha's Power. Vajrapani was used extensively in Buddhist iconography as one of the three Protective deities surrounding The Buddha.
Vajrapāṇi (Sanskrit: Thunderbolt-Bearer) is believed to be the protector of the nāgas (half-man, half-serpent deities) and sometimes assumes the shape of a bird in order to deceive their traditional enemy, the hawklike Garuḍa. Because of his association with the rain-controlling nāgas and with the Hindu god of rain, Indra, he is invoked in times of drought.
Like Indra he holds the thunderbolt and is coloured dark blue or white. His statues are often found in a triad with the Buddha Amitāyus (or the bodhisattva of wisdom, Mañjuśrī) and the lotus-bearing bodhisattva of compassion, Padmapāṇi. In Tibet he assumes ferocious forms to combat demons and to guard the mystical teaching of Buddhism, and in Japan he guards the temple doorways (see Ni-ō).
Furthermore, Vajrapani is one of the earliest Dharmapalas and the only Buddhist Deity to be mentioned in the Pali Canon as well as be worshiped in the Shaolin Temple, Tibetan Buddhism, and even Pure Land Buddhism (where he is known as Mahasthamaprapta and is one of a Triad comprising Amitabha and Avalokiteshwara).
In the tradition of Vajrayana Buddhism, Vajrapani is more typically shown in a wrathful form and known as Guhyapati - 'the Lord of Secrets.' He is the said to be the main recipient, holder, and protector of all the Tantra texts, literature, and teachings received from the Buddha Shakyamuni (in the appearance of Vajradhara Buddha).
From the model of the Lower Tantras Vajrapani symbolizes the body of all buddhas of the ten directions and three times and represents enlightened activity. The bodhisattva Manjushri represents mind and Avalokiteshvara that of speech.
In Tantric practice Vajrapani is a meditational deity, and considered a Buddha, with numerous forms found in all of the four levels of Tantra classification and popular in all traditions of Tibetan Buddhism - new and old.
The two wrathful forms of Vajrapani known as the Sutra Tradition (do lug) and the Nilambhara (dro zang lug), each with one face and two hands, do not have skull crowns or wrathful ornaments such as the fifty freshly severed heads. They do however wear the eight races of nagas depicted as snakes - bracelets, anklets, etc.
Mahachakra Vajrapani is sometimes depicted with a skull crown and at other times shown with a jeweled crown. Almost all of the other wrathful forms of Vajrapani have the same fearsome regalia as typical of wrathful Tantric deities such as Vajrabhairava, Vajrakila, Mahakala and the like. The various forms of Vajrapani as a meditational deity are derived from the textual sources of the early Tantras.
- Bengali: Bojropani (বজ্রপাণি)
- Tibetan: Channa Dorje
- Mandarin: Jīngāng shǒu púsà (金剛手菩薩), Héyíluóhuányuèchā (和夷羅洹閱叉) or Báshéluóbōnì (跋闍羅波膩)
- Vietnamese: Kim cương thủ bồ tát, Hoà di la hoàn duyệt xoa or Bạt xà la ba nị
- Malay and Indonesian: Wajrapani
- Mongolian: Ochirvaani (Очирваань) or Bazarvaani (Базарваань)
- Korean: Geumgang su bosal (금강수보살) or Balsarapani (발사라파니)
- Japanese: Kongō shu bosatsu (金剛手菩薩), Wairaoneisa (和夷羅洹閱叉) or Bajarahaji (跋闍羅波膩)
On the popular level, Vajrapani, Holder of the Thunderbolt Scepter (symbolizing the Power of Compassion), is the Bodhisattva who represents the Power of all the Buddhas, just as Avalokitesvara represents their great Compassion, Manjushri their Wisdom, and Tara their miraculous deeds.
His outstretched right hand brandishes a Vajra and his left hand deftly holds a lasso - with which he binds demons. Although he wears a skull crown in a few depictions, in most depictions he wears a 5 pointed Bodhisattva crown to depict the Power of the 5 Tathagathas.
When The Buddha questioned his lack of respect, Ambatha replied it was because The Buddha belongs to a "menial" Caste. The Buddha then asked the Brahmin if his family was descended from a “Shakya slave girl”.
According to the Pancavimsatisahasrika and Astasahasrika Prajnaparamita any Bodhisattva on the Path to Buddhahood is eligible for Vajrapani's protection, making them invincible to any attacks "by either men or Ghosts".
The combined power and energy of all the Buddhas,
Supreme holder of the treasure of the Secret Teachings,
Subjugator of all maras and obscurers without exception;
I praise and pay homage to Vajrapani
DE SHEG THU TOP CHIG DU SHING
SANG WA NGAG KYI DZO DZIN CHOG
DU GEG MA LU DUL DZE PA
DORJE DZIN LA CHAG TSEL TÖ
- According to the scripture Lotus Sutra, this Deity (Narayana) is a manifestation of Avalokitesvara (Guanyin).
It fulfills all vows, being most efficacious. ...
Therefore those who study Narayana's hand-symbolism (Mudra), those who seek his spell (Mantra), and those who search for his image are numerous. Thus we have erected this stele to spread this Transmission.
The exact Lotus Sutra passage reads: “To those who can be conveyed to Deliverance by the Body of the Spirit who grasps the Vajra (Vajrapani) he preaches Dharma by displaying the Body of the Spirit who grasps the Vajra.”
A stele erected by Shaolin abbot Wenzai in 1517 shows the Deity's Vajra-club had by then been changed to a Chinese staff, which originally "served as the emblem of the Monk". Vajrapani's Yaksha-like Narayana Form was eventually equated with one of the four staff-wielding "Kimnara Kings" from the Lotus Sutra in 1575. His name was thus changed from Narayana to "Kimnara King".
The bandits flee when they behold this staff-wielding titan.
Scholars damn the work as a forgery because of its numerous anachronistic mistakes and the fact that popular fictional characters from Chinese literature, including the "Bushy Bearded Hero" (虬髯客), are listed as lineage masters. In fact, the Qing scholar Ling Tingkan (1757–1809) "dismissed the manual's author as an 'ignorant village master'."
He was then typically depicted as a hairy, muscular athlete, wielding a short "diamond" club.
In Japan, Vajrapani is known as Shukongōshin (執金剛神, "Diamond rod-wielding God"), and has been the inspiration for the Niō (仁王, lit. Benevolent kings), the wrath-filled and muscular guardian God of The Buddha, standing today at the entrance of many Buddhist temples under the appearance of frightening wrestler-like statues.
Some suggest that the War Deity Kartikeya, who bears the title Skanda is also a manifestation of Vajrapani, who bears some resemblance to Skanda because they both wield vajras as Weapons and are portrayed with flaming halos.
He holds a vajra (thunderbolt) in his right hand, which emphasizes the power to cut through the darkness of delusion. Vajrapani looks wrathful, but as a representation of the enlightened mind, he's completely free from hatred.
This mantra helps us to gain access to the irrepressible energy that Vajrapani symbolizes. A familiarity with Vajrapani does, of course, help here, although the sound of the mantra is itself rather energetic.
Non-Buddhists (and Theravadin Buddhists) seeing Vajrapani for the first time may wonder how such a wrathful-looking figure could possibly fit with the peaceful associations they have with the Buddhist tradition, although such figures are actually very common in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.
His fearless approach to life is perhaps characterized mostly clearly by his encounter with Angulimala, who was an infamous bandit who killed his victims and added a finger from each to the garland he wore around his neck (his name means "Garland of Fingers").
Although warned to stay away from this dangerous figure, the Buddha insisted on going into the forest to confront Angulimala, who converted to Buddhism, became a monk, and eventually became Enlightened.
Another way of looking at the apparent fierceness of Vajrapani and other "wrathful" figures is to consider what a Buddha looks like from the point of view of that part of ourselves that doesn't want to change.
After all, habits of denial, craving, and aversion face extinction if we continue to practice the path of mindfulness and compassion, so it's not surprising that they sometimes put up a protest. From the point of view of those powerful and yet primitive parts of ourselves, Enlightenment, rather than looking attractive, seems to be threatening and demonic.
In this story, in the Digha Nikaya, a Brahmin (priestly) youth named Ambattha, is first of all rude to the Buddha, believing him to be of a lower social caste, and then refuses to answer a question the Buddha â€” who is unfailingly polite in the encounter puts to him about his ancestry.
After Ambattha refuses to answer the question twice, the Buddha reminds him that there is a traditional belief that if you refuse to answer the question of an enlightened one three times, your head will split in seven pieces. Of course this never happens, but "Vajirapani" (the Pali form of his name) appears, ready to make good on the ancient prophecy. Ambattha is of course terrified and promptly answers the Buddha's question.
The earliest depictions of Vajrapani, as we noted above, are not particularly wrathful. In this image, from the second century, both the Buddha (seated) and Vajrapani (standing) are sculpted in classic Greek style.
Vajrapani wears a loin-cloth around his hips.
The cloth is made from the skin of a tiger. He is adorned with the five-pointed Bodhisattva crown, but the crown bears five skulls. He has necklace hanging to his belly, but he also has a snake around his neck.
Although Vajrapani and other similar figures are often described as "wrathful" it's important to realize that they do not represent ordinary anger, but simply the power and fearlessness of the awakened mind.
This identity is borne out by his other Buddhist epithets, i.e. Vasava, Devinda, Maghava, Sahasranetra (Pali: Sahasranetta,) though in his role as a Dharma-protector, the ancient title Purindara meaning "town-wrecker" became Purinda or "town-keeper" ( R. Bannerjee.)
This epithet is especially used when he is shown standing beside Amitayus (the Long-life buddha-form of Amitabha,) along with Chenrezi. In images, he is usually depicted on the left while Chenrezig is on the right of Amitayus.
Vajrapani also represents righteous wrath, an association derived from an account where, when someone behaved insolently to Buddha Shakyamuni, refusing to answer his question, he instantly appeared above his head ready to let loose a thunderbolt.
It is recommended that you receive the actual empowerment for these practices when possible.
Suddenly the light transforms itself into yourself as an extremely wrathful figure -- green-blue with three eyes, rolling tongue and gnashing fangs -- raging with divine wrath against all forces of negativity and perversion of the truth.
Blaze with divine rage against all the forces of darkness. You are radiating blue-green light very fiercely and brightly. You dance around wildly and stomp to death all the forces of negativity while reciting the following mantra 21 times or more:
If you are still bothered and want to do more recite the following mantra:
GARUDA TSALE TSALE HUNG PHE
NAGADU TSANDE TSANDE MILI MILI BHANDA BHANDA
NAGANI SWA HA
The musicality of being is the clear tone of a bell
Destroying all mist which rises from below
It is the slashing sword which rends aside the veils of ignorance
Which cuts the power of Mara
Not mercy but destruction
Do not keep it, but dissolve it
The curves of blindness are dangerous as a poisonous snake
Ignorance is not tolerated by the wise
It is eliminated
In clarity only is there truth
No being, no form, no idea
Can be more important
Purify ruthlessly, cut off the tubers
Of slimy desires which ever cling
Growing, like mold upon the pure
Swamp tendrils ever curl up the arms of the wanderer
Hands rise up out of the muck, pulling him under
Alluring eyes call him forth,
Smiles beckon, and infinities of illusions rise up to him
To pull him down.
Do not give in, do not listen to the coiling voices
They are hollow, like spiderwebs, they are empty of knowledge
They are the knots of endless form, calling down food
That they may glut themselves
Wanderer along the path to heaven
My task is to aid you
If you are pure, my sword and knowledge
Are at your disposal
If you yearn after purity, yet cannot escape
The barbed tendrils and strangling life-slime
Meditate upon me, for my life is virtuous and my mind is free
Like an icy mountain lake, or a clear autumn evening
No illusions may exist around me
I am the shining jewel where no dust may settle
I am one trunk, with no branches
I do not scatter my energy in wasteful forms
Nor do I allow clouds to rest before me
I am clarity and wisdom, without blight.
I inspire the strong and noble
Who shun deception, and favor truth
For the world is full of lies
And the clear sword of Truth is needed
To pierce its darkness.
When Vajrapani becomes the Buddha "Completely reliable Tathagata King of abundant jewel-like qualities" with a life span and teaching just as those of Chenrezi, may we continuously be the servants of this Buddha as well, present our offerings and uphold all the noble Dharma.
Having obtained perfect Buddhahood, may all beings ' just as with Amitayus ' be ripened and liberated by simply hearing my name, and may there arise, through countless emanations that guide sentient beings and through other means, spontaneously and without effort a limitless benefit for beings
- Jamgön Mipham, A Garland of Jewels, (trans. by Lama Yeshe Gyamtso), Woodstock: KTD Publications, 2008
As stated in the Vajrayana scriptures, Vajrapani is the great sphere of moonlight which emerged when Vairocana entered the Samadhi of Samantabhadra within the Diamond Mandala. This moonlight is the perfect bodhicitta seal. Amidst the moonlight there is a brilliant vajra. This transformation indicates that Vajrapani is the combined entity of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva and Vajrasattva. Consequently, Vajrapani's mudra is identical to the mudra of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva.
Vajrapani is the supreme dharma prince of all tathagatas, the very bodhicitta of all tathagatas. He is thus the supreme secret master of all tathagatas. Hence he is given the title Vajra Holder, Lord of Secrets. In fact, all enlightened vajra masters are Vajrapani himself.
Vajrapani Bodhisattva is the bodhicitta of all buddhas whereas Mahasthamaprapta Bodhisattva is the wisdom mind. Because Vajrapani Bodhisattva is the secret held in the heart of all Tantric practitioners, Vajrapani Bodhisattva is Vajra Heart Bodhisattva. It is with the heart that sentient beings attain spiritual union with all the buddhas and bodhisattvas.
Vajrasattva is known as Vajra Heart. He is also known as Vajrapani, Lord of Secrets, and Vajra Holder. Vajrapani, Vajra Heart Bodhisattva, and Vajrasattva are the Trinity of Vajrayana. These three bodhisattvas are the greatest, most significant Vajrayana bodhisattvas. Vajrasattva is the combination of these three bodhisattvas. The image of Vajrasattva depicts Vajrasattva's sambhogakaya form. Vajrapani is Vajrasattva in the form of a dharma protector. Vajra Heart Bodhisattva is a bodhisattva of the dharma realm and is the dharmakaya of Vajrasattva. In other words, the combination of a bodhisattva's Truth Body, Bliss Body, and Emanation Body is referred to as Vajrasattva. Therefore, in Vajrayana the greatest and most significant bodhisattva is Vajrasattva Bodhisattva.
The Three Protectors of Vajrayana are Avalokiteshvara, who represents compassion, Manjusri, who represents wisdom, and Vajrapani, who represents dharma power. This means that to extensively nurture one's bodhicitta one must take refuge in Avalokiteshvara. One takes refuge in Manjusri to strengthen and increase one's wisdom, that is, the wisdom of the Tathagata. Vajrapani, on the other hand, represents all the dharma power one needs to accomplish worldly activities. In Vajrayana we call these three deities the Three Protectors.
The Great Perfection has two lineages. One lineage is the heaven lineage which was passed down as follows: Samantabhadra Tathagata - the Five Dhyani Buddhas - Vajrasattva - Vajrapani - Emperor Shengxin. The other lineage is the human lineage: Prahevajra - Manjusrimitra - Shri Singha - Vairotsana - Padmasambhava - King Trisong Detsen -Yeshe Tsogyal
Tang Vajrayana began with the oral transmission from Vairocana Buddha to Vajrapani, who, after attaining supreme realization, transmitted the teachings to Nagarjuna. Nagarjuna transmitted the teachings to Nagajnana, who transmitted them to Vajrabodhi. Because Vajrabodhi came to China during the Tang Dynasty, it is called Tang Vajrayana. Vajrabodhi then transmitted the teachings to Amoghavajra who in turn transmitted them to Huilang. By the time of the Yuan Dynasty, Vajrayana in China was in decline.
In the Vajrapani mantra Om。 bie-zha。 bo-ni 。hum pei, bo-ni is Vajrapani. The two words bo-ni are of great significance. It means that Vajrapani has the greatest wisdom in the universe. Hum is his seed syllable. Pei is to dispel all misfortune. This is the meaning of his mantra.
The Vajrapani mantra symbolizes the purification of speech, the image of Vajrapani symbolizes the purification of mind, and the mudra of Vajrapani symbolizes the purification of body. Once one's body, speech, and mind are purified one is able to be close to one's personal deity and one's protector.
Buddhist practice is all about attaining union with the principal deity. Yoga is the attainment of this union. Therefore, Vajrapani Yoga, Vajrapani Sadhana, and Vajrapani Personal Deity Practice are all actually one and the same. The critical factor is his entering into one's mind, one instantly merging with Vajrapani, and one transforming into Vajrapani. In Vajrayana, the two words spiritual union are the two most important words for principal deity practice.
One of the holy lineage tokens which Living Buddha Lian-sheng received from Guru Thubten Dargye of the Gelug sect was a clay Vajrapani statue that belonged to the 17th Kanjurwa Khutughtu. In one's wildest dreams one would never imagine that something made of clay could be so wonderfully delicate and possess such dignity. It was multicolored and smaller than the size of one's palm, just a bit larger than one's thumb. You just can't imagine. The 17th Kanjurwa Khutughtu bestowed it on Guru Thubten Dargye who then bestowed it on me.
The Vajrapani Sadhana below is the excerpt from Living Buddha Lian-sheng's Book 250, Uncanny Insight into the Unknown. Someone asked me, Grandmaster Lu, the Three Protectors of Vajrayana are Four-armed Guanyin, Manjushri, and Vajrapani. You have transmitted the practices of Four-armed Guanyin and Manjushri, why not yet of Vajrapani?
I was startled when I heard that.
I asked back, I have not transmitted Vajrapani Practice?
He replied, No.
The seven steps:
Vajra Mudra - Put the palms together. Interlace the ring fingers inward while the little fingers are still touching each other. Point the two index fingers outward, and press the ring fingers with the thumbs while keeping the tip of the middle fingers touching. (Similar to Golden Mother's mudra except the little fingers are straightened and touching.)
In a clear and empty sky appear lotuses of all different colors. Upon a lotus is a sun disc. Upon the sun disc is the syllable hum which transforms into a vajra scepter. Within the vajra scepter there is a hum syllable emitting light which subjugates all evil. The syllable hum enters the heart of the practitioner who then transforms into dark blue Vajrapani with one head and two arms. His right hand holds a vajra scepter up high with a Wrathful Fist Mudra. He also holds his left hand in front of his chest with either a Wrathful Fist Mudra or holding a lasso. He is adorned with jewels, snakes and a tiger-skin skirt. He stands in magnificent fire prajna light with his right leg bent and his left leg extended outward.
Emerging from Samadhi and Praise: Homage to Vajrapani in the north Residing forever in the eternal wonderful Pure Land Praised by buddhas and a refuge for sentient beings Undertaking tathagata vows as the Lord of Secrets Eradicating all afflictions and evil Purifying the three poisons by this vajra cause
Recite the Hundred Syllable Mantra 3 times
Vajrapani dharma practice has either Vajrapani single practice or Vajrapani Consort practice. The consort is Mamagayi Buddha Mother. She is blue and holds a vajra kartika and a kapala. (I will select a day to transmit this practice.)
!!Please be aware that before anyone can practice the above uncommon practices, it is advised and recommended that they take refuge and the respective empowerment; alternatively one must face inherent resulting cause and effect!!