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Vajrasattva (Adi-Buddha)

From Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
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Vajrasatva-Newari.jpg

(Whose essence is the Thunderbolt).

Buddha of Supreme Intelligence.

(T.) rdo-rje sems-dpah (soul of the thunderbolt).
(C.) Suan-tzu-lo-sa-tsui (Suan Tzu Lo Sa Tsui).
(J.) Kongosatta (essence of a diamond).

Symbols: vajra (thunderbolt), ghanta (bell).
Colour: white.
Bodhisattva of Akshobhya (Dhyani-Buddha) and chief (Tsovo) or president of the five Dhyani-Buddhas.

The position of Vajrasattva in the Mahayana pantheon is difficult to determine. He is looked upon as the spiritual son of Akshobhya, and is at the same time Tsovo or chief of the five Dhyani-Buddhas. M. de la Vallee Poussin identifies him with Vajradhara. Eitel calls him the sixth Dhyani-Buddha of the Yogacharya school. 16

The Svabhavika sect in Nepal identified Svabhava 17 (Adi-Buddha) with Vajrasattva, who, according to the Nepalese Buddhist writings, manifested himself on Mount Sumeru in the following manner. A lotus-flower of precious jewels appeared on the summit of the mountain which is the centre of the universe, and above it arose a moon-crescent upon which, 'supremely exalted', was seated Vajrasattva.

It is not probable that the image of the AdiBuddha Vajrasattva is here meant, but rather the symbol which designates the Adi-Buddha, a lihga-shaped flame. If the moon-crescent, which arose above the lotus-flower, is represented with the flame symbol in the centre, instead of the 'image of Vajrasattva', it forms a trident. 18 The special emblem of the Svabhavika sect was a trident rising from a lotus-flower, which, if we accept the above hypothesis, symbolized the manifestation of Vajrasattva as Adi-Buddha on Mount Sumeru.

In the Musee Guimet there is an example of a Bodhisattva (or 'crowned' Buddha), with four heads19 seated, with the legs locked, and balancing a vajra on his hands in dhyana mudra. As the Adi-Buddhas are always represented with the Bodhisattva ornaments, it may be a representation of Vajrasattva as Adi-Buddha; and since Brahma, chief of all the Brahman gods, has four heads, the idea of representing Vajrasattva in the same manner may have been borrowed from Brahmanism to distinguish Vajrasattva as Adi-Buddha, chief of all the gods of the Mahayana system, from his manifestations which occupy a less exalted position in the Northern Buddhist pantheon.

As sixth Dhyani-Buddha, Vajrasattva presides over the Yidam, 20 and has the same relation to the Adi-Buddha that the Manushi (human) Buddha has to his ethereal counterpart or Dhyani-Buddha. The sixth sense is believed to have emanated from him, as well as the last of the six elements of which man is composed — the manas, or mind (v. Tlie Dhyani-Buddhas).

Vajrasattva is always represented seated, wearing the five-leaved crown and the dress and ornaments of a Dhyani-Bodhisattva. He generally holds the vajra against his breast with the right hand, but the vajra may be held in the hand or balanced on its point in the palm of the hand. With the left, he holds the gJmnta on his hip (PL iv, fig. c).

When seated on a white lotus, he is looked upon by certain sects as Guardian of the East. 21

Unlike the other Dhyani-Buddhas, he is always crowned with or without his sakti, whom he presses against his breast in the yab-yum 22 attitude, with the right hand holding the vajra, while the left holds the ghanta on his hip. The yum holds the capala (skull-cup) and vajra.

[Page 6] In Nepal, according to Hodgson, he is seldom represented in statuary form, but is more often met with in paintings, and especially in miniatures. In Tibet, however, bronzes of Vajrasattva are not infrequently found, while in paintings, especially in mandala, 23 he is often met with. In Japan he is found in statues as well as in paintings, and is called 'Kongosatta'. The Japanese look upon Trailokya-vijaya Bodhisattva as a form of Vajrasattva.

Source

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