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Manjushri: History, Representation And Wisdom

Manjushri is the bodhisattva, literally translating to "Buddha-to-be", who represents unsurpassed wisdom in Mahyna Buddhism. His name, which also goes by the names Manjughosa, or one with sweet voice and Vagisvara, or the Lord of speech, means "gentle, or sweet, splendour" in Sanskrit. He goes by the names Wen-shu Shih-li in China, Monju in Japan, and Jam-dpal in Tibet. Images of Manjushri Bodhisattva are frequently found in Buddhist monasteries' meditation rooms, libraries, and study areas. One of the most revered Bodhisattvas in Chinese, Esoteric, and Tibetan Buddhism, among other traditions, is Manjushri.

Historical Overview

While Manjushri appears to have been unrepresented in Buddhist art prior to AD 400, sutras, or the Buddhist scriptures, were written in his honour by at least AD 250. Manjushri is typically depicted with royal trappings on, carrying a manuscript of the Prajñāpāramitā in his left hand and the sword of wisdom to sever the veils of ignorance in his right hand. He is occasionally shown sitting on a lion or a blue lotus, and in art, his skin is typically painted yellow.

In the eighth century, his religion became quite popular in China, and Mount Wu-t'ai in Shansi province, where he is revered, is covered in temples. Even though Manjushri is typically thought of as a heavenly bodhisattva, certain traditions give him a human past. He is said to appear in a variety of forms, including dreams, pilgrims on his holy mountain, the Tibetan reformer Ata, the Chinese emperor, and the monk Vairocana, who brought Buddhism to Khotan.

The Mahayana Buddhist literature names Manjushri as the most important and ancient Bodhisattva. Early Mahayana scriptures alluded to Manjushri as the personification of enlightened wisdom in the "Prajnaparamita Sutra" books. The Lotus Sutra gave him the pure country of Vimala, which is regarded as one of the two best pure places to have ever existed. Manjushri is revered and worshipped as a "Meditational Deity" and is regarded as a fully enlightened Bodhisattva.

Manjushri is revered as one of the Four Great Bodhisattvas in Chinese Buddhism, and he is associated with Bodhisattva Samantabhadra. Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, Ksitigarbha, and Samantabhadra are the other three Great Bodhisattvas. Manjushri is one of the three great trinity Bodhisattvas revered in Tibetan Buddhism together with Avalokiteshvara and Vajrapani.

Sculptural Representation

The Prajnaparamita Wisdom scripture is often held in one hand by Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, and a sword to chop off all delusion in the other. Flames are always symbols of change in Buddhist art; Manjughosa's knowledge does not eradicate ignorance in the traditional sense, but rather transforms it into Wisdom. The flames hint that the sword is not a literal one. The Prajnaparamita (Perfection of Wisdom) scriptures are said to be the closest that Buddhists have ever come to expressing truth (an impossible job). As a meditation experience, he is a potent symbol of ever-present knowledge and the sword of awareness to sever all delusion. Manjushri is portrayed as a young, attractive prince who is typically stated to be sixteen years old. His youth and attractiveness stand for the youthful perspective of the awakened intellect. In contrast to how the unenlightened mind typically perceives life, those who have experienced awakening see life as magical, extraordinary, and full of possibility.

The padma, or lotus, Manjushri is holding in his left hand, which supports a Prajnaparamia sutra, represents his achievement of ultimate realisation via the blooming of knowledge. Manjushri is commonly seen seated on lion skin or riding a blue lion. This implies riding or taming a wild lion by employing knowledge to control the mind. Manjusri is a prominent deity in Tibetan Tantra, and his picture is widely found in Zen meditation spaces.

Tantric History

Manjushri is depicted as a fully awakened Buddha in the Tantric literature of Northern Buddhism, with several manifestations and appearances that span all four divisions of Tantra, both simple and sophisticated in form. He is shown in the Peaceful, Semi-peaceful, Wrathful, and Animal Featured Figurative Forms, out of the Eleven Figurative Forms. Every single Tantric form has an iconic appearance. As a result, the descriptive forms have a fixed look. The iconography is predetermined with regard to the retinue figures' appearance, colour, number of faces, number of arms, and characteristics carried in the hands.

The Mantra of Wisdom

Manjushri, a Bodhisattva, is a symbol of the quality of wisdom, and his mantra likewise embodies this attribute. Bodhisattva Manjushri's chant is Om A Ra Pa Ca Na Dhih. The mantra is written using a diacritical typeface as "O A Ra Pa Ca Na Dh."

It makes use of the ethereal sound "om." The syllables between Om and the final Dhih are referred to be the arapacana syllabary's initial letters since they begin with the letters A, RA, P, A, CA, and NA. This syllabary may be found in a few texts from the Perfection of Wisdom and other works by Buddhist authors.

A makes it clear that nothing can create something's essence.

RA makes one aware of how pure and unblemished everything is.

PA gives birth to the knowledge that all dharmas have been "expounded in the ultimate meaning."

Because there isn't actually a beginning or an end, CA makes one realise that there is no way to understand how things arise and end.

Although things have multiple labels, their basic nature cannot change, according to NA.

The definition of "dhih" in the dictionary is "thinking," "thought, (especially) religious contemplation," "reflection," "devotion," and "prayer." The terms "knowledge" and "intelligence" are also included.

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