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Buddhist Goddess

Indonesia, Sumatra; Shrivijayan style (c. 7th - 14th century), 9th century
Copper alloy
H. 6 1/4 in. (15.9 cm)
Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection of Asian Art

The identification of this eight-armed goddess remains uncertain because

with the exception of the vajra in her upper right hand, the rest of the
attributes she once held are missing or damaged. The depiction of this
figure's hair as a series of diagonal lines and the corkscrew curls running
along the sides of her topknot and falling over her shoulders suggest that the
piece may have come from Sumatra. The representation of the diadem as a
thin band with triangular shapes and her high and extremely thin waist also
point to a Sumatran provenance. The island of Sumatra was the site of the
city of Palembang, generally accepted to be the capital of the kingdom of
Shrivijaya, one of the greatest powers on Southeast Asia from the 7th through
the 9th centuries. Very little is known about the religion of Shrivijaya, but we
do know that Sumatra was once a major center for the study of Vajrayana
Buddhism, the tradition noted for its worship of female deities.

Head of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara

Indonesia, Central Java; 9th century

Volcanic stone
H. 21 1/4 in. (54 cm)
Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection of Asian Art

Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, the Buddhist embodiment of compassion, can

be identified by the small image of a seated Buddha in his headdress. His
elaborate coiffure and diadem, typical of bodhisattva imagery, is a
counterpoint to his downward-looking meditative expression. This head,
which measures almost two feet in height, came from a monumentally sized
sculpture. An extended rough area that juts out from the back of the head
indicates that the sculpture was likely to have been attached to a building.
Shiva (/iv/; Sanskrit: iva, About this sound pronunciation (helpinfo),
meaning "The Auspicious One"), also known as Mahadeva ("Great God"), is a
popular Hindu deity. Shiva is regarded as one of the primary forms of God. He
is the Supreme God within Shaivism, one of the three most influential
denominations in contemporary Hinduism.[2][3] He is one of the five primary
forms of God in the Smarta tradition,[2] and "the Destroyer" or "the
Transformer"[4] among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects

of the divine.

Shiva has many benevolent and fearsome forms.[5] At the highest level Shiva
is limitless, transcendent, unchanging and formless.[6][7][8][9][10] In
benevolent aspects, he is depicted as an omniscient Yogi who lives an ascetic
life on Mount Kailash,[4] as well as a householder with wife Parvati and his
two children, Ganesha and Kartikeya and in fierce aspects, he is often
depicted slaying demons. Shiva is also regarded as the patron god of yoga
and arts.[11][12][13]

The main iconographical attributes of Shiva are the third eye on his forehead,
the snake Vasuki around his neck, the crescent moon adorning, the holy river
Ganga flowing from his matted hair, the trishula as his weapon and the
damaru as his instrument.

Shiva is usually worshiped in the aniconic form of Lingam.[14][15][16]

Temples of Lord Shiva are called shivalayam.
The Sanskrit word Shiva (Devanagari: , iva) comes from Shri Rudram
Chamakam of Taittiriya Samhita (TS 4.5, 4.7) of Krishna Yajurveda. The root
word i[17] means auspicious. In simple English transliteration it is written
either as Shiva or Siva. The adjective iva, is used as an attributive epithet
not particularly of Rudra, but of several other Vedic deities.[18]

The other popular names associated with Shiva are Mahadev, Mahesh,
Maheshwar, Shankar, Shambhu, Rudra, Har, Trilochan, Devendra (meaning
Chief of the gods) and Trilokinath (meaning Lord of the three realms).[19][20]

The Sanskrit word aiva means "relating to the God Shiva", and this term is
the Sanskrit name both for one of the principal sects of Hinduism and for a
member of that sect.[22] It is used as an adjective to characterize certain
beliefs and practices, such as Shaivism.[23] He is the oldest worshipped Lord
of India.

The Tamil word Sivan, Tamil: ("Fair Skinned") could have been derived
from the word sivappu. The word 'sivappu' means "red" in Tamil language but
while addressing a person's skin texture in Tamil the word 'Sivappu' is used
for being Fair Skinned.[24][25]

Adi Sankara, in his interpretation of the name Shiva, the 27th and 600th
name of Vishnu sahasranama, the thousand names of Vishnu interprets Shiva
to have multiple meanings: "The Pure One", or "the One who is not affected
by three Gunas of Prakrti (Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas)" or "the One who purifies
everyone by the very utterance of His name."[26] Swami Chinmayananda, in
his translation of Vishnu sahasranama, further elaborates on that verse:
Shiva means "the One who is eternally pure" or "the One who can never have
any contamination of the imperfection of Rajas and Tamas".[27]

Shiva's role as the primary deity of Shaivism is reflected in his epithets

Mahdeva ("Great God"; mah "Great" and deva "god"),[28][29] Mahevara
("Great Lord"; mah "great" and vara "lord"),[30][31] and Paramevara
("Supreme Lord").[32]

There are at least eight different versions of the Shiva Sahasranama,

devotional hymns (stotras) listing many names of Shiva.[33] The version
appearing in Book 13 (Anusanaparvan) of the Mahabharata is considered
the kernel of this tradition.[34] Shiva also has Dasha-Sahasranamas (10,000
names) that are found in the Mahanyasa. The Shri Rudram Chamakam, also
known as the atarudriya, is a devotional hymn to Shiva hailing him by many

Vishnu (/vnu/; Sanskrit: Viu) is a popular Hindu deity. He is the Supreme

God of Vaishnavism, one of the three most influential denominations in
contemporary Hinduism.[1] He is also known as Lord Narayana, the Supreme
God and also known as Lord Hari. He is one of the five primary forms of God
in the Smarta tradition,[1] and "the Preserver"[2] among the Trimurti, the
Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine.

In Hindu sacred texts, Vishnu is usually described as having dark complexion

of water-filled clouds and as having four arms. He is a blue man, holding a

padma (lotus flower) in the lower left hand, the Kaumodaki gada (mace) in
the lower right hand, the Panchajanya shankha (conch) in the upper left hand
and the discus weapon Sudarshana Chakra in the upper right hand.

Adherents of Hinduism believe Vishnu's eternal and supreme abode beyond

the material universe is called Vaikuntha, which is also known as
Paramdhama, the realm of eternal bliss and happiness and the final or
highest place for liberated souls who have attained Moksha. Vaikuntha is
situated beyond the material universe and hence, cannot be perceived or
measured by material science or logic.[3][4] Vishnu's other abode within the
material universe is Ksheera Sagara (the ocean of milk), where he reclines
and rests on Ananta Shesha, (the king of the serpent deities, commonly
shown with a thousand heads). In almost all Hindu denominations, Vishnu is
either worshipped directly or in the form of his ten avatars, the most famous
of whom are Rama and Krishna.[5] The Puranabharati, an ancient text,
describes these as the dashavatara, or the ten avatars of Vishnu. Among the
ten described, nine have occurred in the past and one will take place in the
future as Lord Kalki, at the end of Kali Yuga, (the fourth and final stage in the
cycle of yugas that the world goes through). These incarnations take place in
all Yugas in cosmic scales; the avatars and their stories show that gods are
indeed unimaginable, unthinkable and inconceivable. The Bhagavad Gita
mentions their purpose as being to rejuvenate Dharma,[6] to vanquish those
negative forces of evil that threaten dharma, and also to display His divine
nature in front of all souls.

The Trimurti (three forms) is a concept in Hinduism "in which the cosmic
functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction are personified by the
forms of Brahma the creator, Vishnu the maintainer or preserver, and Shiva
the destroyer or transformer."[7][8] These three deities have also been called
"the Hindu triad"[9] or the "Great Trinity",[10] all having the same meaning of
three in One. They are the different forms or manifestation of One person the
Supreme Being or Narayana/Svayam Bhagavan.[11]

Vishnu is also venerated as Mukunda,[12] which means God who is the giver
of mukti or moksha (liberation from the cycle of rebirths) to his devotees or
the worthy ones who deserve salvation from the material world.

A 13th-century Cambodian statue of Vishnu

The traditional explanation of the name Vishnu involves the root vi, meaning
"to settle" (cognate with Latin vicus, English -wich "village," Slavic: vas -ves),

or also (in the Rigveda) "to enter into, to pervade," glossing the name as "the
All-Pervading One".[13] Yaska, an early commentator on the Vedas, in his
Nirukta, (etymological interpretation), defines Vishnu as viur vivater v
vyanoter v, "one who enters everywhere". He also writes, atha yad viito
bhavati tad vinurbhavati, "that which is free from fetters and bondages is

Adi Sankara in his commentary on the Sahasranama states derivation from

vi, with a meaning "presence everywhere" ("As he pervades everything,
vevesti, he is called Vishnu"). Adi Sankara states (regarding Vishnu Purana,
3.1.45): "The Power of the Supreme Being has entered within the universe.
The root vi means 'enter into'." Swami Chinmayananda, in his translation of
Vishnu Sahasranama further elaborates on that verse: "The root vis means to
enter. The entire world of things and beings is pervaded by Him and the
Upanishad emphatically insists in its mantra 'whatever that is there is the
world of change.' Hence, it means that He is not limited by space, time or
substance. Chinmayananda states that, that which pervades everything is

Sacred texts - Shruti and Smriti[edit]

Shruti is considered to be solely of divine origin. It is preserved as a whole,
instead of verse by verse. It includes the four Vedas (Rigveda, Yajurveda,
Samaveda and Atharvaveda) the Brahmanas, the Aranyakas and the
Upanishads with commentaries on them.

Smti refers to all the knowledge derived and inculcated after Shruti had been
received. Smrti is not 'divine' in origin, but was 'remembered' by later Rishis
(sages by insight, who were the scribes) by transcendental means and
passed down through their followers. It includes the Bhagavata Purana and
the Vishnu Purana which are Sattva Puranas.[16] These both declare Vishnu
as Para Brahman Supreme Lord who creates unlimited universes and enters
each one of them as Lord of Universe.

Brahm (Sanskrit: ; IAST: Brahm) is the Hindu god (deva) of creation and
one of the Trimrti, the others being Vishnu and Shiva. According to the
Brahm Pura, he is the father of Manu, and from Manu all human beings
are descended. In the Rmyaa and the Mahbhrata, he is often referred to
as the progenitor or great grandsire of all human beings. He is not to be
confused with the Supreme Cosmic Spirit in Hindu Vednta philosophy known
as Brahman, which is genderless. As per Hindu tradition, Vedas never got
created by anyone. It always existed from time immemorial. [1] Brahm's
wife is Saraswati. Saraswati is also known by names such as Svitri and
Gyatri, and has taken different forms throughout history. Brahm is often
identified with Prajpati, a Vedic deity. Being the husband of Saraswati or
Vaac Devi (the Goddess of Speech), Brahma is also known as "Vaagish,"
meaning "Lord of Speech and Sound."

Contents [hide]
1 Etymology
2 Origin
3 Creations
4 Attributes
4.1 Appearance
4.2 Vehicle
5 Temples
5.1 India
5.2 Asia
6 Temples devoted to Brahm
6.1 Ancient Temples

6.2 Recently Built temples

7 Satyaloka abode of Brahm
8 Duration of Brahm's day
9 Brahm sampradya
10 See also
11 Notes and references
12 External links
In Sanskrit grammar, the noun stem brahman forms two distinct nouns; one
is a neuter noun brhman, whose nominative singular form is brahma ;
this noun has a generalized and abstract meaning.

Contrasted to the neuter noun is the masculine noun brahmn, whose

nominative singular form is brahm . This noun is used to refer to a
person, and as the proper name of a deity Brahm it is the subject matter of
the present article.

According to Shri Madha Bhagawata Mahapurana, Brahm was born through
Vishnu's navel, Vishnu is the main source of whatsoever exists in the world;
that is created by him of a part of his own body materials in this
universe,;later he was wondered about the establishment of Mankind in the
planet, hence at first he has created a lotus from his navel and from lotus
Brahm origin. According to the Puras, Brahm is self-born in the lotus
flower. Another legend says that Brahm was born in water, or from a seed
that later became the golden egg, Hiranyagarbha. From this golden egg,
Brahm, the creator was born. The remaining materials of this golden egg
expanded into the Brahmna or Universe. Being born in water, Brahm is
also called as Kanja (born in water). There is a story for Sharsa brahma hence
the concept of multiple universe as every Brahm creates his Bhramand
(universe) for one Brahm year.

Vishnu with Lakshmi, on the serpent Ananta Shesha, as Brahm emerges

from a lotus risen from Viu's navel

Head of Brahma in sandstone from the Phnom Bok in Bakheng style now in
Guimet Museum in Paris.
At the beginning of the process of creation, Brahm creates the four Kumras
or the Caturaa. However, they refused his order to procreate and instead
devote themselves, to Vishnu and celibacy.

He then proceeds to create from his mind ten sons or Prajpatis (used in
another[which?] sense), who are believed to be the fathers of the human
race. But since all these sons were born out of his mind rather than body,
they are called Mnas Putras or mind-sons or spirits. The Manusmti and
Bhgavat Pura enumerate them as:[citation needed]

Brahm had ten sons and one daughter (Named Shatrupa- one who can take
hundred forms) born from various parts of his body:[citation needed]

Within Vedic and Puric scripture Brahm is described as only occasionally
interfering in the affairs of the other devas (gods), and even more rarely in
mortal affairs. He did force Soma to give Tara back to her husband, Bhaspati.
Among the offspring from his body are Dharma and Adharma, Krodha, Lobha,
and others.


A handcoloured engraving of Brahma.

He is clad in red clothes. Brahm is traditionally depicted with four heads,
four faces, and four arms. With each head, He continually recites one of the
four Vedas. He is often depicted with a white beard (especially in North India),
indicating the nearly eternal nature of his existence. Unlike most other Hindu
gods, Brahm holds no weapons. One of his hands holds a scepter. Another of
his hands holds a book. Brahm also holds a string of prayer beads called the
'akaml' (literally "garland of eyes"), which He uses to keep track of the
Universe's time. He is also shown holding the Vedas.

There are many other stories in the Puras about the gradual decrease in
Brahm's importance. Followers of Hinduism believe that Humans cannot
afford to lose the blessings of Brahm and Sarasvati, without whom the
populace would lack creativity, knowledge to solve mankind's woes. There is
a story of a fifth head. This head came when Shatrupa started flying away
from him upwards and the head came on top of the four heads - symbolizing
lust and ego. the head was decapitated by Shiva returning Brahm to his four
head avatar which gave birth to the Vedas. The fifth head stayed with Shiva
hence Shiva got the name Kapali.

symbols The Four Faces The four Vedas (Rig, Sma, Yajur and Atharva).

The Four Hands Brahm's four arms represent the four cardinal directions:
east, south, west, and north. The back right hand represents mind, the back
left hand represents intellect, the front right hand is ego, and the front left
hand is self-confidence.

The Prayer beads Symbolize the substances used in the process of creation.

The Book The book symbolizes knowledge.

The Gold Gold symbolizes activity; the golden face of Brahm indicates that
He is actively involved in the process of creating the Universe.

The Swan The swan is the symbol of grace and discernment. Brahm uses
the swan as his vhana, or his carrier or vehicle.

The Crown Brahm's crown indicates His supreme authority.

The Lotus The lotus symbolizes nature and the living essence of all things
and beings in the Universe.

The Beard Brahm's black or white beard denotes wisdom and the eternal
process of creation.

Brahm's vehicle or vhana is the hansa, a swan or a goose.


Brahma temple in Pushkar

The 9th century Javan statue of Brahm inside the Brahm shrine in Trimurti
Prambanan temple, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

The four-faced Brahma (Phra Phrom) statue, Thailand.

Though almost all Hindu religious rites involve prayer to Brahm, very few
temples are dedicated to His worship. Among the most prominent is the
Brahm temple at Pushkar. Once a year, on Kartik Poornima, the full moon
night of the Hindu lunar month of Kartik (October November), a religious
festival is held in Brahm's honour. Thousands of pilgrims come to bathe in
the holy Pushkar Lake adjacent to the temple.There is a temple in Asotra
village in Balotra taluka of Rajasthan's Barmer district, which is known as
Kheteshwar Brahmadham Tirtha.

Temples to Brahm also exist in Thirunavaya in Kerala. The Trimurti temple

and the temple dedicated to Brahma accompanied by Ganesh, located
outside Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple, in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, is
also famous. Regular pujas are held for Brahm at the temple in Thirunavaya,
and during Navrathris, this temple comes to life with multi-varied festivities.

In the temple town of Kumbakonam in the Thanjavur District of Tamil Nadu; in

Kodumudi in Tamil Nadu. There is also a shrine for Brahm within the
Brahmapureeswarar Temple in Thirukkadaiyur.

There is a temple dedicated to Brahm in the temple town of Sri Kalahasti

near Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh.

7 feet height of Chatrumukha (Four Faces) BRAHMA temple at Bangalore

(Karnataka, India).

In the coastal state of Goa, a shrine belonging to 5th century AD, in the small
and remote village of Carambolim in the Sattari Taluka in the northeast region
of the state is found.

Famous murti of Brahm exists at Mangalwedha, 52 km from the Solapur

district of Maharashtra and in Sopara near Mumbai.

Statues of Brahm may be found in Khedbrahma, Gujarat.

The largest and most famous shrine to Brahm may be found in Cambodia's
Angkor Wat.

In Java, Indonesia, the 9th century Prambanan Trimurti temple mainly is

dedicated to iva, however Brahm and Viu also venerated in separate
large shrines inside the temple compound, a single large shrine dedicated to
Brahm on southern side of iva temple. There is a statue of Brahm at the
Erawan Shrine in Bangkok. The golden dome of the Government House of
Thailand also contains a statue of Phra Phrom (Thai representation of

Temples devoted to Brahm[edit]

Today, India has very few temples dedicated to Brahm.

Ancient Temples[edit]
Brahma Temple at Khokhan, in Kullu District, Himachal Pradesh
Brahma Temple at Asotra, District Barmer, Rajasthan
Brahma Temple at Oachira in Kollam district, Kerala
Brahma temple at village aleo shrishty narayan, in Kullu, Himachal Pradesh
Brahma temple at Annamputhur village srinidheeswarar in Tindivanam
Brahma Temple at Pushkar , Rajasthan
Thirunavaya, Thiruvallam , Kerala
Brahma Temple at Royakotta road in Hosur , Tamil Nadu
Uttamar Kovil in Srirangam, Tamil Nadu
Kumbakonam, Thanjavur District, Tamil Nadu
Khedbrahma, Gujarat
The Brahma Temple near Panajiin the village of Brahma-Carambolim in the
Satari taluka, Goa
Brahma (accompanied by Ganesh) Temple, near the Sri Padmanabhaswamy
temple, Thiruvananthapuram , Kerala
Bramhapureeswarar temple in Tirupattur, near Trichy, Tamil Nadu
Recently Built temples[edit]
Chaturmukha Brahma temple in Chebrolu, Andhra Pradesh
Chaturmukha (Four Faces) Brahma temple at Bangalore, Karnataka,
Satyaloka abode of Brahm[edit]
Satyaloka is by 120,000,000 yojanas above Tapoloka. Thus the distance from
the Sun to Satyaloka is 233,800,000 yojanas, or 1,870,400,000 miles. The
Vaikuha planets begin 26,200,000 yojanas (209,600,000 miles) above
Satyaloka. "In the Padma Puram it has been definitely stated that on the
four sides of the spiritual sky there are four different transcendental abodes
occupied by Vsudeva, Sankaraa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha respectively.
So also in the material sky also they are similarly placed on all the four sides.
The Vaikuha sphere which is covered with spiritual water is inhabited by
Vsudeva and this Vaikuha is known as Devavatipur. Above the Satyaloka
there is Viuloka where Sankaraa resides. In the middle of the Ocean of
Milk there is an island called vetadvipa which is resided in by Aniruddha
lying on the bed of Ananta."(Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila, Chapter 5

Duration of Brahm's day[edit]

With regard to Brahm's day and night, each consists of 14 of his hours or
4.32 billion human years. "Brahma has four heads" (rmad Bhgavatam

Brahm sampradya[edit]
Main article: Brahma sampradaya
Brahm has his own sampradya. Brahm appeared on a lotus flower which
sprouted from the navel of Garbhodakyi Viu. After meditation Brahm
created 14 planetary systems and many living beings came there in 8400000
kinds of material bodies according to their past desires. Brahm received
Vedas from Vishnu, and this Brahm-sampradya is transmitting knowledge
from Vishnu Himself to Earth. As our Brahm is devotee of Krishna just like
other Brahms in other material universes, we have this Brahm

Saraswati (Sanskrit: , Sarasvat ?) is the Hindu goddess of knowledge,

music, arts, wisdom and nature. She is a part of the trinity of Saraswati,
Lakshmi and Parvati. All the three forms help the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu
and Shiva in the creation, maintenance and destruction of the Universe.[1]
The Goddess is also revered by believers of the Jain religion of west and
central India.[2]

She is known in Burmese as Thurathadi (

, pronounced: [jaa d] or
[aa d]) or Tipitaka Medaw (

, pronounced: [tptkaa md ]),

in Chinese as Bincitin (), in Japanese as Benzaiten (/)
and in Thai as Surasawadee ( ).[3]

Contents [hide]

1 Names
2 Characteristics
3 History
4 The forms of Saraswati
4.1 Maha Saraswati
4.2 Mahavidya Nila Saraswati
5 Iconography
6 Worship
6.1 Temples
6.2 Festivals
6.2.1 Saraswati Puja in Eastern India
6.2.2 Saraswati Puja in South India
7 Respect for written material
8 Images
9 See also
10 Notes
11 References
12 Further reading
13 External links
The Sarasvati River is an important river goddess in the Rigveda. The Sanskrit
name means "having many pools".

In the Telugu language, Sarasvati is also known as Chaduvula Thalli


), Sharada (
). In Konkani, she is referred to as Sharada,
Veenapani, Pustaka dharini, Vidyadayini. In Kannada, variants of her name
include Sharade, Sharadamba, Vani, Veenapani in the famous Sringeri
temple. In Tamil, she is also known as Kalaimagal ( ), Kalaivaani
(), Vaani (), Bharathi. She is also addressed as Sharada (the
one who loves the autumn season), Veena pustaka dharani (the one holding
books and a Veena), Vaakdevi, Vagdevi, Vani (all meaning "speech"),
Varadhanayagi (the one bestowing boons).

Saraswati is strongly associated with flowing water in her role as a goddess of
knowledge. She is depicted as a beautiful woman to embody the concept of
knowledge as supremely alluring.[4] She possesses four arms, and is usually
shown wearing a spotless white sari and seated on a white lotus or riding a
white swan.[citation needed]


Saraswati goddess is found in temples of Southeast Asia, islands of Indonesia

and Japan. In Japan, she is known as Benzaiten (shown).[5] She is depicted
with a musical instrument in Japan, and is a deity of knowledge, music, and
everything that flows.
In the Rigveda, Saraswati is a river as well as its personification as a goddess.
[citation needed] In the post-Vedic age, she began to lose her status as a
river goddess and became increasingly associated with literature, arts, music,
etc. In Hinduism, Saraswati represents intelligence, consciousness, cosmic
knowledge, creativity, education, enlightenment, music, the arts, eloquence
and power.[citation needed] Hindus worship her not for "academic
knowledge", but for "divine knowledge" essential to achieve moksha.
Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge and arts, represents the free flow of
wisdom and consciousness. She is the mother of the Vedas, and chants to
her, called the 'Saraswati Vandana' often begin and end Vedic lessons. It is
believed that goddess Saraswati endows human beings with the powers of
speech, wisdom and learning. She has four hands representing four aspects
of human personality in learning: mind, intellect,[citation needed] alertness
and ego. She has sacred scriptures in one hand and a lotus the symbol of
true knowledge in the second.[citation needed] With her other two hands
she plays the music of love and life on a string instrument called the veena.
She is dressed in white the symbol of purity and rides on a white swan
symbolizing Sattwa Guna or purity and discrimination. Saraswati is also a
prominent figure in Buddhist iconography the consort of Manjushri. The
learned and the erudite attach greater importance to the worship of goddess
Saraswati.[citation needed] As a practice, only educated people worship her
for knowledge and wisdom.[citation needed] They believe that only Saraswati
can grant them 'moksha' the final liberation of the soul.[citation needed]
Saraswati's birthday Vasant Panchami is a Hindu festival celebrated every
year on the 5th day of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Magha.
Hindus celebrate this festival with great fervor in temples, homes and
educational institutes alike.[citation needed]

The forms of Saraswati[edit]

Maha Saraswati[edit]
In the Devi Mahatmya, Saraswati is in the trinity of Maha Kali, Maha Lakshmi
and Maha Saraswati. She is depicted as eight-armed and is often portrayed
holding a Veena whilst sitting on a white Lotus Flower.

Her dhyna shloka given at the beginning of the fifth chapter of Devi
Mahatmya is:

Wielding in her lotus-hands the bell, trident, ploughshare, conch, pestle,

discus, bow, and arrow, her lustre is like that of a moon shining in the autumn
sky. She is born from the body of Gowri and is the sustaining base of the
three worlds. That Mahasaraswati I worship here who destroyed Sumbha and
other asuras.[6]

Mahavidya Nila Saraswati[edit]

Nilasaraswati is another form of Mahavidya Tara. There are separate dhyana
shlokas and mantras for her worship in Tantrasara.[7]

The goddess Saraswati is often depicted as a beautiful woman dressed in
pure white, often seated on a white lotus, which symbolizes that she is
founded in the experience of the absolute truth. Thus, she not only has the
knowledge but also the experience of the highest reality. She is mainly
associated with the color white, which signifies the purity of true knowledge.
Occasionally, however, she is also associated with the colour yellow, the
colour of the flowers of the mustard plant that bloom at the time of her
festival in the spring. Unlike the goddess Lakshmi, Saraswati is adorned with
simple jewels and gold, representing her preference of knowledge over
worldly material things.[8]

She is generally shown to have four arms, which represent the four aspects of
human personality in learning: mind, intellect, alertness, and ego.
Alternatively, these four arms also represent the four Vedas, the primary
sacred books for Hindus. The Vedas, in turn, represent the three forms of

Poetry the Rigveda contains hymns, representing poetry.

Prose Yajur Veda contains prose.

Music Sama Veda represents music.

Philosophy - Atharvaveda
The four hands also depict this thusprose is represented by the book in one
hand, poetry by the garland of crystal, and music by the veena. The pot of
sacred water represents purity in all of these three, or their power to purify
human thought.

She is shown to hold the following in her hands:

A book, which is the sacred Vedas, representing the universal, divine, eternal,
and true knowledge as well as her perfection of natural study and the
A ml of crystals, representing the power of meditation and spirituality.
A pot of sacred water, representing creative and purification powers.
The veena, a musical instrument that represents her perfection of all arts and
sciences. Saraswati is also associated with anurga, the love for and rhythm
of music, which represents all emotions and feelings expressed in speech or
A white lotus,kamnadala is also depicted.

The beautiful human form of Saraswati comes to the fore in this English
translation of the Saraswati hymn:

"May Goddess Saraswati, who is fair like the jasmine-colored moon, and
whose pure white garland is like frosty dew drops, who is adorned in radiant
white attire, on whose beautiful arm rests the veena, and whose throne is a
white lotus, who is surrounded and respected by the Gods, protect me. May
you fully remove my lethargy, sluggishness, and ignorance. "[9]

A hansa / hans or swan is often located next to her feet. The sacred bird, if
offered a mixture of milk and water, is said to be able to drink the milk alone.
It thus symbolizes discrimination between the good and the bad or the
eternal and the evanescent. Due to her association with the bird, Saraswati is
also referred to as Hansvahini, which means "she who has a hansa / hans as
her vehicle".The peacock is also related to her.

She is usually depicted near a flowing river, which may be related to her early
history as a river goddess.

Sometimes a peacock is shown beside the goddess. The peacock represents

arrogance and pride over its beauty, and by having a peacock as her mount,
the goddess teaches not to be concerned with external appearance and to be
wise regarding the eternal truth.

In Hindu beliefs, great significance is attached to offering honey to this
goddess, as honey is representative of perfect knowledge. Hymns dedicated
to her include Saraswati Vandana Mantra.

There are many temples, dedicated to Saraswati around the world. Some
notable temples include;

In Karnataka, the Shringeri Sharadamba Temple is a revered pilgrimage spot.

There are other Sharada temples also.

In Andhra Pradesh, the Gnana Saraswati Temple in Basar, on the banks of the
River Godavari. Two more temples in Medak namely Wargal Saraswati temple
and Shri Saraswati Kshetramu.

In Ernakulam district of Kerala, there is a famous Saraswati temple in North

Paravur, namely Dakshina Mookambika Temple North Paravur.

In Tamilnadu, Koothanur is a town situated in the Tiruvarur district of Tamil

Nadu, India. The town is located at a distance of 25 kilometres from Tiruvarur.
it is the only temple in Tamil Nadu for the goddess Saraswati.

Main article: Saraswati Puja
In Goa, Maharashtra and Karnataka, Saraswati Puja starts with Saraswati
Avahan on Maha Saptami and ends on Vijayadashami with Saraswati Udasan

or Visarjan.

Saraswati Puja calendar:

Saraswati Puja Avahan Maha Saptami Triratna vratam starts in Andhra

Saraswati Puja (main puja) Durga Ashtami
Saraswati Uttara Puja Mahanavami
Saraswati Visarjan or Udasan Vijaya Dashami
Saraswati Kartik Purnima on (Sristhal) siddhpur of Gujaratis ancient festival
since Solanki ruling of Patan state.
Saraswati Puja in Eastern India[edit]
In the eastern part of IndiaTripura, Orissa, West Bengal, Bihr and Assam,
Saraswati Puja is celebrated in the Magha month (JanuaryFebruary). It
coincides with Vasant Panchami or Shree Panchami, i.e., the fifth day of the
bright fortnight of the lunar month of Magha. People place books near the
goddess' statue or picture and worship the goddess. As a custom, as the
books and notebooks are supposed to be kept on alter by the students for
worship,students are not supposed to study on the day. Many choose the day
as a symbolic start of learning in form of 'Hate Khori' or starting to learn

Saraswati Puja in South India[edit]

In the southern states of India, Saraswati Puja is conducted during the
Navaratri. Navaratri literally means "nine nights", but the actual celebrations
continue during the 10th day, which is considered as Vijaya Dashami or the
Victorious Tenth Day. Navaratri starts with the new-moon day of the bright
fortnight of the Sharad Ritu (Sharad Season of the six seasons of India) during
SeptemberOctober. The festival celebrates the power of the feminine aspect
of divinity or shakti. The last two or three days are dedicated to Goddess
Saraswati in South India.

In Karnataka, the Mysore Dasara festival includes Saraswati Puja. During the
Navratri season they keep various dolls on raised platforms this arrangement
is called ("Gombe koori suvudu"). Books and musical instruments worship is
also done on Saraswati puja day.

In Tamil Nadu, Sarasvati Puja is conducted along with the Ayudha Puja (the
worship of weapons and implements including machines). On the ninth day of
Navaratri, i.e., the Mahanavami day, books and all musical instruments are
ceremoniously kept in front of the Goddess Sarasvati early at dawn and
worshipped with special prayers. No studies or any performance of arts is
carried out, as it is considered that the goddess herself is blessing the books
and the instruments. The festival concludes on the tenth day of Navaratri
(Vijayadashami), and the goddess is worshipped again before the books and
the musical instruments are removed. It is customary to start the study
afresh on this day, which is called Vidyarambham (literally, "Commencement
of Knowledge").

In Kerala, the last three days of the Navaratri festival, i.e., Ashtami, Navami,
and Dashami, are celebrated as Sarasvati Puja. The celebrations start with
the Puja Vypu (Placing for Worship). It consists of placing the books for puja
on the Ashtami day. It may be in one's own house, in the local nursery school
run by traditional teachers, or in the local temple. The books will be taken out
for reading, after worship, only on the morning of the third day (Vijaya
Dashami). It is called Puja Eduppu (Taking [from] Puja). Children are happy,
since they are not expected to study on these days. On the Vijaya Dashami
day, Kerala celebrates the Ezhuthiniruthu or Initiation of Writing for the little
children before they are admitted to nursery schools. This is also called
Vidyarambham. The child is made to write for the first time on the rice spread
in a plate with the index finger, guided by an elder of the family or by a
reputed teacher. The little ones will have to write "Hari Shri Ganapataye
Namah" and recite the same to mark the auspicious entry into the world of
education. This is considered a memorable event in the life of a person. In
some parts of Kerala bordering Tamil Nadu, Ayudha Puja is also conducted
during this period.

Saraswati Temple in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Respect for written material[edit]
In India, it is customary that, out of respect, when a person's foot accidentally
touches a book or any written material (which are considered a manifestation
of Saraswati) or another person's leg, it will be followed by an apology in the
form of a single hand gesture (Pranma) with the right hand, where the
offending person first touches the object with the fingertips and then the
eyes, forehead and/or chest. This also counts for money, which is considered
a manifestation of the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi.[10]

Avalokitevara (Sanskrit: lit. "Lord who looks down") is a

bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas. This bodhisattva is
variably depicted and portrayed in different cultures as either female or male.

Avalokitevara is one of the more widely revered bodhisattvas in mainstream

Mahayana Buddhism, as well as unofficially in Theravada Buddhism.

Contents [hide]
1 Etymology
2 Origin
2.1 Mahayana account
2.2 Tibetan account
2.3 Theravda account
2.4 Modern scholarship
3 Mantras and dharanis
4 Thousand-armed Avalokitevara
5 Tibetan Buddhist beliefs concerning Chenrezig
6 Manifestations

7 Gallery
8 See also
9 Notes
10 References
11 External links
The name Avalokitevara is made of the following parts: the verbal prefix
ava, which means "down"; lokita, a past participle of the verb lok ("to notice,
behold, observe"), here used in an active sense (an occasional irregularity of
Sanskrit grammar); and finally vara, "lord", "ruler", "sovereign" or "master".
In accordance with sandhi (Sanskrit rules of sound combination), a+ivara
becomes evara. Combined, the parts mean "lord who gazes down (at the
world)". The word loka ("world") is absent from the name, but the phrase is

It was initially thought that the Chinese mis-transliterated the word

Avalokitevara as Avalokitasvara which explained why Xuanzang translated it
as Gunzzi (Ch. ) instead of Gunyn (Ch. ). However, according to
recent research, the original form was indeed Avalokitasvara[2] with the
ending a-svara ("sound, noise"), which means "sound perceiver", literally "he
who looks down upon sound" (i.e., the cries of sentient beings who need his
help; a-svara can be glossed as ahr-svara, "sound of lamentation").[3] This is
the exact equivalent of the Chinese translation Gunyn. This etymology was
furthered in the Chinese by the tendency of some Chinese translators,
notably Kumarajiva, to use the variant Gunshyn (Ch. ), literally "he
who perceives the world's lamentations"wherein lok was read as
simultaneously meaning both "to look" and "world" (Skt. loka; Ch. , sh).[3]
This name was later supplanted by the form containing the ending -vara,
which does not occur in Sanskrit before the seventh century. The original
form Avalokitasvara already appears in Sanskrit fragments of the fifth

The original meaning of the name fits the Buddhist understanding of the role
of a bodhisattva. The reinterpretation presenting him as an vara shows a
strong influence of Hinduism, as the term vara was usually connected to the
Hindu notion of Krishna (in Vaisnavism) or iva (in aivism) as the Supreme
Lord, Creator and Ruler of the world. Some attributes of such a god were
transmitted to the bodhisattva, but the mainstream of those who venerated
Avalokitevara upheld the Buddhist rejection of the doctrine of any creator

An etymology of the Tibetan name Jnrsig (Jainraisig) is jn (eye), r

(continuity) and sig (to look). This gives the meaning of one who always looks
upon all beings (with the eye of compassion).[6]

In other parts of Asia other than China, Avalokitasvara is commonly referred

the Bodhisattva of Compassion or the Goddess of Mercy. In Korean Buddhism
Avalokitesvara is Gwaneum, or Gwanseeum-bosal. In Sanskrit, Avalokitesvara
is also referred to as Padmapni ("Holder of the Lotus") or Lokevara ("Lord of
the World"). In Tibetan, Avalokitevara is known as Chenrezig,

(Wylie: spyan ras gzigs) and is said to emanate as the Dalai Lama,
[7] the Karmapa[8][9] and other high lamas.


Avalokitevara painting from a Sanskrit palm leaf manuscript. India, 12th

Mahayana account[edit]
According to Mahyna doctrine, Avalokitevara is the bodhisattva who has
made a great vow to assist sentient beings in times of difficulty, and to
postpone his own Buddhahood until he has assisted every sentient being in
achieving Nirva. Mahyna stras associated with Avalokitevara include
the following:

Saddharma Puarka Stra (Lotus Stra)

Kraavyha Stra
Prajpramit Hdaya Stra (Heart Stra)
Mahkaru Dhran Stra (Nlakaha Dhra)
Avalokitevara Ekdaamukha Dhra Stra
Cund Dhra Stra
The Lotus Stra (Skt. Saddharma Puarka Stra) is generally accepted to be
the earliest literature teaching about the doctrines of Avalokitevara.[10]
These are found in the Lotus Stra chapter 25, The Universal Gateway of
Avalokitasvara Bodhisattva (Ch. ). This chapter is devoted to
Avalokitasvara, describing him as a compassionate bodhisattva who hears
the cries of sentient beings, and who works tirelessly to help those who call
upon his name. A total of 33 different manifestations of Avalokitasvara are
described, including female manifestations, all to suit the minds of various

beings. The chapter consists of both a prose and a verse section. This earliest
source often circulates separately as its own stra, called the Avalokitasvara
Stra (Ch. ), and is commonly recited or chanted at Buddhist temples
in East Asia.[11]

When the Chinese monk Faxian traveled to Mathura in India around 400 CE,
he wrote about monks presenting offerings to Avalokitevara.[12] When
Xuanzang traveled to India in the 7th century, he provided eyewitness
accounts of Avalokitevara statues being venerated by devotees of all walks
of life, from kings, to monks, to laypeople.[12] Avalokitevara remained
popular in India until the 12th century when Muslim invaders conquered the
land and destroyed Buddhist monasteries.[12]

In Chinese Buddhism and East Asia, practices for an 18-armed form of

Avalokitevara called Cund are very popular. These practices have their basis
in early Indian Esoteric Buddhism. Cund is also referred to as "Cund BuddhaMother" or "Cund Bhagavat." The popularity of Cund is attested by the
three extant translations of the Cund Dhra Stra from Sanskrit to Chinese,
made from the end of the seventh century to the beginning of the eighth
century.[13] In late imperial China, these early traditions of Esoteric
Buddhism are known to have been still thriving in Buddhist communities.
Robert Gimello has also observed that in these communities, the esoteric
practices of Cund were extremely popular among both the populace and the

In the Tiantai school, six forms of Avalokitevara are defined. Each of the
bodhisattva's six qualities are said to break the hindrances respectively of the
six realms of existence: hell-beings, pretas, animals, humans, asuras, and
devas. These six qualities are listed below.

Great compassion
Great loving-kindness
Universal light
Leader of devas and human beings
The great omnipresent Brahman[citation needed]

Four-armed Tibetan Chenrezig form of Avalokitevara.

Tibetan account[edit]
In the Tibetan tradition, Avalokitevara is seen as arising from two sources.
One is the relative source, where in a previous eon (kalpa) a devoted,
compassionate Buddhist monk became a bodhisattva, transformed in the
present kalpa into Avalokitevara. That is not in conflict, however, with the
ultimate source, which is Avalokitevara as the universal manifestation of
compassion. The bodhisattva is viewed as the anthropomorphised vehicle for
the actual deity, serving to bring about a better understanding of
Avalokitevara to humankind.[citation needed]

Tibetan traditions assert that Avalokitevara is actually the Brahma that

convinced Sakyamuni Buddha to teach rather than stay in seclusion after his
enlightenment. He then became one of the two major disciples of the Buddha
from the Deva realms.[citation needed] The other was Indra, King of the
Gods, who became known as Vajrapani.

Seven forms of Avalokitevara in Tibetan Buddhism[citation needed]:[15]

Amoghapa: not empty (or unerring) net, or lasso.

Sahasrabhujalokeshvara : 1000-hands and 1000-eyes,
Hayagriva: with the head of a horse
Ekadasamukha: with 11 faces
Cintamani-cakra: wheel of sovereign power
Arya Avalokitevara: great compassionate Avalokitevara;[16][17] the Holy
sovereign beholder of the world (loka), a translation of vara, means "ruler"
or "sovereign", holy one.[citation needed]

Bronze statue of Avalokitevara from Sri Lanka, ca. 750 CE

Theravda account[edit]
Veneration of Avalokitevara Bodhisattva has continued to the present day in
Sri Lanka, where he is called Ntha.[18] In more recent times, some westerneducated Theravdins have attempted to identify Ntha with Maitreya
Bodhisattva. However, traditions and basic iconography, including an image
of Amitbha Buddha on the front of the crown, identify Ntha as
Avalokitevara.[19] Andrew Skilton writes:[20]

... It is clear from sculptural evidence alone that the Mahyna was fairly
widespread throughout [Sri Lanka], although the modern account of the
history of Buddhism on the island presents an unbroken and pure lineage of
Theravda. (One can only assume that similar trends were transmitted to
other parts of Southeast Asia with Sri Lankan ordination lineages.) Relics of
an extensive cult of Avalokitevara can be seen in the present-day figure of

Avalokitevara is popularly worshiped in Burma, where he is called Lokanat,

and Thailand, where he is called Lokesvara.[citation needed]

Modern scholarship[edit]

Pothigai Malai in Tamil Nadu, proposed to be the original Mount Potalaka in

Western scholars have not reached a consensus on the origin of the
reverence for Avalokitevara.

Some have suggested that Avalokitevara, along with many other

supernatural beings in Buddhism, was a borrowing or absorption by
Mahayana Buddhism of one or more Hindu deities, in particular Shiva or
Vishnu (though the reason for this suggestion is because of the current name
of the bodhisattva: Avalokitevara, not the original one: Avalokitasvara).[4]

The Japanese scholar Shu Hikosaka on the basis of his study of Buddhist
scriptures, ancient Tamil literary sources, as well as field survey, proposes the
hypothesis that, the ancient mount Potalaka, the residence of Avalokitevara
described in the Gaavyha Stra and Xuanzangs Records, is the real
mountain Potikai or Potiyil situated at Ambasamudram in Tirunelveli district,
Tamil Nadu.[21] Shu also says that mount Potiyil/Potalaka has been a sacred
place for the people of South India from time immemorial. With the spread of
Buddhism in the region beginning at the time of the great king Aoka in the
third century B.C.E., it became a holy place also for Buddhists who gradually
became dominant as a number of their hermits settled there. The local
people, though, mainly remained followers of the Hindu religion. The mixed
Hindu-Buddhist cult culminated in the formation of the figure of

The name Lokevara should not be confused with that of Lokevararja, the
Buddha under whom Dharmakara became a monk and made forty-eight vows
before becoming Amitabha Buddha.

Mantras and dharanis[edit]

Avalokitevara statue in the form of Cintamani Wheel Avalokitevara. A

dhra written in Siddham Sanskrit with the Siddha script behind.
Mahyna Buddhism relates Avalokitevara to the six-syllable mantra:

o mai padme h
Due to his association with this mantra, Avalokitevara, in Tibetan Buddhism,
is also called Shadakshari, which means "Lord of the Six Syllables." Recitation
of this mantra along with prayer beads, is the most popular religious practice
in Tibetan Buddhism.[23] The connection between this famous mantra and
Avalokitevara occurs for the first time in the Kraavyha Stra. This text
is first dated to around the late 4th century CE to the early 5th century CE.
[24] In this stra, a bodhisattva is told by the Buddha that recitation of this
mantra while focusing on the sound can lead to the attainment of eight
hundred samdhis.[25] The Kraavyha Stra also features the first
appearance of the Cund Dhra, which occurs at the end of the stra text.
[13] After the bodhisattva finally attains samdhi with the mantra "o
maipadme h", he is then able to observe 77 kos of fully enlightened
buddhas replying to him in one voice with the Cund Dhra:

nama saptn samyaksabuddha kon tadyath

o cale cule cunde svh[26]
In Shingon Buddhism, the mantra for Avalokitevara is:

On Arurikya Sowaka
The Mahkaru Dhra (Great Compassion Dhra), also called the
Nlakaha Dhra, is an 82-syllable dhra for Avalokitevara.

Another mantra which describes the 'Lord Avalokitesvara' is:[citation needed]

Namah Srimadavalokitesvaraya
This was given by the ruler or king of Chamba Riyasat of Himachal PradeshIndia. The temple of Lord Trilokinath (Avalokitesvara), Lahaul Valley of
Himachal Pradesh-India has the ancient writings of that king.[citation needed]

Thousand-armed Avalokitevara[edit]

Thousand-armed Avalokitevara. Guanyin Nunnery, Anhui, China

One prominent Buddhist story tells of Avalokitevara vowing never to rest
until he had freed all sentient beings from samsara. Despite strenuous effort,
he realizes that still many unhappy beings were yet to be saved. After
struggling to comprehend the needs of so many, his head splits into eleven
pieces. Amitabha Buddha, seeing his plight, gives him eleven heads with
which to hear the cries of the suffering. Upon hearing these cries and
comprehending them, Avalokitevara attempts to reach out to all those who
needed aid, but found that his two arms shattered into pieces. Once more,
Amitabha Buddha comes to his aid and invests him with a thousand arms
with which to aid the suffering multitudes.[27]

The Bao'en Temple located in northwestern Sichuan province, China has an

outstanding wooden image of the thousand armed Avalokitevara, an
example of Ming Dynasty decorative sculpture.[28][29]

Tibetan Buddhist beliefs concerning Chenrezig[edit]

Avalokitevara is an important deity in Tibetan Buddhism, and is regarded in
the Vajrayana teachings as a Buddha.[30] In the Mahayana teachings he is in
general regarded as a high-level Bodhisattva. The Dalai Lama is considered
by the Gelugpa sect and many other Tibetan Buddhists to be the primary
earthly manifestation of Chenrezig. The Karmapa is considered by the Karma
Kagyu sect to be Chenrezig's primary manifestation. It is said that
Padmasambhava prophesied that Avalokitevara will manifest himself in the
Tulku lineages of the Dalai Lamas and the Karmapas.[citation needed]Another
Tibetan source explains that Buddha Amitabha gave to one of his two main
disciples, Avalokitevara, the task to take upon himself the burden of caring
for Tibet. That is why he has manifested himself not only as spiritual teachers
in Tibet but also in the form of kings (like Trisong Detsen) or ministers.
[citation needed]

Other manifestations popular in Tibet include Sahasra-bhuja (a form with a

thousand arms) and Ekdaamukha (a form with eleven faces).[citation

In Tibetan Buddhism, Tara came into existence from a single tear shed by
Chenrezig. When the tear fell to the ground it created a lake, and a lotus
opening in the lake revealed Tara. In another version of this story, Tara
emerges from the heart of Chenrezig. In either version, it is Chenrezig's
outpouring of compassion which manifests Tara as a being[31][32][33]

Avalokitevara has an extraordinarily large number of manifestations in
different forms (including wisdom goddesses (vidyaas) directly associated
with him in images and texts). Some of the more commonly mentioned forms




Aryavalokitesvara Sacred Avalokitesvara

The root form of the Bodhisattva

Eleven Faced Avalokitesvara
all in 10 planes of existence

Additional faces to teach

Sahasra-bhuja Sahasra-netra
Thousand-Armed, Thousand-Eyed
Very popular form: sees and helps all
cintamani wheel

Wish Fulfilling Avalokitesvara

Hayagrva Horse Headed Avalokitesvara

bodhisattva and a Wisdom King

Holds the bejeweled

Wrathful form; simultaneously

Cundi Mother Goddess Avalokitesvara Portrayed with many arms

AmoghapaAvalokitesvara with rope and net



White and Pure

Parnaabar Cloaked With Leaves

Rakta Shadakshar Six Red Syllables



Water Auspicious

Tara (Sanskrit: , tr; Tib.

, Drolma) or rya Tr, also known as
Jetsun Dolma (Tibetan language:rje btsun sgrol ma) in Tibetan Buddhism, is a
female Bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism who appears as a female Buddha
in Vajrayana Buddhism. She is known as the "mother of liberation", and
represents the virtues of success in work and achievements. In Japan she is
known as Tara Bosatsu (), and little-known as Dulu Ps ()
in Chinese Buddhism.[1]

Tara is a tantric meditation deity whose practice is used by practitioners of

the Tibetan branch of Vajrayana Buddhism to develop certain inner qualities
and understand outer, inner and secret teachings about compassion and
emptiness. Tara is actually the generic name for a set of Buddhas or
bodhisattvas of similar aspect. These may more properly be understood as
different aspects of the same quality, as bodhisattvas are often considered
metaphors for Buddhist virtues.

The most widely known forms of Tr are:

Green Tr, (Syamatara) known as the Buddha of enlightened activity

White Tr, (Sitatara) also known for compassion, long life, healing and
serenity; also known as The Wish-fulfilling Wheel, or Cintachakra
Red Tr, (Kurukulla) of fierce aspect associated with magnetizing all good
Black Tr, associated with power
Yellow Tr, (Bhrikuti) associated with wealth and prosperity
Blue Tr, associated with transmutation of anger
Cittamani Tr, a form of Tr widely practiced at the level of Highest Yoga
Tantra in the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism, portrayed as green and often
conflated with Green Tr
Khadiravani Tr (Tr of the acacia forest), who appeared to Nagarjuna in
the Khadiravani forest of South India and who is sometimes referred to as the
"22nd Tr"
There is also recognition in some schools of Buddhism of twenty-one Trs. A
practice text entitled In Praise of the 21 Trs, is recited during the morning

in all four sects of Tibetan Buddhism.

The main Tr mantra is the same for Buddhists and Hindus alike: o tre
tuttre ture svh. It is pronounced by Tibetans and Buddhists who follow the
Tibetan traditions as o tre tu tre ture soha.

Contents [hide]
1 Emergence of Tr as a Buddhist deity
2 Origin as a Buddhist bodhisattva
3 Tr as a saviouress
4 Tr as a Tantric deity
5 Sadhanas of Tr
6 Terma teachings related to Tr
7 See also
8 References
9 External links
Emergence of Tr as a Buddhist deity[edit]
Within Tibetan Buddhism Tr is regarded as a Bodhisattva of compassion
and action. She is the female aspect of Avalokitesvara (Chenrezig) and in
some origin stories she comes from his tears:

Then at last Avalokiteshvara arrived at the summit of Marpori, the 'Red Hill',
in Lhasa. Gazing out, he perceived that the lake on Otang, the 'Plain of Milk',
resembled the Hell of Ceaseless Torment. Myriads of being were undergoing
the agonies of boiling, burning, hunger, thirst, yet they never perished, but
let forth hideous cries of anguish all the while. When Avalokiteshvara saw
this, tears sprang to his eyes. A teardrop from his right eye fell to the plain
and became the reverend Bhrikuti, who declared: "Son of your race! As you
are striving for the sake of sentient beings in the Land of Snows, intercede in
their suffering, and I shall be your companion in this endeavour!" Bhrikuti was
then reabsorbed into Avalokiteshvara's right eye, and was reborn in a later
life as the Nepalese princess Tritsun. A teardrop from his left eye fell upon the
plain and became the reverend Tara. She also declared, "Son of your race! As
you are striving for the sake of sentient beings in the Land of Snows,
intercede in their suffering, and I shall be your companion in this endeavour!"
Tara was also reabsorbed into Avalokiteshvara's left eye, and was reborn in a
later life as the Chinese princess Kongjo (Princess Wencheng).[2]

Tr is also known as a saviouress, as a heavenly deity who hears the cries of

beings experiencing misery in samsara.

Whether the Tr figure originated as a Buddhist or Hindu goddess is unclear

and remains a source of dispute among scholars. Mallar Ghosh believes her
to have originated as a form of the goddess Durga in the Hindu Puranas.[3]
Today, she is worshipped both in Buddhism and in Shaktism as one of the ten
Mahavidyas. It may be true that goddesses entered Buddhism from Shaktism
(i.e. the worship of local or folk goddesses prior to the more institutionalized
Hinduism which had developed by the early medieval period (i.e. Middle
Kingdoms of India) as Buddhism was originally a religion devoid of goddesses,
and in fact deities, altogether.[dubious discuss] Possibly the oldest text to
mention a Buddhist goddess is the Prajnaparamita Sutra (translated into
Chinese from the original Sanskrit c. 2nd century CE), around the time that
Mahayana was becoming the dominant school of thought in Indian and
Chinese Buddhism.[dubious discuss] Thus, it would seem that the feminine
principle makes its first appearance in Buddhism as the goddess who
personified the "Perfection of Wisdom" (Prajnaparamita).[4] Tr came to be
seen as an expression of the compassion of perfected wisdom only later, with
her earliest textual reference being the Majur-mla-kalpa (c. 5th8th
centuries CE).[5] The earliest, solidly identifiable image of Tr is most likely
that which is still found today at cave 6 within the rock-cut Buddhist monastic
complex of the Ellora Caves in Maharashtra (c. 7th century CE), with her
worship being well established by the onset of the Pala Empire in Northeast
India (8th century CE).[6]

Tr became a very popular Vajrayana deity with the rise of Tantric Buddhism
in 8th-century Pala India and, with the movement of Indian Buddhism into
Tibet via Padmasambhava, the worship and practices of Tr became
incorporated into Tibetan Buddhism as well.[4][7] She eventually came to be
considered the "Mother of all Buddhas," which usually refers to the
enlightened wisdom of the Buddhas, while simultaneously echoing the
ancient concept of the Mother Goddess in India. Independent of whether she
is classified as a deity, a Buddha, or a bodhisattva, Tr remains very popular
in Tibet (and Tibetan communities in exile in Northern India), Mongolia, Nepal,
Bhutan, and is worshiped in a majority of Buddhist communities throughout
the world (see also Guan Yin, the female aspect of Avalokitesvara in Chinese

Today, Green Tara and White Tara are probably the most popular
representations of Tara. Green Tara/Khadiravani is usually associated with
protection from fear and the following eight obscurations: lions (= pride), wild
elephants (= delusion/ignorance), fires (= hatred and anger), snakes (=
jealousy), bandits and thieves (= wrong views, including fanatical views),

bondage (= avarice and miserliness), floods (= desire and attachment), and

evil spirits and demons (= deluded doubts). As one of the three deities of
long life, White Tara/Sarasvati is associated with longevity. White Tara
counteracts illness and thereby helps to bring about a long life. She embodies
the motivation that is compassion and is said to be as white and radiant as
the moon.

The Buddhist Goddess Tara, 9th century, gold and silver.[8]

Sita (White) Tara by ndr Gegeen Zanabazar. Mongolia, 17th century

Maldivian Tara[9] 30 cm high engraving on Porites coral stone from the 9th
century kept at the museum in Mal, Maldives.

The Mantra of Tr
in the Lanydza variant of Ranjana and Tibetan scripts.
Origin as a Buddhist bodhisattva[edit]
Tr has many stories told which explain her origin as a bodhisattva. One in
particular has a lot of resonance for women interested in Buddhism and quite
likely for those delving into early 21st-century feminism.

Green Tara, 8th century. This very early image shows her in a persona known
as Syamatara, or Green Tara, who is said to protect her followers from danger.
Brooklyn Museum
In this tale there is a young princess who lives in a different world system,
millions of years in the past. Her name is Yeshe Dawa, which means "Moon of
Primordial Awareness". For quite a number of aeons she makes offerings to
the Buddha of that world system, whose name was Tonyo Drupa. She
receives special instruction from him concerning bodhicittathe heart-mind

of a bodhisattva. After doing this, some monks approach her and suggest that
because of her level of attainment she should next pray to be reborn as a
male to progress further. At this point she lets the monks know in no
uncertain terms that from the point of view of Enlightenment it is only "weak
minded worldlings" who see gender as a barrier to attaining enlightenment.
She sadly notes there have been few who wish to work for the welfare of
beings in a female form, though. Therefore she resolves to always be reborn
as a female bodhisattva, until samsara is no more. She then stays in a palace
in a state of meditation for some ten million years, and the power of this
practice releases tens of millions of beings from suffering. As a result of this,
Tonyo Drupa tells her she will henceforth manifest supreme bodhi as the
Goddess Tr in many world systems to come.

With this story in mind, it is interesting to juxtapose this with a quotation

from H.H. the Dalai Lama about Tr, spoken at a conference on
Compassionate Action in Newport Beach, CA in 1989:

There is a true feminist movement in Buddhism that relates to the goddess

Tr. Following her cultivation of bodhicitta, the bodhisattva's motivation, she
looked upon the situation of those striving towards full awakening and she
felt that there were too few people who attained Buddhahood as women. So
she vowed, "I have developed bodhicitta as a woman. For all my lifetimes
along the path I vow to be born as a woman, and in my final lifetime when I
attain Buddhahood, then, too, I will be a woman."

Tr, then, embodies certain ideals which make her attractive to women
practitioners, and her emergence as a Bodhisattva can be seen as a part of
Mahayana Buddhism's reaching out to women, and becoming more inclusive
even in 6th-century CE India.

Tr as a saviouress[edit]

Green Tara, Nepal, 14th century. Gilt copper inset with precious and
semiprecious stones, H20.25 in, (51.4 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art,
Louis V. Bell Fund, 1966, 66.179.
Tr also embodies many of the qualities of feminine principle. She is known
as the Mother of Mercy and Compassion. She is the source, the female aspect
of the universe, which gives birth to warmth, compassion and relief from bad
karma as experienced by ordinary beings in cyclic existence. She engenders,
nourishes, smiles at the vitality of creation, and has sympathy for all beings
as a mother does for her children. As Green Tr she offers succor and
protection from all the unfortunate circumstances one can encounter within

the samsaric world. As White Tr she expresses maternal compassion and

offers healing to beings who are hurt or wounded, either mentally or
psychically. As Red Tr she teaches discriminating awareness about created
phenomena, and how to turn raw desire into compassion and love. As Blue
Tr (Ekajati) she becomes a protector in the Nyingma lineage, who
expresses a ferocious, wrathful, female energy whose invocation destroys all
Dharmic obstacles and engenders good luck and swift spiritual awakening.[4]

Within Tibetan Buddhism, she has 21 major forms in all, each tied to a certain
color and energy. And each offers some feminine attribute, of ultimate benefit
to the spiritual aspirant who asks for her assistance.

Another quality of feminine principle which she shares with the dakinis is
playfulness. As John Blofeld expands upon in Bodhisattva of Compassion,[10]
Tr is frequently depicted as a young sixteen-year-old girlish woman. She
often manifests in the lives of dharma practitioners when they take
themselves, or spiritual path too seriously. There are Tibetan tales in which
she laughs at self-righteousness, or plays pranks on those who lack reverence
for the feminine. In Magic Dance: The Display of the Self-Nature of the Five
Wisdom Dakinis,[11] Thinley Norbu explores this as "Playmind". Applied to
Tr one could say that her playful mind can relieve ordinary minds which
become rigidly serious or tightly gripped by dualistic distinctions. She takes
delight in an open mind and a receptive heart then. For in this openness and
receptivity her blessings can naturally unfold and her energies can quicken
the aspirants spiritual development.

These qualities of feminine principle then, found an expression in Indian

Mahayana Buddhism and the emerging Vajrayana of Tibet, as the many forms
of Tr, as dakinis, as Prajnaparamita, and as many other local and
specialized feminine divinities. As the worship of Tr developed, various
prayers, chants and mantras became associated with her. These came out of
a felt devotional need, and from her inspiration causing spiritual masters to
compose and set down sadhanas, or tantric meditation practices. Two ways of
approach to her began to emerge. In one common folk and lay practitioners
would simply directly appeal to her to ease some of the travails of worldly
life. In the second, she became a Tantric deity whose practice would be used
by monks or tantric yogis in order to develop her qualities in themselves,
ultimately leading through her to the source of her qualities, which are
Enlightenment, Enlightened Compassion, and Enlightened Mind.

Tr as a Tantric deity[edit]

18th-century Eastern Tibetan thanka, with the Green Tara (Samaya Tara
Yogini) in the center and the Blue, Red, White and Yellow taras in the corners,
Rubin Museum of Art
Tr as a focus for tantric deity yoga can be traced back to the time period of
Padmasambhava. There is a Red Tr practice which was given by
Padmasambhava to Yeshe Tsogyal. He asked that she hide it as a treasure. It
was not until the 20th century, that a great Nyingma lama, Apong Terton
rediscovered it. This lama was reborn as His Holiness Sakya Trizin, present
head of the Sakyapa sect. A monk who had known Apong Terton succeeded in
retransmitting it to H.H. Sakya Trizin, and the same monk also gave it to
Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche, who released it to his western students.

Martin Willson in In Praise of Tr traces many different lineages of Tr

Tantras, that is Tr scriptures used as Tantric sadhanas.[12] For example a
Tr sadhana was revealed to Tilopa (9881069 CE), the human father of the
Karma Kagyu. Atisa, the great translator and founder of the Kadampa school
of Tibetan Buddhism, was a devotee of Tr. He composed a praise to her,
and three Tr Sadhanas. Martin Willson's work also contains charts which
show origins of her tantras in various lineages, but suffice to say that Tr as
a tantric practice quickly spread from around the 7th century CE onwards,
and remains an important part of Vajrayana Buddhism to this day.

The practices themselves usually present Tr as a tutelary deity (thug dam,

yidam) which the practitioners sees as being a latent aspect of one's mind, or
a manifestation in a visible form of a quality stemming from Buddha Jnana. As
John Blofeld puts it in The Tantric Mysticism of Tibet:

The function of the Yidam is one of the profound mysteries of the

Vajrayana...Especially during the first years of practice the Yidam is of
immense importance. Yidam is the Tibetan rendering of the Sanskrit word
"Istadeva"the in-dwelling deity; but, where the Hindus take the Istadeva for
an actual deity who has been invited to dwell in the devotee's heart, the
Yidams of Tantric Buddhism are in fact the emanations of the adepts own
mind. Or are they? To some extent they seem to belong to that order of
phenomena which in Jungian terms are called archetypes and are therefore
the common property of the entire human race. Even among Tantric
Buddhists, there may be a division of opinion as to how far the Yidams are the
creations of individual minds. What is quite certain is that they are not
independently existing gods and goddesses; and yet, paradoxically, there are
many occasions when they must be so regarded.[13]

Sadhanas of Tr[edit]

Sadhanas in which Tr is the yidam (meditational deity) can be extensive or

quite brief. Most all of them include some introductory praises or homages to
invoke her presence and prayers of taking refuge. Then her mantra is recited,
followed by a visualization of her, perhaps more mantra, then the
visualization is dissolved, followed by a dedication of the merit from doing the
practice. Additionally there may be extra prayers of aspirations, and a long
life prayer for the Lama who originated the practice. Many of the Tr
sadhanas are seen as beginning practices within the world of Vajrayana
Buddhism, however what is taking place during the visualization of the deity
actually invokes some of the most sublime teachings of all Buddhism. Two
examples are Zabtik Drolchok[14] and Chime Pakme Nyingtik.[15]

In this case during the creation phase of Tr as a yidam, she is seen as

having as much reality as any other phenomena apprehended through the
mind. By reciting her mantra and visualizing her form in front, or on the head
of the adept, one is opening to her energies of compassion and wisdom. After
a period of time the practitioner shares in some of these qualities, becomes
imbued with her being and all it represents. At the same time all of this is
seen as coming out of Emptiness and having a translucent quality like a
rainbow. Then many times there is a visualization of oneself as Tr. One
simultaneously becomes inseparable from all her good qualities while at the
same time realizing the emptiness of the visualization of oneself as the yidam
and also the emptiness of one's ordinary self.

This occurs in the completion stage of the practice. One dissolves the created
deity form and at the same time also realizes how much of what we call the
"self" is a creation of the mind, and has no long term substantial inherent
existence. This part of the practice then is preparing the practitioner to be
able to confront the dissolution of one's self at death and ultimately be able
to approach through various stages of meditation upon emptiness, the
realization of Ultimate Truth as a vast display of Emptiness and Luminosity. At
the same time the recitation of the mantra has been invoking Tr's energy
through its Sanskrit seed syllables and this purifies and activates certain
psychic centers of the body (chakras). This also untangles knots of psychic
energy which have hindered the practitioner from developing a Vajra body,
which is necessary to be able to progress to more advanced practices and
deeper stages of realization.

Therefore even in a simple Tr sadhana a plethora of outer, inner, and

secret events is taking place and there are now many works such as Deity
Yoga, compiled by the present Dalai Lama,[16] which explores all the
ramifications of working with a yidam in Tantric practices.

The end results of doing such Tr practices are many. For one thing it

reduces the forces of delusion in the forms of negative karma, sickness,

afflictions of kleshas, and other obstacles and obscurations.

The mantra helps generate Bodhicitta within the heart of the practitioner and
purifies the psychic channels (nadis) within the body allowing a more natural
expression of generosity and compassion to flow from the heart center.
Through experiencing Tr's perfected form one acknowledges one's own
perfected form, that is one's intrinsic Buddha nature, which is usually covered
over by obscurations and clinging to dualistic phenomena as being inherently
real and permanent.

The practice then weans one away from a coarse understanding of Reality,
allowing one to get in touch with inner qualities similar to those of a
bodhisattva, and prepares one's inner self to embrace finer spiritual energies,
which can lead to more subtle and profound realizations of the Emptiness of
phenomena and self.

As Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche, in his Introduction to the Red Tr Sadhana,[17]

notes of his lineage: "Tr is the flawless expression of the inseparability of
emptiness, awareness and compassion. Just as you use a mirror to see your
face, Tr meditation is a means of seeing the true face of your mind, devoid
of any trace of delusion".

There are several preparations to be done before practising the Sadhana. To

perform a correct execution the practitioner must be prepared and take on
the proper disposition. The preparations may be grouped as "internal" and
"external". Both are necessary to achieve the required concentration.

The preparations are of two types: external and internal. The external
preparations consist of cleaning the meditation room, setting up a shrine with
images of Buddha Shakyamuni and Green Tara, and setting out a beautiful
arrangement of offerings. We can use water to represent nectar for drinking,
water for bathing the feet, and perfume. For the remaining offeringsflowers,
incense, light, and pure foodif possible we should set out the actual
substances. As for internal preparations, we should try to improve our
compassion, bodhichitta, and correct view of emptiness through the practice
of the stages of the path, and to receive a Tantric empowerment of Green
Tara. It is possible to participate in group pujas if we have not yet received an
empowerment, but to gain deep experience of this practice we need to
receive an empowerment. The main internal preparation is to generate and
strengthen our faith in Arya Tara, regarding her as the synthesis of all Gurus,
Yidams, and Buddhas.[18]

Tara statue near Kulu, India.

Tara statue. Gyantse Kumbum. 1993

Terma teachings related to Tr[edit]
Terma teachings are "hidden teachings" said to have been left by
Padmasambhava (8th century) and others for the benefit of future
generations. Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo discovered Phagme Nyingthig (Tib.
spelling: 'chi med 'phags ma'i snying thig, Innermost Essence teachings of
the Immortal Bodhisattva [Arya Tr]).[19]

Earlier in the 19th century, according to a biography,[20] Nyala Pema Dndul

received a Hidden Treasure Tr Teaching and Nyingthig (Tib. nying thig) from
his uncle Kunsang Dudjom (Tib. kun bzang bdud 'joms). It is not clear from
the source whether the terma teaching and the nyingthig teachings refer to
the same text or to two different texts.

Majur (Skt: ) is a bodhisattva associated with transcendent wisdom

(Skt. praj) in Mahyna Buddhism. In Esoteric Buddhism he is also taken as
a meditational deity. The Sanskrit name Majur can be translated as "Gentle
Glory",[1] "Soft Glory" (Powers 1995), "Wondrous Auspiciousness" (Geibel

2001), and so forth. Majur is also known by the fuller Sanskrit name of
Majurkumrabhta.,[2] literally "Majur, Still a Youth" or less literally
"Prince Majur".

Contents [hide]
1 In Mahyna Buddhism
2 In Esoteric Buddhism
3 Iconography
4 Mantras
5 In Buddhist Cultures
5.1 In China
5.1.1 In Tibet
5.2 In Nepal
5.3 In Japan
5.4 In Indonesia
6 Gallery
7 References
8 Further reading
9 External links
In Mahyna Buddhism[edit]

Manjushri statue. Lhalung Gompa, Spiti Valley, India

Scholars have identified Majur as the oldest and most significant
bodhisattva in Mahyna literature.[3] Majur is first referred to in early
Mahyna texts such as the Prajpramit stras and through this
association very early in the tradition he came to symbolize the embodiment
of praj (transcendent wisdom).[2] The Lotus Stra assigns him a pure land
called Vimala, which according to the Avatasaka Stra is located in the
East. His pure land is predicted to be one of the two best pure lands in all of
existence in all the past, present and future. When he attains buddhahood his
name will be Universal Sight. In the Lotus Stra, Majur also leads the Nga
King's daughter to enlightenment. He also figures in the Vimalakrti Nirdea
Stra in a debate with Vimalakrti Bodhisattva.

An example of a wisdom teaching of Majur Bodhisattva can be found in the

Saptaatik Prajpramit Stra (Taish Tripiaka 232).[4] This stra
contains a dialogue between Majur and the Buddha on the One Practice
Samdhi (Skt. Ekavyha Samdhi). Master Sheng-yen renders the following
teaching of Majur, for entering samdhi naturally through transcendent

Contemplate the five skandhas as originally empty and quiescent, nonarising, non-perishing, equal, without differentiation. Constantly thus
practicing, day or night, whether sitting, walking, standing or lying down,
finally one reaches an inconceivable state without any obstruction or form.
This is the Samadhi of One Act (yixing sanmei, ).[5]

In Esoteric Buddhism[edit]
Within Esoteric Buddhism, Majur is a meditational deity, and considered a
fully enlightened Buddha. In the Shingon school of Esoteric Buddhism, he is
one of the thirteen deities to whom disciples devote themselves. He figures
extensively in many Esoteric Buddhist texts such as the Majur-mla-kalpa.
[2] and the Majurnmasagti. His consort in some traditions is Saraswati.

Je Tsongkhapa, who founded the Gelug lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, is said

to have received his teachings from visions of Majur.

Majur is depicted as a male bodhisattva wielding a flaming sword in his
right hand, representing the realization of transcendent wisdom which cuts
down ignorance and duality. The scripture supported by the lotus held in his
left hand is a Prajpramit stra, representing his attainment of ultimate
realization from the blossoming of wisdom. Majur is often depicted as
riding on a blue lion, or sitting on the skin of a lion. This represents the use of
wisdom to tame the mind, which is compared to riding or subduing a
ferocious lion.

He is one of the Four Great Bodhisattvas of Chinese Buddhism, the other

three being: Bodhisattva Kitigarbha, Bodhisattva Avalokitevara, and
Bodhisattva Samantabhadra. In China, he is often paired with Bodhisattva

In Tibetan Buddhism Manjushri is sometimes depicted in a trinity with

Avalokitevara (Tib. Chenrazig) and Vajrapi (Tib. Channa Dorje).

A mantra commonly associated with Majur is the following:[6]

o arapacana dh
The Arapacana is a syllabary consisting of forty-two letters, and is named
after the first five letters: a, ra, pa, ca, na.[7] This syllabary was most widely
used for the Gndhr language with the Kharoh script, but also appears in
some Sanskrit texts. The syllabary features in Mahyna texts such as the
longer Prajpramit texts, the Gaavyha Stra, the Lalitavistara Stra,
the Avatasaka Stra, the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya, and the Mlasarvstivda
Vinaya.[8] In some of these texts, the Arapacana syllabary serves as a
mnemonic for important Mahyna concepts.[9] Due to its association with
him, Arapacana may even serve as an alternate name for Majur.[10]

The Sutra on Perfect Wisdom (Conze 1975) defines the significance of each
syllable thus:[citation needed]

A is a door to the insight that all dharmas are unproduced from the very
beginning (dya-anutpannatvd).
RA is a door to the insight that all dharmas are without dirt (rajas).
PA is a door to the insight that all dharmas have been expounded in the
ultimate sense (paramrtha).
CA is a door to the insight that the decrease (cyavana) or rebirth of any
dharma cannot be apprehended, because all dharmas do not decrease, nor
are they reborn.
NA is a door to the insight that the names (i.e. nma) of all dharmas have
vanished; the essential nature behind names cannot be gained or lost.
Tibetan pronunciation is slightly different and so the Tibetan characters read:
o a ra pa tsa na dh (Tibetan:
, Wylie: om a ra pa
tsa na d+hIH).[11] In Tibetan tradition, this mantra is believed to enhance
wisdom and improve one's skills in debating, memory, writing, and other
literary abilities. "Dh" is the seed syllable of the mantra and is chanted with
greater emphasis and also repeated a number of times as a Decrescendo.
In 8th century ancient Java during the era of Medang Kingdom, Manjusri was
a prominent boddhisattva deity revered by the Sailendra rulers, the patron of

Mahayana buddhism. The Kelurak inscription (782) and Manjusrigrha

inscription (792) mentioned about the construction of a grand prasada named
Vajrasana Manjusrigrha (house of Manjusri) identified today as Sewu temple,
located just 800 meters north of Prambanan Hindu temple complex. Sewu is
the second largest Buddhist temple in Central Java after Borobudur. The
depicition of Manjusri in Sailendra art of ancient Java is similar to those of
Pala style of Bihar, Nalanda. Manjusri was portrayed as a youthful handsome
man with the palm of his hands tattooed with the image of flower. His right
hand lied down in open palm while his left hand holding a
Bodhisattvas of Compassion
The term Bodhisattva refers to someone on the path to Awakening. The
Mahayana has conceived them as having renounced the ultimate state out of
pure compassion towards all beings, and can therefore refers to anyone en
route. In non-Mahayana Buddhism, it usually refers either to Maitreya, the
Buddha of the Future, or to the historical Buddha Gautama prior to his
enlightenment - either during the life in which he became enlightened or in
one of the innumerable lives before that in which he was developing the
requisite virtues for enlightenment, such as generosity. The stories of these
lives are called the Jatakas, or 'birth stories', and they are a very frequent
subject of Buddhist art.

Avalokitesvara [Tibetan style]

(Japanese, Kannon, Kanzeon; Chinese, Kuan Yin, Guanshiyin; Tibetan, Spyanras-gzigs; Vietnamese, Quan-am)

Avalokitesvara Among the Bodhisattvas, it is Avalokitesvara who has the

largest number of forms and is perhaps the most venerated and most popular
Buddhist deity. His sex, originally masculine, is sometimes considered
feminine in China and Japan, although this discrimination is unsupported by
any canonical text. And was often considered in China and Japan as the
'mother of the human race' and, in this respect, worshipped in the form of a

Avalokitesvara is known from very early in the development of the Mahayana

doctrines and, until Buddhism disappeared from India, enjoyed great favour
there. His cult passed from India to South-East Asia and Java, where it met
with great success, and also in Nepal, Tibet (where he arrived with Buddhism
and where King Srong-btsan Sgam-po, 519-650, was considered to be his
incarnation), and in China, from where he went on to Korea and Japan. All
these countries imagined him in different forms according to their own
temperaments and spirituality.

The Taras [Tibetan style]

(Japanese, Tarani Bosatsu; Chinese, Tuoluo; Tibetan, Sgrol-ma)

White TaraIt was not until the adoption of the Yogachara system, taught by
Asanga in the fourth century AD, that the feminine principle began to be
venerated in Mahayana Buddhism. Around the sixth century, the goddess
Tara was considered as a Sakti of Avalokitesvara (sometimes as his wife). The
Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang (seventh century) claimed to have seen many
statues of this deity in northern India. However, she was not accepted by
followers of the Theravada, and her image is rarely to be found in Sri Lanka or
in South-East Asia (except perhaps in Java, where a temple was dedicated to
her in 779).

Many legends have sprung up around this goddess. According to one of them
she was born in a beam of blue light emanating from one of the eyes of
Avalokitesvara; another has her born from a lotus, floating in a tear on his
face. It was believed in Tibet in the seventh century that Tara was
reincarnated in every virtuous and pious woman: thus two of the wives of
King Srong-btsan Sgam-po, Wencheng, who was Chinese, and a Nepalese
daughter of Amsuvarman, came to be considered as incarnations of Tara. To
differentiate between the two wives, the Tibetans created two distinctive

Taras, white for the Chinese, with a full-blown lotus as her emblem, and green
for the Nepalese, whose emblem is the blue (half-open) lotus. Each is
believed to have been born from an eye of Avalokitesvara (open and halfclosed). Hence they came to be considered as symbols of the day (full-blown
lotus, eye open) and the night (half-open lotus, eye half-closed). But this
couple soon multiplied, and 21 Taras are mentioned.

In China, this goddess was practically unknown, and was not at all common.
In Japan, she was given the rank of Bodhisattva (Tarani Bosatsu), and she
combines both aspects (white and green) of the Tibetan Tara. She is
practically only found on mandalas or temple banners. She holds a
pomegranate (symbol of prosperity) and a lotus. She is pale green.

Manjusri [Tibetan style]

(Japanese, Monju Bosatsu; Chinese, Wenshu; Tibetan, Jam-dpal)

ManjusriManjusri is a disciple and, with Samantabhadra, an acolyte of

Sakyamuni Buddha in the groups of images called Shaka Sanzon in Japan,
'the three venerables of Sakyamuni'. 'He whose beauty is charming', the
Bodhisattva 'of marvellous virtue and gentle majesty',' represents wisdom,
intelligence and willpower.' His adoration confines divine wisdom, mastery of
the Dharma, an infallible memory, mental perfection, eloquence. This
Bodhisattva, known in India by the doctrines of the Theravada which
identified him with the king of Gandharva Pancasikha, was originally known
from many texts of the Mahayana. Although some texts such as the Lotus
Sutra assign him a universe in the east called Vimala (Japanese Yuima).

Manjusri was the initiator and master of the Buddhas of past ages and will be
that of the future Buddha, Maitreya. Manjusri is the father and the mother of
the Bodhisattvas, and he is their spiritual friend. The Buddha himself
describes Manjusri and praises him in the Manjusri-parinirvina-sutra. This

Bodhisattva was consequently very often represented, in India and Tibet, in

China and Japan, as well as Nepal, which tradition claims he founded on
coming from China. His images appear only late in Central Asia and on a few
Chinese stele, associated with Vimalakirti (Japanese Yuima Koji) in the sixth

His cult and images were introduced into Japan by Chinese monks who,
during a voyage to Wutaishan, learned that Manjusri was reincarnated in the
person of the Japanese monk Gyoki and went to Nara in 736. One of these
monks, Bodhisena (Japanese Bodaisenna), succeeded Gyoki as director of the
Buddhist community of the Todai-ji (Nara) in 751 or 752. In turn, another
monk named Ennin travelled to China to Mount Wutai in the year 840, during
a journey that lasted nine years from 838 to 847, and brought back scriptures
and images of this Bodhisattva.

Ksitigarbha [Chinese style]

(Japanese, Jizo Bosatsu; Chinese, Dizang; Tibetan, Sai-snying-po)

KsitigarbhaThe name of this Bodhisattva means 'He who encompasses the

earth'. According to the monk Eshin (Genshin, 942-1017), he is also the
master of the six worlds of desire and of the six destinies of rebirth. When
considered in particular as a Bodhisattva who consoles the beings in hell, he
is identical to Yamaraja (Japanese Enma-o), the king of the Buddhist hells
(Naraka, Japanese Jigoku). In India, Ksitigarbha, although known very early to
the Mahayana sects (since the fourth century), does not appear to have
enjoyed popular favour, and none of his representations can be found, either
there or in South-East Asia. In China, on the contrary, he was fairly popular
since the fifth century, after the translation of the Sutra of the Ten Cakras
which lists his qualities.

Ksitigarbha, moved by compassion, is said - like all Bodhisattvas - to have

made the wish to renounce the status of Buddha until the advent of Maitreya,
in order to help the beings of the destinies of rebirth. In hell, his mission is to
lighten the burdens caused by previous evil actions, to secure from the
judges of hell an alleviation of the fate of the condemned, and to console
them. Thus, in the popular mind, Ksitigarbha has become the Bodhisattva of
hells par excellence.

His cult remains immensely popular in Japan, where it spread from the ninth
century in the Tendai and Shingon sects. A popular custom made him the
confessor to whom faults committed during the year were revealed, in the socalled 'confession of Jizo ceremony'.n Utpala (blue lotus). He also uses the
necklace made of tiger canine teeth.