five forms of manjushri

Manjushri, The Wisdom Bodhisattva

Manjushri is a Buddhist prince of wisdom who achieved enlightenment eons ago. He swore to return to the universe as a bodhisattva to enlighten buddha's philosophy on selflessness and voidness. He holds the flaming sword of wisdom with his right hand, and with his left, he holds the Prajnaparamita book. In Mahayana Buddhist tradition, he has the highest wisdom among Bodhisattvas.

Manjushri is one of Lord Säkyamuni's eight chief disciples who used to raise questions regarding emptiness for the benefit of other listeners. Buddhists believe he is the only deity of wisdom who bestows wisdom on practitioners in enhancing their memory and intelligence. As a result, they can penetrate the teachings of Buddha's enormous and profound significance by praying and reciting Manjusri's bija mantras. No one can develop the realization of emptiness without his blessings.

Click to view this Manjushri Thangka

What are the Forms of Manjushri?

Manjushri is the transcendent wisdom bodhisattva. He is represented as a sixteen-year-old boy in the Buddhist pantheon to reflect the idea of wisdom. Rather than mere experience, the ideas originate from the growth of intellectual brilliance, which penetrates directly to the base of reality. Manjushri manifests in a number of Five different Tantric forms which are as follows:

  • Simhanada Manjushri
  • Tikshna Manjushri
  • Arapacana Manjushri
  • Vimala Manjushri
  • Jnanasattva Manjushri 
Five Manjushri

Simhanada Manjushri

Simhananda is another form of Manjushri with a red colored body, a single face, and four arms. A burning sword and an arrow are in the right hand. The left-hand holds the lotus stem, the book on top of the flower, and the bow. Red Manjushri is commonly depicted as cross-legged on a lotus-flower throne dressed in princely silks and jewelry.

Tikshna Manjushri 

This Manjushri is also known as Tikshna Manjushri. He has one face and two arms, and his body is yellow. Both hands hold the lotus stems (Utpala) on which the wisdom sword is on the right and the wisdom book on the left. He has adorned in silks and jewels ornamentation and sits in a vajra posture with his feet.

Arapacana Manjushri

This form of Manjushree has a special relationship with Kathmandu Valley because he drained the valley's water to make it habitable. Manjushree is single-faced in this form, and depicted in center symbolizing his non-dual wisdom. He holds a wisdom sword in his right hand, symbolizing the cutting off of the root of delusion, which is the source of sorrow, ignorance, and self-grasping. He has a religious scripture named "Perfection of Wisdom," which purges all delusions. He is seated in Vajraparyanka posture. 

Vimala Manjushri

The wrathful healing form of Manjushri, Vimala Manjushri, is used to remove inner and exterior obstructions. He has a blue-black body, a single face, and two arms. The right-hand raises a sword burning with fire to the sky, severing ignorance. With the wisdom book above, the left hand holds the stem of an utpala. He is adorned in silks and jewels and sits in a vajra posture with his feet.

Jnanasattva Manjushri 

The wisdom deity Manjushri is also known as Jnanasattva Manjushri in this form. He has one face and two arms, and his body is white. He depicts in this form with his legs crossed in vajra posture, his right hand in the mudra of supreme generosity, and his left hand holding the stem of a lotus on which a flaming sword rests. White Manjushri has the essential attribute of a book resting on an utpala flower, several faces and arms, or riding a lion in different traditions.

Iconography of Manjushri in Thangka:

Manjushri is seated atop a moon disc lotus seat in a serene and calm expression. The vibrant blue halo illuminates his face, and the peaceful background adds peaceful vibes. His right hand is holding the wisdom sword. He is adorned with Swirling Silken Scarf and other precious jewelry in his body. He holds the lotus where Prajna Paramita is placed on top in his left hand. He is adorned with five jeweled crowns in his head, and the upper half of the hair is tied in a three-tier top knot.

Our Artist has painted this Manjushri thangka in traditional karma gadri style with natural stone color and genuine 24K gold. The iconography displayed in the below picture is evident in understanding to any practitioners.

Iconography of Manjushri
Click to see Enlightenment Hand painted Manjushri Thangka Collection

Manjushri In Nepal

Manjushri not only appears in many of Shakyamuni Buddha's philosophical discourses. He also appears in many myths and stories that date back to Buddha's time and are still widely known today. One of the most well-known stories describes how Manjushri drained the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal, making it fit for human habitation.

Bodhisattva Manjushri, who lives atop China's Five-Peaked Mountain, sat in meditation for many years. He became aware of the Nepal Valley and its pure-water lake. In the lake, Buddha planted the root of a lotus, which grew into an enormous thousand-petaled blossom. The dazzling light, Svayambhu Dharmadhatu-the Self-created Sphere of Ultimate Reality-appeared miraculously on the lotus. 

Manjushri came into the valley with his Chanda Hasa's sword, which indicates "the Horrible Laugh." He cleft the earth at Turtle Mountain with his strong sword, and the lake's water drains to the south. Diamond Peak appeared as the water drained out of the valley, bearing the lotus and light of Svayambhu. Then, to make amends to Turtle Mountain, he built an Avalokiteshvara shrine.

The miraculous Svayambhu light was then enshrined in a stupa to preserve it for increasingly degenerate future generations. The Svayambhu Stupa is still one of Asia's most important pilgrimage sites. Beginning with Shakyamuni himself, the location has been visited by a succession of outstanding Buddhist masters.

Image of Svayambhu

Image of Swayambhunath Stupa- Kathmandu, Nepal
Source: Wikipedia

Mantra of ManjushriOm Ah Ra Pa Tsa Na Dhi - Meaning and Benefits of the Manjushri Mantra - The  StupaOm A Ra Pa Ca Na Dhih

ༀ་ཨ་ར་པ་ཙ་ན་དྷཱི༔ (In Tibetan)

The Arapacana is a syllabary of forty-two letters named after the first five letters: a, ra, pa, ca, na. Each syllable's importance is defined as follows in the Sutra on Perfect Wisdom:

  • A leads to the realization that all dharmas are unproduced from the beginning (adya-anutpannatvd).
  • RA opens the door to realizing that all dharmas are pure (rajas).
  • PA opens the door to realizing that all dharmas have been fully expressed (paramrtha).
  • CA opens the way to realizing that no dharma decrease (cyavana) or rebirth can be comprehended because all dharmas do not decrease.
  • NA opens the way to realizing that all dharmas' names (i.e., nama) have departed and that the essential nature behind names cannot be gained or lost.



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