Samantabhadra


Samantabhadra

Samantabhadra (Wylie: "Kun-tu bzang-po", Mongolian: "Qamugha Sain", Chinese: Pinyin: "Pŭxián púsà" Wade-Giles: "P'u3 hsien2 p'u2 sa4", Japanese: "Fugen bosatsu", Vietnamese: "Phổ Hiền Bồ Tát") Samantabhadra is known as the 'Lord of the Truth' who represents the practice and meditation of all Buddhas. Together with Shakyamuni and fellow disciple Manjusri he forms the Shakyamuni trinity in Mahayana Buddhism. He is the patron of the Lotus Sutra and, according to the Avatamsaka Sutra, made the ten great vows which are the basis of a bodhisattva. Samantabhadra is most commonly described as a bodhisattva himself, although some Vajrayana Buddhist traditions, namely the Nyingmapa, regard him as a primordial Buddha in indivisible yab-yum union with his consort Samantabhadri.

Literally 'He whose bounty is omnipresent', Samantabhadra represents the Buddhist ideals of Law and Compassion. Alongside Manjusri, he is one of the three acolytes of Shakyamuni. In Japan this bodhisattva is often worshipped by the Tendai and Shingon sects, and as the protector of the Lotus Sutra by the Nichiren sect.

Certain Yogacara sects claim that Samantabhadra, instead of Vairocana, is the founder of the Mahayana yoga system, and look upon him as a divinity of religious ecstasy. Those who practise ecstatic meditation in Japanese esoteric schools regard him as a special divinity central to their practice.

Iconography

Unlike his more popular counterpart Manjusri, Samantabhadra is only rarely depicted alone and is usually found in a trinity on the right side of Shakyamuni, mounted on a white elephant. In those traditions that accept the Avatamsaka Sutra as its root instruction, Samantabhadra and Manjusri flank Vairocana Buddha, the central Buddha of this particular sutra.

Known as Pǔxián in Chinese, he is sometimes shown in Chinese art with feminine characteristics, riding an elephant with six pairs of tusks while carrying a lotus leaf 'parasol' (Sanskrit: "chhatra"), bearing similar dress and features to some feminine depictions of Kuan Yin. It is in this guise that Samantabhadra is revered as the patron bodhisattva of the monasteries associated with Mount Emei in western China.

Among those esoteric traditions that treat Samantabhadra as the 'Primordial' (Sanskrit: Dharmakaya) Buddha, he is often represented 'naked' ("sky clad"; Sanskrit: "digambara"), with a dark blue body, in union with his consort Samantabhadri.

amantabhadra in esoteric traditions

Samntabhadra is also known as Vajradhara and Viśvabhadra, the different names foreground different attributes and essence-qualities. Samantabhadra appears in the Vajrayana tantric text the Kunjed Gyalpo Tantra, as the Primordial Buddha, the 'embodiment' (Sanskrit: "kaya") or 'field' (Sanskrit: "kshetra") of 'timeless awareness, gnosis' (Wylie: "jñāna") awakened since before the very beginning. Therefore in Tibetan Buddhism the Nyingma, or 'Old Translation' school, the Sakya and the Bön schools view Samantabhadra as the Primordial Buddha. However, the Kagyu and Gelug schools use Vajradhara to represent the Primordial Buddha.

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche following the Nyingmapa Dzogchen tradition qualifies the nature and essence of Samantabhadra, the Primordial Buddha, as the origin-less wellspring of the timeless and unbounded Atiyoga teachings, and honours the converse view entertained by some interested parties which hold that the Dzogchen teachings originated with either the Bonpo tradition or the Chinese monk Moheyan (1990: p.xxi):

Samantabhadra is not subject to limits of time, place, or physical conditions. Samantabhadra is not a colored being with two eyes, etc. Samantabhadra is the unity of awareness and emptiness, the unity of appearances and emptiness, the nature of mind, natural clarity with unceasing compassion - that is Samantabhadra from the very beginning. [Khyentse, Dzongsar (1990). "Introduction: The Significance of This Biography" in: Palmo, Ani Jima (Eugenie de Jong; translator); Nyingpo, Yudra (compilor, "et. al.") (2004). "The Great
]

Notes

References and Further Reading

*"Ancient Tibet: Research materials from the Yeshe De Project". 1986. Dharma Publishing, California. ISBN 0-89800-146-3
*Dudjom Rinpoche and Jikdrel Yeshe Dorje. "The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism: its Fundamentals and History". Two Volumes. 1991. Translated and edited by Gyurme Dorje with Matthew Kapstein. Wisdom Publications, Boston. ISBN 0-86171-087-8]

Links

* [http://texts.00.gs/Wellsprings_of_the_Great_Perfection,_3.htm "Revelations of Samantabhadra's Mind"]
* [http://www.archive.org/details/SamantabhadraDevotions"Samantabhadra Devotions"]
* [http://www.archive.org/details/SamantabhadraInternetResourcesOnTheBodhisattvaUniversalWorthy"Samantabhadra: Internet Resources on the Bodhisattva Universal Worthy"]


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