One of the most wonderful dimensions of the Mahayana Tradition of Buddhist practice and teaching are the different manifestations of Buddha’s Qualities of compassion and wisdom. These emanate as different Buddha deities. The form, appearance, costumes, mudras, implements and jewellery of these Buddha deities differ quite considerably under Chinese & Tibetan Buddhism. Chinese & Tibetans follow the Mahayana tradition and we bring you images of five of the more popular Tibetan Buddha deities in their Chinese manifestation.
Samantabhadra – Bodhisattva of Universal Virtue
Samantabhadra in Sanskrit means Universal Virtue. In the Tibetan language this Buddha is known as Kuntu Sangpo. To Chinese Buddhists he is known as (普贤) PU XIAN PUSA. The Bodhisattva Samantabhadra usually rides on a six-tusked white elephant. The six tusks signifies overcoming attachment to the six senses.
They also represent the Six Perfections (paramitas) - charity, morality, patience, diligence, contemplation, and wisdom - or the six ways Bodhisattvas pursue their spiritual practice to attain full enlightenment to benefit all living creatures. Samantabhadra embodies all the practices which must be fulfilled to attain Buddhahood. According to the Flower Garland Sutra, a Bodhisattva practitioner must dedicate all of his/her efforts towards the enlightenment of all sentient beings and to dedicate everything for the welfare of all. In this way, all selfishness and the self-cherishing attitude are completely transcended, and one enters into the ocean of merits of all the enlightened beings.
Samantabhadra is also known as the Bodhisattva of Extensive Conduct as he is renowned for his practice of the Bodhisattvas’ Ten Great Vows. These vows are:
- To venerate all Buddhas
- To make praises to the infinite number of Buddhas
- To make extensive offerings to all the Buddhas (the best offering is to practice the Buddhist teachings to benefit oneself and others).
- To confess and purify all negative karma (accumulated from thoughts, words, or actions throughout all our past reincarnations)
- To rejoice in the merits of others
- To request the turning of Dharma wheel (Buddha’s teachings)
- To request the Buddhas to remain in the world to benefit more beings
- To always follow Buddha’s path (teachings)
- To live harmoniously with all living beings. (to respect all beings and be as attentive to them as one would to one’s own parents)
- To dedicate all merits for the welfare of all living beings
In 399 A.D. Hui-Chih, a Chinese Buddhist monk went to Er-Mei Shan in China and there built a temple devoted to Samantabhadra. Since then, Er-Mei Mountain has become the sacred site of Samantabhadra. Some months ago, it was announced that a brand new gigantic statue of Samantabhadra had been successfully built at Er Mei Shan.