In Buddhism, Manjushri is the Bodhisattva (Buddha-to-be) of Wisdom, although He is believed to have the enlightenment of a Buddha. In Sanskrit, ”Manjushri” signifies “sweet glory” or “gentle glory.”
He is known as Vagishvara (“Lord of Speech”) and as Manjughosha, which translates as “gentle-voiced-one” or “sweet-voiced-one”. Bodhisattva Manjushri is also known under the name Manjughosha; ”ghoṣa” means “voice”, so it is commonly translated as ”Beautiful Voice”.
Bodhisattva Manjushri grants wisdom, intelligence, mastery of the teaching, eloquence, memory, and the power of exposition. Revered as the patron of sciences and arts, Manjushri is traditionally invoked by writers for help. He is also the main guardian and patron of astrologers.
In Mahayana Buddhism, He is acknowledged as one of the four great Bodhisattvas together with Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara (Chenrezig), Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, and Bodhisattva Samantabhadra.
In Vajrayana Buddhism, it is said that He is a father, mother, and son of all Tathagatas. Although the bodhisattva does not appear in the Pali Canon, some scholars connect him with Pancasikha, a heavenly musician who appears in the Digha Nikaya of the Pali Canon.
In China, He is known as Wenshu. Mount Wutai in Shanxi, one of the 4 sacred ancient mountains of China, is considered by Chinese Buddhists to be his home.
Frequently, He is illustrated as a young (approximately 16 years old) Indian prince. He holds a sword in his right hand, which represents His capacity to cut through delusion. In his left hand, by his heart, Bodhisattva Manjushri holds the stem of a lotus flower, which bears a sacred book, symbolizing the Perfection of Wisdom teaching.
In Japanese and Chinese Buddhist art, Bodhisattva Manjushri’s sword is frequently replaced with a ruby scepter, particularly in illustrations of his Vimalakirti Sutra discussion with the layman Vimalakirti.
Occasionally, His hands are described making the mudra of teaching at the level of his heart. He is portrayed riding on a lion, the king of the beasts, representing that He teaches the Dharma without favor or fear, with pristine royalty.
Manjushri mantra meaning on syllables, by Khenchen Prachhimba Dorjee Rinpoche:
OM – also written Aum, is a sacred and mystical syllable that originates from Hinduism but is now common in Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism, and the Bön tradition. Interestingly, it is considered that the Islamic “Amin” and Christian “Amen” are both derived from this syllable. “Chant Om and you will attain your goal. If nothing else works, just chant Om.”- Patanjali.
AH – represents the direct understanding of the nature of phenomena.
RA – represents the understanding of emptiness from the Hinayana point of view. These profound teachings of the ”Hinayana” emptiness are suitable for those practitioners that have problems in understanding emptiness in its ultimate nature.
PA – represents meditation. There are 2 basic types of meditation: the non-conceptual (without thinking) meditation and the conceptual (thinking).
TSA – represents the importance of nirvana and samsara. The exact nature of both samsara and nirvana is emptiness. But if we don’t understand the exact nature of samsara, it manifests to us in the form of 3 sufferings. It is essential to understand the importance of both nirvana and samsara.
NA – represents karma (action). In short, it signifies that all the suffering we experience is the result of our previous non-virtuous actions (negative karma) and all our happiness results from our previous virtuous deeds (positive karma). There are 2 basic kinds of karma: the collective karma and the individual karma. We need to understand that with each action of our speech, body, and mind we are sewing the seeds of our future experience.
Dhi – represents the bija, or seed syllable, of Boddhisatva Manjushri. After chanting 108 dhihs, envision the dhi on your tongue coming down and absorbing into the dhi on the moon disk at your heart, which becomes very brilliant. Immeasurable red-light rays radiate from that seed syllable, filling your entire physical body and purifying all negative karma (actions), sickness, and obstacles.
In short, the view helps us recognize the correct path. Meditation is the actual practice through which we develop an experiential understanding of the path, leading to a change in our mind and feelings.
Activity combined with wisdom gives us the capacity to help sentient beings in an efficient way at the right time. Fruition is the happiness and courage resulting from accomplishing our virtuous intentions.
Chanting OM AH RA PA TSA NA DHI mantra benefits:
All practices of Boddhisatva Manjushri are very powerful for helping us to clear our ignorance and delusions, and to enhance our learning skills, debating, writing, memory, and wisdom.
According to one sacred Tibetan tradition, the practitioner should chant this mantra 100, 21, or at least 7 times. On the last repetition (mentally or aloud), the final bija syllable, DHI, is to be chanted as many times as possible.
Featured image credit – Luckykot/Shutterstock