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Category:Bodhisattvas (Buddhist Saints)

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Bodhisattvas
Bodhisattvas
Bodhisattavas are revered figures within the Buddhist tradition and are sometimes referred to as Buddhist saints.

Who Are the Bodhisattvas?

The word bodhisattva means "enlightenment being" in Sanskrit, bodhi being the word for enlightenment.

Generally speaking, the term bodhisattva can can refer to any person who is on the path towards enlightenment, but modern definitions of who this includes vary somewhat among the different denominations of Buddhism.

* In Theravada Buddhism, any person who has vowed to become a Buddha and has also been given confirmation from a living Buddha that this will be so is a Bodhisattva.
* In Mahayana Buddhism, the term indicates a person who has developed bodhicitta ("enlightenment mind"), a spontaneous mental wish to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings; in popular understanding, a bodhisattva is someone capable of reaching nirvana (transcendence of suffering and desire) but who holds back from doing so in order to save others from suffering.
* In Vajrayana Buddhism, the term indicates a person who is dedicated to achieving the status of buddhahood, has developed bodhicitta ("enlightenment mind"), is capable of reaching nirvana, but refrains from doing so.

The bodhisattvas are venerated by many Buddhists, and their life stories are well known to dedicants.

Popular Bodhisattvas

As with any group of revered spiritual helpers, the bodhisattvas have individual personalities and temperments. Each is revered for some specific quality or activity.

Akasagarbha

Akasagarbha is the bodhisattva associated with the great element of space (ākāśa), related to the infinite happiness generated by helping others.

Avalokitesvara

Avalokitesvara (Padmapani) is the bodhisattva of compassion and mercy. Avalokiteśvara is the most recognized bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism and appears sometimes in Cambodian Theravada Buddhism as Lokeśvara. Avalokiteśvara is identified predominantly as female.

Ksitigarbha

A bodhisattva primarily revered in East Asian Buddhism and usually depicted as a Buddhist monk. Ksitigarbha is the bodhisattva of those suffering torment and the bodhisattva of vows. Kṣitigarbha is known for his vow not to achieve Buddhahood until all hells are emptied. He is often regarded in Japanese culture as the bodhisattva of hell-beings, the guardian of children, and patron of deceased children and aborted fetuses.

Mahasthamaprapta

Mahasthamaprapta is the bodhisattva of wisdom. A mahāsattva representing the power of wisdom, often depicted in a trinity with Amitābha and Avalokiteśvara, especially in Pure Land Buddhism. His name means "arrival of the great strength".

Maitreya (Pali Metteyya)

In both Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism, Maitreya is believed to be the future Buddha. Maitreya is the successor to the present Buddha, Gautama. Buddha Maitreya is a bodhisattva who will appear on Earth in the future, and restore the lost dharma. The arrival of Maitreya occurs at a time when the dharma will have been lost or corrupted. This prophecy is found in the literature of all major schools of Buddhism.

Manjusri

Mañjuśrī is a bodhisattva associated with prajñā (transcendent wisdom) in Mahayana Buddhism. In Tibetan Buddhism, he is also a yidam—a manifestation of Enlightened Mind.

Nagarjuna

Nagarjuna is one of the two main architects of Mahayana Buddhism. (Read More ...)

Niō

Nio are manifestations of the Bodhisattva Vajrapani and are the two guardians of Buddha.

Padmasambhava

Padmasambhava is the founder of Tibetan Buddhism. (Read More ...)

Samantabhadra

Samantabhadra (Universal Worthy) is associated with practice and meditation. Along with the Buddha and Mañjuśrī, he forms the Shakyamuni trinity. He is the benefactor of the Lotus Sutra. According to the Avatamsaka Sutra, Samantabhadra made the ten great vows which are the basis of a bodhisattva.

Sangharama

Sangharama is revered in Chinese Buddhism and Taoism, and refers to a group of devas who guard Buddhist monasteries. Interestingly, the title is usually referring to the legendary Chinese military general Guan Yu, who became a dharmapala (protector of Buddhist dharma ) through converting to Buddhism and taking the vows.

Sitatapatra

Sitātapatrā, the bodhisattva known as "the White Parasol” is a protector against supernatural dangers. She is venerated in both Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions. As Sitātapatrā, she is a powerful independent deity as she was emanated by Gautama Buddha. It is sad that whoever practices her mantra will be protected against supernatural danger and black magic. Diligent practitioners will be reborn in Amitābha's pure land.

Skanda

Skanda is a Dharmapala who guards the Dharma and is found in Chinese Buddhism.Skanda is the guardian of monasteries and the Buddhist teachings. He is the leader of the twenty-four celestial guardian deities enumerated in the Golden Light Sutra. In Chinese temples, Skanda can be found on the right, facing the statue of the Buddha. On the left is his counterpart, Sangharama, personified as the historical general Guan Yu. At the end of Chinese sutras Skanda’s figure can be found as a reminder of his vow to protect and preserve the teachings.

Tara

Tara is the female bodhisattva of success in work and is also considered by some to be a manifestation of Avalokitesvara.

Vajrapani

Vajrapāṇi One of the earliest-appearing bodhisattvas in Mahayana Buddhism, Vajrapāṇi is the protector and guide of Gautama Buddha and rose to symbolize the Buddha's power. Vajrapāṇi is represented in Buddhist iconography as one of the three protective deities surrounding the Buddha. Each of them symbolizes one of the Buddha's virtues: Mañjuśrī manifests the Buddhas' wisdom, Avalokiteśvara manifests the Buddhas' compassion and Vajrapāṇi manifests the Buddhas' power.

Vasudhara

Vasudhārā, whose name in Sanskrit means "stream of gems," is the bodhisattva of wealth, abundance, fertility, and prosperity. Originally an Indian Bodhisattva, She is a popular subject in Buddhist legends and art in many Buddhist countries. Her popularity has spread to Theravadin countries, and She has become a central figure in Newar Buddhism.

See Also

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