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Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva

Approach to Ancestral Memorial Hall
As you approach the rear of the mezzanine floor, you will notice a Tang period-styled Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha (also known as Earth Store) statue. He wears a highly ornate general’s armour, helmet and a warrior’s boots with a monk’s robes over it and rides a white horse with a red saddle. Gazing slightly down with half-opened eyes and closed pursed lips, He holds a two-pronged pilgrim’s staff with six rings in His right hand and a cintamani (wish granting jewel) in his left hand. An aureole radiates behind his head.

 

Ancestral Memorial Hall

At the Ancestral Memorial Hall, you will notice a quiet chamber with another benevolent and compassionate Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, surrounded by a number of elegant ancestral tablets.

Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha in BTRTM

The Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha is in the Samapada (standing) posture with each foot on a multi-layered lotus pedestal (i.e. He stands on a double lotus throne). Depicted as a śramaṇa, He wears an exquisitely patterned traditional Chinese monk’s robes with an ornamental golden necklace. The robes are coloured maroon, dark green and orange with decorated rims. He grasps gently in His right hand (with His thumb, middle and ring fingers) a two-pronged pilgrim’s staff (khakkharra) with six rings symbolising the six realms and a cintamani (wish-granting jewel) in his upturned left palm, raised to the level of His chest.

A ray aureole with the eight Sanskirt characters radiates behind His head. The letters are located in the eight cardinal and intermediate directions and depicted individually against green discs located concentric circle behind His head together with the light rays. In the centre is a green disc with nine smaller circles outlined in gold. The arrangement of these smaller circles mirror that of the sanskrit letters, one in the centre and eight in the cardinal and intermediate directions.

Expressionless, Ksitigarbha gazes ahead with half-closed eyes framed by perfectly curved slender eyebrows and an urna. He has closed lips, long earlobes, a shaven head and pale skin.

About Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha

Ksitigarbha (Sanskrit: क्षितिगर्भ Kṣitigarbha; Chinese: Dìzàng, 地藏; Tibetan: Sahi-sning-po; Japanese: Jizō Bosatsu; Korean: Chijang Posal; Mongol: Gachar-un Jiruken) is a Bodhisattva primarily revered in East Asian Buddhism, usually depicted as a Buddhist monk in the Orient. The name may be translated as “He who encompasses the Earth”, “Earth Treasury”, “Earth Store”, “Earth Matrix”, “Essence of Earth” or “Earth Womb”. He is one of the famed Eight Great Bodhisattvas or Mahasattvas.
Ksitigarbha is enumerated among other Bodhisattvas in the Avatamsaka Sutra, translated by Buddhabhadra into Chinese in AD 421. The Dasacakra Ksitigarbha Sutra (Sutra of Ten Wheels), which lists his qualities, was translated in full by Ven Hsuan-tsang in 651. This scripture describes Ksitigarbha as a śramaṇa arriving with His retinue from the south. The awestruck audience found themselves ornately decorated, holding a bright wish-granting jewel (this may explain the presence of the jewel in Ksitigarbha’s left hand). The Ksitigarbha Pranidhana Sutra (Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva), one of the most popular sutras in China, is attributed to Siksanada (AD 652 – 710).Ksitigarbha is known for his vow to take responsibility for the instruction of all beings in the six worlds between the nirvana of Buddha Gautama (Sakyamuni) and the arrival of Buddha Maitreya, as well as his vow not to achieve Buddhahood until all hells are emptied. He is therefore often regarded as the bodhisattva of hell beings, as well as the guardian of children and patron deity of deceased children and aborted fetuses in Japanese culture. Usually depicted as a monk with a nimbus around his shaved head, he carries a staff to force open the gates of hell and a wish-fulfilling jewel to light up the darkness.
Birth

Ksitigarbha during his past lives was born variously as the son of the elders, Brahman lady, king, etc. According to Longevetiy Ksitigarbha Pranidhana Sutra, in all these lives as commoners, he had always vowed to help all livings and to ‘ferry over’ all living beings from the hells. Hence, he had such a great compassionate vow, that it was called the “Great Vow”.

According to the Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva, Chapter 1, Buddha Sakyamuni said:

“Manjushri, indescribably many eons ago, during the time of a Buddha named Lion Sprint Complete in the Ten Thousand Practices Thus Come One, Earth Store Bodhisattva, Mahasattva was the son of a great Elder.

That Elder’s son, upon observing the Buddha’s hallmarks and fine features and how the thousand blessings adorned him, asked that Buddha what practices and vows made him so magnificent.

Lion Sprint Complete in the Ten Thousand Practices Thus Come One then said to the Elder’s son. If you wish to have a body like mine, you must first spend a long time liberating beings who are undergoing suffering.’

“Manjushri, that comment caused the Elder’s son to make a vow: ‘From now until the ends of future time throughout uncountable eons I will use expansive expedient means to help beings in the Six Paths who are suffering for their offenses. Only when they have all been liberated, will I myself become a Buddha.’

From the time he made that great vow in the presence of that Buddha until now, hundreds of thousands of nayutas of inexpressibly many eons have passed and still he is a Bodhisattva.”

Dharma

In the Ksitigarbha Sutra, between the Buddha Shakyamuni’s Maha Paranirvana and the arrival of the Buddha Maitreya, the Saha-world would exist without a Buddha. Concerned that celestial beings will have no one to turn to, Buddha Shakyamuni asked Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha to use his powers to ‘ferry over’ the devas that fall into the hells. Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha vowed that should any living beings not yet ‘ferried over’, he would not wish to become a Buddha, and this is one of the most touching story in Buddhism.

According to the Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva, Chapter 2, Buddha Sakyamuni said:

“Reflect on how I have toiled for repeated eons and endured acute suffering to take across and free stubborn beings who resist being taught and who continue to suffer for their offenses.

Those not yet subdued undergo retributions according to their karma. If they fall into the evil destinies and are enduring tremendous suffering, then you should remember the gravity of this entrustment I am now giving you here in the palace of the Trayastrimsha Heaven:

Find ways to liberate all beings in the Saha world from now until the time when Maitreya comes into the world. Help them escape suffering forever, encounter Buddhas, and receive predictions.”

At that time all the division bodies of Earth Store Bodhisattva that came from all those worlds merged into single form. Then he wept and said to the Buddha, “Throughout long eons I have been receiving the Buddha’s guidance and from that have developed inconceivable spiritual power and great wisdom.

My division bodies fill worlds as many as grains of sand in billions of Ganges Rivers. In each of those worlds, I transform myself into billions of bodies. Each body takes across billions of people, helping them to return respectfully to the Triple Jewel, escape birth and death forever, and reach the bliss of Nirvana.

Even if their good deeds within the Buddhadharma amount to as little as a strand of hair, a drop of water, a grain of sand, or a mote of dust, I will gradually take them across, liberate them, and help them gain great benefit.

I only hope that the World Honored One will not be concerned about beings of the future who have bad karma. ” In that way he addressed the Buddha three times: “I only hope that the World Honored One will not be concerned about beings of the future who have bad karma.”

Entrustment
According to the Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva, Chapter 13, Buddha Sakyamuni said:

“Earth Store, Earth Store, remember this entrustment that I am again making here in the Trayastrimsha Heaven in this great assembly of hundreds of thousands of millions of indescribably many Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, gods, dragons, and the rest of the Eightfold Division.

I again entrust to you the gods, people, and others who are still in the burning house and have not yet left the Triple World.

Do not allow those beings to fall into the evil destinies even for a single day and night, much less fall into the Fivefold Relentless Hell or the Avichi Hell, where they would have to pass through thousands of millions of eons with no chance of escape.

“Earth Store, the beings of southern Jambudvipa have irresolute wills and natures. They habitually do many evil deeds. Even if they resolve to do good, they soon renounce that resolve. If they encounter evil conditions, they tend to become increasingly involved in them.

For those reasons I reduplicate hundreds of thousands of millions of bodies to transform beings, take them across, and liberate them, all in accord with their own fundamental natures.

“Earth Store, I now earnestly entrust the multitudes of gods and people to you.”

Mantras
According to Shingon and other East Asian Esoteric Buddhist schools, the mantra of Ksitigarbha is:

    Namaḥ samantabuddhānāṃ, ha ha ha, sutanu svāhā

In addition, a mantra they used in religious services is:

                   On kaka kabi sanmaei sowaka

Chinese Buddhists recite the name of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha as His mantra (also known as His name mantra) which is:

              Námó dìzàng wáng púsà (hanyu pinyin) (南無地藏王菩萨)

For Korean Buddhists, His mantra is:

                Namo jijang bosal

Tibetan Buddhists recite the following:

HA (His seed syllable)
Oṃ kṣitigarbha bodhisattva yaḥ (name mantra) OM AH KSHITI GARBHA THALENG HUM (name mantra)

According to A Garland of Jewels by Jamgön Mipham (which is a compilation of stories of the eight great bodhisattvas from the sutras and tantras taught by Buddha), Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, after making offerings to ‘Buddhas equaling the number of sand grains of the river Ganga,’ received the ‘dharani of immeasurable benefits’ from them, which He revealed in a meeting with Buddha Shakyamuni:

CHHIM BHO CHHIM BHO CHIM CHHIM BHO / AKASHA CHHIM BHO / VAKARA CHHIM BHO / AMAVARA CHHIM BHO / VARA CHHIM BHO / VACHIRA CHHIM BHO / AROGA CHHIM BHO / DHARMA CHHIM BHO / SATEVA CHHIM BHO / SATENI HALA CHHIM BHO / VIVA ROKA SHAVA CHHIM BHO / UVA SHAMA CHHIM BHO / NAYANA CHHIM BHO / PRAJÑA SAMA MONI RATNA CHHIM BHO / KSHANA CHHIM BHO / VISHEMA VARIYA CHHIM BHO / SHASI TALA MAVA CHHIM BHO / VI AH DRASO TAMA HELE / DAM VE YAM VE / CHAKRASE / CHAKRA VASILE / KSHILI PHILE KARAVA / VARA VARITE / HASERE PRARAVE / PARECHARA BHANDHANE / ARADANE / PHANARA / CHA CHI CHA CHA / HILE MILE AKHATA THAGEKHE / THAGAKHI LO / THHARE THHARE MILE MADHE / NANTE KULE MILE / ANG KU CHITABHE / ARAI GYIRE VARA GYIRE / KUTA SHAMAMALE /TONAGYE TONAGYE / TONAGULE / HURU HURU HURU / KULO STO MILE / MORITO / MIRITA / BHANDHATA / KARA KHAM REM / HURU HURU

About Mount Jiuhua

Mount Jiuhua (simplified Chinese: 九华山; traditional Chinese: 九華山; pinyin: Jǐuhuá Shān; literally “Nine Glorious Mountains”) is one of the four sacred mountains of Chinese Buddhism. It is located in Qingyang County in Anhui province and is famous for its rich landscape and ancient temples.

Many of the mountain’s shrines and temples are dedicated to Ksitigarbha, who is a bodhisattva and protector of beings in hell realms according to Mahayana Buddhist tradition. Pious Buddhists often visit Anhui to climb to Greater Tiantai peak, which is regarded as Jiuhuashan’s most important peak, although it is not the tallest.

About Kim Gyo-gak

Kim Gyo-gak (김교각, 金喬覺, 696-794) was the Ksitigarbha at Mount Jiuhua, one of the four sacred mountains of Chinese Buddhism, located in Anhui province, China.

Kim Gyo-gak was a Silla prince, who became interested in Buddhism when visiting the Tang China. He became so obsessed that he turned himself into a monk after returning to Silla. In 719, he returned to China to cultivate himself at Mount Jiuhua. He died in 794 in Mount Jiuhua, at the age of 99. The monks there believed that Ksitigarbha was reincarnated in him. Mount Jiuhua thereafter became the sacred site of Ksitigarbha and one of the four sacred mountains of Chinese Buddhism.

Art

He is the only Bodhisattva shown wearing monastic robes. He is usually holding in his right hand the alarum staff with 6 rings, representing the 6 realms. The other hand holds the wishfulfilling jewel.

 

The smaller Ksitigarbha statue (left), displayed at the Mezzanine level, is almost iconographically identical to the Ksitigarbha statue in the Ancestral Memorial Hall. It was created as a prototype for the final statue. The main difference between the two statues is that this statue has been painted in more subdued tones in pale greens and other warm colours. Other minor differences include the four-pronged khakkhara with twelve rings that He holds in His right hand and the sanskrit characters in His aureole. In the centre of the aureole is a green disc with the sanskrit letter instead of the green disc with nine smaller circles.

Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha is sometimes shown with The Ten Kings of Hell. He has a protector lion.

Development of BTRTM Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha

The Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha statue is modeled after a similar statue in Nara Museum, Japan.

This was the final design of the Memorial Hall.

It was specially hand carved by Wenlin Arts & Crafts Co Ltd, Putian, Hanjiang, China and hand painted by Shanghai You Shan Guan Decorative Design Co Ltd, led by Mr Zhang Jian.

The Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha was consecrated during the BTRTM Grand Consecration Ceremony on 17 May 2008.

The Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha image placed in the Ancestral Hall was sponsored by Mr. Goh Bak Heng, dedicated to world peace and to transfer merits to all sentient beings to be free from suffering and be rewarded with happiness.

There is also a set of 6 Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha statues often used for various ceremonies.

Ancestral Tablets

Ancestral tablets are traditional Chinese culture of remembering the dearly departed family members.

In BTRTM, these tablets have been specially and exclusive designed for our Temple by Yueqing Global Arts and Crafts Factory of Zhejiang, China. Each requires a number of hours of crafting and lacquering to achieve a quiet elegance and dignified beauty.

Sponsorship of these ancestral tablets range from $30,000 to $6,000.

BTRTM Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha Ceremonies

The worship of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha became popular after the translation of the Sutra of the Ten Cakras, which lists his qualities. In China, his festive date is the fourth day of the lunar fourth month and the pilgrimage site is Mount Jiuhua.

The temple’s monks conduct daily services for our departed sponsors. Major ceremonies are held:

Further Reading: BTRTM Nagapuspa Magazine Vol 17, pages 14 – 25; 62 – 65
Bibliography:

  1. Lokesh Chandra, Dictionary of Buddhist Iconography,International Academy of Indian Culture and Aditya Prakashan, 1999, Vol 6, pages 1725 – 1744
  2. Louis Frederic, Buddhism,Flammarion Iconographic Guides, 1995, ISBN 2-08013-558-9, page 185 – 190
  3. William Edward Soothill and Lewis Hodous, A Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 2000, ISBN 81-208-0319-1, page 208b
  4. Soka Gakkai, Dictionary of Buddhism, Motilal Banarsidass, 2002, ISBN 978-81-208-3334-0, page 140
  5. Meher McArthur, Reading Buddhist Art, An Illustrated Guide to Buddhist Signs & Symbols, Thames & Hudson,2002, pages 50 – 51
  6. Charles F Chicarelli, Buddhist Art, An Illustrated Introduction, Silkworm Books, 2004, ISBN 974-9575-54-7, pages 90 – 92
  7. Denise Patry Leidy, Shambala, The Art of Buddhism, An Introduction to its History & Meaning, 2008, pages 207, 224 – 225
  8. Sacred Buddhist Lands, Famous Chinese Mountains, Hong Kong China Tourism Press, 1996, ISBN 962-7799-39-4, pages 6 – 19
  9. Jamgön Mipham, A Garland of Jewels : The Eight Great Bodhisattvas, translated by Yeshe Gyamtso, KTD Publications, 2008, pp. 281-293.
  10. Zhiru, The Making of a Savior Bodhisattva : Dizang in Medieval China, Honolulu : University of Hawai‘i Press, 2007, p.30 and 124.

Websites:

    1. Ksitigarbha – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    2. Sutra of The Great Vows of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    3. Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva
    4. 地藏菩萨本愿经
    5. The City of 10,000 Buddhas – The Earth Store Sutra with Commentary
    6. Mount Jiuhua – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    7. Maudgalyayana – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    8. The Practice of Ksitigarbha to Avert Danger and Purify Obstacles (retrieved 13 July 2012)

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