| ISO

Temple Third Samantabhadra Bodhisattva

On the third level of the temple, you will find an impressive display of Buddhist culture artifacts in the Nagapuspa Buddhist Culture Museum. Many of these rare and invaluable artifacts are placed in environmental and security controlled cabinets to ensure the preservation of the important treasures. BTRTS has also received gifts of Buddhist antiques from various donors and corporations.
Behind is another Sutra Chamber with an emaculate Bodhisattva Samantabhadra giving blessings to devotees progressing along the Path. This also houses the 10 Raksasis, who guard the Samantabhadra Bodhisattva.
At the rear chamber of this hall, the sacred Relics of the Buddha are on display for visitors and devotees to view and venerate.
Bodhisattva Samantabhadra in BTRTM

The Samantabhadra Bodhisattva statue is modeled after a similar Tang period statue. The Samantabhadra Bodhisattva is in the Padmasana (seated lotus) posture, on the lotus pedestal, above the elephant throne. The elephant throne consists of 4 elephants, with a Heavenly King (lokapala) atop each elephant with myriad of smaller elephants at the lowest tier.

He has 20 arms holding various Buddhist implements in each hand. The principle right hand holds the varja and the left hand a lotus. A round aureole radiates behind his body and head. He has a high crown adorned with the 5 Directions Buddhas.
About Bodhisattva Samantabhadra
Samantabhadra (Sanskrit: समन्तभद्र; Universal Worthy, Universal Virtue; Chinese: 普賢菩薩, Puxian, Pu Hsien; Japanese: 普賢菩薩, Fugen-bosatsu; Tibetan: Kun-tu Bzang-po; ), is a Bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism associated with Buddhist practice and meditation.

Together with Shakyamuni Buddha and fellow Bodhisattva Manjusri, he forms the Shakyamuni Trinity in Buddhism, i.e. Bodhisattva Samantabhadra in charge of all Samadhi and Bodhisattva Manjusri taking charge of Prajna; they compliment one another, and is not to be missed out in the practice of the Way to the Truth.

He is the patron of the Lotus Sūtra and, according to the Avataṃsaka Sūtra, made the ten great vows which are the basis of a bodhisattva.

In China, his festive date is the 21st day of the lunar 2nd month and the pilgrimage site is Mount Emei, Sichuan.
In Japan, this bodhisattva is often venerated by the Tendai and Shingon sects, and as the protector of the Lotus Sūtra by the Nichiren sect. In Japan, he is worshipped as the “Prolonger of Life”, with 20 arms on 4 white elephants or a 4 headed elephant.

Birth
According to the Samantabhadra Meditation Sūtra (Chinese: 觀普賢菩薩行法經; pinyin: Guān Pǔxián Púsà Xíngfǎ Jīng), translated into Chinese during Song Dynasty by Dharma-mita, Bodhisattva Samantabhadra was born in the:

    “Ananda! The Bodhisattva Universal Worthy was born in the Eastern Land of Pure Wonder. I have already described the features of his country in detail in the Dharma Flower Sutra.”

The Samantabhadra Meditation Sūtra describes him as follows:

    “The Bodhisattva Universal Worthy is boundless in the size of his body, boundless in the sound of his voice, and boundless in the form of his image. Desiring to come to this world, he makes use of his sovereign psychic powers and compresses his stature to a smaller size. Because the people in Jambudvipa have the Three Weighty Obstacles, by the power of his wisdom he appears by transformation as mounted on a white elephant. The elephant has six tusks, and seven limbs, (supports its body on the ground?). Under its seven limbs, seven lotus flowers grow.

    The elephant is white as snow, the most brilliant of all shades of white, so pure that even crystal and the Himalaya Mountains cannot compare with it. The body of the elephant is four hundred and fifty yojanas in length and four hundred yojanas in height. At the tip of the six tusks rest six bathing pools. In each bathing pool grow fourteen lotus flowers as large as the pools. The flowers bloom majestically, like the king of celestial trees.

    On each of these flowers sits a jade maiden whose countenance is red as crimson and whose radiance surpasses that of a goddess. In the hand of that maiden five harps appear by transformation, each of them with five hundred musical instruments as its accompaniment.

    Five hundred birds fly up, including ducks, wild geese, and mandarin ducks, in color like precious gems, and settle among flowers and branches.

    On the elephant’s trunk there is a flower with a stalk the color of a red pearl. Its blossom is golden, its shape is still a bud that has not yet blossomed. After witnessing this event, if a person further repents of his offenses, and contemplates the Great Vehicle attentively, with entire devotion, and ponders it in his mind without cease, he will be able to see the flower spontaneously bloom, and radiate with a golden color. The blossom of the lotus flower is made of kimsuka gems en laid with wonderful, pure Mani jewels; the stamens are made of diamond.

    A transformation Buddha appears, sitting on the petals of the lotus flower with a host of Bodhisattvas sitting on the stamens. From the eyebrows of the transformation Buddha a ray of light appears and enters the elephant’s trunk.

    This ray, the color of a red lotus flower, emanates from the elephant’s trunk and enters its eyes; the ray then shines from the elephant’s eyes and enters its ears; it then comes from the elephant’s ears, illuminates its head, and changes into a golden platform.

    On the elephant’s head there are three transformed attendants: one holds a golden wheel, another a jewel, and another a vajra pestle. When the attendant raises the pestle and points it at the elephant, the latter immediately walks (a few steps?).

    The elephant does not tread on the ground but hovers in the air, seven feet above the earth, yet the elephant leaves its footprints on the ground. The footprints are altogether perfect, marking the wheel’s hub with a thousand spokes. From each hallmark of the wheel’s hub grows a great lotus flower, upon which an elephant appears by transformation.

    This elephant also has seven legs and walks after the great elephant. Every time the transformed elephant raises and brings down its legs, seven thousand elephants appear, all following the great elephant as its retinue.

    On the elephant’s trunk, in hue like a red lotus flower, sits a transformed Buddha who emits a ray from his eyebrows. This ray of light, in similar fashion, enters the elephant’s trunk. The ray emerges from the elephant’s trunk and enters its eyes; the ray then shines from the elephant’s eyes and again enters its ears; it then comes from the elephant’s ears and reaches its head. Gradually rising to the elephant’s back, the ray is transformed into a golden saddle which is adorned with the Seven Precious Gems.

    On the four sides of the saddle are the pillars made of the Seven Precious Gems, which are decorated with precious objects, forming a jeweled pedestal. On this pedestal there is a lotus flower stamen bearing the Seven Precious Gems, and that stamen is also composed of a hundred jewels. The blossom of that lotus flower is made of a great Mani-jewel.

    On the top there is a Bodhisattva, called Universal Worthy, who sits cross-legged, whose body, pure as a white jewel, radiates fifty rays of fifty different colours forming a brightness around his head. From the pores of his body he emits rays of light and innumerable transformed Buddhas are at the ends of the rays accompanied by the transformed Bodhisattvas as their retinue.

    The elephant walks quietly and slowly and goes before the follower of the Great Vehicle, raining large jewelled lotus flowers. When this elephant opens its mouth, the precious daughters dwelling in the bathing pools on the elephants tusks, play music whose sound is mystic and extols the Way of One Reality in the Great Vehicle.”

Dharma
In the Avataṃsaka (Flower Ornament) Sutra, chapter 40, the Gandhavyuha Sutra, the student Sudhana meets Bodhisattva Samantabhadra, who teaches him that wisdom only exists for the sake of putting it into practice; that it is only good insofar as it benefits all living beings. He explains the ten great vows in the path to Buddhahood:

    “Those wishing to achieve these merits and virtues should cultivate ten vast and great practices and vows. What are these ten?

    First, Pay homage and respect to all Buddhas.

    Second, Praise the Thus Come Ones.

    Third, Make abundant offerings.

    Fourth, Repent misdeeds and evil karma.

    Fifth, Rejoice at others’ merits and virtues.

    Sixth, Request the Buddhas to turn the Dharma wheel.

    Seventh, Request the Buddhas to remain in the world.

    Eigth, Follow the teachings of the Buddhas at all times.

    Ninth, Accommodate and benefit all living beings.

    Tenth, Transfer all merits and virtues universally.”

The ten vows have become a common practice in East Asian Buddhism, particularly the tenth vow, with many Buddhists traditionally dedicating their merit and good works to all beings during Buddhist liturgies.

In the Saddharma Pundarika (Wonderful Dharma Lotus) Sutra, chapter 28, The Encouragement of Universal Worthy Bodhisattva, he vows to protect the Lotus Sutra and its devotees, as follows:

“Universal Worthy Bodhisattva then said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, in the last five hundred years, in the turbid, evil world, if there are those who receive and uphold this Sutra, I shall protect them, keep them from harm, and cause them to be peaceful and secure. No being will be able to take advantage of them, be it a demon, a demon son, a demon daughter, a demon subject, or one possessed by a demon, a yaksha, rakshasa, kumbhanda, pishacha, kritya, putana, vetala, or any tormentor of human beings none shall get at them.

“If there is a person reading or reciting this Sutra, whether walking or standing, I will at that time mount my royal white elephant with six tusks and together with a host of Great Bodhisattvas go to that place, manifest my body, make offerings, protect him, and comfort his mind, and also make offerings to the Dharma Flower Sutra.

“Should a person be sitting and pondering over this Sutra, I will at that time again mount my royal white elephant and manifest before him. If he should forget a line or a verse of the Dharma Flower Sutra, I will teach it to him, and read and recite it with him until he becomes fluent. Upon seeing me, the one who receives, upholds, reads, and recites the Dharma Flower Sutra will rejoice greatly and increase his vigor. Having seen me, he will immediately obtain samadhis and dharanis a dharani by the name of Revolution, a dharani of a hundred thousand myriad kotis of revolutions, and a dharani of the skill-in-means of Dharma sounds. He shall obtain dharanis such as these.

“World Honored One, if in the last five hundred years, in the turbid evil world, there is a Bhikshu, Bhikshuni, Upasaka, or Upasika, who seeks, upholds, reads, recites, writes out, or wishes to cultivate the Dharma Flower Sutra, he or she should be single-minded and vigorous for twenty-one days. At the end of twenty-one days I will mount my white elephant with six tusks, and surrounded by uncountable Bodhisattvas, I will appear before that person in a body all living beings delight in seeing, and speak the Dharma for him, instructing, benefiting, and delighting him. I shall further give him a dharani mantra. Once he obtains the dharani mantra, no nonhuman will be able to hurt him, nor will he be confused by women. I will also personally protect this person forever. I only pray the World Honored One will allow me to speak this dharani mantra.

Then, in the presence of the Buddha, he spoke this mantra, saying:

E tan di. Tan tuo po di. Tan tuo po di. Tan tuo jiu she li. Tan tuo xiu tuo li. Xiu tuo li. Xiu tuo luo po di. Fo tuo bo shan mi. Sa pe tuo luo ni e po duo ni. Sa po po sa e po duo ni. Xiu e po duo ni. Seng qie po li cha ni.

Seng qie nie qie tuo ni. E seng chi. Seng qie po qie di. Di li e duo seng qie duo liao. E luo di po luo di. Sa po seng qie di san mo di qie ian di. Sa pe da mo xiu bo li cha di. Sa pe sa tuo lou tuo qiao she liao e na qie di. Xin e pi ji li di di.

“World Honored One, if there is a Bodhisattva who hears this dharani, you should know that it is through the power of the spiritual penetrations of Universal Worthy Bodhisattva. If the Dharma Flower Sutra is circulating through Jambudvipa, and if a person receives and upholds it, he should bring forth this thought, ‘This is all through the power of the awesome spirit of Universal Worthy Bodhisattva.’

“If a person receives, upholds, reads, and recites it, properly recollects it, explains its doctrines, and cultivates according to its teachings, you should know that he is practicing the conduct of Universal Worthy. He has planted deep good roots in the presence of boundless, uncountable Buddhas. His head has been rubbed by the hands of the Thus Come Ones.

“If a person merely writes out the Sutra, at the end of his life, he will be born in the Trayastrimsha Heaven. At that time eighty-four thousand heavenly women will welcome him with all kinds of music. He shall immediately don a cap made of seven treasures and enjoy himself among the goddesses. How much the more will this be the case for one who receives, upholds, reads, and recites it, properly recollects it, explains its doctrines, and cultivates according to its teachings! If a person receives, upholds, reads, recites, and explains its doctrines, at the end of his life a thousand Buddhas will extend their hands toward him, so that he need not fear falling into the evil destinies. He will immediately be born in the Tushita Heaven in the presence of Maitreya Bodhisattva. Maitreya Bodhisattva has thirty-two marks and is surrounded by a host of great Bodhisattvas and a retinue of hundreds of thousands of myriads of kotis of goddesses. Being born therein, he shall obtain merit and virtue and benefits such as these.

“Therefore, one with wisdom should single-mindedly write it out himself, employ others to write it out, receive, uphold, read, recite, and properly recollect it and cultivate in accord with its teachings.

“World Honored One, I now protect this Sutra with my spiritual powers. After the passing of the Thus Come One, I shall propagate it widely in Jambudvipa, so that it will never be cut off.”

Mantra
E tan di. Tan tuo po di. Tan tuo po di. Tan tuo jiu she li. Tan tuo xiu tuo li. Xiu tuo li. Xiu tuo luo po di. Fo tuo bo shan mi. Sa pe tuo luo ni e po duo ni. Sa po po sa e po duo ni. Xiu e po duo ni. Seng qie po li cha ni.

Seng qie nie qie tuo ni. E seng chi. Seng qie po qie di. Di li e duo seng qie duo liao. E luo di po luo di. Sa po seng qie di san mo di qie ian di. Sa pe da mo xiu bo li cha di. Sa pe sa tuo lou tuo qiao she liao e na qie di. Xin e pi ji li di di.

Art
Shown sitting on lotus placed over an elephant. (Samantabhadra Bodhisattva is on the right of Avatamsaka Trinity)

Sometimes shown in various mandalas as one of eight or sixteen Bodhisattvas, often yellow in colour.

About Mount Emei
Mount Emei (Chinese: 峨嵋山; pinyin: Éméi Shān; Wade–Giles: O2-mei2 Shan1, pronounced [ɤ̌měɪ̯ ʂán]) is a mountain in Sichuan province, China. Mount Emei is often written as 峨眉山 and occasionally 峩嵋山 or 峩眉山 but all three are translated as Mount Emei or Mount Emeishan: the word 峨 can mean “high” or “lofty”, but the mountain’s name is merely a toponym that carries no additional meaning. Mount Emei is one of the Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains of China, and is traditionally regarded as the bodhimaṇḍa, or place of enlightenment, of the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra.

This is the location of the first Buddhist temple built in China in the 1st century CE. The site has seventy-six Buddhist monasteries of the Ming and Qing period, most of them located near the mountain top. The monasteries demonstrate a flexible architectural style that adapts to the landscape.

Development of BTRTM Bodhisattva Samantabhadra
The Samantabhadra Bodhisattva image was handcrafted by China Chin Ting Enterprise Co Ltd, Fuzhou, China and handpainted by Shanghai You Shan Guan Decorate Design Co Ltd.

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

Bibliography:

  1. Lokesh Chandra, Dictionary of Buddhist Iconography, International Academy of Indian Culture and Aditya Prakashan, 1999, Vol 11 pages 3077 – 3095, Vol 2 pages 466 – 468
  2. Louis Frederic, Buddhism, Flammarion Iconographic Guides, 1995, ISBN 2-08013-558-9, page 197 – 198
  3. William Edward Soothill and Lewis Hodous, A Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 2000, ISBN 81-208-0319-1, page 69b
  4. Soka Gakkai, Dictionary of Buddhism, Motilal Banarsidass, 2002, ISBN 978-81-208-3334-0, page 561, 792
  5. Meher McArthur, Reading Buddhist Art, An Illustrated Guide to Buddhist Signs & Symbols, Thames & Hudson,2002, pages 54 – 55
  6. Charles F Chicarelli, Buddhist Art, An Illustrated Introduction, Silkworm Books, 2004, ISBN 974-9575-54-7, pages 267
  7. Denise Patry Leidy, Shambala, The Art of Buddhism, An Introduction to its History & Meaning, 2008, pages 289
  8. Sacred Buddhist Lands, Famous Chinese Mountains, Hong Kong China Tourism Press, 1996, ISBN 962-7799-39-4, pages 52 – 65

Websites:

  1. Samantabhadra – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  2. Samantabhadra Meditation Sutra – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  3. Lotus Sutra – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  4. Lotus Sutra – Chapter 28
  5. Wonderful Dharma Lotus Sutra
  6. AVATAMSAKA SUTRA, chapter 40 – On Entering the Inconceivable state of Liberation through the Practices and Vows of the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra[1]
  7. Samantabhadra Contemplation Sutra
  8. The Sutra of Meditation on The Bodhisattva Universal Virtue
  9. Mount Emei – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Back to top