Manjushri Main Page
Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Description (below)
- Best Examples
- Masterworks: Sculpture
- Explanation of Form
- Holding a Book
Video: The Sword & Book
Arapachana Manjushri is a meditational deity in Vajrayana Buddhism. He is generally classified as either Kriya or Charya Tantra. In terms of function Manjushri is typically categorized as a wisdom deity - meaning a meditational deity that promotes the increase of wisdom, knowledge, memory, language skills, etc. There are several different forms of Arapachana Manjushri and there are several forms of Manjushri that look like Arapachana but are not.
Arapachana as described in early texts is white in colour, but according to 12th and 13th century Kadampa and Sakyapa teachers can also be orange. Generally in Tibetan art the colour orange is not consistent between centuries and artists. The colour of the deity is often described as orange like the rising sun. The variations can range from yellow, to tangerine, to bright orange.
The White Arapachana can be either solitary in appearance or have four retinue attendant figures. The orange form of Arapachana is solitary. Older art works for both painting and sculpture depict the left hand holding a book to the heart. Later art works depict the right hand holding the stem of a blue utpala flower at the heart with the blossom at the left ear supporting a book.
An early text describing the practice and rituals of Arapachana is the Siddhaikavira Tantra.
"...Arya Manjushri with a body orange in colour, having the colour of fresh saffron, one face and two hands. The right holds aloft the sword of wisdom severing ignorance and in the left the stem of an utpala to the heart, blossoming at the ear with the Prajnaparamita book above. With the feet seated in vajra posture, having jewel ornaments and upper and lower garments of silk, the hair tied to the left in five tufts - [some] loose; having the appearance of a youth of sixteen years. A moon disc with the nature of light supports the back." (Sakya Lotsawa Kunga Sonam (1485-1533), 23rd Throne Holder of Sakya. sGrub Thabs Kun bTus, vol.2, fol.258-261. Translated into English by (c)Jetsun Kusho Chimey Luding and Jeff Watt. May 1984).
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Jeff Watt 2-2012 [updated 9-2017]
84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha: Siddhaikavīra Tantra (Siddhaikavīratantram, dpa’ bo gcig pu grub pa zhes bya ba’i rgyud kyi rgyal po chen po)