Himalayan Art Resources

Buddhist Deity: Manjushri, Black (Krishna) Main Page

Manjushri (Three Lower Tantras)

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Description (below)
- Masterworks
- Jetari/Bari Lotsawa Tradition
- Sanggye Lingpa Tradition (Nyingma)
- Thirteen Golden Dharmas
- Name Confusions: Krishna, Krishnacharin & Kanha
- Confusions: Achala, Niladanda, Mahabala, Takkiraja
- Others...

Video: Black Manjushri

Iconographic Forms:
- Retinue Figure in Vairochana Buddha Mandala
- Bari Lotsawa Tradition: Three Variations
- Semi-peaceful/wrathful Appearance (Bari)
- Wrathful Appearance (Bari)
- Holding a Hollyhock Flower (Bari)
- Five Manjushri of Mount Wutaishan
- Revealed Treasure Traditions (Nyingma)
- Others...

There are several types of Black (Krishna) Manjushri associated with the Sarma Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. The first and possibly the earliest is Black Manjushri as a retinue deity in the mandala of Vairochana Buddha according to the Charya and Yoga Tantras and in the Paramadya Samksiptakula Tantra mandalas. In this example Manjushri is black (or depicted dark blue in colour) and peaceful in appearance.

As a singular meditational deity the practice arrives in Tibet from India with Bari Lotsawa Rinchen Drag (1040-1112 [P3731]). This form of Manjushri has two standard depictions with one later variation which has yet to appear in any artistic representations. The first of these is a seated semi-peaceful semi-wrathful form as described in the first translation below and the examples HAR #40422, #50415 and #60048. The second form appears as a standing wrathful deity understood from the examples of HAR #20853 and #10010.

Black Manjushri, Semi-peaceful & semi-wrathful:
"Lord Manjushri with a body blue-black in colour, one face, two arms. The right hand holds aloft to the sky a sword blazing with fire severing ignorance; the left, the stem of an utpala held to the heart with the One-Hundred-Thousand Verse book above; adorned with silks, jewels and bone ornaments; seated with the feet in vajra posture." (Ngagwang Kunga Tashi).

Black Manjushri Holding a Hollyhock Flower:
"Lord Manjushri, with a body black in colour, one face, two arms; the right holds aloft a sword blazing with fire and the left, the stem of a hollyhock flower to the heart; standing with the right leg bent and the left extended; with a lower garment of tiger skin; with snakes and unpleasant ornaments; three staring eyes, fangs, adorned with a mustache and orange hair; standing in the middle of a blazing fire of primordial wisdom." (Pandita Dragpa Gyaltsen).

Lineage: The Complete and Perfect Buddha, Vajrapani, Jetari, Vajrasana Senior and Junior, Bari Lotsawa, Sachen Kunga Nyingpo, (etc.) Drub Thab Kuntu Lineages, folio 538-539.

Database Search: All Images

Jeff Watt 10-2014 [updated 9-2017]