Himalayan Art Resources

Buddhist Figure: Bodhisattva Main Page

Bodhisattva Figures (General) | Eleven Figurative Forms

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Bodhisattva Description (below)
- Bodhisattva Outline Page
- Bodhisattva Full Definition
- Bodhisattva Sculptural Forms (Non-iconic)
- Bodhisattva Figure (Non-Iconic)
- Bodhisattva Figures (Unidentified Sculpture)
- Bodhisattva (Mala & Flask)
- Bodhisattva (Types)
- Eight Great Bodhisattva Main Page
- Iconic & Non-iconic Iconography Main Page
- Iconographic Tantric Forms (Bodhisattva)
- Miscellaneous Forms
- Mahayana Buddhism
- Bodhisattva (Unidentified Set)
- Bodhisattva, Standing (Comparison)
- Masterworks (Miscellaneous)
- Confusions
- Others...

Eight Great Bodhisattva:
- Akashagarbha: Womb of Space Sutra
- Avalokiteshvara: Heart Sutra, Lotus of the Good Law Sutra
- Kshitigarbha: Earth Store Sutra
- Maitreya: mentioned in the Pali Sutras as the next buddha, Mahayana Sutras
- Manjushri: Vimalakirti-nirdesha Sutra, Flower Garland Sutra, Prajnaparamita Sutras
- Nivarana-vishkhambhin
- Samantabhadra: Lotus of the Good Law Sutra, Flower Garland Sutra
- Vajrapani: Early Sutras

Other Important Bodhisattva:
- Suryaprabha (Medicine Buddha)
- Chandrprabha (Medicine Buddha)
- Others

Principal Standing Bodhisattva Forms:
Manjushri | Lokeshvara | Vajrapani | Maitreya | Unidentified Forms | Standing Sculpture Images

Seated Postures:
Relaxed Posture | Thinking Posture (Lokeshvara)

***With Himalayan art the terms bodhisattva appearance, peaceful appearance, deva appearance and sambhogakaya appearance are all synonymous and refer to both male and female peaceful figures. The term bodhisattva has two meanings, an [1] abstract Buddhist meaning and [2] a descriptive art meaning.***

Bodhisattva (Tibetan: jang chub sem pa. English: heroic aspirant to enlightenment): idealized beings in the appearance of youthful heavenly gods, generally male and richly attired in silks and jewels. They represent the principal students of the Buddha according to the Mahayana Sutras of Northern Buddhism. More specifically, any bodhisattva and the Eight Great Bodhisattvas represent - visually - the realized students of Mahayana Buddhism in Himalayan and Tibetan Art. Full definition of the term Bodhisattva

There are many bodhisattva mentioned in the various Mahayana Sutras. The Eight Great Bodhisattva are a later grouping of what are considered the most important. In the Mahayana Sutra Tradition there are several lists of eight and sixteen great bodhisattva. Following that, in the Himalayan and Tibetan tradition, the names are generally listed as found above. In the Pali Sutras only two bodhisattva are mentioned, the historical buddha with reference to his previous lives (Jatakamala), and the buddha of the coming eon, Maitreya, currently residing in the Tushita heaven. The meaning and function of the eight bodhisattva as depicted in Himalayan art is to represent the Mahayana Sutras and teachings along with the congregation of enlightened students of the Buddha.

The female deity Tara, while not a true bodhisattva, does have bodhisattva appearance when depicted in her peaceful forms. When Tara is depicted in a standing posture she is very similar to the other bodhisattvas discussed above. Tara in Standing Posture

Jeff Watt 7-2003