Himalayan Art Resources

Buddhist Deity: Manjushri (Riding a Lion)

Manjushri Iconography

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Description (below)
--- Non-iconic
--- Iconic
- Sculpture
- Manjushri Lhakang, Sakya Town
- Five Manjushri of Wutaishan Mountain
- Five Forms of Tsongkapa
- Masterworks
- Confusions: Simhanada Lokeshvara
- Others...

There are forms of Manjushri both riding a lion that are narrative in origin and some that are iconographic and tantric - intended as meditational forms. Of the five forms of Manjushri representing the five terraces of Wutaishan mountain in China, one of those is riding a lion. For the Five Forms of Tsongkapa, again, one of those is riding a lion and in the appearance of Manjushri. All of the forms of Manjushri riding a lion depicted in the Manjushri Lhakang in Sakya, Tibet, are intended as meditational deities. Manjushri Riding a Lion and Lokeshvara Simhanada are sometimes confused with each other or are conflated together.

Variant Iconographic Forms:
- Holding a sword and Book
- Holding a single book
- Holding two books
- One thousand arms
- Padampa Sanggye Tradition
- Terma Traditions
- Others...

Konchog Lhundrub edited version of the Bari Gyatsa:

[6] Vadi Raja Manjushri.
[Above] a blue lion with the head looking to the right, in the middle, is a lotus, moon...Vadi Raja Manjushri, with a body colour like melted gold. The two hands are held at the heart performing the Dharma teaching gesture [and] the left holds a blue utpala with a Prajnaparamita book resting upon it. With the same ornaments and garments, seated in the lalitaraja posture. At the front left is Krodha Yama, with a body blue in colour, one face and two hands. The right is held supporting the shin of the Blessed One and the left holds a lasso. With three eyes and bared fangs, yellow hair bristling upwards, the head adorned with a garland of skulls and wearing a lower garment of tiger skin; standing in a manner looking at the face of the Lord.

[7] Maharaja Manjushri.
[Above] a lion, lotus and moon...is Manjushri with a body orange in colour, one face and two hands, seated in the lalitaraja [posture]. The right hand is extended with the palm down on the right knee, the left holds to the heart a blue utpala stem, with the petals blossoming beside the ear, the same ornaments and garments.

Jeff Watt 6-2015 [updated 11-2018]