Himalayan Art Resources

Buddhist Deity: Manjushri (Popular Forms)

Manjushri (Iconic Forms)

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Description (below)
- Arapachana
- Dharma Teaching
- White (Siddhaikavira)
- Namasangiti
- Others...

- Manjushri: Three Popular Forms
- All Manjushri Videos

The most popular forms of Manjushri that are found in art are the Arapachana (white or red), Siddhaikavira (white), and Namasangiti (white or red). The principal colours for Manjushri are white, red and yellow. Starting from approximately the 11th century it became popular, based on oral transmission, to depict the Arapachana Manjushri as orange in colour.

Arapachana arises from both the Manjushri Mulakalpa and Sidhhaikavira tantras. The Namsangiti Tantra offers many different forms of Manjushri, primarily with multiple faces and arms. Although very popular since the 9th century, Namasangiti has not been popular in the past few centuries and rarely appears in art as a central figure.

Arapachana Manjushri:
"...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).

White Manjushri (Siddhaikavira):
"...from...an ocean of nectar, white and cool, with many elephants, geese and water fowl sporting and playing, calling out with sweet sounds, in the middle of that...[arises] a lotus with a stem, branches, leaves, fruit and a marvelous sweet fragrance. Above [arises] a moon disc seat with cool rays of light shining forth to the ten directions. Again [the light] collects ... and from this collection ... is Manjushri; white like the autumn moon, a boy of eight years with a youthful form, having five knots [of hair]. The right hand is in the mudra of supreme generosity. The left holds a blue lotus to the heart, blossoming at the left shoulder and marked with the Prajnaparamita book. Seated firmly with the feet in vajra posture, with the major marks and blazing with light, adorned with various jewel ornaments and wearing white silks." (Rinchen Gyaltsen, 15th century).

Namasangiti Manjushri:
[10] Dharmadhatu Vagishvara. White Dharmadhatu Vagishvara, with four white faces, eight hands, the first two in the Dharma teaching gesture. The three lower right hold a sword, arrow and vajra. The three lower left, a Prajnaparamita book, bow and bell. With the same ornaments and garments. Seated in the vajrasana [posture]. (Bari Gyatsa).

[11] Manjushri Namasangiti. Lord Manjushri, with three faces and four hands. Having a reddish tinge the body and main face are white. The first two hands hold a sword and book, the lower two an arrow and bow, with the same ornaments and garments. (Bari Gyatsa).

"Holy Manjuvajra, orange, with three faces and six hands, the main face is orange, the right face blue, left red. The first two hands embrace the self-luminous consort and the two lower right [hands] hold a sword and arrow. The two lower left hold a bow and a blue utpala [flower]." (bod brgyud nang bstan lha tshogs chen mo bzhugs so, 2001. ISBN 7-5420-0816-1).

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Jeff Watt 12-2020

(The images below are only a selection of examples from the links above).