Manjusri - the Buddhist angel of wisdom / awareness development - references, teachings, orientation

topic posted Sat, May 17, 2008 - 6:07 PM by  K

I just posted the following event to tribes centered on Buddhist teachings, meditation practice and so forth.
It fits the definition of this tribe. Perhaps it will be helpful.
Best, K T

Manjusri – Bodhisattva / Angel of Wisdom Intro Remarks/ Resources / Empowerment Seattle 8 June 2008
Summary : One of the central Buddhist mantra ( Sanskrit recitation – deity yoga ) practices is Manjusri, the Great Bodhisattva or Angel of Wisdom. Here the practice is introduced. Significant and diverse resources are referenced. Also, there will be a Manjusri empowerment in Seattle 8 June 2008 at Sakya Monastery ( ).

Keywords : Mahayana Buddhist deities and practice; great Being of Wisdom ( Mahasattva ) Manjusri, tantric empowerment and mantra discipline; practical usage of mantra for developing consciousness and diagnostics and dialectical skill; HH the Dalai Lama teaching concerning Manjusri; list of Buddhist resources for Manjusri practice.

“Instead of dirt and poison, we have rather chosen to fill our hives with honey and wax, thus furnishing mankind with the two noblest things which are sweetness and light.”
Jonathan Swift

“Know this : whatever the presenting problems we face, the real and deeper issues are more a matter of consciousness, whether of ourselves or others. It’s all arising in the mind, so free your mind, help others do the same, and go from there. Mantra will really really help you in this. Don’t forget this essential practice!”

Namo bodhisattva mahasattva arya Manjusri jnanasattva pujayamai saranam gacchami.
“To the great compassionate angle of universal service, noble Manjusri Wisdom Being, I pay homage, make offerings, and go for refuge.”

The practice of Great Bodhisattva Manjusri is one of the original and central teachings of Guru Sakyamuni Buddha, and is commonly practiced throughout Asia and the world. It is practiced in order to develop mental clarity, penetrating insight ( Sanksrit prajna ) and surpassingly transcendent mystic wisdom ( Sanskrit jnana ).

The practice begins with the basic vows of Buddhist ethics ( Ten Precepts ) and Universal Service ( e.g. Mahayana Buddhist Vows see ). These vows and the basic mantra ( Sanskrit recitation and visualization ) practice are common to many Buddhist cultures and lineages from Nepal through Tibet, China, Japan, and now to English speaking practitioners throughout the world. The basic practice is held in common by all.

Thus, though I here mainly make use of Indo-Tibetan derived sources which focus mainly on the esoteric teaching, the main point is that these materials are in fact universal to all the Mahayana schools, such as Zen and Ch’an Buddhism, Pure Land practice and so forth.

Thus, when a Mahayana transmission for Manjusri is given ( whether at Sakya Monastery in Seattle in early June or at some other place and time ), the point is not to identify with the outer cultural context, but to access the inner meaning and practice, which again serves all Mahayana practitioners, schools, and purposes.

There are many forms and practices of Manjusri, and the associated deities Yamantaka ( Wrathful Manjusri ) and Sarasvati ( the Hindu-Buddhist consort of Manjusri ). Here we will not focus on the restricted or very esoteric aspects and practices, but on the basics of deity yoga and why this deity yoga of Manjusri is so deeply meaningful and astonishingly useful.

Simply put, the basic mantra recitation and visualization of Manjusri is a classical and primary Buddhist practice for developing inner or “spiritual wisdom”. . . AND . . . it is phenomenally important as an example of the kind of meditation practice that helps us in areas where we always need help.

Why? Think about this: many people have to spend years in school, to develop professional skills such as in technology, medicine, law, education, management and public administration. Most Buddhists and Hindus have for millennia been practicing mantras to sharpen their minds and thus to become more effective in their professional or communication skills as well as to develop competence in sacred texts.

In other words, the purpose of this practice is not only for ultimate benefit, not only for moksha or liberation from the cycle of unfree existences, but also and very much to develop dialectical and rhetorical skills, diagnostic skills, psychological skills and so forth to become effective in the world.

The practice of Sanskrit recitation, of reciting phrases and invocations is very general purpose, but in particular it is a direct path to sharpening and directing the mind. This is represented in particular by the Sword Of Manjusri, which in the iconography he swings not in anger but to cut through difficult conceptual issues and problems.

We all have inner difficulties and challenges, in our minds, in our relationships, in our work and so forth. Directly working with just this problem is one of the primary goals and teachings of Buddhism for twenty five centuries. Buddhist practice can be defined as developing Wisdom, Compassion, and Power, mainly on the inner spiritual level. The protector and guide of the Wisdom lineage is Manjusri.

A very young student such as in grade school can benefit greatly from Manjusri practice. So can someone who already has a professional degree and has tough technical issues to address. In our time all areas of life become increasingly complex, and require more and more diagnostic approaches. So the question is not whether one should take up a formal method of consciousness development, but which kind.

Manjusri deity yoga is but one example of formal techniques in mantra and consciousness development. If one were to study or practice medicine or psychology, it would perhaps be more typical for a Buddhist to practice Medicine Buddha. If one worked with the arts of fine arts of painting or poetry or music, then the more closely associated Buddhist wisdom deity is the Goddess Sarasvati ( consort to Manjusri ).

If a person worked in police or military professions or in martial arts, then the ferocious practice of Manjusri Yamantaka would definitely be indicated as a specialized need. The empowerment for Yamantaka, the esoteric wrathful wisdom practice is now widespread here in the West. I have thirty three Yamantaka authorization/ empowerments in the Old School ( Tibetan Nyingma ) derived Vajrakilaya transmissions and so forth, plus two grand initiations of Yamantaka specific to the Sakya linage, at Sakya Monastery.

In my personal experience, mantra practice is safe and effective, even and especially where there are real challenges both outer and inner. I rely on mantra practice as a primary yoga, and have completed over ten thousand hours of Buddhist mantra recitation. My only regret in this regard is that in the same interval I could have easily completed twenty thousand hours.

Mantra and Buddhist mantra practice in particular clear away a lot of mental debris and hone awareness to a powerful capability in dealing with ALL kinds of situations. And of course the primary purpose of all Mahayana mantra practice, which is opening up and liberating the mind into a vast sky –like state, is really wonderful to experience, even in part. This actually happens over time, and there are sudden glimpses of “realization”.

As a spiritual discipline or consciousness training technique, Buddhist mantra works as part of a system, an ethical teaching and textual tradition, a psychology and a culture, a wisdom culture. No one can just “do the mantra practice” and ignore all the other primary aspects of the method. And yet, becoming established in this kind of practice is now remarkably simple and straightforward, given all the vast Buddhist resources now available in books, web sites, teaching centers and so forth. This is particularly true throughout the American West Coast, and in major cities throughout the modern democratic countries not subject to the dark speech of Mordor.

So the real purpose here only begins with a basic event announcement for one transmission of Manjusri by one very very worthwhile teacher, His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Sakya Rinpoche. He is a very important and remarkably generous Buddhist guru, and I have taken major empowerments from him as far back as 1980 and as recently as this year. I recommend him to all who are worthy. Please approach him with humility and respect.

More broadly, the goal here is to make known these kinds of resources, for people in this locale and in many places. For completeness and as an example to help people in the Seattle area, here is the event announcement ( not that I in any way represent Sakya Monastery or His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Sakya Rinpoche ). From :

[ begin announcement ]

Offered by H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya
Sunday, June 8
Time: 10:00 - 11:00 am
Location: Shrine Room
Suggested Contribution: $30 Public, $25 Members
Translator: Dr. Jeff Schoening
Manjushri is the Bodhisattva of Discriminating Insight. He holds the flaming sword for cutting through the fog of ignorance in one hand and the text of the Perfection of Wisdom in the other. Many lamas of the Sakya Khon lineage are regarded as emanations of Manjushri.
His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Sakya, head lama of Sakya Monastery, was born in Tibet in 1929. He continues the great Sakya lineage which began with Khon Konchok Gyalpo (1034—1102). He received teachings of the unbroken Khon lineage, the Sakya Vajrakilaya, the Hevajra and the complete Lamdre Tsogshe, from his father, H.H. Trichen Ngawang Thutop Wangchul, the last Sakya throne holder in Tibet. He also studied with many other great Buddhist teachers, including Dzongsar Khyentse Chökyi and Dingo Khyentse Robsal Dawa.
In 1960, H.H. J.D. Sakya was invited to work on a University of Washington research project on Tibetan civilization which was sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation. At the request of students, he co-founded with H.E. Dezhung Rinpoche Sakya Tegchen Choling, a center for the study of Tibetan Buddhism and culture. In 1984, the center became the Sakya Monastery of Tibetan Buddhism.
REQUIREMENT: During the 24 hours after the empowerment, one must not eat any meat, eggs, garlic, or consume alcohol. One must also be celibate during those hours.”
[ end announcement ]

The Sakya lineage is renowned for vast and profound scholarship, just like His Holiness the Dalai Lama. You have probably heard that HH the Dalai Lama is deluged with honorary doctoral degrees, including another just a few weeks back from the University of Washington. Well, as a very young man in pre Communist free Tibet, his oral examination and defense took three days, with a large number of senior gurus and scholars in attendance. And they were not there to go easy on him, but to be rigorous and demanding.

To help establish some context and background for the empowerment, here is a teaching by HH the Dalai Lama on Manjusri practice:

This includes both theoretical background and practical teaching and is remarkably clear. About halfway down the fourth page ( manjushri_4.shtml ) there is a description of Manjusri empowerment and practice. A very important teaching on the Dvadasa Nidana ( Twelve Links of Interdependent Origination is given on the first page of this transcript, at

The above teaching and transmission were given by H the Dalai Lama at the request of Venerable Master Sheng-Yen, a Chinese Zen ( Ch’an ) master. Together they shared a dialogue on Mahayana Buddhist practice, which is of course equally important to the Tibetans and the Chinese.

A three day doctoral degree defense such as that made by HH the Dalai Lama requires extraordinary focus and mental energy. You can bet that before any formal debate, a Buddhist guru will typically work on their Manjusri practice ( or something equivalent ) as essential preparation.

Now similarly, in our own lives as westerners, even a single day technical interview is a real challenge, and I speak from personal experience. A mere three hour technical “drill down” is very demanding when you have to write a lot of whiteboard stuff down flawlessly and very very very quickly for an all or nothing mark from a set of experienced professionals. I just succeeded in several of these sudden death exams myself. In that sense, being a Buddhist scholar and being a systems analyst are somewhat parallel. ( I do a little of both, being an individually trained and licensed vajrayana Buddhist spiritual doctor. )

In both cases, what really helps ( me ) most is doing mantra. Technical training and examination preparation are indispensible, but it is in fact the mantra practice of many many years that I rely upon as the primary means of engaging technical challenges with my mind. I never take coffee, and I use no crutch drugs or psychiatric drugs, unlike basically most of you.

There is no stimulant or prescription drug that can possibly begin help your mind in the way that Sanskrit wisdom mantras can help ( although these may be temporarily helpful ). And we all are facing increasing challenges these days. I sometimes feel bad that many people just don’t get the central importance of mantra yoga, but then again it is for me a major personal competitive advantage.
We need to each develop our own consciousness as much as we can to handle current and upcoming challenges. Life is very changeable, isn’t it? “Readiness is all.” So, you are here given a real opportunity to engage this most practical kind of yoga. And I again fulfill my formal vows ( Sanskrit: vrata, samaya ) of service and teaching.

In the long term, the real purpose is not merely personal benefit, although personal responsibility and ( therefore ) self-development remain the primary focus in Buddhist practice, whether one is rich or poor, male or female, or a citizen of this country or that.

Right now, traditionally Buddhist lands and culture are in grave trouble and serious jeopardy. I have in mind Tibet, and China, North Korea and Burma ( “Myanmar” ), all of which are controlled by totalitarian military regimes. There has been tremendous suffering – even genocide -- in Cambodia and Viet Nam as well, as a good many of you will remember.

Fro ma Buddhist standpoint, the fundamental issues here are those of freedom and responsibility and co-operation for the greater good based on really understanding the law of cause and effect. Not everybody gets that, and right now in particular the totalitarian regime in Burma is blocking the import of desperately needed food, medicine, shelter, and skilled help from France, the United States, and so forth. So the food and the help are there, but the military forces block everyone from even entering the ravaged areas where so many are sick and hungry.

There will always be social problems and disagreements and the threat of force. The point is that no government can legitimately prevent people from receiving basic humanitarian assistance. This is a selfishness and a complete lack of wisdom with extraordinary repercussions. Dealing with intransigent and antisocial and extremely dangerous individuals and groups such as the illegal military regime in Burma requires extraordinary wisdom and wel l developed strategy. And very powerful means of persuasion. So do the very difficult situations in Tibet and China.

So my hope, in doing this outreach and Mahayana teaching work, is to honor those who help, to underscore the necessity of a universal humanitarian outlook free of dogma, and to dedicate the merit of sharing this teaching towards the direct unhindered help of the desperately suffering people in Burma. Know this : whatever the presenting problems we face, the real and deeper issues are more a matter of consciousness. This is clearly demonstrated in the current human rights disaster of Burma: it is not the ocean storm but the military regime that is the real issue.

Buddhist mantra yoga does not “solve” all issues. It is not a substitute for food or clean water. It is remarkably useful in a time of personal or physical crisis, and when sufficiently matured in one’s mind, can keep a person on track to deal with the most severe kind of crisis. For oneself or for others. It’s really valuable for every first responder and every person facing acute distress and trauma.

Another general characteristic of Buddhist mantra discipline is that it can open up and mature psychic capabilities, and also ward off psychological or psychic attacks. There is a more wrathful form of Manjusri ( not necessarily authorized through any one basic Manjusri empowerment ) called Black Manjusri. It is specific to reversing sorcery and black magic.
I have received the Black Manjusri empowerment twice in the Sakya lineage, and the mantra has been openly published. It is:

So this is broadcast to establish an affinity in the minds of the general public, and as a specifically directed sharp response to the military dictator Than Shwe of Burma.
From the Digital Freedom Network ( )
“Than Shwe, dictator of Burma and leader of the country's authoritarian military junta, seized power in 1988 after military forces killed 3,000 pro-democracy student demonstrators. Shwe is an unassuming dictator in some senses; his countrymen know little about him and he is not an obviously visible presence throughout the country. He rules by decree, which his junta and military forces carry out, but maintains a low profile.”

So Than Shwe, this Black Manjusri mantra instance and everywhere it is propagated is for you, Than Shwe. As it is said, “Pardon me thou bleeding earth, that I am meek and gentle with these butchers.”
With this I make a rare request, and in public, to the Protectors of the Law ,the dharmapalas : Do Your Duty! Remove the obstacles to freedom and health and democracy in Burma. Now Is The Time. Vajrasamaya! Do It!

Please keep in mind that as a remarkably practical set of inner disciplines, the Buddhist teaching works the exact opposite of Primitive Christianity. Buddhists believe in testable doctrine and humanitarian law and the situation ethics of scalable response, while Jesus of Nazareth was a faith healer and an outright pacifist who rejected legal forums.

In Buddhist practice one becomes the source of help to others, not just someone who stays at the level of praying for this or that from some transcendent other. That’s why there are a basically infinite number of Buddhist techniques for awareness development, compassionate service ( such as medicine ), for yoga, and for warriorship ( kung fu, wrathful protector practices ). It also means that as a formal discipline, the actual practice is what really matters, not mere affiliation hope and faith. I would go so far as to say that the only real “Buddhist faith” is the actual practice itself.

On in inner level, many or most Buddhist practices and yogas are connected to mantra recitation, including the inner practices of Buddhist kung fu at the venerable Shao Lin Monastery. Conservatively speaking, over fifty million to seventy million Buddhists worldwide recite mantras that are directly derived from classical Buddhist India. Many more Hindus - perhaps in the tens of millions - also recite mantra as central or primary spiritual discipline.

Given that the Hindu-Buddhist cultural complex is almost unmatched in the depth and richness and power of inner sciences, it is clear that these people know what they are doing, and maybe there is much more we can learn from such wisdom culture. After almost three decades of direct investigation, I feel I have made a good and useful start on the subject. I hope some of you will be inspired to go forward in such a way, and that you get good results. The door is open, if you so choose.

There are many paths to wisdom and higher consciousness. No Buddhist would ever claim that any one practice or teaching is “best for all”, or claim that anyone will get a specific result with this or that method, or that a certain kind of yoga is categorically more effective in general than some other. That would be more a matter of foolish religious dogma, not the actual practice of inner discipline.

What I commit to here is that many of you do indeed have real opportunities to engage classical Mahayana Buddhist practice, specifically the core practices of mantra yoga, and that if you try this for half an hour or so a day, after one year you can definitely sense whether there is some real benefit worth pursuing further. In one year at this rate it should be possible to complete 1,000,000 recitations of the basic Manjusri mantra OM A RA PA CA NA DHI. That is point at which you will have completed the basic round of practice for a short mantra such as that of Manjusri.

Now, if you continue with self-defeating activities like alcohol and smoking and so forth, or indulge in many cycles of negative thinking, this will really hurt and even nullify this kind of practice. Again, it is not about religious faith in some wholly other divine angel, but in our own inner consciousness and human potential and going forward and upwards with that. Swami Nithyananda of the Life Bliss Foundation ( ) puts it this way :

“Meditation is nothing to do with religion. . . When I started seeking, I discovered extraordinary powers are not miracles or magic. It is reproducible science. .When you calm down, when you bring your thoughts per second down, naturally, you will see the truth very clearly. . .It is an appointment to yourself.”

From ( which retains copyright ):
Supreme enlightened form of all the buddhas and their heirs,
Throughout the whole of space and time,
Powerful lord of speech and embodiment of wisdom, precious Manjughosha,
Remain forever upon the lotus in the centre of my heart. . .
With the vibrant splendour of the orange sun rising in the sky,
Your youthful form brings to my heart a delight beyond compare.
Adorned with divine garments of silk and with jewels and flowers,
You sit cross-legged, with your long hair tied up in five main knots.

With wisdom’s sword that blazes with the light of intelligence,
You subdue the maras and cut the darkness of our ignorance.
With the fresh and lovely utpala flower clasped in your hand,
You show the mudra of generosity, and grant our every wish.

In the very instant we think upon your perfect form, O precious one,
All the darkness of samsara and deluded perception is at an end,
And you grant us the light with which to perceive the genuine path,
As if the sun’s glorious radiance had been brought into our minds!

‘Gentle Splendour,’ Manjushri, embodiment of wisdom and intelligence,
Respectfully I offer you this seat upon the lotus of my heart,
And I invoke your wisdom mind, O protector,
Through the sovereign of all awareness-mantras.

Swiftly set ablaze a great fire of wisdom within my heart,
A powerful intelligence discerning words and meaning,
Supremely keen, swift, utterly profound and expansive,
Illuminating all, like the mandalas of the sun and moon.

Grant me too the confidence of eloquence,
That is unhesitating, entirely unassailable,
Unhindered, constant, never dissipating—
A vajra-like fearlessness that is indestructible.

Grant me the great treasure of infallible memory,
Which is as broad and all-encompassing as space,
And is entirely unerring, so that never will I forget
Any aspect whatsoever of the words or of the meaning. . .

May I perfect the spheres of study, reflection and meditation,
Shine bright the lights of explanation, debate and composition,
And possess humility, calm, altruism, kindhearted love and faith,
The most beautiful and perfect qualities, as boundless as the ocean.

Through the power of this, may I accomplish vast deeds
To benefit the teachings of the victorious buddhas,
And always delight and be cared for by Manjushri,
Spontaneously accomplishing my own and others’ welfare!

Manjusri Visualization
( from )
“Visualize that, through the nectar blessing of Bodhisattva Manjusri, all sentient beings in the whole Dharmadhatu have returned to the original purity; they all transform and merge into a boundless sky-blue light. Bodhisattva Manjusri, having thus purified all sentient beings, also transforms and merges into this light of original purity. The whole Dharmadhatu becomes a limitless and indiscriminative Oneness.

“In this vast expanse of blue brilliance, suddenly there appears a karma vajra. Above the karma vajra, there appears a magnificent Dharma throne supported by eight snow-lions. Then above the throne there appears, one after the other and one above the other, a five-color lotus, a moon cushion and a sun cushion. At the center of the sun cushion there appears an orange seed word "Di" standing upright.

“ Di transforms into Manjusri with brilliant orange rainbow body, complete with all adornments of a Sambhogakaya, with youthful features, right hand holding the sword of Wisdom, and left hand holding the stem of a five-color lotus that upholds "The Heart of Sublimation through Limitless-Oneness Compassion Sastra." He sits in the lotus posture. In the heart chakra of Manjusri there is a lotus, above which is a moon cushion, and a sun cushion atop. Standing upright at the center of this sun cushion is an orange seed word "Di." Evenly distributed around and above the circumference of the sun cushion are the six syllables that constitute the Heart Mantra of Bodhisattva Manjusri. All six words of this mantra wheel are orange in color and are arranged counterclockwise in their regular order.

“Recite the Heart Mantra and simultaneously visualize that the mantra wheel in the heart chakra is spinning. The word Dhi at the center remains still. The mantra wheel spins clockwise with ever increasing speed. After a long while of spinning, the mantra wheel gradually slows down until it comes to a complete stop. As the mantra wheel spins, it simultaneously emits waves of orange light spreading in all directions throughout the whole Dharmadhatu. With each wave of orange light countless numbers of Bodhisattva Manjusri are sent forth. These Manjusris surf the waves of light to all corners of the Dharmadhatu in order to salvage all sorts of sentient beings.”

The meaning of the mantra OM A RA PA CA NA DHI is given as follows:

OM is universal praise.
A is a door to the insight that all dharmas are unproduced from the very beginning (adya-anutpannatvad);
RA is a door to the insight that all dharmas are without dirt (rajas);
PA is a door to the insight that all dharmas have been expounded in the ultimate sense (paramartha);
CA is a door to the insight that the decrease (cyavana) or rebirth of any dharma cannot be apprehended, because all dharmas do not decrease, nor are they reborn;
NA is a door to the insight that the names [i.e. nama] of all dharmas have vanished; the essential nature behind names cannot be gained or lost.
DHI is the seed syllable of awareness .

There are also longer mantras . . .
( In Sanskrit, from Manjusri Namasamgiti )

"A a: sarvatathagata hrdayam
hara hara om hum hri:
bhagavan jnanamurti
vagishvara mahapacha
sarvadharma gaganamala
suparishuddha dharmadhatu
jnanagarbha a:"

( The same mantra, translated. )

"A a: – the heart of all the Thusly Gone,
Take out, take out – om hum hri:
Vanquishing master surpassing all, embodied deep awareness,
Powerful lord of speech, the great one who ripens,
The complete total purity of all the existents, stainless like space,
Womb of deep awareness of the sphere of reality – a:"

1 Free downloadable ( pdf format ) Manjusri practice in the Sakya tradition of Indo-Tibetan vajrayana:

2 Sanskrit written form of the mantra

3 HH the Dalai Lama teaching on Wisdom and Manjusri Practice

4 A Brief Practice of Manjushri Jnana Sattva Called the "Wisdom of Light":

5 Primary Scriptural Reference
“Chanting The Names of Manjusri: The Manjusri Nama-Samgiti”
Translated by Alex Wayman, with extensive commentary.

The book is available from Snow Lion ( ), item # CHNAMA.

Basic translation available online at, under
A Concert of Names of Manjushri
('Jam-dpal mtshan-brjod, Skt. Manjushri-namasamgiti)
N.B. The recitation of the phonetic Sanskrit for this text is itself the most extensive mantra for Manjusri.

6 A Manjusri music video on youtube:

7 Manjusri mantra compact disc:

8 “Manjushri and Sarasvati Series” A set of Translations from Lotsawa
For example, Manjusri Praise Commentary
From Lotsawa House( which retains copyright ):

A Few Remarks
—An Explanation of the Praise to Noble Mañjushri
known as The Splendour of Wisdom’s Excellent Qualities
by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo

Namo guru mañjughoshaya!

This explanation of the praise of The Splendour of Wisdom’s Excellent Qualities has five parts: (i) author, (ii) title of the work, (iii) translator’s homage, (iv) actual main part and (v) conclusion.

I. The Author

Here, some scholars claim that this text was written by Acharya Vajrashastra [1]. Others have said that in the past, in the noble land of India, five hundred panditas were asked [by their abbot] to compose a praise to Mañjushri, and when they did so, Mañjughosha blessed them so that all their praises turned out exactly the same, and they felt confident that this must have come about through Mañjushri’s blessings. It is said that the name of the praise too was taken from the name of their abbot: Shri Jñana Gunaphala.

In any case, the author was someone in whom we can have confidence.

II. The Title

In the divine Sanskrit language of the noble land of India the title is shri jñana guna phala namastuti. In Tibetan this becomes dpal ye shes yon tan bzang po zhes bya ba’i bstod pa.

III. The Translator’s Homage

“I prostrate to the transcendent and accomplished conqueror, the Glorious Gentle-Voiced Lord.” This is the translator’s homage, made before undertaking the work of translation, for the particular purpose of ensuring its accomplishment.

IV. The Actual Main Part

In this, there are two sections: (1) the actual praise and (2) the benefits.

1. The Actual Praise

The first section has three parts: praises to (i) enlightened mind, (ii) enlightened speech and (iii) enlightened body.

i. The Enlightened Mind

Here there is a praise of wisdom and a praise of love.

Praise of Wisdom
Your wise intelligence, O youthful Mañjushri, father of all the victorious buddhas, has thoroughly overcome the darkness of the two kinds of obscuration which are to be abandoned, both emotional ones which are the roots of desire and so on, and cognitive ones which are the roots of confused dualistic perceptions.

How is this? That too is here explained. Imagine the sun free from the obscuring veils of dusty haze and clouds; like this, your wisdom, when it discerns all dharmas, is utterly purified of those stains of delusion that obscure our true nature, and it is brilliant with the light of wisdom that penetrates all knowable things. How this wisdom perceives its objects is also explained. It says that you perceive the whole of reality, everything that exists, all dharmas—even the most subtle—included within ‘thorough affliction’ and ‘total purification’ from visual forms up until omniscience, and you see them directly and nakedly, exactly as they are, clearly discerning their essence and their distinctive characteristics.

At your heart, you hold a book of the prajñaparamita, the complete teachings on the profound and vast graduated paths of the bodhisattvas, in order to symbolize the fact that—as stated above—you possess the twofold wisdom that knows all things exactly as they are.

Praise of Love
All sentient beings without such lasting qualities are trapped in the prison of samsara—from the peak of existence down to the lowest hell of Avichi—where the three doors of their body, speech and mind are shrouded in the thick darkness of ignorance, as they cling to concepts of “I” and “mine”. For all these beings without exception who are, as a consequence, tormented by the three kinds of suffering, you possess a deep, caring compassion. This is illustrated by an example; just like the mother of an only child who loves him or her so tenderly, you, Mañjughosha, have the loving and unbiased wish to rescue from suffering each and every sentient being, who is currently tormented by frustration and pain.

ii. Enlightened Speech

Inspired by this great affectionate love, and seeing the way things are, in order to establish all beings in the highest possible state of attainment, you speak and thereby clearly reveal what should be adopted and what should be abandoned, in a single voice that nevertheless has the sixty melodious tones of Brahma’s speech. ‘What is its function?’ you might ask. When the dragon of thunder lets out his mighty roar, it rouses all other beings from their sleep. Similarly when you speak with the voice that possesses these special qualities, and the beings to be guided hear the great roar of the 84,000 sections of the Dharma thundering in their ears, it rouses them all from the heavy slumber of their disturbing emotions, and breaks through the tight chains of defiling karma, which cast them into samsara, perpetuate it and keep them bound within it.

In order that you might inspire all beings to attain the state of liberation and omniscience, on your right you hold the sword of knowledge, the essence of all the buddhas’ wisdom, which also has its symbolic meaning. On the basis of the wisdom and loving compassion described above, with your enlightened activity of speech, you dispel the darkness of ignorance, in which beings cling to “I” and “mine” and are thus prevented from seeing reality. Since in the process you cut through all the fresh shoots of suffering, such as birth, old age, sickness and death, that develop out of ignorance, you hold the sword of wisdom, symbolizing that this happens cleanly and unobstructedly.

iii. Enlightened Body

In definitive terms, Mañjushri, you are now, and from the very beginning you have always been, a genuine buddha, in whom all the qualities of abandonment and realization are totally perfected, because you completely traversed all ten bhumis, such as the Joyous and so on, and purified the two obscurations, together with any latent habitual tendencies, many incalculable aeons ago. Nevertheless, from a merely provisional perspective, you appear as the foremost of all the bodhisattvas, and demonstrate the means of training as a bodhisattva in the presence of all the victorious ones and their heirs throughout the ten directions.

Moreover, from the perspective of the mantrayana, there is no doubt whatsoever that you, Mañjushri, are a buddha. In fact, this is even stated in the sutras. In the Sutra of the Array of Mañjushri’s Pure Land, for example, it says you have completed the ten bhumis. And in two other sutras—the Surangama-samadhi Sutra and the Angulimala Sutra—you are clearly referred to as a buddha.

Your enlightened form is adorned with the ten times ten plus twelve—which is to say one hundred and twelve—major and minor marks.

Given that you, Mañjughosha, the “Gentle-voiced,” are in possession of these qualities of enlightened body, speech, mind and activity in their entirety, we prostrate in homage before you, showing the greatest respect with our own body, speech and mind, and pray that you may dispel all the darkness from our own minds, and, more generally, from the minds of all living creatures.

2. Benefits

Here there are two categories: the benefits of reciting this for a certain length of time and the benefits of reciting it continuously.

i. Benefits of Reciting for a Certain Time

As regards the benefits to be gained from reciting this, the king of praises, for a certain period of time, someone with faith and diligence, who recites this praise with a pure, altruistic motivation that is untainted by hypocrisy, and who is intent upon complete enlightenment for the sake of others, will receive benefits according to the number of recitations. As they recite the praise once, seven times, twenty-one times, or even a hundred or a thousand times each day for a month or a year or whatever period, they will gain increasing qualities, such as the purification of their obscurations. By reciting it once in this way, the obscurations that obstruct the arising of enlightened qualities will be slightly purified, and they will engage in the four close applications of mindfulness. By reciting it seven times, they will gain the ability to retain the Dharma precisely as they have heard it, which is the direct cause for developing enlightened qualities. By reciting it twenty-one times, they will develop courageous eloquence—that is, the unobstructed intelligence that is the context for enlightened qualities—and thereby apply the diligence of the four correct endeavours. With a hundred recitations, in order that their qualities might be brought to completion, they will gain the power of total recall, so that whatever learning and courageous eloquence they have already gained will never be lost, and they will achieve the samadhi of the four miraculous limbs. Through a thousand recitations, they will gain, as the function of your enlightened qualities, the power of wisdom that enables one to defeat opponents in debate.

Thus it continues, so that if you are able to recite more than a thousand repetitions, you will gain the strength of wisdom, at which point your wisdom will become capable of withstanding challenges from opponents and any other circumstances. This serves to illustrate that you will gain the immeasurable qualities of the paths of training, such as the other powers and strengths (meaning faith and so on), the seven branches of enlightenment, and the eightfold noble path, as well as the qualities of the path of no-more-training.

ii. Benefits of Reciting it Continuously

Beyond this, it will be explained how benefits arise from reciting the praise continuously. Someone whose mindstream has been purified through faith, diligence and two-fold bodhichitta, who recites the praise three times a day throughout their lives will come to possess all the qualities mentioned above. Upon the foundation of ultimate bodhichitta, meditating on shunyata (the aspect of wisdom) becomes the direct cause, and compassion (the aspect of skilful means) becomes the contributing condition, for completing the five paths. Then, upon the foundation of relative bodhichitta, skilful means and compassion become the direct cause, and wisdom and shunyata the contributing condition, for reaching the ten bhumis.

As the paths and bhumis are gradually traversed in this manner, the qualities of abandonment and realization grow proportionately greater, and one swiftly arrives at the ‘citadel’ wherein all knowable things are understood with perfect wisdom. At the culmination of the paths, one actualizes the dharmakaya for one’s own benefit. At the culmination of the bhumis, one benefits others through the two form kayas, and, like a great captain, performs the enlightened activity of liberating all beings not only from the crippling sufferings of samsaric existence but also their causes, continuously, for as long as space remains.

V. Conclusion

Here there are three sections: the author’s colophon, the translator’s colophon, and inspiring delight by means of an incidental history. The first of these, which begins “The Splendour of Wisdom’s Excellent Qualities . . .”, the second which begins “the holy translator(s)…”, and the third which begins with “Acharya Dignaga and…” are easy to understand.

The unfathomable benefits and blessings of this king of praises have always been evident, and remain clear even up to the present day. Having first received the transmission for focusing your awareness [2] from a teacher belonging to the lineage, exert yourself in the practice with one-pointed faith and diligence.
Written by Mañjughosha simply as a note to aid his own and others’ memory.
Sarva sata hitobhawatu.
Translated by Adam with the kind help of Lama Chökyi Nyima.

To which K T adds in dedication,
May All Beings Benefit! May there be accomplishment!

[ End article ]

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