Manjushree Buddhist Deity – The Guardian of Wisdom
Manjushree is the Bodhisattva of wisdom and courage. “Manjushree”, a Sanskrit word, is interpreted as ‘wonderful virtue’ or ‘wonderfully auspicious. He is the most iconic figure in Mahayana art and literature. Manjushree is a chief of Bodhisattva and chief disciple of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni, he represents wisdom, intelligence and realization, and is one of the most popular Bodhisattvas following Avalokitesvara and the most iconic figure in Mahayana art and literature. Along with wisdom, Manjushree is associated with poetry, oratory and writing. He is said to have an especially melodious voice.
Manjushree always rides on a lion which highlights his fearless nature. In his fundamental form he sits on a lotus. He is often portrayed as a young prince holding a double-edged flaming sword of wisdom and light in his right hand which cuts through ignorance and wrong views. He holds a stem of blooming lotus that supports the manuscript of the Prajnaparamita Sutra (Perfection of Wisdom) in his left hand, by his heart. His youthfulness indicates that wisdom arises from him naturally and effortlessly.
Manjushree is among the one trinity of family protectors along with Avalokiteshvara and Vajrapani. The family that Manjushri protects is known as the Tathagata family, which includes the historical Buddha Shakyamuni, as well as Vairochana, the central figure in the Five Buddha Mandala.
Manjushree is considered as the founder of Nepalese civilization and the founder of the Kathmandu Valley. According to Swayambhu Purana, he is shown playing a vital role in initiating the Nepalese Buddhist tradition. The Swayambhu Purana, which is believed to be one of the most important texts attributed to the Buddha Shakyamuni, focuses on the origin of the Swayambhu Stupa and the formation of the Kathmandu Valley. As per legend, Kathmandu valley was a lake surrounded by hills during the Pleistocene era. It is believed that Manjushree, a divine saint from China had come here for pilgrimage and saw a huge lotus emanating bright light at the center of the lake. He went there to offer worship but was not able to reach it due to the water. So he cut the southern wall of the deep gorge by his sword allowing the water to drain from the lake. The base of the lake became the present Kathmandu valley and the gorge is called Chobhar gorge now.