Eight great bodhisattvas

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The eight great bodhisattvas (Skt. aṣṭamahābodhisattva), also known as the eight great close sons (Skt. aṣṭamahopaputra; T. nye ba'i sras chen brgyad; C. ba da pusa) or eight close sons (Skt. aṣṭa utaputra; T. nye ba'i sras brgyad ཉེ་བའི་སྲས་བརྒྱད་), are eight bodhisattvas that are depicted as a retinue of Buddha Shakyamuni within the Sanskrit Mahayana tradition. This group of bodhisattvas are identified in numerous sutras and tantras, such as the Avatamsaka Sutra and the Lotus Sutra.[1] Stories about the activities and magical displays of these bodhisattvas (within the sutras) are meant to inspire readers and demonstrate the inconceivable nature of the Mahayana path.[1]

The eight bodhisattvas are:


Each bodhisattva fulfills a particular role to help beings. In the Vajrayana tradition, the eight bodhisattvas represent the pure state of the eight consciousnesses.[2]

Qualities of the eight bodhisattvas

Although the eight bodhisattvas or ‘close sons of the Buddha’ all possess the same qualities and powers, each one displays perfection in a particular area or activity.

  • Manjushri embodies wisdom;
  • Avalokiteshvara embodies compassion;
  • Vajrapani represents power;
  • Kshitigarbha increases the richness and fertility of the land;
  • Sarvanivaranavishkambhin purifies wrong-doing and obstructions;
  • Maitreya embodies love;
  • Samantabhadra displays special expertise in making offerings and prayers of aspiration; and
  • Akashagarbha has the perfect ability to purify transgressions.

Khenpo Chöga says:

Among the immeasurable qualities of the Buddha, eight of his foremost qualities manifest as the eight bodhisattvas:
1) the personification of the Buddha’s wisdom (Tib. ཡེ་ཤེས་ཀྱི་རང་གཟུགས་, Wyl. ye shes kyi rang gzugs) is Bodhisattva Mañjuśrī;
2) the personification of the Buddha’s compassion (Tib. སྙིང་རྗེའི་རང་གཟུགས་, Wyl. snying rje’i rang gzugs) appears as Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara;
3) the personification of the Buddha’s power or capacity (Tib. ནུས་པའི་རང་གཟུགས་, Wyl. nus pa’i rang gzugs) is Bodhisattva Vajrapāṇi;
4) the personification of the Buddha’s activity (Tib. ཕྲིན་ལས་, Wyl. phrin las) is Bodhisattva Maitreya;
5) the personification of the Buddha’s merit (Tib. བསོད་ནམས་རང་གཟུགས་, Wyl. bsod nams rang gzugs) arises as Bodhisattva Kṣitigarbha;
6) the personification of the Buddha’s qualities (Tib. ཡོན་ཏན་གྱི་རང་གཟུགས་, Wyl. yon tan gyi rang gzugs) appears as Bodhisattva Sarvanīvaraṇaviṣkambhī;
7) the personification of the Buddha’s blessings (Tib. བྱིན་རླབས་ཀྱི་རང་གཟུགས་, Wyl. byin rlabs kyi rang gzugs) arises as Bodhisattva Ākāśagarbha; and
8) the personification of the Buddha’s aspirations (Tib. སྨོན་ལམ་གྱི་རང་གཟུགས་, Wyl. smon lam gyi rang gzugs) is manifest as Bodhisattva Samantabhadra.[3]

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 Mipham, A Garland of Jewels, "Introduction"
  2. RW icon height 18px.png Eight great bodhisattvas
  3. In Drops of Nectar: Khenpo Kunpal's Commentary on Shantideva's Entering the Conduct of the Bodhisattvas, www.kunpal.org, vol. 1 p.282


Further reading

In Tibetan

  • Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Tayé, nye ba'i sras brgyad kyi rnam thar la bsngags pa bstod chen rgya mtsho rnam bshad
  • Mipham Rinpoche, Tib. བྱང་སེམས་ཉེ་སྲས་བརྒྱད་ཀྱི་རྟོགས་བརྗོད་ནོར་བུའི་ཕྲེང་བ།, Wyl. byang chub sems dpa' chen po nye ba'i sras brgyad kyi rtogs brjod nor bu'i phreng ba (Translated by Lama Yeshe Gyamtso. See below)
  • Mipham Rinpoche, nye sras brgyad kyi sgrub pa rin chen gter bum

In English

External links

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