- As a bodhisattva, he is one of the eight great bodhisattvas that are depicted as a retinue of Buddha Shakyamuni.
- As a meditation deity, he is a buddha who embodies the wisdom of all the buddhas.
Mañjuśrī is depicted in many forms, but in his most well-known form, he is shown holding a sword in one hand and in the other he holds a lotus flower on which rests a volume of the Prajnaparamita. In this context, the sword represents the wisdom which cuts through ignorance (avidyā), and the text represents study and learning.
Mañjuśrī is also known by following the epithets:
- Mañjuśrī Kumārabhūta, literally "Youthful Mañjuśrī," also translated as "Princely Mañjuśrī," etc.
- Mañjughoṣa, “gentle voiced one”
- Vāgīśvara, "lord of speech"
In China he is called Wen-shu Shih-li, in Japan Monju, and in Tibet Jampal.
In Mahāyāna and trantric literature
Mañjuśrī is a major figure in the Mahāyāna sūtras, where he appears as a disciple of the buddha who is also a bodhisattva. In this context he often appears often as an interlocutor of the Buddha.
According to Damien Keown, Mañjuśrī is first referred to in early Mahāyāna sūtras such as the Prajnaparamita sutras and through this association, he came to symbolize the embodiment of transcendent wisdom (prajñāparamita). According to the Princeton Dictionary, Mañjuśrī first comes to prominence in the Vimalakirti Sutra, where is the only one among the Buddha's disciples who has the courage to debate with the layman Vimalakirti. He also plays important roles in the Lotus Sutra and the Avatamsaka Sutra.
Mañjuśrī is also an important figure in tantric texts such as the Mañjuśrīmūlakalpa and the Mañjuśrīnāmasamgīti. In this context he appears as a deity, or buddha, who embodies wisdom (prajna). He is sometimes said to embody the wisdom of all the buddhas.
- Sankrit: oṃ a ra pa ca na dhīḥ
- Tibetan: oṃ a ra pa tsa na dhīḥ (T. om a ra pa tsa na d+hIH ༀ་ཨ་ར་པ་ཙ་ན་དྷཱི༔)
In the Tibetan tradition, reciting this mantra is believed to enhance wisdom and improve one's skills in debating, memory, writing, and other literary abilities.
- Meaning of Mañjuśrī's Mantra, Lotsawa House
In different traditions
China, Mañjuśrī came to be associated with the sacred mountain of Wutaishan, where the bodhisattva Mañjuśrī is said to reside.
- Buddhabhadra’s early fifth-century translation of the Avataṃsakasūtra is the first text that seemed to connect Mañjuśrī with Wutaishan (Five-Terrace Mountain) in China’s Shaanxi province. Wutaishan became an important place of pilgrimage in East Asia beginning at least by the Northern Wei dynasty (424–532), and eventually drew monks in search of a vision of Mañjuśrī from across the Asian continent, including Korea, Japan, India, and Tibet.
In Tibetan Buddhism, Mañjuśrī is an important deity in the Vajrayana, the Tibetan form of tantra. In particular, the Mañjuśrīnāmasamgīti (Chanting the Names of Manjushri) is one of the most highly revered tantric texts in this tradition. The mantra of Mañjuśrī is recited especially by those engaged in the study of Buddhist texts.
In Nepal, Mañjuśrī is associated with the famous stupa at Swayambhunath. According to the Nepali Buddhist chronical Swayambhu Purana, the Kathmandu Valley was once a lake. Mañjuśrī visited the site on a pilgrimage and saw a lotus flower in the center of the lake, which emitted brilliant radiance. In order to get closer to the lotus at the center of the lake, he used his sword to cut a gorge in one end of the lake and allow the water to drain out. The place where the lotus flower settled became the great Swayambhunath stupa, and the valley thus became habitable.
- Manjushri#Gallery, Wikipedia
- Mipham, A Garland of Jewels, "Introduction"
- Buswell & Lopez 2014, s.v. Mañjuśrī.
- Harding, Sarah. Machik's Complete Explanation (Tsadra) (p. 283). Shambhala.
- Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. "Mañjuśrī". Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed 27 September 2023.
- Lopez Jr., Donald S. (2001). The Story of Buddhism: A Concise Guide to its History and Teachings. New York, USA: HarperSanFrancisco. ISBN 0-06-069976-0 (cloth) P.260.
- Keown, Damien, et al. (2003). A Dictionary of Buddhism. Oxford University Press. p.172.
- Kumarabhuta, Wisdom Library (wisdomlib.org)
- The Dwelling Place of Mañjuśrī (Glossary)
-  - Visible Mantra's website
- Buswell & Lopez 2014, s.v. arapacana.
Harrison, Paul M. (2000). Mañjuśrī and the Cult of the Celestial Bodhisattvas, Chung-Hwa Buddhist Journal 13, 157-193
- Media related to Manjusri at Wikimedia Commons
- Manjusrhri series, Lotsawa House
- Manjushri at Khandro Net.
- Page dedicated to the Manjusri mantra, with several audio versions.
- Manjushri, Wikipedia