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Zazen Sacred Icons :: FAQ - BODHISATTVA

What is Amitayus?

Amitayus or Aparmita is the name given to Amitabha in his character as bestower of longevity. He is richly clad and wears the 13 ornaments. His hair is painted blue and may either be coiled or fall to his elbows. He is seated in full-lotus posture and his hands lie on his lap in the Dhyani Mudra, holding the ambrosia vase, his special emblem.

What is Avalokitesvara? (Tib. Chenrezig, Jap. Kannon, Ch. Kuanyin)

The Bodhisattva of compassion, protector from danger. His invocation is ‘om mani padme hum (hail the jewel in the lotus)’. He is usually depicted with many (supposedly 1000) arms and several (supposedly 11) heads. One right hand is usually in the Abhaya (protection) Mudra. The Dalai Lama is said to be an embodiment of Avalokitesvara.

What is Green Tara?

Green Tara is regarded as spiritual consort of Amoghshiddhi. Similar in appearance to White Tara, her left hand holds a half-closed lotus flower and her right leg is extended. She is reincarnated in all good women.

What is 4-armed Chenrezig?

4-armed Chenrezig is a form of Avalokitesvara. He wears all sorts of ornaments, his colour is white, he has four arms, carrying a rosary in one right hand and an open lotus flower in one left. The other two hands are raised to the chest with the palms joined in Namaskar Mudra, holding a round ‘jewel’ (a symbol of knowledge).

What is Manjushri?

Manjushri is the bodhisattva of divine wisdom. In Nepal he is regarded as the founder of Nepalese civilisation and the creator of Kathmandu Valley. He carries the sword of wisdom and light in his right hand and the Prajnaparmita manuscript (the book of divine wisdom) in his left on a lotus blossom. His left hand is in teaching (Jnana) Mudra.

What is Vajradhara?

Adi Buddha is regarded as the highest deity of the Buddhist pantheon. When represented, he is given the name of Vajradhara. He wears jewels and ornaments and sits in the meditation posture. He carries the vajra (thunderbolt) in his right hand and the ghanta (bell) in his left, the two hands crossed against the chest in in the Vajrahunkara Mudra.

What is Vajrasattva Buddha?

Vajrasattva, the sixth Dhyani Buddha, is regarded by the Nepalese Buddhists as the priest of the 5 Dhyani Buddhas. He wears all ornaments, rich dress and a crown. He is white and sits cross-legged in the meditative pose. He carries the vajra (thunderbolt) in his right hand with palm upwards against the chest, and ghanta (bell) in the left hand resting on the left thigh.

What is White Tara?

Tara is the female deity of the Buddhist Pantheon. White Tara was born from a tear of the Bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokitesvara. Tara is believed to protect human beings while they are crossing the ocean of existence. White Tara is regarded as the consort of Avalokitesvara, sometimes of Vairochana. She is portrayed usually seated, dressed and crowned like a Bodhisattva. Sometimes she is regarded as Satalochana or 7-eyes Tara, and has extra eyes on her forehead, palm and feet, and a lotus flower on one or both of her shoulders. She is seated in full Vajra posture. Her right hand will be in boon-conferring posture, her left in the teaching Mudra, holding the stem of a Lotus. She is wearing all sorts of precious ornaments and looks beautiful. The practice of White Tara is performed to prolong life and for healing purposes.

Kuanyin, the Chinese female form of the Bodhisattva of Compassion, Avalokitesvara, referred to as ‘The Goddess of Mercy’, called Kannon (or Kanzeon Bosatsu) in Japan. She usually carries a vase containing the nectar of compassion, and perhaps a fly whisk which represents obedience to the Buddhist Law and symbolises compassion. Sometimes she is represented holding her palms together in Anjali Mudra.

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