Tibetan Buddhist Gods

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Buddhist gods, an important symbol of Buddhism, were introduced to Tibet. Tibetan Buddhism began in the Songtsen Gampo era in the 7th century. With the arrival of Princess Bhrikuti of Nepal and Princess Wencheng of the Tang Dynasty, From a certain perspective, the 8-year-old Shakyamuni Buddha statue brought by Princess Bhrikuti and the 12-year-old Shakyamuni statue brought by Princess Wencheng almost became the beginning of the history of Tibetan Buddhism. However, after more than 1,300 years of historical evolution and development, it has formed an intense ethnic style and local characteristic.

Even to this day, Buddhist deities still provide an important method and content for Buddhist monks’ studying and practicing in Tibetan monasteries.

Buddha and Gods

Buddha figures are the most enshrined category in Tibetan areas, including Shakyamuni Buddha, Jampa Buddha, Immortal Buddha, Medicine Buddha, etc. Some statues are renowned like the 12-year-old Shakyamuni statue enshrined in the Jokhang Temple, the 8-year-old Shakyamuni statue enshrined in the Ramoche Temple, the Qamba Buddha statue in the Tashilhunpo Monastery, the Qamba Buddha statue in the Drepung Monastery, and the Shakyamuni statue in the Sakya Monastery.

1. Shakyamuni​

Who is it?

Shakyamuni, formerly known as Gautama Siddhartha, is the founder of Buddhism. Shakyamuni was born in Kapilavastu, the north of ancient India around 500BC, and he was the son of King Śuddhodana. After enlightenment, he was respected by the world as “Sakyamuni”, meaning “the sage of the Sakyamuni”.

How can I tell?

Buddha Shakyamuni sits on the vajra seat with his left hand on his feet or holding a bowl, which means meditation. His right-hand points vertically to the ground, which means that Buddha Sakyamuni sacrificed everything to attain liberation for all living beings.

Bodhisattvas​

Bodhisattva figures also account for a large proportion of Tibetan Buddhism. In Tibetan Buddhism, Guanyin is the most respected person in the Bodhisattva beliefs, followed by Manjusri, Samantabhadra, Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, etc. Avalokitesvara with a thousand hands and a thousand eyes is a common kind of Guanyin.

2. Guanyin​

Who is it?

Guanyin is the incarnation of wisdom and compassion in Buddhism. When all beings encounter any difficulties and pains and can recite the name of Guanyin sincerely, Guanyin will rescue them. The famous Potala Palace in Lhasa is the dojo of Guanyin Bodhisattva. Potala is the transliteration of Sanskrit, translated as “Po Lo”, referring to the island where Guanyin lives. The “six-character mantra” (Om Mani Pad Mi Hum), well known to all Tibetans, is the mantra of Guanyin Bodhisattva. In Tibet, Songtsen Gampo is the incarnation of Guanyin Bodhisattva.

How can I tell?

Holding a jade vase and wearing a crown, she rides on a Golden Roar. Because she is dedicated to assisting Amitabha, and saving the world by seeking the sound of suffering, she has a Buddha statue of Amitabha on her crown.

3. Manjusri​

Who is it?

Manjusri Bodhisattva is responsible for wisdom in Buddhism, and his dojo is in Mount Wutai, Shanxi, China. In Buddhist temples, he usually stands on the left side of Sakyamuni Buddha, serving as the left guard.

How can I tell?

Manjusri’s mount is a green lion, representing wisdom and mighty power. She is holding a sword, which represents wisdom. The image of Manjusri of Tantric Buddhism, topped with five buns, indicates that the five kinds of Buddha wisdom are sufficient.
 
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