Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Manjushri is the Bodhisattva of Knowledge. Bodhisattva means living Buddha, or an enlightened being that remains in the samsara (the world) to help others attain enlightenment.
Manjushri holds the stem of a precious lotus in his left hand. Inside the lotus, a book symbolizes the acquisition of knowledge. A flaming sword above the book cuts through ignorance. This piece is 60 x 42" and was made for a temple in Bhutan and is more elaborate than one that might be found in a home, although almost every home in Bhutan has a temple or prayer room. If you have a strong feeling about any of the Buddhas, (Knowledge Buddha, Compassion Buddha, etc.) it means that you have within you the attributes of that particular Buddha, or that meditating upon and trying to strengthen those attributes of the Buddha within you is your path to enlightenment. It is painted with pigment, minerals and gold.
Buddha Amitabha is the Buddha of Long Life and is here with his disciples Chenrezig and Vajrapani. Thangkas are tools for meditation in the Tantric Buddhist tradition. If a practitioner gazes at the image as he or she meditates, then the attributes of the Bodhisattva will be more easily grasped and possibly attained.
CHENREZIG WITH FOUR ARMS (COMPASSION BUDDHA)
Chenrezig is the Compassion Buddha. The Dalai Lama is the incarnation of Chenrezig. He is considered the patron Bodhisattva of Tibet, and his meditation is practiced in all the great lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. Two hands hold a blue norbu (precious jewel), one hands holds prayer beads and another holds the precious lotus flower. You see the Compassion Buddha in Japan also and it is female.
This is Guru Rinpoche who is also called Padmasambhava or "Precious Teacher." He brought Buddhism to Bhutan in the 8th Century.
FOUR FAITHFUL FRIENDS
This image is painted on walls of temples and buildings all over Bhutan. The Four Friends is a parable told by the Buddha. It shows how cooperation and friendship helps us survive. The elephant helps the monkey who helps the rabbit who helps the bird to get the berry from the tree. I hope they share the food. It is also a story about respecting those who are older than you.
SHAKYAMUNI WITH ATTENDANTS
Shakyamuni is the original Buddha, otherwise known as Gautama Buddha or Sangay Buddha. Here, he is flanked by two attendant monks and two khandroma or dakini, emanations of enlightened mind. Behind him is the Bodhi tree, under which he attained enlightenment.
Most every household in Bhutan has a temple room and so a thangka such as this one would be placed there. It would be rolled or put away and saved, to be brought out and hung for festival days, ceremonies or other special occasions. The more precisely and beautifully the painter paints an image for a thangka then the more merit he and his patron accrue. So the painter and the owner of the thangka both acquire good karma. The more the image is viewed then the more “power” it gains. The silk scroll frame is the traditional way thankas are framed in Tibet, Bhutan, India and Nepal. That way, the thanka can be rolled for storage and unrolled for ceremonies.The word thanka means “rolled art”.
Monday, September 12, 2011
Chana Dorji is a powerful protector and his image is seen in temples throughout Bhutan.
The Bodhisattva Chana Dorji transforms wrathful energy (hate, anger) into wisdom and perfection. Power is a vehicle for enlightenment in the Tantric tradition, so meditating upon the visage of Chana Dorji is appropriate. Chana Dorji gives his devotees strength and protection from dangerous forces. He holds a dorji, or five-pronged vajra in his right hand, and his left hand he holds to his chest in the virtaka mudra (hand gesture) of reasoning, argumentation or explanation of teachings. He is surrounded, like all wrathful Bodhisattvas, with flames of wisdom. A naga, or snake spirit of the earth, is draped around his neck.