Bodhisattvas (Bodhi : Enlightened, Sattva : Hero ), also known as Jangchub Sempa are the enlightened beings who delay the attainment of nirvana to help other sentient beings in samsara to achieve enlightenment. Bodhisattvas are beings who are dedicated to the universal awakening, or enlightenment, of everyone. They exist as guides and providers of relief to suffering beings.
All the Buddha’s were once bodhisattvas before attaining nirvana. Compassion is the most essential characteristics of Bodhisattvas since they seek to help other sentient beings to achieve enlightenment as well.
In Mahayana Buddhism there are eight main Bodhisattvas:
- Chenrizig ( Avolokiteshvara)
- Jampel Yang ( Manjushri)
- Chana Dorji ( Vijrapani )
- Joe Jampa ( Maitreya)
- Namkhai Nyingpo (Akasgarbha)
- Kuntozangpo ( Samantabhadra )
- Sai Nyingpo (Kshitigarbha )
- Dripa Namsel (Sarvanivaranavishkambhin )
The bodhisattvas are adorned with jeweled ornaments ( tiara, armlets, bracelets, necklaces and rings) and princely clothes representing their transcendental qualities. For example the jeweled crown worn symbolizes victory over five poisons of pride, jealousy, hatred, greed and ignorance.
- 1. Chenrizig or Avolokiteshvara
Chenrizig is the bodhisattva of compassion. He resides in the paradise on Mount Potola. He vowed not to return to buddhahood until he had liberated every single individual of all the realms of existence. With a mantra, Om mani padme hum! (Hail the jewel in the lotus), he tirelessly attempts to deliver all beings from suffering. He appears in many different forms to assist suffering beings. The Famous Dalai Lama is considered to be the incarnation of Chenrizig.
Cha Zhipa and Chatong Chentong are the two forms of chenrizig worshipped in Bhutan.
Cha Zhipa or the four armed form
Cha Zhipa or the four armed form of Chenrizig is white in color and adorned with princely bodhisattva attire. The four arms represent the four immeasurable of loving kindness, joy, equanimity and compassion. In each of his arms he carries a lotus flowers a wish fulfilling jewel and a crystal rosary or chem. The deer skin on his left shoulder represents his nonviolent and kind spirit.
Chatong Chentong or the shey chuchi is the thousand eye thousand head and eleven head Chenrizig. It symbolizes his awareness of the suffering’s of all the sentient beings.
- 2. Jampel Yang or Manjushiri
Jampel yang or majushiri is the bodhisattva of wisdom. The word manju means “charming, beautiful, and pleasing” and Shri means “glory, brilliance”.
Om A Ra Pa Ca Na Dhih
This mantra is believed to enhance wisdom and improve one’s skills in debating, memory, writing, and other literary abilities. “Dhīḥ” is the seed syllable of the mantra and is chanted with greater emphasis and also repeated a number of times as a Decrescendo.
He is depicted in orange color and may also come in sky blue or white color. Manjushri is often depicted with his right hand holding a double-edged flaming sword and his left hand holding a lotus flower on which rests the Prajnaparamita (Great Wisdom) Sutra. He is often seen riding a lion. The Prajnaparamita Sutra on the lotus flower symbolizes wisdom as pure as lotus. The sword represents the sharpness of wisdom that to cut through illusion and ignorance. The lion is called the king of a hundred animals, and this symbolizes the stern majesty of wisdom.
- 3. Chana Dorji or Vajrapani
Chana Dorji is the bodhisattva of power and energy, the power to destroy all obstacles on the spiritual journey.
Om Vajrapani Hum
Vajrapani’s mantra is simply his name, which means “wielder of the thunderbolt”, framed between the mystical syllables Om and Hūm. This mantra helps us to gain access to the irrepressible energy that Vajrapani symbolizes. A familiarity with Vajrapani does, of course, help here, although the sound of the mantra is itself rather energetic
He comes in a wrathful form and in a dark blue color. He wears tiger skirt and snake garland as he is the protector of Nagas. His main attribute is the vajra or Dorji (thunderbolt) which he holds in right hand. He holds vajra noose in his left hand. He has flaming yellow hair and stands in a warrior positions.
Chenrizig, Jampel yang and chana Dorji are worshiped as the Rig Sum Gompo.
Drolma or Tara
Dorlma or Tara is a female bodhisattva who believes to be born from a avoloketishvara’s tears of compassion. She is the "mother of liberation", and represents the virtues of success in work and achievements. Tibetan King Songtshen Gembo’s consort are believed to be the incrantion of Tara’s. The Tara mantra is om tare tuttare ture soha which means “I prostrate to the Liberator, Mother of all the Victorious Ones.”
Green Tara is born from the right tears of Avoloketishwara and has 3 eyes. Green Tara is in a green color and in a semi-wrathful form.
White Tara is born from the left tears of avoloketishwara and has 7 eyes. White Tara is in a peaceful form.
Both Tara comes with holding lotus flower and has the same boon granting gesture or the Dana Mudra.
Worshiping to Tara brings protection, peace, luck and prosperity.