Manjushri (tib. Jambelyang) is the bodhisattva of
wisdom, one of the three pillars of attaining enlightenment. Portrayed as a young
man golden in color, his most distinctive feature is the flaming sword that he holds up in
his right hand, which he uses to cut through ignorance and the obstacles in the way of
reaching nirvana. Over his left shoulder upon a lotus blossom rests the
prajnaparamita, the scripture of perfected wisdom.
The oldest bodhisattva, Manjushri has a special
connection with the Kathmandu valley. Discovering a pure self-emanating light in the
middle of a vast lake, he cut a gorge for the water to empty out leaving only a lotus that
was the throne for the pure light. To keep it safe, Manjushri covered the light with
what now is Swayambunath stupa, and left, leaving behind a valley where the ancient lake
used to be. That valley is now called the Kathmandu valley.