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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.


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