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.
This depiction of Manjushri has him in the
classical pose of his right hand raising up his sword while his left hand is in jnan
mudra, or teaching pose. In his left hand he holds the stem of a lotus upon which
rests the prajnaparamitra, scripture of perfected wisdom. Seated upon a lotus bloom,
his legs are locked in dhyanasana mudra, with legs together and the soles of his feet
facing up. He rests in a Buddha field of paradise with the Buddha of longevity and
infinity, Amitayus, seated above the crown of Manjushri's head.