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LEXICON

 

 

Eight Great Bodhisattvas

Term for the main bodhisattvas associated with the Shakyamuni Buddha, eight in total and each one representing a personification of one of his divine qualities. These bodhisattvas and their embodiments are: Manjushri (fig.), who is the personification of the Buddha’s wisdom; Avalokitesvara (fig.), who embodies the compassion of the Buddha; Mahasthamaprapta or alternatively his incarnation Vajrapani (fig.), who represents the Buddha’s power; Ksitigarbha (fig.), who is the personification of the Buddha’s merit; Sarvanivarana Vishkambhin, who is the personification of the Buddha’s purifying qualities; Maitreya (fig.), who embodies the Buddha’s activity; Samantabhadra (fig.), who represents the Buddha’s truth and aspirations; and Akasagarbha, who is the personification of the Buddha’s blessings. In Vietnam, where these bodhisattvas are referred to as Bat Bo Kim Cuong (Bát Bộ Kim Cương), statues of the eight are often found on display. They are also referred to as Maha Sattvas, i.e. ‘Mighty Creatures’ or ‘Great Essence’, a term derived from maha and bodhisattva.