Vajrasattva (Sanskrit: वज्रसत्त्व, Tibetan: རྡོ་རྗེ་སེམས་དཔའ། Dorje Sempa, short form is རྡོར་སེམས། Dorsem, Монгол: Доржсэмбэ)[1] is a bodhisattva in the Mahayana, Mantrayana/Vajrayana Buddhist traditions. In Chinese Buddhism and the Japanese Shingon tradition, Vajrasattva is the esoteric aspect of the bodhisattva Samantabhadra and is commonly associated with the student practitioner who through the master's teachings, attains an ever-enriching subtle and rarefied grounding in their esoteric practice. In Tibetan Buddhism, Vajrasattva is associated with the sambhogakāya and purification practice.

(Pinyin: Jīngāng Sàduǒ Púsà)
(romaji: Kongōsatta Bosatsu)
(RR: Geumgang Salta Bosal)
Wylie: rdo rje sems dpa'
THL: Dorje Sempa


THL: Dorsem
VietnameseKim Cang Tát Đỏa Bồ Tát
Venerated byMahāyāna, Vajrayāna
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Vajrasattva appears principally in two Buddhists texts: the Mahavairocana Sutra and the Vajrasekhara Sutra. In the Diamond Realm Mandala, Vajrasattva sits to the East near Akshobhya Buddha.

In some esoteric lineages, Nagarjuna was said to have met Vajrasattva in an iron tower in South India, and was taught tantra, thus transmitting the esoteric teachings to more historical figures.[2]

His Mantra is oṃ Vajrasattva hūṃ (Sanskrit: ॐ वज्रसत्त्व हूँ; Chinese: 唵 斡資囉 薩答 啊 吽 / 嗡 班扎 薩埵 吽; Pinyin: ǎn wòzīluō sàdá a hōng / wēng bānzhā sàduǒ hōng).

Meaning of name edit

Vajrasattva's name translates to Diamond Being or Thunderbolt Being. The vajra is an iconic marker for Esoteric Buddhism.

Newar Buddhism edit

Vajrasattva is an important figure in the tantric Buddhism of the Newar People of the Kathmandu Valley. He represents the ideal guru, and he is frequently invoked in the guru maṇḍala, the foundational ritual for all other Newar Buddhist rituals and the daily pūjā for Newar priests (vajrācāryas). The śatākṣara (100 syllable prayer to Vajrasattva) is memorized by many practicing Newar Buddhist priests.

East Asian Buddhism edit

Depiction of Vajrasattva seated on a lotus. Japan, 14th century CE

In Chinese Buddhism and Shingon, Vajrasattva is traditionally viewed as the second patriarch of Esoteric Buddhism, the first being Vairocana Buddha. According to Kukai's writings in Record of the Dharma Transmission he relates a story based on Amoghavajra's account that Nagarjuna met Vajrasattva in an iron tower in southern India. Vajrasattva initiated Nagarjuna into the abhiseka ritual and entrusted him with the esoteric teachings he had learned from Vairocana Buddha, as depicted in the Mahavairocana Sutra. Kukai does not elaborate further on Vajrasattva or his origins.[3]

Elsewhere, Vajrasattva is an important figure in two esoteric Buddhist sutras, the Mahavairocana Sutra and the Vajrasekhara Sutra. In the first chapter of the Mahavairocana Sutra, Vajrasattva leads a host of beings who visit Vairocana Buddha to learn the Dharma. Vajrasattva inquires about the cause, goal and foundation of all-embracing wisdom, which leads to a philosophical discourse delivered by the Buddha. The audience cannot comprehend the teaching, so the Buddha demonstrates through the use of mandala. Vajrasattva then questions why rituals and objects are needed if the truth is beyond form. Vairocana Buddha replies to Vajrasattva that these are expedient means whose function is to bring practitioners to awakening more readily, and so on. In Shingon Buddhist rituals for initiation; the kechien kanjō; the initiate re-enacts the role of Vajrasattva and recites mantra and dialogue from the sutras above. The Mahācārya enacts the role of Mahavairocana Buddha, bestowing wisdom upon the student.[citation needed]

In certain esoteric Chinese Buddhist rituals such as the Grand Mengshan Food Bestowal ceremony (Chinese: 蒙山施食; pinyin: méngshān shīshí) and the Samadhi Water Repentance Ceremony (Chinese: 三昧水懺; pinyin: Sānmèi shuǐchàn), Vajrasatta's mantra is commonly recited as part of the liturgy while the performing monastic uses ritual vajras and ghantas to expel demons from the ritual platform.

Tibetan Buddhism edit

In Tibetan Buddhism the Vajrasattva root tantra is Dorje Gyan, or "Vajra Ornament".[4] Vajrasattva practices are common to all of the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism and are used both to purify obscurations so that the Vajrayana student can progress beyond Ngondro practices to the various yoga practices of tantra and also to purify any broken samaya vows after initiation. As such, Vajrasattva practice is an essential element of Tibetan Buddhist practice.

In addition to personal practice, the Vajrasattva mantra is regarded as having the ability to purify karma, bring peace, and cause enlightened activity in general. Following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche announced a project, Prayer 4 Peace, to accumulate one billion six syllable Vajrasattva recitations from practitioners around the world. The six syllable mantra (oṁ Vajrasattva Hūṁ), is a less formal version of the one hundred syllable mantra on which it is based but contains the essential spiritual points of the longer mantra, according to lama and tulku Jamgon Kongtrul.[5]

Dzogchen edit

"The Mirror of the Heart of Vajrasattva" (Tibetan: རྡོ་རྗེ་སེམས་དཔའ་སྙིང་གི་མེ་ལོང, Wylie: rdo rje sems dpa' snying gi me long) is one of the Seventeen Tantras of Dzogchen Upadesha.[6]

Samantabhadra discourses to Vajrasattva and in turn Vajrasattva asks questions of Samantabhadra in clarification in the Kulayaraja Tantra (Wylie: kun byed rgyal po, THL: künjé gyalpo) or "The All-Creating King Tantra", the main tantra of the Mind Series of Dzogchen.[7]

Consorts edit

Vajrasattva is often depicted with various consorts: the peaceful one Vajragarvi aka Vajrasatvātmikā (Tib. Dorje Nyema), Dharmadhatvishvari, Ghantapani ("Bell Bearer"), the wrathful one Diptacakra, Vajratopa, Vajrabhrikuti, and others.

Hundred Syllable Mantra edit

An important mantra associated with Vajrasattva is the Hundred Syllable Mantra. This mantra appears in the Sarvatathāgata-tattvasaṃgraha.[8] The earliest appearance of the mantra is in a collection of mantras (T.866) translated into Chinese by Vajrabodhi (c. 671-741) in 723 CE called A Summary of Recitations Taken from the Sarvatathāgatatattvasaṃgrahasūtra (金剛頂瑜伽中略出念誦經).[9]

The mantra is the following:

In Chinese Buddhism edit

In Chinese Buddhism, the "Hundred Syllable Mantra" is recited and practiced by monastics during the Yogacara Flaming Mouth Ritual (Chinese: 瑜伽焰口; pinyin: Yújiā Yànkou), which is often conducted during various important festivals, including the Chinese Ghost Festival, in order to feed pretas and reduce their suffering. The earliest known reference to this mantra in the Chinese Buddhist canon dates to a compilation of spells purportedly made by monks from the Xixia kingdom during the Song dynasty (960 - 1279), which may indicate that the mantra was first transcribed from Tibetan Buddhist sources, as Tibetan Buddhist teachings were influential in the Xixia region at the time.[10]

In Tibetan Buddhism edit

The 100 syllable mantra of Vajrasattva in Lañja and Tibetan scripts

In Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhist practice, Vajrasattva is used in the Ngondro, or preliminary practices, in order to purify the mind's defilements, prior to undertaking more advanced tantric techniques. The yik gya, the "Hundred Syllable Mantra" (Tibetan: ཡིག་བརྒྱ་, Wylie: yig brgya) supplication of Vajrasattva, approaches universality in the various elementary Ngondro sadhana for sadhakas of all Mantrayana and Sarma schools bar the Bonpo. The pronunciation and orthography differ between lineages.

The evocation of the Hundred Syllable Vajrasattva Mantra in the Vajrayana lineage of Jigme Lingpa's (1729–1798) ngondro from the Longchen Nyingtig displays Sanskrit-Tibetan hybridization. Such textual and dialectical diglossia (Sanskrit: dvaibhāṣika) is evident from the earliest transmission of tantra into the region, where the original Sanskrit phonemes and lexical items are often orthographically rendered in the Tibetan, rather than the comparable indigenous terms (Davidson, 2002).[11] Though Jigme Lingpa did not compose the Hundred Syllable Mantra, his scribal style bears a marked similarity to it as evidenced by his biographies (Gyatso, 1998).[12] Jigme Lingpa as pandit, which in the Himalayan context denotes an indigenous Tibetan versed in Sanskrit, often wrote in a hybridized Sanskrit-Tibetan diglossia.

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Rangjung Yeshe Dictionary Page". Retrieved 2013-06-14.
  2. ^ Abe, Ryuichi (1999). The Weaving of Mantra: Kukai and the Construction of Esoteric Buddhist Discourse. Columbia University Press. pp. 131–133, 198, 221, 222. ISBN 0-231-11286-6.
  3. ^ Abe, Ryuichi (1999). The Weaving of Mantra: Kukai and the Construction of Esoteric Buddhist Discourse. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-11286-6.
  4. ^ Becoming Vajrasattva, 2nd Edition: The Tantric Path of Purification (2004) by Lama Yeshe, ISBN 978-0-86171-389-9, Wisdom Publications.p.X
  5. ^ "Welcome". 2001-12-11. Retrieved 2013-06-14.
  6. ^ Rigpa Shedra (October 2009). "Seventeen Tantras". Retrieved April 5, 2010.
  7. ^ E. K. Neumaier-Dargyay, The Sovereign All-Creating Mind: The Motherly Buddha, Albany, 1992
  8. ^ Jayarava (2011). Visible Mantra: Visualising & Writing Buddhist Mantras, p. 85.
  9. ^ "Jayarava's Raves: Canonical Sources for the Vajrasattva Mantra". Jayarava's Raves. 2012-06-29. Retrieved 2023-04-07.
  10. ^ Lye, Hun Yeow (2003). Feeding Ghosts: A Study of the Yuqie Yankou Rite (Thesis). University of Virginia. doi:10.18130/v3s82z.
  11. ^ Davidson, Ronald M. (2002). Indian esoteric Buddhism: a social history of the Tantric movement. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-12618-2 (cloth)
  12. ^ Gyatso, Janet (1998). Apparitions of the Self: The Secret Autobiographies of a Tibetan Visionary; a Translation and Study of Jigme Lingpa's 'Dancing Moon in the Water' and 'Ḍākki's Grand Secret-Talk'. Princeton, New Jersey, USA: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-01110-9 (cloth: alk. paper)

External links edit

  • Rangjung Yeshe Dictionary entry
  • Samye Institute Library entry
  • Video of a segment of a Chinese Yogacara Flaming Mouth ceremony (瑜伽焰口法會) where Vajrasattva's mantra "Oṃ Vajrasattva Hūṃ" is recited (at around the 10 second mark)
  • Video of a segment of a Samadhi Water Repentance ceremony in Taiwan where Vajrasattva's mantra "Oṃ Vajrasattva Hūṃ" is recited (at around the 20:17 minute mark)
  • Video of a segment of a Chinese Yogacara Flaming Mouth ceremony (瑜伽焰口法會) showing recitation of Vajrasattva's Hundred Syllable Mantra