The Role of Arniko in the transmission of Manjusri cult from Wutai shan-China to -NepalMin Bahadur shakya Director

Nagarjuna Institute

1.Introduction: There are four mountains of China which is famous for a well known Buddhist shrine in China dedicated to four celebrated Bodhisattvas. Among them is one of the most sacred Buddhist sites known as Wutai Shan (The Mountains of the Five Terraces) in northern Shanxi province. For centuries Buddhists in China and throughout the Buddhist world have treasured this remote and starkly beautiful mountainous region —located at what was long the very frontier of northern China and very nearby the northernmost of the five sacred peaks — because it was held to be the terrestrial residence of Mañjuśrī (Wenshushili).The other three are Mt.Emei in Sichuan, Mt. Putuo in Zhejiang and Mt. Jiuhua in Anhui. Wutai Mountain is located at northeast of Shanxi Province and formed by five main peaks with all flat land wide tops. It is such named because the 5 peaks stand out without forests on top like 5 platforms. The 5 platforms are with high elevation and high into the cloud. The peaks of Wu Tai and all the surrounding temples are sacred to Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Virtue. Manjushri (called Wenshu Pusa in Chinese) is believed to reside in the vicinity of Wu Tai Shan and numerous legends speak of apparitions of the Bodhisattva riding on a blue lion in the high mountains above the monasteries.

II. Legendary Origin of Manjusri in Wutaishan

There is a sutra entitled 'The Sutra on the Dhârani of Mañju'sri's Precious Treasury of the Dharma', translated into Chinese by Bodhiruci in 710 CE. It contains a prophecy connecting him with the mountain Wu Tai Shan. "In this sutra the Bodhisattva Vajraguhyaka asks 'Sakyamuni to elaborate on what will happen when his Dharma has disappeared from Jambudvipa. 'Sakyamuni answers, 'After I have passed away, in this Jambudviipa, in the north-east quarter there is a country named Maha China. In the centre of this country there is a mountain named Five Peaks. The youth Mañju'sri will roam about and dwell there, expounding on the Dharma at the centre of the mountain for the sake of sentient beings. Countless devas, naagas, spirits, raak.sasas, ki.mnaras, mahoragas and other creatures human and not human encircle him, reverently making worship offerings'. It is not possible to ascertain whether this is an interpolation into an Indian original since no Sanskrit version survives and the work has no known Tibetan translation. However, as with the corresponding material in the Chinese translations of the Avatamsaka Sutra, the passage indicates that by the beginning of the eighth century some Chinese saw Mañjusri as not only resident at Wu-t'ai shan, but as teaching and being worshipped there. Sutra passages such as these can also be seen as giving scriptural authority for Mañju'srii's presence at Wu-t'ai shan. If, as is likely, they are interpolations, they are a means of providing legitimacy for an existing held belief that Wu-t'ai shan was the residence of Mañju'sri, a belief that the anecdotes indicate as already having some considerable momentum" Paul Demiéville has drawn attention to the association of Mañju'sri with Mt. Ch'ing-liang in Buddhist Master Buddhabhadra's translation of the Avatamsaka Sutra in the first quarter of the fifth century (418-420 CE). It is described as his residence and is the north-easterly mountain in a list of eight mountains placed at the eight points of the compass.

Ch'ing-liang shan was an alternative name for Wu-t'ai shan. The same identification between Mañju'srii and Ch'ing-liang shan is found in the translation of the Avatamsaka Sutra made by 'Siksananda in the closing years of the seventh century (695-699 CE). However, Lamotte has shown that the assertion is an interpolation of the translators and not in the original. He suggests that the interpolation was the work of 'Siksananda, made at a time when the Hua-yen school, centered on the Avatamsaka Sutra, had become popular, and that he altered the equivalent passage in the earlier translation of Buddhabhadra. Nevertheless, we could conclude that by the end of the seventh century, Wu-t'ai shan was firmly considered to be the residence of Mañju'sri. The lore of Wutai abounds particularly in accounts of the miracles that occurred there, miracles that were of course understood to have been precipitated by Mañjuśrī’s presence, but it is noteworthy, apropos of our common subject today, that these miracle tales are almost always occasions also for expressions of admiration for, or of awe at, the stark and overwhelming beauty of the place. III.Arniko builts White Pagoda at Wutaishan After the death of Kublai Khan at 1294, Arniko constructed another White Stupa at Taihuai in the central part of the Wutai Mountain in 1301. An imperial order, issued jointly with the fifth Yuan imperial Preceptor Grags pa ‘od zer (1246-1303) from the Wutai mountain, indicates that Temur and the Imperial Preceptor were also in the Wutai Mountain in the fourth month of the same year. Their trip there must have been related to the construction of the stupa.It is said that auspicious clouds and lights appeared in the sky at the beginning of the construction. To the general public, such a view not only demonstrated the sacred nature of the monument but also added to Arniko’s renown. At the beginning of the construction, auspicious clouds and glow appeared in the sky. It is especially popular among Nepalese, Tibetans and Mongolians. Besides, he constructed many Monasteries such as Nangshan

shi, Youguo shi and Puji shi and houses for pilgrims there. Arniko spent almost twelve years in Wutai shan alone building stupa,monasteries and pilgrim rest houses. It has also survived and stands fifty two meters high dominating the view of the Wutai Mountains. Enclosed in two white stupas are a large number of Buddhist images, texts, and other treasures. If their contents come to light in the future, they will drastically change art historians' understanding of Arniko’s style and the art of the period. P. Landon states that at Wu Ta'i Shan there is still a structure remotely resembling the shrines of Bodhnath and Svayambhu and it does not appear that any other similar shrines is to be found in China proper. This suggests that Nepalese Buddhist monks had influenced the life and manner of monks at Wu Ta'i shan of China.For this second stupa, he was given ten thousand tassels of silver and was married to a Mongol official's daughter.

IV.Anecdotes of Manjusri in Nepal Manjusri popularly plays a vital role in the founding tales of Nepal: with his sword, he cut an opening in the mountains to drain a great lake, thus creating the Kathmandu valley. The story is related thus:
BODHISATTVA Manjusri, learned in all branches of the sciences, travelled from the Five Peaked Mountain, Wu-Tai Shan, to Nepal valley. Flanked by his two consorts Varadä and Moksadä, he rode merrily upon a lion and arrived at the Nägarhada Lake area, intending to pay homage to Lord Svayambhü, the Self-Born One. After staying for three nights on Nagarkot hill, he was overjoyed at having the opportunity to pay homage to Glorious Svayambhü. He was amazed to see the dazzling light of the Self-Born One, and was momentarily unsure about the nature of the light. One of his consorts, Varadä, went to Mt. Phullocca, whereas Sarasvati (Moksadä) stayed with his followers at Mt. Dhyänocca. Then Bodhisattva Manjusri, intending to drain the waters of the lake, travelled from the periphery of the mountains and found a hill called Käpotala Mountain. From

the south it resembled a small dam, which looked as though it was blocking the waters’ outflow. Approaching this small hill, he sought its permission and consoled it, and then cleaved the mountain with intense force. After it was smitten, a torrent of water gushed out with a great cracking sound. V.Manjusri Memorial Caitya in Manjusri Hill A small hill named after Manjusri lies to the west of Svayambhü hill. A Vajradhätu caitya was built there in the memory of Bodhisattva Manjusri. A mandala of Vägiçvara Manjusri, also known as Manjusri Pädukä, was installed in front of the caitya. This caitya is surrounded by walls that are decorated with images of many Buddhist deities. To the east of the caitya lies a stone gate surmounted by a torana, and to the west, a new rest house has been built in front of the caitya. There is a popular legend concerning Manjusri hill. The Great Guru Manjusri came from Five-peaked Mountain (pancaçirsa parvata) of Great China to pay homage to Svayambhü in Nepal. Out of compassion for gods and human beings, he drained the lake of the Kathmandu Valley, made the land habitable, and created Manju pattana city. He formed a circle of disciples, led by Bhiksu Gunakara, training them in all the branches of science, art and philosophy. He then returned to his abode, flying through space like a regal swan. Recognizing his greatness and contribution, Guru Shantikara established a Manjusri Memorial caitya at this spot for the benefit of others. Furthermore, Guru Shantikara’s memorial recalls another event. In memory of the teachings given to Pandita Dharmasrimitra by Manjusri on the meaning of the Nämasangiti's twelve syllables, he installed a mandala in front of the caitya. It is believed that those who recall the Manjusri Bodhisattva and write the syllables om namo vägishvaräya and so forth, and who recite stotras, dhäranis and mantras with full respect and devotion to him, will be destined to be accomplished in knowledge and skill; and will finally attain the state of nirväna, liberating himself from samsära. Since this is a holy site established in the memory of Guru Manjusri, it is well known as Manjusri Hill, a holy site.In memory of this historic event, thousands of students, teachers, and professors come here, on the auspicious day of Sri Pancami to pay homage to Great Guru Manjusri, the lord of learning, hoping to be accomplished in learning and skills. They regard this place as a main centre of devotion for learning.

As a form of gratitude, Nepalese people still express their devotion by reciting om namo vägisvaräya when they commence their childhood education, even today. As such, most faithful devotees refer to this site as ‘Dharmadhätu Vägisvara Sthän’ in their inscriptions. Vajräcäryas also still carry out worship here at regular intervals. In the daily rituals, a silver Mandala of Manjusri Pädukä is installed and regularly worshipped. On various occasions, faithful devotees contribute to this holy place as much as possible in the form of money, images, inscriptions and so forth VI.Identity of Manjusri with Svayambhu Mahacaitya We have heard that 80 disciples or colleagues of Arniko who went to China with Arniko returned to Kathmandu after their successful completion of White Pagoda in Beijing and Wutai Shan in the beginning of 14th century. We have no evidence whether Arniko returned to Kathmandu or not but it is conceivable that those of the members of Arniko's team who returned to the Nepal Valley brought back new ideas with them and must have contributed to iconometrical details in the architectural plan of Svayambhu Maha Caitya. Since Arniko was a follower of Sa skya pa sect, the Wutai Mountain had an added attraction because the Sa -skya Pandita, for whom he spent two years in Tibet (1261-62) building the golden stupa, was believed to be the incarnation of Manjusri. His preceptor 'Phags pa himself made a pilgrimage to the Wutai Mountain in 1257 and wrote several hymns that later became popular among Tibetan Buddhists. He viewed the five peaks of the Wutai Mountain as the five Buddhas, with central peak as the Mahavairocana,, the eastern as Aksobhya, the southern Ratna Sambhava, the western as Amitabha, and the northern as Amogh siddhi. Later when Arniko's team returned to Kathmandu, they contributed greatly in iconographic plans of Svayam,bhu Mahacaitya.Five Buddha images together with Four Tara images were installed in the dome of the Svayambhu Mahacaitya.

There was one reference supplied by Prof.Alexander Von Rospatt ."Svayambhu Mahacaitya was renovated several times during the Licchavi period (400-879), however, the first dated repair is known to have occurred in 1129". They were so impressed with the cult of Manjusri in Wutaishan that they brought a special doctrine associate with Manjusri to Kathmandu. While analyzing textual sources on Svayambhu Purana literature, the earliest part of the text (circa.probably 11th century) refers Svayambhu as only Jyotirupa.There was no mention of the Dharmadhatu Vagisvara or others. There was no complex iconographic plan as such. Later it was identified as the Adibuddha, unified aspect of emptiness and clear light (skt: sunyata prabhasvara). In the early 14th century the whole Svayambhu Mahacaitya is transformed into a complex Dharmadhatu vagishvara Mandala caitya. Jyotirupa----Adibuddha------Dharmakaya aspect of Manjusri---------Dharmadhatuvagishvara. VII.Conclusion: From time memorial Nepalese people believed that Great Bodhisattva Manjusri came to Nepal Valley from Wutai shan of MahaCina.But when we analyse the historical settings a human incarnation of Manjusri seemed to have visited Nepal and met the Dharmasrimitra, a great Pandita from Vikramashila Monastery.Pandita Dharmashrimitra seemed to have flourished in India between 9th to 12 centuries of our common era. This was the time when the cult of Adibuddha flourished in Nepal .Since Wutaishan became famous only in seventh century by the number of anecdotes of visits of Manjusri. It is probable that the anecdotes concerning the visit of Manjusri in Kathmandu valley appeared only after fourteenth century which was popularized by the team of Arniko after their visit to Wutaishan.This was testified by Svayambhu Purana literature. Although the antiquity of Manjusri's visit to Nepal valley and the story of draining the lake seemed to be beyond the historical range we cannot simply

accept them without the concrete, historical or archaelogical data.But unless further evidence disproves the story we cannot reject the story either.

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