Possibly origin of Bodhisattva Manjusri

I am looking for it in google. But I found nothing. Just information in a google book.

Do you have a number or PTS reference?

You are free to go through the index of Jataka volumes at the link below:



I will go through that but I’m not sure its a pali version. Reason for interest in it. Because it’s a king. And I read mention that Bodhisattva > Manjusri when he was a king named Ambara.

And then out of curiosity I went to search the name. And there a Jataka by that name. I’m trying to understand if the different Buddhas as in Japan or Bodhisattvas is related to a Jataka.

Because I saw that in Pali there is also a chance of a Amitabha having Jataka

But these might be related to actually a Buddha past life.

So the reason for the cult naming then Bodhisattvas or Buddhas has traditionally been lost. I think it had to do with the belief that these all transformations that the Buddha mind transformed in. So devotion in a past Bodhisattva life was because it’s like the same Buddha but not the same human person so hence these that became popular might have been the stories behind the cult.

Just out of curiosity.
What motivates all this investigation? Are you a scholar / researcher?

we all been scholars once in our past life. :nerd_face: well like I said I was reading Stages of Meditation by Vimalamitra. Mentioned that the Bodhisattva was king in his past life. I searched in google and there is Jataka mentioned by that name. I like these weird research. I don’t win nothing. But it made more curious that there is jataka by that name.
These self interest researched sometimes is fun also when you find new things.


If it helps you gaining confidence and enthusiasm in developing the eightfold path and the 37 principles or qualities towards awakening, go for it.


I actually in understanding Buddhism better can help explain to students. That’s why I tackle all angles of study.


Just found this.

Although Manjusri does not appear in the Pali Canon, some scholars associate him with Pancasikha, a heavenly musician who appears in the Digha-nikaya of the Pali Canon.

Manjusri’s epithet, pancasikha

The end of Study. :joy: :v:


Just a reminder that not everyone in this forum is a Theravada practitioner. Some of us are Mahayana practitioners interested in history and finding nuggets of how things got to Mahayana doctrine from the EBTs. So yeah, for us, this kind of inquiry can be very useful in historicizing our traditions.

Anyway, it is an interesting theory. But I would be hesitant to make the leap that all the Mahayana Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have a basis in the EBT Jataka tales. But I wouldn’t be surprised if some did.

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I am aware of that. I will remove offence reply. That’s why I wrote example. I had question about Jataka I was looking. I didn’t start a discussion but maybe if you are interested make a new discussion because I think the main Bodhisattvas we understand already that they are some of the gods from Vedas. It’s like what Buddhism did using the Brahma and name, Sahampati. But note in Japan some of Bodhisattvas are Buddha not a Bodhisattva.

I don’t actually agree with you here, but we needn’t pursue it. We’re dealing here with sands-of-time, lost-to-history, conjectures here – so the floor is yours as much as mine.

But related to your idea quoted, I have a pet theory that Viṣṇu and Vairocana at one point were each other, albeit through a scanner darkly, but that’s a tale for another forum! Suffice to say, this would give context to Hindu myths of the Buddha as an avatar of Viṣṇu. It is a reforming of the idea of Śākyamuni as an emanation of Dharmakāya Vairocana:

An example for my above pet-theory

Śākyamuni Buddha resided within the fourth dhyāna in the heavenly mansion of Maheśvara Devarāja in the company of the limitless host of Mahābrahmā Devarājas of the heavens and with an incredibly multitudinous host of bodhisattvas.

Coming out of deep dhyāna, the Lord spoke of the Sermon of the Lotus Vault, the Sermon of the Womb of the World-System. He spoke of the sermon which Vairocana Buddha spoke: the Sermon of the Dharma Gate of the Mind-Ground. Then from Śākyamuni Buddha’s body radiated a luminous wisdom, which brightened in the minds of the assembly the celestial palace of the heavens and on high, ascending to the Lotus Vault, to the Womb of the World-Systems, where they witnessed Vairocana Buddha enthroned with one million lotus blossoms in a bright brilliant constellation around him.

Śākyamuni Buddha spoke: “Within these world-systems, from their grounds to the empty spaces [above their skies,] what stirs the fate of a living being toward the consummation of the path of the ten bodhisatva grounds? What are the fruits, the myriad marks, of the completion of Buddhahood?”

Vairocana Buddha, the Mahākāruṇika, then manifested the Samādhi of Empty Space that illuminates the Svābhāvika, that illuminates the root source of the completion of Buddhahood. He manifested the samādhi that illuminates the Dharmakāya. To the assembled many he revealed this samādhi. He then spoke:

"O sons[, O daughters,] of the Buddha, listen carefully and practice this well, for I have cultivated for endless aeons this mind-ground, and with this as cause, first abandoned the way of the worldlings and attained that gnosis which is consummate, which is highest, taking on the name of Vairocana and dwelling here in the Lotus Vault, here in the Womb of the World-Systems, here in the Ocean. I am surrounded everywhere on all sides by the petals of the lotus blossom, each petal bearing a world-system, each world-system bearing a thousand worlds.

“Now, I am become one thousand Śākyan sages in one thousand world-systems enthroned on one thousand thrones of gnosis, each expounding that which you have asked of me, each elaborating on the bodhisatva mind-ground. Now, I am become nine hundred and ninety-nine Śākyan sages each emanating ten trillion Śākyan sages like this. Each of the one thousand Śākyan sages atop these lotus petals are my transformative bodies. All of the ten trillion Śākyan sages are one thousand transformative bodies. I am the root source for all these – named Vairocana Buddha.”

(T1484.997b12 *Vairocanabhāṣitacittabhūmiśīlaskandhaparivarta, abridged)

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I have changed sort post. If it’s allowed.

It’s is true. But we talking about the first mentioned Bodhisattvas in Art history etc. Of course there is more. Just like in my study Buddhism started with Buddhas as noticed in suttas but then with time later commentaries mentioned much more. Another thing to remember there is much chance of Buddhism preaching style to be to mingle with the society in that time. Here is one example of names change in pali tradition. From using Prajapati to using Brahma or Mahabrahma.

In Samyutta you can notice this. Ancient words where used before in Buddhism but it changes with time in transmission but doesn’t matter so much. But samyutta mentions the gods on Buddha’s right hand and Brahma is not mentiond. In my study is word to replace him from medieval india. Also in beginning of Buddhism in my study Indra is more important. I believe with time with society changes we kept adding.

What is my assumption in this.

The word Brahma got replaced by Buddha

So actually the tradition is supposed to be that as all gods are actually the same Brahma nature, now in Buddhism these changed to Buddha gods are also one and the same manifestation of the Buddha Nature.

What you think?

That wasn’t aimed at you. But at the question of whether you had scholarly motivations and if this helps in your practice.

Like, who cares? As a Mahayana practitioner, to me your question very much was valid and worthwhile!


Oh I understand now. Yeah I tend to understand that I have to understand Buddhism because sometimes students ask difficult questions. :joy:

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This happens all the time. There is a Buddha in the Lotus Sūtra named Prabhūtaratna who has no history in Buddhist scripture. He is likely a past “mahābrahmā” who is used to acclaim Śākyamuni, like Brahmā Sahāmpati in the Brahmasutta SN47.18. IMO, of course. I don’t want to get too into the Lotus Sūtra example, so if you are interested in this parallel, I can PM you or you can PM me asking to PM you.

Why do you think Prajāpati predates Brahmā?

Which sutta, if you don’t mind?

When we speak of “Buddha nature,” we are speaking of a “buddhadhātu.”

The dhātu, in the sense of śarīradhātu, was once a piece of a body of a saint who, through perseverance in the holy life, had transformed a piece of his body into deathless material. In the cremation ashes of the saints, devotees would find these dhātus.

Old Mahāyāna sūtras like the Lotus Sūtra have no conception of “Buddha nature.” The word appears nowhere in these texts. Instead, we have the notion that all beings, at one point in the infinite past, have had a prediction of future buddhatva from a samyaksaṁbuddha. Later, a notion develops that not only the sages have this dhātu of amṛta, but rather everyone has them, and you can find these in anyone’s cremation remains. From this, gradually over time, and removing the notion of an actual “bit/dhātu” you can find in the ashes, develops the idea that all beings have “Buddha-nature” IMO, as a counterpoint to the above.

Interesting to what you said.

I found the Sūtra actually that the King is mentioned. Interesting thing is I think this also a Sūtra used for Amitābha Buddha.

in the Karunapundarika Sutra, King Ambara,
gives away his hands and feet in hope of acquiring the “excellent
hands of faith” and the “excellent feet of morality.”(72) Thus, the
physical body becomes a template or map of the spiritual qualities
valued in the Buddhist tradition, resulting in a corresponding
“dharmabody” favored over the ordinary physical body, with the
gift-of-the-body perceived as a mechanism of exchanging one for the

I will search the sutta I mentioned above.

But the same list of gods mentioned in a later translation of Divyāvadāna they use Brahma instead of Prajapati. Because it’s translation from medieval India.

Looking for the sutta I actually found Bhikkhu Bodhi note in Samyutta of Pañcasikha. It say he developed Jhana and was reborn in the Brahmā world. They knew him as kumāra, but because of his age he was called Sanankumara, “Forever Youthful"

We don’t need more evidence.

They call him the Bodhisattva as Youthful Manjusri. And Nalanda Masters actually at the beginning of text doesn’t name him Bodhisattvas as homage. They Say Homage to the Youthful Manjusri.


The list of gods is given here. What I mentioned before was my interpretation of how Bhikkhu Bodhi explains this sutta. I forgot :joy: sorry. But still it’s like that. Right is good side. Buddha clearly shows who is high till low. He is obviously supreme. I just embrace these texts as part of old transmission. But still I don’t make assumptions if Buddha said these. But these names was clearly used more in his time.

The evidence is in Inscriptions. There is not much. But Buddhist ones mention Indra and Sakka. That’s doesn’t prove a lot but it says who they found important in the beginning. And it makes sense. As rig Veda mostly has to Indra.

But reason for believing Prajapati predates Brahma because we don’t have very early Vedas translations, they come from a time Brahma was used, but it doesn’t mean maybe it was not used in Vedas. We don’t have early versions so we can’t prove. But it’s clear that what Buddha wanted to do in remove the attachment of India Culture to this supreme creator idea. So this Lord of Creation was emphasized on. In Vedas when talking about creation it’s about Prajapati.

Now if you try to see here what I shared you will understand that actually the mingling of Vedas and Buddhism that happened in start of medieval India probably replaced the word Brahma for Buddha.

As you can see. Pañcasikha was born in Brahma World.

So since there was made the Supreme Vehicle.

If you see the sutta that Buddha is first then Prajapati. (Brahma)

So all these past Brahmā gods and these stories of followers born in Brahmā world. Was after replaced as a revolution against the Hinduism that was taking over of Buddhism.

They said if you say they are reborn in Brahmā world I say they are born in Buddha realm. That’s where pure Land Buddhism comes in. :joy:
It’s was also said in Lankavatara Sutra

Mahamati, some recognise me as the Tathagata, some as the Self-existent One, some as Leader, as Vinayaka (Remover), as Parinayaka (Guide), as Buddha, as Rishi (Ascetic), as Bull-king, as Brahma, as Vishnu, as Isvara, as Original Source (pradhana), as Kapila, as Bhutanta (End of Reality), as Arishta, as Nemina, as Soma (moon), as the Sun, as Rama, as Vyasa, as Suka, as Indra, as Balin, as Varuna, as is known to some; while others recognise me as One who is never born and never passes away, as Emptiness, as Suchness, as Truth, as Reality, as Limit of Reality, (193) as the Dharmadhatu, as Nirvana, as the Eternal, as Sameness, as Non-duality, as the Undying, as the Formless, as Causation, as the Doctrine of Buddha-cause, as Emancipation, as the Truth of the Path, as the All-Knower,
as the Victor, as the Will-made Mind.

That’s the Hinduism/Buddhism versions of Mahayana

So they just started using Buddha in place of Brahma with time. In the beginning it more about claiming Buddha as part of theirs this way by connecting all gods as Buddha.

As is done today in Hinduism Buddha is known as Vishnu.

Also this same Mahayana Sūtra says

Vishnu and Mahesvara will teach about the creation of the world; things like this will take place after my passing.

So you can as him see the influence. Brahmā religion of transforming in life became Buddha job in Indian Society.

It was the constant fight to supremacy in Indian Culture.

Wikipedia says

Scholars have identified Mañjuśrī as the oldest and most significant bodhisattva in Mahāyāna literature.

In my study Vajrayana at Nalanda where they kept the tradition correct. As they have him as a Buddha.

So Wikipedia says

Within Vajrayāna Buddhism, Mañjuśrī is a meditational deity and considered a fully enlightened Buddha.

And this sort of pre-Jatakas verses of Elder could have been the inspiration also. Here the Elder was known as Amitabha in past as wheel turning king. Bodhisattva is the wheel turning ascetics.