Mahāsthāmaprāpta

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Mahāsthāmaprāpta Bodhisattva
Mahāsthāmaprāpta Bodhisattva

1. Mahāsthāmaprāpta

Mahāsthāmaprāpta is a Bodhisattva Mahāsattva who represents the power of wisdom. Their name literally means "arrival of the great strength".

He is rarely worshipped alone, but he features in several Mahāyāna Sūtras and he is famous as a servant of Buddha Amitābha, always portrayed as standing guard to Amitābha’s throne, together with Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara.

Mahāsthāmaprāpta is one of the 8 Great Bodhisattvas in Mahāyāna Buddhism, together with:

  1. Mañjuśrī,
  2. Samantabhadra,
  3. Avalokiteśvara,
  4. Ākāśagarbha,
  5. Kṣitigarbha,
  6. Maitreya
  7. Sarvanivāraṇaviṣkambhin,
  8. Mahāsthāmaprāpta

In Chinese Buddhism, he is sometimes portrayed as a woman, Shih Chih, with a likeness similar to Avalokiteśvara.

Mahāsthāmaprāpta is can be depicted as male or a female. He may have a lotus in his hand or a pagoda in his hair.

He is also one of the 13 Buddhas in the Japanese school of Shingon Buddhism.

Mahāsthāmaprāpta, Avalokiteśvara, Amitābha

Mahāsthāmaprāpta -right
Avalokiteśvara -left ,
Amitābha in centre

In Tibetan Buddhism, Mahāsthāmaprāpta is equated with Vajrapāṇi, who is one of his incarnations and was known as the Protector of Gautama Buddha.

Mahāsthāmaprāpta is one of the oldest Bodhisattvas and is regarded as powerful, especially in the Pure Land School, where they take an important role in the Larger Sukhāvatī-vyūha Sūtra.

He is often depicted in a trinity with Amitābha and Avalokiteśvara (Guanyin), especially in Pure Land Buddhism.

In the Śūraṅgama Sūtra, Mahāsthāmaprāpta tells of how they gained enlightenment through the practice of Nianfo, or continuous pure mindfulness of Amitābha, to obtain samādhi.

In the Amitāyurdhyāna Sūtra, Mahāsthāmaprāpta is symbolized by the Moon while Avalokiteśvara is represented by the Sun.

In the Introductory chapter of the Lotus Sūtra, Mahāsthāmaprāpta is present among the 80 000 Bodhisattva Mahāsattvas who assemble on Mount Gṛdhrakūṭa to hear the Buddha's preaching of the Wonderful Dharma of the Lotus Flower Sūtra.

The Buddha also addresses Mahāsthāmaprāpta in chapter 20 of the Lotus Sūtra to tell of the Buddha's past life as the Bodhisattva Sadāparibhūta ("Never Despising"),

a monk who was abused and reviled by arrogant monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen when he paid them respect by saying they would all become Buddhas.

The Buddha explains to Mahāsthāmaprāpta how these arrogant people were punished, but are now Bodhisattvas present in the assembly on the path to Enlightenment.

The Buddha then praises the great strength of the Lotus Sūtra thus:

O Mahāsthāmaprāpta, know that this Lotus Sūtra will greatly benefit the Bodhisattva Mahāsattvas and lead them to highest, complete enlightenment.

For this reason, after the Tathāgata’s Parinirvāṇa the Bodhisattvas Mahāsattvas should always preserve, recite, explain, and copy this Sūtra.”

2. China

Yìnguāng, a teacher of Pure Land Buddhism, was widely considered to be a manifestation of Mahāsthāmaprāpta based on the accounts of 2 people:

1. Huìchāo, a former Christian who had never heard of him before
2. Běnkōng, a Buddhist monk and former student

Both of these figures had independent dreams regarding the situation.

3. Japan

In Japan, Mahāsthāmaprāpta is associated with the temple guardians Niō (also called Kongō Rikishi).

He is recognized as one of the 13 Buddhas of Shingon Buddhism. His name in Japan is Seishi bosatsu

4. Mantra

Mahāsthāmaprāpta is a Bodhisattva

Mahāsthāmaprāpta is a Bodhisattva

(Sanskrit):

Namaḥ Samantabuddhānāṁ, Jaṁ Jaṁ Saḥ Svāhā

(Homage to all Buddhas! Jaṁ jaṁ saḥ! svāhā)

(Japan):

(Sanskrit)

Oṁ saṁ jaṁ jaṁ saḥ svāhā

(Shingon)

On san zan saku sowaka

(Tendai)

On sanzen zensaku sowaka