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Thread: Vajrapani {God* of the Week}

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    Vajrapani {God* of the Week}

    *Not a deity, technically, but a bodhisattva.

    ---




    "...And to Vajrapani, holder of the diamond,
    The very sight of whom will rout
    All dangers like the deadly host of Yama (Death);
    To him indeed I fly for safety.
    Formerly your words I have transgressed.
    But now I see these terrors all around.
    To you indeed I come for help,
    And pray you swiftly save me from this fear."
    - Shantideva

    Vajrapāṇi (from Sanskrit vajra, "thunderbolt" or "diamond" and pāṇi, lit. "in the hand") is one of the earliest bodhisattvas of Mahayana Buddhism. He is the protector and guide of the Buddha, and rose to symbolize the Buddha's power. Vajrapani was used extensively in Buddhist iconography as one of the three protective deities surrounding the Buddha. Each of them symbolizes one of the Buddha's virtues: Manjusri (the manifestation of all the Buddhas' wisdom), Avalokitesvara (the manifestation of all the Buddhas' compassion) and Vajrapani (the manifestation of all the Buddhas' power as well as the power of all 5 Tathagathas). Furthermore, Vajrapani is one of the earliest Dharmapalas and the only Buddhist deity to be mentioned in the Pali Canon as well as be worshiped in the Shaolin Temple, Tibetan Buddhism, and even Pure Land Buddhism (where he is known as Mahasthamaprapta and is one of a Triad comprising Amitabha and Avalokiteshwara). Manifestations of Vajrapani can also be found in many Buddhist temples in Japan as Dharma protectors called Nio. Vajrapani is also associated with Acala who is venerated as Fudo-Myo in Japan where he is serenaded as the holder of the Vajra.[1] Vajrapani here is different from that mentioned in the Vedas as Indra, the king of the Gods and the most widely mentioned deity in all of the Indian scriptures.

    (...)

    On the popular level, Vajrapani, Holder of the Thunderbolt Scepter (symbolizing the power of compassion), is the Bodhisattva who represents the power of all the Buddhas, just as Avalokitesvara represents their great compassion, Manjushri their wisdom, and Tara their miraculous deeds. For the yogi, Vajrapani is a means of accomplishing fierce determination and symbolizes unrelenting effectiveness in the conquest of negativity. His taut posture is the active warrior pose (pratayalidha), based on an archer's stance but resembling the en garde position in Western fencing. His outstretched right hand brandishes a vajra and his left hand deftly holds a lasso - with which he binds demons. Although he wears a skull crown in a few depictions, in most depictions he wears a 5 pointed Bodhisattva crown to depict the power of the 5 Tathagathas. (The skull crown is an iconographic symbol of another similar Dharmapala called Mahakala).

    Vajrapani's expression is wrathful and he has a third eye. Around his neck is a serpent necklace and his loin cloth is made up of the skin of a tiger, whose head can be seen on his left knee.
    The Pali Canon's Ambattha Suttanta, which challenges the caste system, tells of one instance of him appearing as a sign of the Buddha's power. At the behest of his teacher, a young Brahmin named Ambatha visited the Buddha. Knowing the Buddha's family to be the Shakya clan who are Kshatriya caste, Ambatha failed to show him the respect he would a fellow Brahmin. When the Buddha questioned his lack of respect, Ambatha replied it was because the Buddha belongs to a "menial" caste. The Buddha then asked the Brahmin if his family was descended from a “Shakya slave girl”. Knowing this to be true, Ambatha refused to answer the question. Upon refusing to answer the question for a second time, the Buddha warned him that his head would be smashed to bits if he failed to do so a third time. Ambatha was frightened when he saw Vajrapani manifest above the Buddha's head ready to strike the Brahmin down with his thunderbolt. He quickly confirmed the truth and a lesson on caste ensues.


    According to the Pancavimsatisahasrika and Astasahasrika Prajnaparamita any Bodhisattva on the path to Buddhahood is eligible for Vajrapani's protection, making them invincible to any attacks "by either men or ghosts".

    (...)

    Just as Buddhaghosa associated Vajrapani with the Hindu god Indra,[21] his first representations in India were identified with the thunder deity. As Buddhism expanded in Central Asia, and fused with Hellenistic influences into Greco-Buddhism, the Greek hero Hercules was adopted to represent Vajrapani. He was then typically depicted as a hairy, muscular athlete, wielding a short "diamond" club.


    In Japan, Vajrapani is known as Shukongōshin (執金剛神, "Diamond rod-wielding God"), and has been the inspiration for the Niō (仁王, lit. Benevolent kings), the wrath-filled and muscular guardian god of the Buddha, standing today at the entrance of many Buddhist temples under the appearance of frightening wrestler-like statues. He is also associated with Fudo-Myo, an incarnation of Acala and the prayer mantra for Fudo Myo references him as the powerful wielder of the Vajra.


    Some suggest that the war deity Kartikeya, who bears the title Skanda is also a manifestation of Vajrapani, who bears some resemblance to Skanda because they both wield vajras as weapons and are portrayed with flaming halos. He is also connected through Vajrapani through a theory to his connection to Greco-Buddhism, as Wei Tuo's image is reminiscent of the Heracles depiction of Vajrapani.

    From: Wiki

    On the popular level, Vajrapani, Holder of the Thunderbolt Scepter (symbolizing the power of compassion), is the angelicBodhisattva who represents the power of all the Buddhas, just as Avalokiteshvara represents their great compassion, Manjushri their wisdom, and Tara their miraculous deeds. For the yogi, Vajrapani is an archetype deity of fierce determination and symbolizes unrelenting effectiveness in the conquest of negativity.


    His taut posture is the active warrior pose (pratayalidha), based on an archer's stance but resembling the en garde position in Western fencing. His outstretched right hand brandishes a vajra and his left hand deftly holds a lasso - with which he binds demons. He wears a skull crown with his hair standing on end. His expression is wrathful and he has a third eye. Around his neck is a serpent necklace and his loin cloth is made up of the skin of a tiger, whose head can be see on his right knee.


    Vajrapani is believed to be the savior of snakes (nagas), and since the Nagas are believed to control the rain-clouds, Vajrapani as their protector is looked upon as the Rain God, and it is to him Buddhists appeal when rain is needed, or is too abundant. In this capacity Vajrapani is identified with Indra, the Indian god of Rain.

    From: Here (also see statue)
    Rooted in the early Indian notions of ritual authority, Bodhisattva Vajrapani embodies the great power of a Buddha's enlightened heart-mind (mahabala chitta) to convert others of different persuasions into the Buddhist path. As the embodiment of wisdom of a fully enlightened Buddha, Vajrapani has received a great deal of attention in iconological literature, much of it speculative. Historically, the name Vajrapani, "Vajra-handed", is of great antiquity and is found in the Rig Veda as an epithet of Indra. In the Vedic context, the term is used primarily to connote Indra as a weapon carrier; because it is with his vajra (a lighting bolt) that Indra defeats the demons, and enemies. When and how Vajrapani enters the Buddhist world is obscure, however by the 1st to 2nd century in the Kushana period, representations of Vajrapani are well established elements of Buddhist imagery. In the literature, the term vajra has come to have a nuanced implication of 'adamantine' with connotation such as pure, perfect, and true. Moreover, a yakkha named Vajirapani (skt. Vajrapani) appears in the Pali canonical literature, to pressure defaulting debater to answer the questions of the Buddha. When they have not answered the third repetition of the question, Vajrapani appears "holding a huge iron club (vajira in Pali cannon), flaming, ablaze, and glowing, in the sky just above Ambattha, (who was debating the Buddha), and was thinking – if this young man (Ambattha) does not answer a proper question put to him by the Buddha the third time of asking, I will split his head into seven pieces. Upon seeing Vajrapani, Ambattha became terrified and unnerved, his hairs stood on end, and he sought protection, shelter and safety from the Blessed one. The story is described in the Ambattha Sutta of Pali Sutta Pitaka.


    Yaksha Vajrapani became extremely popular in Gandhara school of Art and is found in many narrative sculptures, where he appears as a Herculean warrior with a double-ended club. The cult of Heracles was well-known in Indo-Greek Bactria and Gandhara. At Ahicchattra, near Mathura in central India, Vajrapani was being rendered in stone sculpture belong to the period circa 1st – 2nd century A.D., in Partnership with Avalokiteshvara attending a Buddha, as the two embodiments of wisdom and compassion. The Avalokiteshvara-Vajrapani partnership continues to develop in the western caves at Ajanta and Ellora. The modification in these representations is that Vajrapani has changed from his Hellenistic Herculean appearance and is depicted as a princely, Indian figure, with the upper torso bare and wearing the dhoti as lower garment. This change in appearance was probably a cultural reinterpretation rather than a change of status. It is obvious that the primary Bodhisattva pair, Avalokiteshvara embodies the compassion while Vajrapani, the power of the Buddha's mind and wisdom. Later on, in circa 6th century A.D. a distinct form of Vajrapani appears with an acolyte, Vajra Anuchara as seen in Nepal and Western Indian caves. It is said that Vajra Anuchara is a hypostasis of Vajrapani, who himself is the embodiment of the heart-mind (Bodhicitta) of all the Tathagatas. He represents Vajrapani, and acts with the authority of Vajrapani, but is not Vajrapani. According to tradition, Shakyamuni called Vajrapani both as Yaksha and Bodhisattva.


    Another form of Vajrapani, emerged between 11th – 12th century A.D., is called Krodha (wrathful) Vajrapani and while his symbolism remained the same as other forms, his wrath took on a very literal representation. In this form he has muscular body, tiger-skin skirt, ferocious eyes, and brandishing the vajra as a weapon. His wrathful form was an important part of the Tantric methodologies in the Pala period (c. 750 – 1199) in the eastern India, and was probably taken to Tibet by Atisha or one of his successors. The wrathful Vajrapani displays his rightful indignation at hindrances that impede the practitioner on the path to enlightenment or is directed toward the stupidity of someone who has encountered the Buddha's teaching and who is, even so, too arrogant and prideful to take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and the Sangha. Invoked for both protection and purification, a wrathful Vajrapani is also invoked during the Krodhavesha ritual in the Kalachakra practice. For the yogi, Vajrapani is an archetype deity of fierce determination and symbolizes unrelenting effectiveness in the conquest of negativity.


    This fierce manifestation of Vajrapani is a powerful portrayal. His wild hair, brows, mustaches, and beard burn with evil-consuming supernova flames, his eyes laser-red in intensity. He wears five-lobbed jeweled crown with flowers and bone tassels. Moreover, he wears flowing silk scarves tiger-skin skirt, jewel and bone ornaments. Vajrapani is brandishing a vajra in his right hand, the Buddhist symbol of the absolute truth, while his left hand holds a noose, which binds the meditator to the highest wisdom. He dances in alidha posture on a lotus throne and there is a flame aureole behind him.

    From: Here (also see statue)
    Vajrapani, dark blue in colour with one face and two hands, appears in the form of a raksha (a daemon of classical Indian mythology) with three large staring eyes, a gaping mouth with bared canine teeth and orange beard, eyebrows and hair flowing upward like flame. The body is squat, large and fleshy. Adorned with a crown of five skulls with red pendants and gold earrings, bone necklace and bracelets, anklets, and a large green snake, he wears a long green scarf and a lower garment of tiger skin tied with a green sash. With the right leg bent and the left extended above a sun disc and multi-coloured lotus Vajrapani stands in the middle of the blazing fire of pristine awareness. Placed in front as an offering, framed by two ivory elephant tusks, an assortment of wishing jewels are arranged on a plain green landscape - painted in the style of Eastern Tibet.


    At the top left is a seated buddha, yellow in colour with the right hand performing the mudra of ?earth witness? and the left placed in the mudra of meditation; seated in vajra posture above a moon disc and lotus. At the right is the deity of purification, Vajrasattva, white in colour with one face and two hands holding a vajra in the right held to the heart and with the left an upturned bell in the lap. Adorned with a crown, jewel ornaments and variously coloured silk garments he sits in the vajra posture above a moon disc and lotus seat.


    Vajrapani represents the power aspect of complete enlightenment, and known as Guhyapati (Tibetan: sang wa'i dag po), he is the 'Lord of Secrets' - the keeper of all the tantras of Vajrayana Buddhism. As a bodhisattva, like Manjushri and Avalokiteshvara, he dwells on the 10th bodhisattva level just prior to attaining complete buddhahood. In actuality all three were completely enlightened aeons ago and only appear, for the sake of training others, in the guise of bodhisattvas.


    Vajrapani is common to all Schools of Tibetan Buddhism and has numerous forms and practices which span all sets of tantric classification and levels of complexity from a solitary aspect up to the large and complex mandalas with many deities.

    From: Here (and to see art this is referring to)
    Prayer to Vajrapani
    From a Vajrapani sadhana compiled and translated by Lama Thubten Yeshe
    To the magnificent one who dwells in Chang-lo-chen:
    You, the owner of all the tantras
    And destroyer of all demonic interferences and harm,
    Holder of the mighty vajra,
    Unstained by what is false and possessing awakened knowledge:
    To you, O Vajrapani, I pay this heartfelt homage.

    From: Here

    Also see:
    Vajrapani - The Spiritual Emanation of Aksobhya
    Mantra & info
    Article: Chinese Manifestations of Tibetan Buddhas - Vajrapani
    Art & Painting
    Mantra & Practice
    Puja, Sadhana
    The Gods of Northern Buddhism: Chapter V - Forms Of Vajrapani
    Vajrapani

    Video:
    Mantra: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7WbV1AaFto
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AC2z1h7Wuf4
    Last edited by Agaliha; November 15th, 2012 at 08:17 PM.

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