Monju Bosatsu (文殊菩薩) (文殊菩薩)

Monju Bosatsu, or maJjuzrii in Sanskrit, is one of the Bosatsus which is worshiped in Mahayana Buddhism. It is said to be a Buddha that controls wisdom.

Monju is an abbreviated name for Monjushuri. Additionally, it is called Myo Kissho Bosatsu. Moreover, it is shown in transcript as Manjushiri and is translated as Myokichijo, Myotoku (Myodoku, 妙徳) or Myoshu (妙首). It is also written as 文珠菩薩.

The Sanmayagyo symbols are the shorenge (a blue tropical water lily), sharp sword and bonkyo (sutras written on coconut leaves). Shusi (Shuji, Bija) (Mikkyo) is maM.


According to "Monjushuri Nehan-kyo Sutra," it was born in a Brahmin family called Brahmadatta at Tara Juraku, in Sravasti. Another theory says it was familiar with Shaka's 10 disciples and was related to the editing of Buddhist sutras. "Yuima-kyo Sutra" described that when nobody could argue with Yuima-koji, who was sick in bed, only Monju Bosatsu, who visited him in place of Shaka, exchanged questions and answers evenly, and this episode highlighted its character as the Bosatsu of wisdom. Based on this theory, pictures or statues showing the scene in which Monju Bosatsu visited Yuima-koji were produced.

Later, Monju Bosatsu was not seen as a realistic figure as described in "Yuima-kyo Sutra" but gradually became deified through later sutras. It is said that although it is of the Bosatsu grade in order to benefit Shaka's teaching, once it became Buddha it was called Ryushu-nyorai, Daishin-butsu or Shinsen-butsu and will become Buddha (called Fuken-nyorai) in the future. In another theory, it exists in the joyful world (常喜世界) in the north at present and is called 歓喜蔵摩尼宝積如来, the name of which can diminish crimes of 四重禁等, or it is said that it lives at Qingliangshan (Wutai Shan Mountain) in Shanxi Province China with 10,000 Bosatsu. Additionally, according to "Hokkekyo Sutra," after Nichigatsu Tomyo-butsu entered nirvana in the past life, its disciple Myoko Bosatsu was reborn as Monju Bosatsu.

However, these are based on descriptions in Mahayana Sutra; there is no evidence that Monju Bosatsu really existed. As opposed to Kanzeon Bosatsu and others, it is thought that a real model person existed and that it was the Bosatsu who was created in Buddhist organizations.

Monju Bosatsu is seen in the early Mahayana Sutra, especially in the Prajnaparamita-sutras. This sutra describes 'Ku (空)' of Hannya in place of Shaka-muni Buddha. Additionally, many sutras praise Monju Bosatsu as 'Buddha's mother in the three periods,' and in "Kegon-kyo Sutra" it plays an important role to take out Zenzai-doshi on the path to seek Buddhism. These sutras show that the moral nature of Monju Bosatsu is Hannya (wisdom), which is an important factor in attaining enlightenment. Moreover, developed from the original aspect of the wisdom to reach enlightenment, it became a symbol of wisdom in general (being smart and having much knowledge), which led to the proverb 'Two heads are better than one' in a later age.

Additionally, in "Feng-Shen-Yen-I," a light novel of China, there appeared mountain hermitscalled Fugen Shinjin and Monju Koho Tenson, who believed Buddhism later and became Fugen Bosatsu and Monju Bosatsu respectively, but this is fiction of a later age.

In China, Mt. Wutai Shan in Shanxi Province has been worshipped widely since ancient times as Qingliangshan, where Monju Bosatsu lives, and this was introduced by Ennin in Japan.

Moreover, in Vol. 29 of "Bussotoki," which is a text of the Chinese Tendai sect, there is the description, 'Monju lives in Zhongnan Shan now and it is a priest Tojun,' which means that Tojun, a founder of the Chinese Kegon sect, was regarded as a reincarnation of Monju Bosatsu.

It is regarded as the principle image of Jianzhou Jurchen (建州女真族) and was identified as Manchuria (Manchus), named after Monju Bosatsu. After Hung Taiji, Jianzhou Jurchen arrived at the name Manchus instead of Jurchen. Therefore, the origin of the word Manchuria is assumed to be Monju.

In Japan there is a legend that Gyoki, a priest in the Nara period, was a reincarnation of Monju Bosatsu.


It is one of the kyoji (attendant figures) of Shakanyorai with Fugen Bosatsu (see "Shaka Triad") and is broadly worshiped by itself.

The shapes of Monju Bosatsu statues are nearly identical. It is in the lotus position on a lion's back with a sharp sword (treasure sword) to symbolize wisdom in the right hand and a shorenge bearing the sutra in the left hand. In Mikkyo it is shaped as a child with its hair tied in a bun (髻), which conveys a pure mind. The number of buns can be one, five, six or eight, depending on the statue, and a statue that has one bun is regarded as a principle image in ascetic training for the increase of benefit; the one with five is for adoration, the one with six is for Chobuku (conquest, 調伏) and the one with eight is for safety.

Additionally, the 'Monju quintet' Monju gosonzo was produced, consisting of Monju riding a lion, Zenzai-doshi as an usher, Udenno drawing the reins of the lion, Buddhapali, and the elder Saisho Ronin.

In the Zen sect it is placed as 'Shoso,' which shows the complete figure of an ascetic monk in the monk hall (僧堂) and is shaped as a figure with hair cut engaged in the practice of seated meditation. In this case, from the viewpoint that Monju is also on the way of ascetic training, it is sometimes called Monji Daishi, which avoids using the title of Bosatsu.

Major works in Japan are the seated statue at Kofuku-ji Temple Tokondo (Eastern Golden Hall) (made by Jokei, a national treasure), Gosonzo at Abe Monju-in Temple (made by Kaikei, an important cultural property) and Gosonzo at Chikurin-ji Temple in Kochi city (an important cultural property).

Mantora, Shingon

On Arahasyanou

[Original Japanese]