Himalayan Art Resources

Buddhist Deity: Samantabhadra Bodhisattva Page

Samantabhadra (Bodhisattva) | Bodhisattva Main Page

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Tibetan: Pagpa Kuntu Zangpo ('phags pa kun tu bzang po)

Samantabhadra is a bodhisattva known from the Mahayana Sutras. He is most often depicted in art as a member of the group known as the Eight Great Bodhisattvas which include the famous Manjushri, Avalokiteshvara and Vajrapani. Unlike those figures Samantabhadra never gained the popularity and was not elevated in the Tantric literature to the level of a meditational deity (ishtadevata). Samantabhadra the bodhisattva is unrelated to Samantabhadra the primordial Buddha of the Nyingma Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.

Samantabhadra is rarely if ever depicted alone and his iconographic characteristics are not fixed and often difficult to identify. In descriptive ritual praises (stotra) Samantabhadra is described as red in colour. He holds a vase in the right hand and the symbol of the sun atop a flower blossom held in the left hand. In the tradition of the artist Konchog Pende of E (circa 16th century) Samantabhadra is blue in colour and holds a book with both hands. In the Chinese artistic tradition Samantabhadra is commonly depicted seated atop an elephant. There is also a mountain sacred to Samantabhadra call Omei Shan in Sichuan Province.

Samantabhadra as a stand alone deity such as Lokeshvara and Manjushri is not very popular. He is principally found as part of the Eight Great Bodhisattvas.

Jeff Watt 4-2013 [updated 5-2017]