Statue of Pǔxián (Samantabhadra) on Mount Emei in Sichuan, China
Chinese普賢菩薩 普贤菩萨
(Pinyin: Pǔxián Púsà)
(Jyutping: pou2 jin4 pou4 saat3)
(Southern Min: Phó͘-hiân Phô͘-sat)
(romaji: Fugen Bosatsu)
(RR: Bohyeon Bosal)
Хамгаар Сайн
(Baybayin: ᜐᜋᜈ᜔ᜆᜊ᜔ᜑᜇ᜔ᜎ)
Phra Samantaphat Phothisat
Wylie: kun tu bzang po
THL: küntuzangpo
VietnamesePhổ Hiền Bồ Tát
(Chữ Hán: 普賢菩薩)
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Samantabhadra (lit. "Universal Worthy", "All Good") is a great bodhisattva in Buddhism associated with practice and meditation. Together with Shakyamuni Buddha and the bodhisattva Mañjuśrī, he forms the Shakyamuni Triad in Mahayana Buddhism.[citation needed] He is the patron of the Lotus Sutra and, according to the Avatamsaka Sutra, made the ten great vows which are the basis of a bodhisattva. In Chinese Buddhism, Samantabhadra is known as Pǔxián and is associated with action, whereas Mañjuśrī is associated with prajñā (transcendent wisdom). In Japan, this bodhisattva is known as Fugen, and is often venerated in Tendai and Shingon Buddhism.

In the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism, Samantabhadra is also the name of the Adi-Buddha, often portrayed in indivisible union (yab-yum) with his consort, Samantabhadrī. In wrathful form he is one of the Eight Herukas of the Nyingma Mahayoga and he is known as Vajramrtra, But this Samantabhadra buddha and Samantabhadra bodhisattva are not the same.

In Mahayana sutras

In the Lotus Sūtra, Samantabhadra is described at length in the epilogue, called the Samantabhadra Meditation Sutra (Chinese: 觀普賢菩薩行法經; pinyin: Guān Pǔxián Púsà Xíngfǎ Jīng), with special detail given to visualization of the bodhisattva, and the virtues of devotion to him.[1]

Samantabhadra is also a key figure in the Āvataṃsaka-sūtra, particularly the last chapter, the Gaṇḍavyūha-sūtra. In the climax of the Gaṇḍavyūha-sūtra, the student Sudhana meets Samantabhadra Bodhisattva who confirms his awakening. Sudhana then merges into Samantabhadra, and Samantabhadra recites a set of popular verses. These verses are known as the Bhadracaripraṇidhāna (Vows of Good Conduct) or Ārya-samantabhadra-caryā-praṇidhāna-rāja (The Royal Vow to follow the Noble Course of Conduct of Samantabhadra).[2] This text which concludes the entire Avatamsaka was very popular in India, East Asia and in Himalayan Buddhism, and it is cited in numerous sources. It was considered to be a dhāraṇī and recited individually as a meritorious text.[2]

Ten great vows

The core of Samantabhadra's aspirations in the Bhadracaripraṇidhāna are the ten great vows of Samantabhadra. The ten great vows of Samantabhadra are the following:[3]

  1. to pay homage to all the buddhas;
  2. to glorify the qualities of all the tathāgatas;
  3. to make ample offerings to all the buddhas;
  4. to confess and repent of all one's misdeeds;
  5. to rejoice in the merits of others;
  6. always to request the preaching of the dharma;
  7. to entreat enlightened beings to remain in the world;
  8. to always to study the teachings of the buddha;
  9. to always to respond to sentient beings according to their various needs;
  10. to dedicate all merits to sentient beings that they may achieve buddhahood.

The ten vows have become a common practice in East Asian Buddhism, particularly the tenth vow, with many Buddhists traditionally dedicating their merit and good works to all beings during Buddhist liturgies.

Mantras and dharani

Like all important bodhisattvas, several mantras are associated with Samantabhadra. One of these is drawn from a work titled Arya-Buddhoshnisha-Cintamani-Mahadharani:[4][5][6]

om̐ samantabhadra sam svāhā

Sam is Samantabhadra's seed syllable. The Dharanisamgraha meanwhile contains the following dharani for Samantabhadra:[7]

om̐ namaḥ samantabhadrāya bodhisattvāya mahāsattvāya || tadyathā || om̐ samantabhadre sarvottama-mahāprāgbhārakalyāṇaṁ samprāpaya hūm̐ phaṭ svāhā ||

Meanwhile the Mahavairocana Sutra contains the following mantra:

namaḥ samantabuddhānāṁ saṁ

In East Asian Buddhism

Statue of Pǔxián (Samantabhadra) at Bangka Lungshan Temple, Taipei.
Fugen Enmei (普賢延命菩薩), the life Preserver. Japan.

Unlike his more popular counterpart Mañjuśrī, Samantabhadra is only rarely depicted alone and is usually found in a trinity on the right side of Shakyamuni, mounted on a white elephant. In those traditions that accept the Avatamsaka Sutra as their main text (mainly, the Huayan school), Samantabhadra and Manjusri flank Vairocana Buddha, the central Buddha of this particular sutra.

Known as Pǔxián in Chinese, Samantabhadra is sometimes shown in Chinese art with feminine characteristics, riding an elephant with six tusks while carrying a lotus leaf 'parasol' (Sanskrit: chatra), bearing similar dress and features to some feminine depictions of Guanyin. It is in this guise that Samantabhadra is revered as the patron bodhisattva of the monasteries associated with Mount Emei in western China. Some believe that the white elephant mount of Samantabhadra was the same elephant that appeared to Queen Maya, the mother of the Buddha, to herald his birth.

Mahayana esoteric traditions sometimes treat Samantabhadra as one of the 'Primordial' (Sanskrit: Dharmakaya) Buddhas, but the main primordial Buddha is considered to be Vairocana.

Tibetan Buddhism

Samantabhadra, pictured in Bodhisattva of Universal Virtue who Prolongs Life, 12th-century painting on silk, Heian period, Japan.

In Tibetan Buddhism, Samantabhadra (Tibetan: Kuntuzangpo) is a name that refers to two different beings:[8]


  1. ^ Katō Bunno, Tamura Yoshirō, Miyasaka Kōjirō, tr. (1975), The Threefold Lotus Sutra : The Sutra of Innumerable Meanings; The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law; The Sutra of Meditation on the Bodhisattva Universal Virtue. New York & Tōkyō: Weatherhill & Kōsei Publishing.
  2. ^ a b Osto, Douglas. A New Translation of the Sanskrit "Bhadracarī" with Introduction and Notes. New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies 12, 2 (December 2010).
  3. ^ Gimello, Robert M. Ch'eng-kuan on the Hua-yen Trinity 中華佛學學報第 9 期 (pp.341-411):(民國 85年), 臺北:中華佛學研究所, Chung-Hwa Buddhist Journal, No. 9, (1996) Taipei: Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies ISSN: 1017─7132.
  4. ^ Wylie, A. "On an Ancient Buddhist Inscription at Keu-Yung Kwan, North China." Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, Volume 5 (1871), p. 21. Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, Cambridge University Press for the Royal Asiatic Society.
  5. ^ von Schuler, Einar (1989). XXIII. Deutscher Orientalistentag: vom 16. bis 20. September 1985 in Würzburg : ausgewählte Vorträge, Volume 23, F, p. 430. Steiner Verlag Wiesbaden.
  6. ^ 東洋学報 ("Eastern Studies Journal."), Volumes 66-67, p. 331. 東洋協会調查部 ("Research Department of the Oriental Society"), 1985.
  7. ^ Hidas, Gergely (2021). Powers of Protection: The Buddhist Tradition of Spells in the Dhāraṇīsaṃgraha Collections, p. 89. Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG.
  8. ^ Khenchen Thrangu (2019). Tilopa's Wisdom: His Life and Teachings on the Ganges Mahamudra. p. 174. Shambhala Publications.
  9. ^ Khyentse, Dzongsar (1990). "Introduction: The Significance of This Biography" in: Palmo, Ani Jima (Eugenie de Jong; translator); Nyingpo, Yudra (compilor, et al.) (2004). The Great Image: the Life Story of Vairochana the translator. Shambala Publications, Inc.: Boston, Massachusetts, U.S ISBN 1-59030-069-6 (pbk.: alk. paper). p.xxi
  10. ^ Rigpa Shedra (October, 2009). Seventeen Tantras. Source: [1] (accessed: Monday April 5, 2010)

References and further reading