A NOTE ON SRISTIKANTA LOKESHVARA
by Min Bahadu Shakya
Among the many forms of Avalokiteshvara Sristikanta Likeshvara is the one derived from the text Gunakarandavyuha Sutra. This sutra is basically composed in 3/4 century. This was the time lord Maitreya transmitted the teachings of Buddha nature to Acarya Asanga Circa 350 A. D.).
The Sutra says that when this Universe was empty except Prabhashvara, there were no physical elements like earth, water, air, and fire. Adi Buddha appeared in the first place. He meditated on a samadhi called lokasansarjana with a view to create the Universe, first of all the emanated Aryavalokiteshvara. He in turn meditated deeply on samadhi called Lokotbhava thereby creating moon from his right eye, sun from his left eye, then the system of day and night evolved.
He then created Mahadva from his forehead, Brhama for his shoulders, Narayana from his heart, sarasvari from his upper and lower teeth, Vayu deva from his mouth, Varyna Nagaraja from his abdomen, Mahalaxmi from his left knee, Agnideva from his navel, Kuvera from his right knee, the Prithivi for this sole, In this way he emanated many to the important deva, and assign tem characteristic duties as per each.
These emanated deities gladly accepted their duties and promised to keep them forever.
They also promised to practice Bodhisattva path for the sake of all sentient beings. Avalokiteshvara told them that if they kept their promises and worked for the benefit of sentient. beings they would then attain Buddhood in future.
Now the problem arises as why Avalokiteshvara is depicted as the God of creation which is obviously and unacceptable tenet for all forms of Buddhism. The concept of Adi-Buddha or Primordial Buddha seems to have developed fully around 10th century in Nalanda and in Nepal and in germ stage around third/fourth century during the time of Arya Asanga. Arya Asanga in his Mahayana Sutralamkara tries to refute this concept of Adi-Buddha in the following line.
"Buddha is without beginning from the point of view of division of gotra, without purpose and integrated in the immaculate foundation, because of non differentiatedness."
He says that no one can become a Buddha without two accumulations of merit and wisdom. Such an equipment can only be attained from a previous Buddha. There fore, there can be no first Buddha. (Skt: Adi-Buddha). It would b e a complete misconception to consider the Adi Buddha as just another version of the Createo God. THat would be and absolute reversal of the Buddhist point of view which essentially and fundamentally denies the notion of create God. Adi-Buddha never meant here the first Buddha. It must be understood that "Prabhasavara is rendered as Clear light or in other words it is called Shunyata-prabhasvara. It is same as three nature of mind. The nature of our mind is empty is essence yet it can cognize everything. This principle is constant throughout three divisions of time. This nature being inherent in all sentient beings. They are called primordially pure or Buddha nature or Tathagatagarbha.
When one realizes that one's mind is empty and yet congnizant, one realizes Buddhahood. When one's veil of obscuration are removed, one's Buddhanature is reveiled or manifested simultaneously.
To communi8cate this idea., the sutra describes it in theistic sense that there appeared firsts a Buddha when nothing was there. Therefore the concept of the Adi-Buddha should rather be regarded as an attempt to express the nature of mind, that is empty but cognizant which is shunyata-prabhashvara it self.
In Nepal, this Adi-Buddha theory first appeared in this Surta, then came later on in the text Swayambhu purana. According to the text of Swayambhu Purana, the Adi-Buddha first appeared; in Nepal in the shape of a flame and in order to shelter it, Manjusheree raised a shrine above in and hence it has been known since as Swayambhu or Self-existing primordial awareness.
concerning the origin of all important devasa, the Adi-Buddha, should be regarded as the personification of the ultimate reality of nature of mind or Buddhanature. From the realization of Buddhanature, the great compassion arises in the mind. Thus in the Sutra Adi-Buddha seems to have emanated Aryavalokiteshvara, the embodiment of Great compassion. From the great compassion comes the act of benefitting sentient beings. which is no other that emanating different deities namely Brahma, Vishnu, Maheshvara and others who do specific duties for the sake of sentient beings.
It would be wroth to note that Buddhist sutras bear two meanings: one is definitive and the other conventional. The conventional meaning of the sutra appears much in the manner of theistic genre to contend with contemporary situations. It is possible that it represents alast effort to contened with Moslims, which instead of denying the bases of Mohammad's teaching. Tried to show monotheism could be found is Buddhism. But the definitive meaning is however non-contradictory to Buddha's basic teachings.
Iconographically, Sristikant Lokeshvara is red in color. He holds a lotus flower with his lift have and displays varadamudra with his right hand. He is generally depicted in standing posture with a dozed of important deities emanating, His image can be found engraved in Golden window of Patan Durbar Square.
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