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Manjughosa Stuti Sadhana

by Sangharakshita

SANGHARAKSHITA IN SEMINAR

THE MANJUGHOSA STUTI SADHANA
Held at:
Padmaloka
Dates:
22nd - 24th October 1977Those Present:
Not noted on the tapes but voices recognised by the transcriber include:
The Venerable Sangharakshita, Sagaramati, Subhuti, Devamitra, Abhaya,
Vimalamitra, Aryamitra, Vajradaka, Asvajit.
Please note that Pali and Sanskrit diacritic marks
are not used in most cases in this transcript.
SANGHARAKSHITA: Just a few words about what we're actually going to be doing over the next three days.
This morning we're going to study the actual sadhana text, and I hope we can complete the whole of it. We'll
be going on until twelve or even twelve thirty with just a little break for a cup of tea or coffee. Then when we
come to the five o clock meditation we'll be doing the mett
bh vana as a sort of introduction to the
visualisation which we'll be doing after supper starting at eight o clock. We'll be doing a guided visualisation
practice, and then with the puja following at nine. If people want they can sit on after the puja for a further
session just individually. We're having the puja at nine to synchronise with the community's puja so that while
one set of people is meditating you don't hear another set chanting next door. With luck we shall obviate that.
Then tomorrow in the morning during the study we shall study a chapter, maybe a little more, of the
'Ratnaguna'. Then in the afternoon again the mett bh vana, again in the evening the visualisation practice.
Then the third day the programme will be the same, except that in the evening we shall do the recitation of the
stuti and the mantra and the visualisation in the course of the evening meditation and puja. That will be a bit
different from the previous two evenings.
So in this way we should have a reasonably sort of basic grounding in the practice as a whole and what it
signifies. So this morning we're going to be dealing with the text of the stuti, going through it fairly minutely,
if not even word for word.
First of all the title which in English reads,
'A cloud of worship pleasing to the protector Manjusri, (Being) the way to practise profound stuti
sadhana of the holy Manjughosa.'
Anything there that anyone feels need explanation or comment? I can think of at least three or four points.
__________: What is a stuti sadhana?
S: Stuti is a sort of hymn of praise. I use the word hymn for want of a better one but the essence of stuti is that
it praises. You can have a stuti in praise of a king for instance. A stuti in praise of a Buddha or Bodhisattva or
in Hinduism of a god or goddess. A stuti essentially extols. It enumerates the positive features or glorious
attributes of the object of the stuti.
- 1 -
So a sadhana of course is a spiritual practice. A systematic spiritual practice of a devotional cum meditative
nature. And a stuti sadhana is a systematic spiritual practice which embodies as its main feature the recitation
of a stuti. Do you get the idea? But the epithet 'profound' is prefixed because you might run away with the
wrong idea that just because it was a stuti sadhana it was a quite elementary practice, which in a way it is but
this happens to be a profound stuti sadhana. Profound in meaning, profound in respect of the spiritual realisation
to which it conduces. [Pause]
__________: What is the difference between Manjusri and Manjughosa?
S: No difference at all essentially, but iconagraphically there is a difference. Manjusri in a way is the basic
original form, the generic form if you like, and iconagraphically he's depicted flanked by two lotuses, on one
of which there is a flaming sword, on the other of which there is the book of the Perfection of Wisdom.
Manjughosa is that iconographic form which displays the wielded sword, and the book pressed against the heart,
which of course is the form that we are concerned with here.
Vajradaka: Both Manjusri and Manjughosa are mentioned in the title.
S: Yes, 'a cloud of worship pleasing to the protector Manjusri'. The generic form is mentioned first, and then
'The way to practise the profound stuti sadhana of the holy Manjughosa'. That in the actual practice, the form
of Manjusri with which one is concerned is the Manjughosa form, i.e. not the basic form with the lotus and book
on either side, but the form in which he wields the sword in one hand and presses the book to the heart with the
other.
Vimalamitra: The form there and the form I've got he's wielding a sword and he's got the book on the end of
a lotus. That's something like an in between.
S: I don't know about that. It might even be iconagraphically incorrect. I don't remember a form like that with
a particular name. One can look it up in one of the text books, but these are the two most usual forms certainly.
You may remember that Tsongkhapa is regarded as a manifestation of Manjusri and he too is flanked by the
two emblems on the two lotuses.
What about this expression 'cloud of worship', Pujamegha? What do you understand by that? This is an Indian,
a Sanskrit idiom.
__________: Is it to do with the fact that you burn incense when you worship?
S: No, I don't think it's that, no.
__________: The worship isn't offered (?)......
S: But why a cloud? Why not a flood of worship?
__________: It has the same effect as a cloud. It rains.
S: You could say that. But actually it's a straightforward sort of metaphorical expression. It means an
abundance. Just as clouds sort of spread. You see for instance at the beginning of the rainy season, first of all
the sky is clear and then a little cloud comes up, then it grows, it spreads, then eventually the whole sky is filled
with cloud. So a cloud of worship is an abundance of worship that spreads in all directions which constantly
expands. This is the idea. [Pause]
- 2 -
Sagaramati: Is there any reason why Manjusri's called a protector? The other bodhisattvas are not usually
called protectors, are they?
S: Yes they are. For instance there is the well known group of the three protectors first of all. That is to say
Avalokitesvara, Manjusri and Vajrapani. This is the famous set that you get as a set of three throughout Tibet
and Nepal, and there's a set of three because they correspond to three Buddhas, and originally of course there
were three Buddhas rather than five. In Mahayana broadly speaking you get triads of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
Again broadly speaking in the Vajrayana you get a fivefold set. You get pentads. Or you can have a Buddha
and two bodhisattvas. In a sense the idea being that you have the central form flanked by the two main aspects,
as it were. For instance you might have Amitabha flanked by Avalokitesvara representing compassion and
Mahastamaprapta representing power. This is a very popular triad in China. So in the same way you had a triad
of bodhisattvas - Avalokitesvara representing compassion, Manjusri representing wisdom, the central one, and
Vajrapani representing power. So later on the number of Buddhas was, as it were, increased to five, and the two
Buddhas who were added - the original ones being Vairocana for the centre, then Amitabha for the West,
Akshobya for the East - the two Buddhas who were added, that is to say Amoghasiddhi for the North and
Ratnasambhava for the South, are comparatively shadowy figures. Do you see what I mean? They don't seem
to be so fully individualised as the other three. Partly because they aren't so ancient, in a manner of speaking.
In the same way the three bodhisattvas are much more prominent than the five bodhisattvas, who are nathas,
that is to say. There are five nathas, just as there were originally three bodhisattvas and three Buddhas,
eventually there are five Buddhas and five nathas, but the other two nathas aren't so prominent as these three.
Who are the others anyway? There's Ratnapani for the South and for the north who is the bodhisattva? I think
it's Visvapani, but I'm not certain of that.
So you can see that they are much more shadowy figures, aren't they? But what is a protector, Natha? The
Buddha is also called natha. In the puja we speak of the protectors, the nathas. It clearly means Buddhas and
bodhisattvas. So even though the most famous set is a set of three, the three nathas, of the three main kulas, it's
not an exclusive term. It's usually translated protector, sometimes saviour. It doesn't seem very Buddhistic at
all, does it. Let me give you a few examples of the way in which the word is used. It might throw some light
on the meaning. For instance there's Anathapindaka, the Buddha's famous disciple. Now what does that mean?
__________: The protector of orphans.
S: The protector of orphans. No, it doesn't actually mean quite that. Pindaka is one who feeds, one who gives
food, one who gives food in balls or food in lumps, because that's how the Indians eat their food, isn't it. They
knead it into a lump and then lightly toss it into the mouth. So one who gives Pinda, one who gives balls of food
is one who feeds, who supports, who brings up, but what is Anatha? Anatha is one without a protector, that's
the literal meaning. So Anathapindaka is the one who gives food to ...

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