Lesson
4

Samantabhadra

2 of 13

Iconography

The Sutra on Contemplation of Practices of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva presents a visualization of Samantabhadra, in which he sits on a lotus mounted on the back of a six-tusked, seven-legged magical white elephant. With every step of the elephant's stately gait, Dharma wheels containing white lotuses spring up beneath its feet as they are about to touch the ground. Samantabhadra riding majestically on his slow mount has a feeling of calm, deliberate activity, imbued with clear, considered intention and dignity.

Although Samantabhadra himself usually appears serene and poised but lacking in emotion, his elephants are often quite expressive, even wildly hilarious with amazing grins. Along with dragons, elephants are common symbols in Buddhism for wisdom and knowledge.

The final book of the Flower Ornament Sutra describes Samantabhadra sitting on a jeweled lotus flower. From every pore of his body emanate clouds of light beams that relieve the suffering of beings and increase the joy of bodhisattvas everywhere. In every pore and from every part of Samantabhadra's body can be seen all the beings and entities of this world and of all the worlds, throughout the past, future, and present. Seeing Samantabhadra is rare but extremely fortunate and ensures great enlightening insight and awareness. Even just to hear the name Samantabhadra is said to be highly auspicious.