Tibetan Identification with Wutai shan
The earliest Chinese texts that refer to Mañjuśrī’s residence at Wutai shan are late seventh- to early eighth-century translations of the Flower Garland Sūtra (Avataṃsaka Sūtra, Huayan jing, 華嚴經) and the Mañjuśrī Precious Treasury of the Law Dhāraṇī Sūtra (Mañjuśrī-dharma-ratnagarbha-dhāraṇī Sūtra, [Wenshu shili fa] Baozang tuoluoni jing, [文殊師利法]寶藏陀羅尼經), both of which are quoted in the opening passage of the trilingual dedicatory inscription on the bottom of the panoramic map of Wutai shan (Cat. 1, texts 1-3).9 The presence of this text serves as a kind of scriptural authentication of the mountain as Mañjuśrī’s realm and the image as an accurate reflection of the site. However, the Tibetan version of the Ratnagarbha-dhāraṇī Sūtra (Rinchen Nyingpo ZungRin chen snying po gzungs) does not mention Mañjuśrī or Clear and Cool Mountain, and the original Sanskrit version is no longer extant. Furthermore, it has been suggested that the Chinese translation of the Flower Garland Sūtra was falsified to assign Mañjuśrī a dwelling place in China.10 [page 8] Interestingly, where the Tibetan inscription on the Wutai shan map “quotes” the Ratnagarbha-dhāraṇī [Sūtra] (Rinchen Nyingpo ZungRin chen snying po gzungs) it does not give the Tibetan for a common deity such as Vajrapāṇi but instead gives a cumbersome transcription from the Chinese, strongly suggesting that this passage of the text was a Chinese interpolation unknown in Tibetan.11
One important source of the later common Tibetan identification of Wutai shan in China with the earthly abode of Mañjuśrī comes from far west in Nepal, in the famous legend of the creation of the Kathmandu Valley.12 This legend tells that [page 9] Mañjuśrī, seated on the tallest peak of his mountain dwelling in China, saw the light of a relic far to the west, but when he flew there found that a lake prevented beings from reaching it, so he cut a gorge with his sword, forming the Kathmandu Valley. Atop this relic a reliquary (stūpa, mchod rten) was built, which was originally called Mañjuśrī Stūpa (mañju-caitya; Cat. 16) and later renamed Svāyambhū, one of the greatest Buddhist sacred sites in Nepal. Mañjuśrī (Cat. 17) is also central to the geography and culture of Nepal and appears throughout Nepalese ritual life. The centrality of the stūpa (an architectural symbol of wisdom) in this tale is parallel to the Great White Stūpa (Baita si, 白塔寺) on Wutai shan (Fig. 7; Fig. 4, no. 40), which has become an icon for the mountain itself. This is part of a larger concept of the sacred geography of Mañjuśrī, connecting sites like Kathmandu in Nepal and Wutai shan in China. The Mañjuśrī system, which became one of the main Tibetan systems of astrology and divination (Cat. 50), also came to be seen as having been taught by Mañjuśrī specifically at Wutai shan.13
Note Citation for Page
Karl Debreczeny, “Wutai Shan: Pilgrimage to Five-Peak Mountain,” Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies, no. 6 (December 2011): , http://www.thlib.org?tid=T5714 (accessed ).
Note Citation for Whole Article
Karl Debreczeny, “Wutai Shan: Pilgrimage to Five-Peak Mountain,” Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies, no. 6 (December 2011): 1-133, http://www.thlib.org?tid=T5714 (accessed ).
Debreczeny, Karl. “Wutai Shan: Pilgrimage to Five-Peak Mountain.” Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies, no. 6 (December 2011): 1-133. http://www.thlib.org?tid=T5714 (accessed ).
- The Mountain
- Early Political Significance
- Tibetan Identification with Wutai shan
- Tibetan Involvement with Wutai shan
- Tibetan and Mongolian Monasteries on Wutai shan
- Mongol Interests in Wutai shan
- “Wutai shan: Pilgrimage to Five-Peak Mountain” Catalog
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