Sunday, September 27, 2015

Lunar Radiance Bodhisattva

Lunar Radiance Bodhisattva
(Image: Original source unknown)

According to the Chinese Buddhist tradition, the Holy Day of Lunar Radiance Bodhisattva (月光菩薩 Yueguang Pusa) is observed on the 15th day of the 8th Chinese lunar month. 

The name of this bodhisattva comes from the Indian Sanskrit name Chandraprabha which means moonlight or lunar radiance. The full name of this bodhisattva in Chinese is Universal Illumination of Lunar Radiance Bodhisattva (月光遍照菩薩 Yueguang Bianzhao Pusa), but the name is sometimes just abbreviated as Lunar Radiance Bodhisattva (also translated as Moonlight Bodhisattva).

In his right hand, the Lunar Radiance Bodhisattva holds a lotus
that supports a white sphere with the character Moon (月 yue)
(Image: Original source unknown)

The observance of Lunar Radiance Bodhisattva’s holy day is on the same date as the Mid-Autumn Festival, because, without a doubt, the lunar theme of the former matches the theme of the full moon and the practice of lunar deity veneration that is associated with the latter.

The Lunar Radiance Bodhisattva and the Solar Radiance Bodhisattva are the two great bodhisattvas in the buddha realm (pure land) of Bhaisagyaguru, the Master of Healing Buddha (also known as the Medicine Buddha) (藥師佛 Yaoshi Fo).

Bhaisagyaguru, the Master of Healing Buddha (center),
Lunar Radiance Bodhisattva (left), Solar Radiance Bodhisattva (right)
(Image: Original source unknown)

From the Sutra of the Merits of the Fundamental Vows of Bhaisagyaguru Tathagata of Lapis Lazuli Crystal Radiance (藥師琉璃光如來本願功德經 Yaoshi Liuli Guang Rulai Benyuan Gongde Jing) (Taisho Tripitaka, Vol. 14, No. 450), the buddha realm of Bhaisagyaguru is described as follows:

In this land, the ground is made of lapis lazuli, the boundaries are demarcated with golden cords, the towns, towers, palaces, pavilions, as well as the balconies, windows and draperies are all made of the Seven Treasures. The merits, virtues and adornments of this realm are identical to those of Amitabha Buddha’s Pure Land in the west.

In this land dwell two great bodhisattvas, Universal Solar Radiance and Universal Lunar Radiance. Among the countless bodhisattvas, they are the leaders. Each in turn will serve as successor to the Medicine Buddha and as the able guardian of His True Dharma treasury.

[Source: Sutra of the Medicine Buddha─Translated & Annotated under the Guidance of Dharma Master Hsuan Jung by Minh Thanh & P.D. Leigh]

Lunar Radiance Bodhisattva
(Image: Original source unknown)

From the Dharanis of Solar Radiance Bodhisattva and Lunar Radiance Bodhisattva (日光菩薩月光菩薩陀羅尼 Riguang Pusa Yueguang Pusa Tuoluoni) (Taisho Tripitaka, Vol. 20, No. 1160), the mantra of Lunar Radiance Bodhisattva is given as follows:


Shēn dī dì tú sū zhà
Ā ruò mì dì wū dū zhà
Shēn qí zhà
Bō lài dì zhà
Yē mí ruò zhà wū dū zhà
Jū luó dì zhà qí mó zhà
Suō pó hē
[Chinese Mandarin transliterated from Indian Sanskrit, romanized using Hanyu Pinyin]

Homage to Chandraprabha, the Bodhisattva of Lunar Radiance!

Text © 2015 Harry Leong