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Eight Great Bodhisattvas

Term for the main bodhisattvas associated with the Shakyamuni Buddha, eight in total and each one representing a personification of one of his divine qualities. These bodhisattvas and their embodiments are: Manjushri (fig.), who is the personification of the Buddha’s wisdom; Avalokitesvara (fig.), who embodies the compassion of the Buddha; Mahasthamaprapta or alternatively his incarnation Vajrapani (fig.), who represents the Buddha’s power; Ksitigarbha (fig.), who is the personification of the Buddha’s merit; Sarvanivarana Vishkambhin, who is the personification of the Buddha’s purifying qualities; Maitreya (fig.), who embodies the Buddha’s activity; Samantabhadra (fig.), who represents the Buddha’s truth and aspirations; and Akasagarbha, who is the personification of the Buddha’s blessings. In Vietnam, where these bodhisattvas are together referred to as Bat Bo Kim Cuong (Bát Bộ Kim Cương), statues of the eight are often found on display, while their individual names are Thanh Tru Tai (Thanh Trừ Tai), Bich Doc Than (Bích Độc Thần) or Tich Doc Than (Tích Độc Thần), Huynh Tuy Cau (Huỳnh Tùy Cầu), Bach Tinh Thuy (Bạch Tịnh Thủy), Xich Thanh Hoa (Xích Thanh Hỏa), Dinh Tri Tai (Định Trì Tai), Tu Hien (Tử Hiền), and Dai Than (Đại Thần). They are also referred to as Maha Sattvas, i.e. ‘Mighty Creatures’ or ‘Great Essence’, a term derived from maha and bodhisattva.