Samantabhadra or Universal Virtue is known to the Chinese as Pu Hsien and Fugen, to the Japanese. She is the personification of love, sacred activity, virtue, diligent training and patience. In the Chinese Pantheon she is seen in the triad with Kuan Shih Yin (Compassion) and Wen-Shu (Wisdom) as the Three Precious Bodhisattvas whose qualities make up the Buddha’s Essence. In many Japanese and Chinese temples she is also found in the Trinity with Sakyamuni Buddha and Wen-Shu Pusa (Manjusri).
Imageries of Pu Hsien usually show her seated on a white elephant in various ways and holding a lotus flower or a scroll or book. The elephant, normally in a standing posture, may be crouching and may either have three heads or one head with six tusks.
Pu Hsien Fusa is well known for her limitless offerings to the Buddhas as well as her Ten Great Vows, which are directed towards benefiting sentient beings. They are:
1. To worship the Buddhas
2. To praise the Tathagatas.
3. To make offerings to all the Buddhas.
4. To confess past sins and to reform.
5. To rejoice in the virtues and happiness of others.
6. To request Buddha to preach the Law
7. To request Buddha to stay in the world.
8. To study the Dharma in order to teach it.
9. To benefit all sentient beings.
10. To transfer all merit and virtue to others.
Pu Hsien’s sacred abode in China is in the Ngo-Mei mountain of the Szu-Chuan province.
In Japan her devotees for prosperity as well as longevity often worship her and there are some who also revere her as the divine patron in their meditational practices.
In the Sutra of Meditation on the Bodhisattva Universal Virtue (Pu Hsien Fusa) the Buddha lavished great praises on her and revealed that she was born in the Eastern Pure Wonder Land. Meditators who practise this meditation will generate great merits, which will free themselves from all kinds of hindrances as well as allowing them to see her excellent forms. The Buddha further gave a vivid description of her as follows:
“The Bodhisattva Universal Virtue is boundless in the size of her body, boundless in the sound of her voice, and boundless in the form of her image. Desiring to come to this world, she makes use of her divine transcendent powers and shrinks her stature to the size of a human being. She appears transformed as mounted on a great white elephant which has six tasks (representing the purity of the six senses). Under the legs of the elephant lotus flowers grow. The whiteness of the elephant is of the most brilliant of all shades of white which is so pure that even crystal and the Himalaya Mountains cannot compare with it!”
The Lotus Sutra has done much to attract great numbers of female devotees for Pu Hsien P’usa as they are promised that they too could attain Buddhahood, which is described in detail in the 10th Chapter of the Sutra. In Chapter 28 Pu Hsien Pusa also made this promise to the Buddha:
“In the latter five hundred years of the corrupt and evil age, whoever receives and keeps this sutra I will guard and protect, eliminate the anxiety of feeling away, and give ease of mind. Wherever such a one walks or stands, reading and reciting this sutra, I will at once mount the six-tusked white elephant king and with a host of great bodhisattvas go to that place and, showing myself, will serve and protect (him) comforting his mind, also thereby serving the Law-Flower Sutra. Moreover I will give them dharanis, and obtaining these dharanis, no human or nonhuman beings can injure them, nor any woman beguile them”
Still further on, one hears the Buddha extolling Pu Hsien with this promise: I, by my supernatural power, will guard and protect those who are able to receive and keep the name of the Bodhisattva Universal Virtue”
Pu Hsien Fusa is not generally worshipped by the ‘average Buddhists as temples dedicated to her are very scarce. However, those who would like to form a karmic link with this great Bodhisattva may do so in most of the Kuan Yin temples where her images can be found and one of the most popular prayers to recite to her is:
“NAMO TA HUNG PU HSIEN FUSN’
Like all other great Bodhisanvas she is able to grant those who have firm faith in her, all kinds of favours that they are seeking. Those who cultivate her dharma will enjoy a longer life?span and they will most certainly not fall into the three evil paths (animal, ghost and hell realms) in their future lifetimes. Moreover, they will be protected by Pu Hsien P’usa from the dangers of flood, fire, war and poisonous food, and they will be rewarded with position and abundant wealth. Many a childless couple have also been known to be blessed with children who are bright and healthy after praying to her and, most important of all, she is able to impart great wisdom, which will be the greatest help to any cultivator who seeks the Way. The festive day of this great Bodhisattva falls on the 21st day of the 2nd moon and it is a great day for us to bring her to our heart.