The Three Venerables of Shakyamuni is a group of images of Shakyamuni Buddha with his two accompanying Bodhisattva on his left and right, who are Manjusri and Samantabhadra respectively.
Manjusri is a great Bodhisattva of the Tenth Stage with particular quality representing wisdom. He is said to be the mother of the Buddhas, breeding them into existence throughout the Three Periods of time, because Buddhahood is enlightenment, i.e. wisdom. Manjusri has the supreme wisdom and consecrates the "equality of all beings".
Manjusri was the initiator and master of the Buddhas of the past ages, and will be that of the future Buddha, Maitreya.
He is also named Manjughosha, representing the virtue of explaining the Law. The roaring lion that he usually rides symbolizes the voice of the Law.
Although the Lotus Sutra assigns him the universe in the east called Vimala (Pure Cool Mountain), Manjusri does not seem to have any special place of manifestation.
He was mentioned in China as early as 4 A.D. and in the Lotus Sutra, he frequently appeared as the converter of the daughter of the Dragon King of the Ocean. In China, people worship Manjusri as the object of pilgrimage in Wu-Tai Mountain, Shansi Province, which have been regarded as his dwelling place since 5 A.D.
In the past, Manjusri attained his Buddhahood many times with the following titles:
The supreme Buddha of Nagas
The Great Body Buddha
The Deva Buddha
The Mark of Treasures Tathagata
At present, Manjusri bears a title of the Spiritual Buddha Who Joyfully Cares for the Jewels.
In future, Manjusri will have a title called Buddha Universally Revealed.
In the introductory chapter of the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni pointed out that Manjusri was the ninth predecessor or Buddha-ancestor of Shakyamuni. That is to say, Shakyamuni was a disciple of Manjusri in the past.
Regarding the appearance, Manjusri is often shown as eternally young with five curling topknots to his hair representing The Five Wisdom. His left hand holds a sharp sword that severs all afflictions, and his right hand holds the blue lotus which reflects the mark of his virtues. Sometimes he also holds a book, emblem of wisdom.
He sits on a lion,or a peacock or white lotus showing his stern majesty. Manjusri has many other forms as mentioned in the scriptures, such as:
Attending on Manjusri Bodhisattva, there are The Five Messengers and The Eight Youths. Each of the messengers bears one of his five expressions of wisdom. And each of the youths bears one of the "pages" of a book. His signs and words, praises and virtues are found in various sutras, such as Manjusri-Parinirvana Sutra, Vimalakirti-Nivdesa Sutra.
Here's a praise for Manjusri Bodhisattva, usually chanted during his birthday:
"Wonderful Auspicious" is replete with great kindness.
Mother of Enlightened One Throughout the Three Periods of time.
His wisdom is beyond measurement.
His left hand brandishes a sharp sword that severs all afflictions.
And his right hand holds the blue lotus which reflects the mark of his virtues,
A peacock and lion - spirit act as his carriage.
Poisonous dragons and fierce beasts are subdued and become pure and cool.
The Pure Youth with The Five Topknots - This is a provisional manifestation.
Originally, he is the Happy Treasury of the Thus Come One.
Homage to Manjusri Bodhisattva of Great Wisdom, who dwells in the Golden World of Pure Cool Mountain.
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