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Puxian (普贤)

Chinese. ‘Universal worthy one’ or ‘universal virtuous person’. The bodhisattva of truth in Mahayana Buddhism, who is also known by the Sanskrit name Samantabhadra, which in Thai is referred to as Phra Samantaphatra Photisat (พระสมันตภัทรโพธิสัตว์). He is associated with action and practice, as well as with meditation. He is the patron of the sutra on the White Lotus of the Sublime Dharma, and made the ten great vows which form the basis of a bodhisattva, and have become a common practice in East Asian Mahayana Buddhism. In iconography, he is usually portrayed riding an elephant (fig.), and often has feminine characteristics, reminiscent of depictions of Kuan Yin (fig.). In addition, the elephant may have six, i.e. three pairs of tusks (fig.), whilst Puxian may hold a lotus leaf, sometimes over his head like a parasol, or a ruyi in the form of a lotus. He is occasionally depicted together with Manjushri, and in Vajrayana Buddhism, he is considered to be a form of Vajradhara, who in turn is a representation of the Adi-Buddha. He is also one of the Eight Great Bodhisattvas (fig.).