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Vajrasattva (Sanskrit) is a bodhisattva in the Mahayana, Mantrayana and Vajrayana buddhist traditions. In the Japanese Vajrayana school of Buddhism, Shingon, Vajrasattva is the esoteric aspect of the bodhisattva Samantabhadra and is commonly associated with the student practitioner who through the master's teachings, attains an ever-enriching subtle and rarefied grounding in their esoteric practice.

Vajrasattva appears principally in two Buddhists texts: the Mahavairocana Sutra and the Vajrasekhara Sutra. In the Diamond Realm Mandala, Vajrasattva sits to the East near Akshobhya Buddha.

In some esoteric lineages, Nagarjuna was said to have met Vajrasattva in an iron tower in South India, and was taught tantra, thus transmitting the esoteric teachings to more historical figures.[1]

Nomenclature, orthography and etymology

Vajrasattva' (Tibetan: Dorje Sempa, Japanese: Kongōsatta, Chinese: 金剛薩埵 Jīn gāng sà duǒ) is a bodhisattva in the Mahayana and Vajrayana buddhist traditions. Vajrasattva's name translates to Diamond Mind.

Shingon Buddhism

In the Shingon Buddhist lineage, Vajrasattva is traditionally viewed as the second patriarch, the first being Vairocana Buddha himself. According to Kukai's writings in Record of the Dharma Transmission he relates a story based on Amoghavajra's account that Nagarjuna met Vajrasattva in an iron tower in southern India. Vajrasattva initiated Nagarjuna into the abhiseka ritual and entrusted him with the esoteric he had learned from Vairocana Buddha, as depicted in the Mahavairocana Sutra. Kukai does not elaborate further on Vajrasattva or his origins.[1]

Elsewhere, Vajrasattva is an important figure in two esoteric Buddhist sutras, the Mahavairocana Sutra and the Vajrasekhara Sutra. In the first chapter of the Mahavairocana Sutra, Vajrasattva leads a host of beings who visit Vairocana Buddha to learn the Dharma. Vajrasattva inquires about the cause, goal and foundation of all-embracing wisdom, which leads to a philosophical discourse by the Buddha. The audience cannot comprehend the teaching, so the Buddha demonstrates through the use mandala. Vajrasattva then questions why rituals and objects are needed if the truth is beyond form. Vairocana Buddha replies to Vajrasattva that these are expedient means to bring practitioners to experience awakening more readily, and so on. In Shingon Buddhist rituals for initiation, the kechien kanjō, the initiate re-enacts the role of Vajrasattva and recites mantra and dialogue from the sutras above. The teacher enacts the role of Mahavairocana Buddha bestowing wisdom upon the student.[1]

Tibetan Buddhism

Tibetan Vajrasattva holds the vajra in his right hand and a bell in his left hand.

In Tibetan Buddhism the Vajrasattva root tantra is Dorje Gyan, or 'Vajra Ornament'.[2] Vajrasattva practices are common to all of the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism and are used both to purify obscurations so that the Vajrayana student can progress beyond Ngondro practices to the various yoga practices of tantra and also to purify any broken samaya vows after initiation. As such, Vajrasattva practice is an essential element of Tibetan Buddhist practice.

In addition to personal practice, the Vajrasattva mantra is regarded as having the ability to purify karma, bring peace, and cause enlightened activity in general. Following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche announced a project, Prayer 4 Peace, to accumulate one billion six syllable Vajrasattva recitations by practitioners around the world. The six syllable mantra (OM VAJRASATTVA HUM), is a less formal version of the one hundred syllable mantra on which it is based but contains the essential spiritual points of the longer mantra, according to lama and tulku Jamgon Kongtrul.[3]

Hundred Syllable Mantra

In Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhist practice, Vajrasattva is used in the Ngondro, or preliminary practices, in order to "purify" the mind's defilements, prior to undertaking more advanced tantric techniques. The 'yik gya', the 'Hundred Syllable Mantra' (Tibetan: ཡིག་བརྒྱWylie: yig brgya) supplication of Vajrasattva, approaches universality in the various elementary Ngondro sadhana for sadhakas of all Mantrayana and Sarma schools bar the Bonpo. The pronunciation and orthography differ between lineages.

The pronunciation as used in the Longchen Nyingtig is as follows:

           [Translation from the Rigpa Shedra]The Vajrasattva Prayer 

(100-Syllable Mantra)

OM [The most excellent exclamation of praise]


Vajrasattva's Samaya:


O Vajrasattva, protect the Samaya


May you remain firm in me


Grant me complete satisfaction


Grow within me (increase the positive within me)


Be loving towards me


Grant me all the siddhis


Show me all the karmas (activities)


Make my mind good, virtuous and auspicious!


[The heart essence, seed syllable of Vajrasattva]

HA  HA  HA  HA : 

[Symbolises the four immeasurables, the four empowerments, the four joys, and the four kayas]

HO : 

[The exclamation of joy at this accomplishment]


O blessed one, who embodies all the Vajra Tathagatas


Do not abandon me


Grant me the realization of the Vajra Nature


O great Samayasattva


Make me one with you

Longchen Nyingtig

The evocation of the Hundred Syllable Mantra in the Mantrayana lineage of Jigme Lingpa's (1729-1798) Ngondro from the Longchen Nyingtig sports Sanskrit-Tibetan hybridization, such textual and dialectical 'diglossia' (Sanskrit: dvaibhashika) is evident from the earliest transmission of tantra into the Himalaya where the Sanskrit phonemes and lexical items are often orthographically rendered in the Tibetan, rather than the comparable indigenous terms (Davidson, 2002).[4] Though Jigme Lingpa did not 'compose' the Hundred Syllable Mantra, his scribal style bears a marked similarity to it as evidenced by his biographies (Gyatso, 1998).[5] Jigme Lingpa as 'pandit', which in the Himalayan context denotes an indigenous Tibetan versed in Sanskrit, often wrote in a hybridized Sanskrit-Tibetan diglossia.


Vajrasattva is often depicted with various consorts, the peaceful one Vajragarvi aka Vajrasattvātmikā (Tib. Dorje Nyema), Dharmadhatvishvari, Ghantapani ("Bell Bearer"), the wrathful one Diptacakra, Vajratopa, Vajrabhrikuti, and others.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Abe, Ryuichi (1999). The Weaving of Mantra: Kukai and the Construction of Esoteric Buddhist Discourse. Columbia University Press. pp. 131–133, 198, 221, 222. ISBN 0231112866.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "abe" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "abe" defined multiple times with different content
  2. Becoming Vajrasattva, 2nd Edition: The Tantric Path of Purification (2004) by Lama Yeshe, ISBN 978-0861713899, Wisdom Publications.p.X
  4. Davidson, Ronald M. (2002). Indian esoteric Buddhism: a social history of the Tantric movement. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0231126182 (cloth)
  5. Gyatso, Janet (1998). Apparitions of the Self: The Secret Autobiographies of a Tibetan Visionary; a Translation and Study of Jigme Lingpa's 'Dancing Moon in the Water' and 'Ḍākki's Grand Secret-Talk'. Princeton, New Jersey, USA: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-01110-9 (cloth: alk. paper)

See also

  • Diamond Approach
  • Ritual purification

External links

bo:རྡོ་རྗེ་སེམས་དཔའ། cs:Vadžrasattva dz:རྡོ་རྗེ་སེམས་དཔའ ta:வச்ரசத்துவர்