Samantabhadra

Also called Universal Worthy. A major Bodhisattva, who personifies the transcendental practices and vows of the Buddhas(as compared to the Bodhisattva Manjusri, who represents transcendental wisdom). Usually depicted seated on an elephant with six tusks(six paramitas). Best known for his Ten Great Vows.

Each of the Ten Vows of the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra should be put into practice without interruption, in thought after thought, with body, speech and mind. Thus the three karmas of body, speech and mind of the practitioner are pure, empty and still. In his lifetime, he has sown the seeds of rebirth in a pure realm. At the time of death, he will naturally be reborn in such a realm, of which the most representative is the Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha. This is a good illustration of the Pure Land/Zen teaching,"if the mind is pure, the land is pure."

In the Avatamsaka SutraSamantabhadra makes Ten Great Vows concerning his Buddhist practice. In the twenty-eighth chapter of the Lotus Sutra, he vows to protect the Lotus Sutra,and its devotees. (Samantabhadra is believed to have the power of prolonging life, and esoteric rituals for this purpose are directed toward him.) Worship of Samantabhadra has been popular from ancient times; a number of murals in Central Asia and images in China and Japan remain in existence.

The Bodhisattva Samantabhadra is considered the transcendental Pure Land Patriarch(Master Hui Yuan was the temporal founder of the school in East Asia).

(From "The Seeker's Glossary of Buddhism")