Kshitigarbha (Skt. Kṣitigarbha; Tib. ས་ཡི་སྙིང་པོ་, Sa Yi Nyingpo; Wyl. sa yi snying po or sa'i snying po) — one of the most important bodhisattvas in China and Japan. His activity focuses more particularly on helping those who suffer in the hell realms. He is often depicted as white in colour, holding a jewel that symbolizes wisdom.
- Jamgön Mipham, A Garland of Jewels, (trans. by Lama Yeshe Gyamtso), Woodstock: KTD Publications, 2008
Kṣitigarbha. (T. Sa yi snying po; C. Dizang; J. Jizō; K. Chijang 地藏). In Sanskrit, lit. “Earth Store,” an important Bodhisattva who has the power to rescue beings who have the misfortune to be reborn in the hells. Although Kṣitigarbha is known in all Mahāyāna countries through his inclusion in the widely known grouping of eight great bodhisattvas (Mahopaputra; Aṣṭamahopaputra), he was apparently not the object of individual cultic worship in India or Tibet. It was in East Asian Buddhism that Kṣitigarbha came into his own and became widely worshipped. In China, the cult of Kṣitigarbha (C. Dizang) gained popularity by at least the fifth century, with the translation of the Dasheng daji Dizang shilun jing (“Mahāyāna Mahāsannipāta Sūtra on Kṣitigarbha and the Ten Wheels”), first in the Northern Liang dynasty and subsequently again by Xuanzang in 651 CE. The eponymous Kṣitigarbhasūtra, translated at the end of the seventh century, specifically relates the bodhisattva’s vow to rescue all beings in the six realms of existence before he would attain buddhahood himself and tells the well-known prior-birth story of the bodhisattva as a young woman, whose filial piety after the death of her heretical mother saved her mother from rebirth in the Avīci hell. It was his ability to rescue deceased family members from horrific rebirths that became Dizang’s dominant characteristic in China, where he took on the role of the Lord of Hell, opposite the Jade Emperor of native Chinese cosmology. This role may possibly have resulted from Dizang’s portrayal as the Lord of Hell in the apocryphal (see Apocrypha) Foshuo Dizang pusa faxin yinlu shiwang jing and reflects Buddhist accommodations to the medieval Chinese interest in the afterlife. This specialization in servicing the denizens of hell seems also to have evolved alongside the emergence of Dizang’s portrayal as a monk, whom the Chinese presume to reside on the Buddhist sacred mountain of Jiuhuashan in Anhui province. (See also Chijang; Kim Kyugak.) Kṣitigarbha is easily recognizable in Chinese iconography because he is the only bodhisattva who wears the simple raiments of a monk and has a shaved head rather than an ornate headdress. In Japan, where Kṣitigarbha is known as Jizō, the bodhisattva has taken on a different significance. Introduced to Japan during the Heian period, Jizo became immensely popular as a protector of children, patron of travelers, and guardian of community thresholds. Jizō is typically depicted as a monk carrying a staff in his left hand and a chaplet or rosary in his right. The boundaries of a village beyond which children should not wander were often marked by a stone statue of Jizō. Japanese fisherman also looked to Jizō for protection; statues of the bodhisattva erected by early Japanese immigrants to Hawaii are still found today at many popular shoreline fishing and swimming sites in the Hawaiian Islands. In modern Japan, Jizō continues to be regarded as the special protector of children, including the stillborn and aborted. In memory of these children, and as a means of requesting Jizō’s protection of them, statues of Jizō are often dressed in a bib (usually red in color), sometimes wearing a knit cap or bonnet, with toys placed nearby (see Mizuko Kuyō). Tibetan iconography typically has Kṣitigarbha seated on a lotus flower, holding a Cintāmaṇi in his right hand and displaying the Varadamudrā with his left.
The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism by Robert E. Buswell Jr. and Donald S. Lopez Jr.
Earth Store Bodhisattva. He is now the guardian of the earth. Depicted with the alarum staff with its six rings, he is accredited with power over the hells and is devoted to the saving of all creatures between the Nirvana of Shakyamuni and the advent of Maitreya. He vows that while the hell is not empty, he will not attain Buddhahood. As his vow is the greatest, he is also known as The Great Vow Bodhisattva.
Ksitigarbha (Chinese: Ti tsang; Japanese: Jizo) is worshipped as a savior to those condemned to the torments of hell. Since the 10th century, he as been portrayed as a young, itinerant monk who carries a pilgrims staff and a wish granting jewel. On a popular level, he is also believed to assist the wayward souls of deceased children.
Ksitigarbha (kṣitigarbha) is a bodhisattva primarily revered in East Asian Buddhism, usually depicted as a Buddhist monk in the Orient. The name may be translated as "Earth Treasury", "Earth Store", "Earth Matrix", or "Earth Womb". Ksitigarbha is known for his vow to take responsibility for the instruction of all beings in the six worlds between the death of Gautama (Sakyamuni) Buddha and the rise of Maitreya Buddha, as well as his vow not to achieve Buddhahood until all hells are emptied.
Kṣitigarbha ("Earth Womb") is a famous Mahayana Buddhist bodhisattva who is especially popular in Asian countries where he is worshipped as Dizang in China and Jizō in Japan. Renowned for his vow to postpone achieving Buddhahood until all hells are emptied, Kṣitigarbha is regarded as a savior figure of immense compassion who seeks to save beings trapped in hell.
Kṣitigarbha is one of the four principal bodhisattvas in oriental Mahayana Buddhism along with Samantabhadra, Manjusri, and Avalokitesvara. His full name in Chinese script is (Traditional Chinese: 大願地藏菩薩; Simplified Chinese: 大願地藏菩萨; pinyin: Dàyuàn Dìzàng Púsà), or the Bodhisattva King Dizang of the Great Vow, pronounced as Dayuan Dizang Pusa in Beijin Mandarin dialect, Daigan Jizo Bosatu in Japanese.
Kshitigarbha, ( Sanskrit: “Womb of the Earth”) bodhisattva (“buddha-to-be”) who, though known in India as early as the 4th century ce, became immensely popular in China as Dicang and in Japan as Jizō. He is the saviour of the oppressed, the dying, and the dreamer of evil dreams, for he has vowed not to stop his labours until he has saved the souls of all the dead condemned to hell. In China he is considered the overlord of hell and is invoked when someone is about to die. In Japan, as Jizō, he does not reign over hell (the job of Emma-ō) but is venerated for the mercy he shows the departed and in particular for his kindness to dead children including aborted fetuses. His widespread worship in Central Asia is attested to by his frequent appearances on temple banners from Chinese Turkistan.
Kshitigarbha is most commonly represented as a monk with a shaved head but with a nimbus and with the urna (tuft of hair) between his eyebrows. He is depicted carrying the clerical staff (khakkara) with which he forces open the gates of hell, together with the flaming pearl (chintamani) with which he lights up the darkness. Because Kshitigarbha has the ability to manifest himself according to the needs of the suffering, he is frequently shown, especially in Japan, in six aspects, each relating to one of the six worlds of desires.