Samantabhadri

Samantabhadri (Kuntuzangmo in Tibetan) is the consort and female counterpart of Samantabhadra, the primordial Buddha of the older schools of Tibetan Buddhism.  They are usually shown in sexual union (yab/yum in Tibetan), the blue male figure and white female figure embracing each other in lotus position.  Samantabhadri is sometimes shown alone, in which case she is seated in lotus posture with her hands in meditation posture in her lap.  Samantabhadri is always shown naked (as is her consort) to demonstrate the unadorned nature of Absolute Truth, the emptiness of all phenomena.  She is in some senses an analogue of Prajnaparamita.

“Samantabhadra is often depicted in sexual union with the female buddha Samantabhadri, who is equally naked but white in color.  White here stands for the complete purity, transparency, nonsolidity, and lack of characteristics of the primordial state, or emptiness.  Just as white is not actually a color at all, the stainless crystal of the dharmadhatu is completely colorless in itself.

The embrace between Samantabhadra and Samantabhadri represents the inseparable union of the pure awareness of self-arising, luminous wisdom, and the vast open expanse of the dharmadhatu, or emptiness.  The vibrantly clear insight and awareness of this wisdom arises naturally within the open spaciousness of the expanse of emptiness, radiating throughout it and pervading it.  Their inseparable union is not just a nonconceptual cognitive dimension; its affective dimension or tone is the experience of the inexhaustible great bliss that is completely unconditional and free from all mundane emotions, such as desire, attachment, clinging, and pride.  Their lotus seat symbolizes their freedom from all stains of conditioned phenomena and characteristics.  Just as a mother gives birth to children, all phenomena arise from and within the open yet fertile and luminous space of emptiness.

Thus, the symbolism of the feminine principle makes it clear that emptiness is not a blank voidness, an utter nonexistence, a negative, or some static state, but the indeterminate yet dynamic dimension of infinite potentiality.  The masculine principle refers to the awareness of nonconceptual wisdom that is accomplished by the warm heart of compassion; this is what moves within, permeates, and is aware of the spaciousness of this boundless realm, manifestly expressing all its enlightened and enlightening possibilities and qualities.

In their function as the ‘parents’ of awakening, Samantabhadra and Samantabhadri are the ultimate source of bodhichitta, as well as of all levels of realization of the noble ones in the Sravakayana, Prateyekabuddhayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana; Samantabhadra and Samantabhadri are alls to central figures in the mandala of the one hundred peaceful and wrathful deities.”

~ Karl Brunnholzl
“A Lullaby To Awaken The Heart”

Samantabhadri Yabyum painting by Paola Minelli.
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