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Samantabhadra: The Guardian of Dragon and Snake in the Eight Great Protectors of Buddhism

by Aaron Isaacs 0 Comments

In the rich landscape of Buddhist deities, Samantabhadra stands as a figure of virtue and practice. Known as the Bodhisattva of Universal Worthy, Samantabhadra is revered in Mahayana Buddhism not only for his teachings but also for his role as a guardian, specifically for those born in the years of the Dragon and Snake. This blog delves into the origin of Samantabhadra and his profound protective role in Buddhism.

The Origin of Samantabhadra

Samantabhadra, known as the Bodhisattva of Universal Worthy, has origins deeply embedded in the ancient teachings of Mahayana Buddhism. His name, translating to 'Universal Worthy' or 'Universally Admirable' in Sanskrit, reflects his embodiment of the Buddhist ideals of virtue and practice. Samantabhadra is often depicted in Buddhist art as riding a white elephant with six tusks, symbolizing the power of wisdom to overcome obstacles.

This bodhisattva is known for his association with the Flower Garland Sutra (Avatamsaka Sutra), one of the most elaborate and extensive sutras in Mahayana Buddhism. In this sutra, Samantabhadra is presented as a being who made ten great vows, which are foundational to the bodhisattva path. These vows encompass a wide range of compassionate actions, from honoring the Buddhas to dedicating oneself to the salvation of all sentient beings.

Samantabhadra is not merely a historical or mythological figure; he represents the ideal of active engagement in the world. His essence is that of action and practice, unlike many bodhisattvas who are more contemplative. This active aspect of his nature is reflected in his vows, which emphasize not just understanding the teachings of Buddhism, but living them out in daily life.

Historically, Samantabhadra's origins are somewhat obscure, but his presence in Buddhist texts and iconography has been significant and enduring. He is often paired with Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, representing the perfect balance of wisdom (prajna) and action (upaya). Together, they symbolize the two essential aspects of the Buddhist path: understanding the nature of reality and acting compassionately within that reality.

Samantabhadra's Role in Buddhism

Samantabhadra is revered as a model of Buddhist practice. His teachings emphasize the importance of making vows and diligently pursuing the Buddhist path. He is often associated with the last of the ten great vows, which focuses on the worship and respect of all Buddhas. His role extends beyond philosophical teachings; he is a source of guidance and inspiration for practitioners seeking to cultivate a life of profound spiritual commitment.

The Protector of the Dragon and Snake

In his esteemed role as one of the Eight Great Protectors in Buddhist lore, Samantabhadra holds a particularly significant position for those born in the years of the Dragon and Snake. This year, being the Year of the Dragon, highlights Samantabhadra's guardianship with even greater importance, as those born under this sign are believed to be under his direct spiritual patronage.

For individuals born in the Dragon year, Samantabhadra’s protection is believed to bring a unique blend of enlightenment, vigor, and visionary insight. The Dragon, a symbol of power, luck, and strength in Chinese culture, resonates deeply with Samantabhadra's teachings of wisdom and enlightenment. His guidance is seen as instrumental in helping Dragons harness their natural charisma and leadership qualities, encouraging them to pursue their lofty aspirations while maintaining a grounded spiritual practice.

Similarly, for those born in the year of the Snake, Samantabhadra’s influence is of profound significance. The Snake, often associated with wisdom, mystery, and a deep intuitive understanding of life, finds a kindred spirit in Samantabhadra’s teachings. He provides a guiding light for Snakes in their pursuit of knowledge and spiritual exploration, helping them to delve deeper into the mysteries of existence and the pursuit of inner truth.

Samantabhadra’s role as the guardian of these two zodiac signs encompasses not just protection from worldly troubles, but also guidance on the path of spiritual awakening. His presence is a reminder of the importance of coupling ambition with wisdom, and strength with compassion, for a balanced and fulfilling journey through life.


Samantabhadra's influence in Buddhism as a teacher, a model of virtuous practice, and a protective guardian for the Dragon and Snake highlights the multifaceted nature of Buddhist deities. His presence in the Buddhist tradition continues to inspire and guide practitioners on their path to enlightenment, embodying the timeless virtues of the Buddhist way.

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