(Following is an excerpt of Dharma King Living Buddha Lian-sheng discourse on Sangharama Bodhisattva, Nov. 19, 2011, at Taiwan Lei Tsang Temple.)
Today, we conducted a homa ceremony for Sangharama Bodhisattva (Chinese: Qielan Zun Zhe). Sangharama Bodhisattva is in fact none other than Guan Sheng Di Jun, a deity highly venerated by the Chinese people. How did Sangharama Bodhisattva become a protector of Buddhism? According to a legend of ancient China, while in meditation, a Zen master saw Guan Sheng Di Jun - Guan Yunchang, leading a host of netherworld troops to attack an enemy force on a battlefield. The great Zen master then invited Guan Sheng Di Jun to become a protector of Buddhism. Sangharama Bodhisattva's magnificent and influential spirituality make him a divine and highly significant being.
In temples in China, one will find Skanda and Sangharama Bodhisattva. As Sangharama Bodhisattva was transmitted through the generations, he became the most highly venerated divine protector of temples. In most temples in China, Skanda is placed on the left side and Sangharama Bodhisattva is placed on the right side. Sangharama Bodhisattva's depiction is one and the same as Guan Sheng Di Jun. Sangharama Bodhisattva is found in Chinese temples, but one will not find him in Tibet. Tibetan Vajrayana does not have Sangharama Bodhisattva. Guan Sheng Di Jun became Sangharama Bodhisattva only because a great Chinese Zen master saw Guan Sheng Di Jun while in meditation and invited him to be Sangharama Bodhisattva.
The Chinese characters ''qie lan'' mean ''monastery'' (Sanskrit: sangharama). Lei Tsang temple is a ''qielan.'' In ancient times, a smaller temple would be called a ''jingshe.'' A temple was also called a ''lanre'' (translit. of Sanskrit Aranyakah). ''Jingshe'' and ''lanre'' both mean ''temple.'' Therefore, Qielan Venerable (Zun Zhe) indicates ''venerable of a temple.'' The name Qielan Zun Zhe also means divine protector of a temple or dharma protector of Buddhism. Therefore, Sangharama is a major dharma protector and divine protector.
Most Chinese households enshrine Guanyin, Matzu, and Guan Sheng Di Jun. He is therefore a truly significant and sacred deity. In overseas Chinese communities, every shop and restaurant enshrines Guanyin and Guan Sheng Di Jun. One will find Guan Sheng Di Jun enshrined and worshipped as a wealth deity wherever there are Chinese people and overseas Chinese communities. I do not know of any legends surrounding how Guan Sheng Di Jun became a wealth deity. Guan Sheng Di Jun may be considered a wealth deity because he keeps evil spirits away so that good fortune naturally comes in. (applause)
Guan Sheng Di Jun is the symbol of loyalty and righteousness. Why loyalty? He was loyal to Emperor Zhaolie of the Han Dynasty in Western Shu. At that time, there were Three Kingdoms governed by Cao Cao, Liu Bei, and Sun Quan, and there was the oath of brotherhood in the Peach Garden. Guan Sheng Di Jun finally met his demise at Baidi City. At the beginning, Cao Cao offered Guan Sheng Di Jun the richest and most valuable rewards in hopes of persuading him to serve the Kingdom of Wei. But Guan Sheng Di Jun was not moved and remained loyal to Han.
As for righteousness, Guan Sheng Di Jun fought through five key checkpoints and slayed six captains to protect his two sister-in-laws who were Liu Bei's wives. Guan Sheng Di Jun brought them back to be with Liu Bei. This was the righteousness of the brotherhood. From beginning to end Guan Sheng Di Jun was loyal to his country and righteous toward friends and all sentient beings! He is therefore the symbol of loyalty and righteousness. Fighting through five key checkpoints and slaying six captains was extremely difficult. Therefore, Guan Yunchang is loyal, righteous, and a truly great and sacred figure. (applause)
The homa we conducted today for Sangharama is to convey respect to our Guan Yunchang. Sangharama is a dharma protector of Buddhism. If one gains the protection of Sangharama, one will not become evil or enter the three evil paths. To gain the protection of Sangharama, one must cultivate Sangharama Practice. Sangharama has a ''name'' mantra: ''Om。qie-lan。sid-dhi。Hum。'' His mudra is the Vajra Mudra. As for his visualization, one may visualize that Sangharama has a Red Rabbit Horse and a scimitar called the Blue-green Dragon Scimitar. His depiction? He is sometimes depicted as holding and reading the Spring and Autumn Annals. One can also visualize Sangharma as the image depicted in the thangka. The elements of visualization, mantra and mudra constitute a sadhana for practice. The True Buddha Foundation will prepare a sadhana and a praise verse for Sangharama Bodhisattva and Skanda Bodhisattva. These two deities are dharma protectors of Buddhism, especially in China.
Translated by TBTTs (sections relevant to Sangharama Bodhisattva only)
Translator: Henry Wolf
Editor: DJ Chang