Universal Worthy ［普賢菩薩］ ( Samantabhadra; Fugen-bosatsu): A bodhisattva who is regarded as symbolic of the virtues of truth and practice. In various sutras, he is depicted as one of the two leading bodhisattvas who attend Shakyamuni Buddha, the other being Manjushrī. He is usually shown on the Buddha’s right, riding a white elephant with six tusks. In the “Universal Worthy” (twenty-eighth) chapter of the Lotus Sutra, he vows to protect the Lotus Sutra and its votaries, saying to the Buddha, “In the evil and corrupt age of the last five-hundred-year period, if there is someone who accepts and upholds this sutra, I will guard and protect him, free him from decline and harm, see that he attains peace and tranquillity, and make certain that no one can spy out and take advantage of his shortcomings.” In this chapter, he also takes a vow before the Buddha, saying: “I now therefore employ my transcendental powers to guard and protect this sutra. And after the Thus Come One has entered extinction, I will cause it to be widely propagated throughout Jambudvīpa and will see that it never comes to an end.”
Bodhisattva Universal Worthy is also the protagonist of the Universal Worthy Sutra, which describes his beneficent power, how to meditate on him, and the benefit accruing from doing so. In the Flower Garland Sutra, Bodhisattva Universal Worthy makes ten great vows concerning his Buddhist practice, such as a vow to bestow all blessings upon all living beings and lead them to Buddhahood. This sutra relates the story of the boy Good Treasures who visits fifty-three teachers in search of the Law. Good Treasures finally meets the fifty-third teacher, Bodhisattva Universal Worthy, and on hearing his ten great vows attains enlightenment. A number of murals from Central Asia and images from China and Japan depicting this bodhisattva are extant.