Particularly in Chinese Buddhism, Skanda Bodhisattva (Ch. 韋馱菩薩; Wei Tuo Pu Sa) is regarded as a devoted guardian and an honored Bodhisattva of Buddhist monasteries who guards the Dharma and the objects of the Dharma. He is the General-in-Chief of the thirty-two heavenly generals who come under the Four Heavenly Kings (四大天王). In most temples, his image traditonally faces the statue of the Buddha in the main shrine. In others, he is on the far right of the main shrine, whereas on the left is his counterpart, Sangharama (Guan Gong). In Chinese sutras, his image is found at the end of the sutra, a reminder of his vow to protect and preserve the teachings of the Buddha.
According to the teaching, Skanda was the son of a virtous king who had complete faith in Buddha’s teachings. When Buddha entered nirvana, the Buddha instructed Skanda to guard the Dharma. It was his job to protect members of the Sangha when they are disturbed by Mara, the tempter.
A few days after the Buddha’s passing and cremation, evil demons robbed his relics. Skanda’s vow of protecting the faith and Dharma was proven when he managed to defeat the evil demons and managed to return the relics.
Description of Skanda
Skanda is described as a young man fully clad in the armor and headgear of a Chinese general, and is usually leaning on a vajra staff. Skanda can also be seen as Vajrapani, who bears some relation to him. Also, Skanda, though only a Deva, is very often addressed as a Bodhisattva. This is attributed to the fact that Skanda will become the Buddha Rucika in the very distant future.
- Guan Yu