19TH CENTURY CARVED WOODEN FIGURE OF WEI TUO
A well carved 19th century wooden figure of Skanda, Wei Tuo, Veda or Idaten in Japan, one of the guardians of the Buddhist dharma, standing as a young man fully clad in the armour and headgear of a Chinese general, leaning with his right hand resting on the top of a varja staff.
In Chinese Buddhism, Guan Gong and Wei Tuo are revered by most practicing Buddhists as Sangharama Bodhisattvas, the guardians of the Buddhist dharma, the Great Gods Who Subdue Demons of the Three Worlds and Whose Awe Spreads Far and Moves Heaven. The sangharama refer to a group of devas and spirits who guard Buddhist monasteries, the dharma, and the faith itself. Over time, both of them were seen as a representative sangharama guardian of the temple and the garden in which it stands. Guan Gong’s statue is usually located on the far left of the main shrine, opposite his counterpart, Wei Tuo Pu Sa.
Worship of Wei Tuo Pu Sa
Skanda , Wei Tuo, and sometimes called Veda, or Idaten in Japan, is regarded in Chinese Buddhism as a devoted guardian and an honored bodhisattva of Buddhist monasteries who guards the Dharma and the objects of the Dharma. He is also sometimes called “Wei Tuo Zun Tian Pu Sa” (meaning Honored Bodhisattva Wei Tuo) because he is one of the twenty-four celestial guardian deities. He is the General-in-Chief of the thirty-two heavenly generals who serve under the Four Heavenly Kings.
According to the teaching, Wei Tuo was a son of a heavenly king who was so virtuous that when Sakyamuni Buddha was entering Nirvana, he instructed the prince to guard the Buddha Dharma. Thus it became his duty to protect the members of the Sangha whenever they are disturbed in their cultivation by the retinue of Mara, the Tempter. And whenever a conflict arises among religious Orders, General Wei Tuo will discharge his duty to help bring about a peaceful settlement.
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 returned the relics.
Wei Tuo Pu Sa is regarded as a devoted guardian of Buddhist monasteries who guards faithfully the Buddhist treasures and the objects of the Dharma.
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. Just as Maitreya, who as a Bodhisattva has earned the mark of respect of a Buddha, Wei Tuo, though only a Deva or God, is very often addressed as a Bodhisattva or ‘Wei Tuo P’usa’. This is attributed to the prediction that he will in the future become the Buddha Rucika or ‘Lou-Chi Fwo’ ‘ the last of the thousand Buddhas in our world period. Since Vajrapani, a very popular Tibetan Buddhist Bodhisattva who is the God of Rain, and also known as the Thunderbolt-Bearer, also shares this prediction, one thus finds Wei Tuo being referred to as him.