(Last Updated on : 20/01/2011)
The primary responsibility of Ksitigarbha bodhisattva is to preach to the beings of the six worlds. The reference to Ksitigarbha can be found in the Mahayana Buddhist texts. In Chinese canon, he is represented in the shape of classical Bodhisattva. However at a later stage he is seen as a monk rather than a bodhisattva. Ksitigarbha is supposed to complete his mission after the death of Buddha and the arrival of new Buddha or Maitreya. As a result he is often hailed as one of the most important bodhisattvas in Buddhism
According to Chinese traditions Ksitigarbha resides on Jiuhua Mountain. This is the one of the four important Buddhist Mountains in China. Once upon a time it had 300 Buddhist temples. Today only 95 of them are fit for public viewing. In Japan, Ksitigarbha is depicted as a family man and is popularly known as Jizo. He is seen as the protector of children. Since he is associated with children his face looks like babies. He saves the souls from suffering in the underworld and the travelers.
In the Buddhist text, Ksitigarbha Sutra, it is said that he was a young Brahmin girl known as Sacred Girl. The little girl prayed daily to Buddha for saving her mother's soul from hell. Impressed with the girl's endeavors Gautama Buddha
granted her mother the joys of the heaven. Greatly moved by this incident the Sacred Girl vowed to help those who are suffering. In China, Ksitigarbha is looked upon as a monk as people believe that it was Ksitigarbha's body that was transformed into the monk.