The iconic bodhisattvas of Mahayana art and literature are each associated with an aspect or activity of enlightenment.
Prajna is most closely associated with the Madhyamika School of Buddhism, which was founded by the Indian sage Nagarjuna (ca. Nagarjuna taught that wisdom is the realization of shunyata, or "emptiness."To explain shunyata, Nagarjuna said that phenomena have no intrinsic existence in themselves.
Because all phenomena come into being by means of conditions created by other phenomena, they have no existence of their own and are empty of a permanent self.
It is important to understand that "emptiness" is not nonexistence. Zen teacher Taigen Daniel Leighton said,"Manjusri is the bodhisattva of wisdom and insight, penetrating into the fundamental emptiness, universal sameness, and true nature of all things.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama said, "' Emptiness' means 'empty of intrinsic existence.' It does not mean that nothing exists, but only that things do not possess the intrinsic reality we naively thought they did. Manjusri, whose name means 'noble, gentle one,' sees into the essence of each phenomenal event.
This essential nature is that not a thing has any fixed existence separate in itself, independent from the whole world around it.
Manjusri, bodhisattva of wisdom, is one of the most important iconic figures in Mahayana art and literature.
He represents the wisdom of prajna, which is not confined by knowledge or concepts.
His Sanskrit name means "He Who Is Noble and Gentle." He is often portrayed as a young man holding a sword in his right hand and the Prajna Paramita (Perfection of Wisdom) Sutra in or near his left hand.
Sometimes he rides a lion, which highlights his princely and fearless nature.
Sometimes, instead of a sword and a sutra, he is pictured with a lotus, a jewel, or a scepter.
His youthfulness indicates that wisdom arises from him naturally and effortlessly.