Subhuti (from Sanskrit: su: "good", bhūti: "existence"; Chinese: 须菩提; ||pinyin]]: Xūbùtí) was one of the Buddha Shakyamuni's Ten Major Disciples, according to some Mahayana sources, a contemporary of such famous arhats as Sariputra, Mahakasyapa, Maudgalyayana, and Vimalakirti. He is perhaps best known as the disciple with whom the Buddha speaks when imparting the Diamond Sutra (Skt: Vajracchedika), an important teaching within the Prajnaparamita texts. This, along with the Heart Sutra (Skt: Hridaya), is one of the most well-known sutras, among both practitioners and non-practitioners of Buddhism.
In Theravada Buddhism, Subhuti is much less prominent.
- Subhuti was Buddha's disciple. He was able to understand the potency of emptiness, that nothing exists except in its relationship of subjectivity and objectivity. One day, in a mood of sublime emptiness, Subhuti was resting underneath a tree when flowers began to fall about him.
- "We are praising you for your discourse on emptiness," the gods whispered to Subhuti.
- "But I have not spoken of emptiness," replied Subhuti.
- "You have not spoken of emptiness, we have not heard emptiness," responded the gods. "This is the true emptiness." The blossoms showered upon Subhuti as rain.
Subhuti was one of Buddha's greatest disciples. He was told by Buddha, "be attentive and listen well."
Lineage of the Panchen Lamas
In the lineage of the Panchen Lamas of Tibet there were considered to be four "Indian" and three Tibetan incarnations of Amitabha Buddha before Khedrup Gelek Pelzang, who is recognised as the 1st Panchen Lama. The lineage starts with Subhuti.
Subhuti may have been the inspiration for Sun Wukong's teacher, Patriarch Bodhi, in the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West. However, it's debatable whether Patriarch Bodhi was meant, in fact, to be Subhuti. Apart from their difference in name, Patriarch Bodhi taught a mixture of both Buddhism and Taoism, while his powers were most definitely Taoist.
- Stein, R. A. Tibetan Civilization, (1972) p. 84. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California. ISBN 0-8047-0806-1 (cloth); ISBN 0-0847-0901-7.
- Das, Sarat Chandra. Contributions on the Religion and History of Tibet (1970), pp. 81-103. Manjushri Publishing House, New Delhi. First published in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Vol. LI (1882).