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Entries for month: November 2010

The King of Wrathful Deities - Achala - Page Updated

November 30, 2010 ·

Krodharaja Achala (English: the Immovable One, King of the Wrathful). Achala is found in two Tantras from the Kriya classification along with the Siddhaikavira Tantra - catalogued by the Sakyas as a Charya Tantra - also known as the White Manjushri Tantra. From this last Tantra Achala takes on his primary role as a remover of obstacles and secondly as the special protector for the meditational practices related to Manjushri. The continuation of this practice of linking the two deities is still found in the Sakya Tradition and likely others as yet undocumented.

Of the two Kriya Tantra practices, the Achala depicted in a kneeling posture was continued through many traditions but specially through the Sakya Tradition following the commentary by Lobpon Sonam Tsemo (1142-1182). The commentary is still in use today as the principal explanatory text. The practice of Achala in a standing posture was popularized by both Lord Atisha (982-1054) the founder of the Kadampa School followed by Mitra Yogin (12th - 13th century) famous for the text known as the Mitra Gyatsa.

In the higher Tantras of Anuttarayoga there are three, possibly more, Tantras specific to Achala. The most famous of these Tantras is the Chandamaharoshana where the deity is in a kneeling posture while embracing a consort, surrounded by a retinue of eight mandala figures.

Achala Types:
1. Kneeling, Blue (Sakya Tradition & Various)
2. Kneeling, White (Sakya & Jonang traditions)
3. Standing, Solitary Form (Kadam Tradition)
4. Standing with 11 Deity Retinue (Mitra Yogin Tradition)
5. Chandamaharoshana with Consort & Retinue
6. Red, One Face & Six Arms, Embracing a Consort
7. Blue with Four Faces & Four Arms (Sakya Tradition)
8. Black with Four Legs (Sakya Tradition)
9. Black with Three Faces & Six Arms, Eight Monkeys (Jetari Tradition)
10. Others.....

(See the Achala Main Page, Outline Page and Masterworks Page).

Tags: Masterworks · iconography · art

Vajrapani Selected Masterworks

November 28, 2010 ·

A page of Selected Masterworks for Vajrapani including depictions as both a bodhisattva and a meditational deity has been linked to the Vajrapani Main Page.

Tags: art

'War, Conflict & Strife'

November 28, 2010 ·

There are many deities in both the Hindu and Buddhist Traditions that are associated with violence, aggression, conquest and war. In most cases it is not their primary function but there are enough deities and enough stories to make it an interesting subject. (See the Outline Page).

Shakyamuni Buddha & the Defeat of Mara: one of the important events in the life of the Buddha is his attainment of enlightenment after defeating the armies of Mara. The depiction of this event is standard for almost all visual presentations of the life story.

Indra: as an early Indian god of war and weather Indra is probably best known for wielding the great vajra scepter weapon - related to the lightning bolt of Zeus.

Durga: a female goddess of India, most famous for defeating the demon Mahisha and his vast army of followers. She is commonly portrayed as a warrior holding all of the various weapons of the most important Hindu gods.

Hevajra: a principal meditational deity and Tantric system in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism using the metaphor of war. Hevajra with the name 'Hail Vajra!' is related to the Hindu god Indra in a number of ways. Many of the minor associated rituals are concerned with destroying enemies and enemy armies.

Vajrabhairava: generally regarded as the most terrific and horrific of the Tantric Buddhist meditational deities he was also the means used by Rwa Lotsawa to ritually assassinate numerous Tibetan Lamas of the 11th and 12th century - most notably Dharma Dode - the son of Marpa the Translator.

Krodha Vajrapani: the wrathful form of Vajrapani who wields the vajra scepter in the upraised right hand - ready to throw - figures prominently in narratives related to the subjugation and defeat of the Naga races.

Mahakala: the most wrathful and the highest of all protectors (Dharmapala) of Tantric Buddhism, he has numerous rituals devoted to wrathful activity and destruction - notably of enemies and enemy armies. In 11th century India, at Bodhgaya, the human skin of a general leading an invading army was dried and used to make a Mahakala mask. In the 13th century, during the Yuan dynasty, the Mongolians under Kublai Khan and his descendants used the face of Mahakala as a war banner.

Sitatapatra: a female deity that since the 17th century - the time of the 5th Dalai Lama - has taken on the role as a state protector of the empire. Sitatapatra rituals were emplyed by Tibet, Mongolia and China.

Shambhala Kings & the Future War: an interesting part of the Kalachakra and Shambhala narrative is the prognostication of a future war and a battle to end all battles led by the last King of Shambhala.

Tags: iconography

Vajrakila Selected Masterworks

November 28, 2010 ·

A page of Selected Masterworks for the meditiational deity Vajrakila has been linked to the Vajrakila Main Page.

Tags: art

Dance in Himalayan Art

November 27, 2010 ·

Dance is a common theme in Indian and Himalayan art and well represented in Tantric Iconography - Buddhist and Hindu. A well known form of Shiva is in the appearance of 'The Lord of Dance' (Shiva Nataraja). Many forms of Avalokiteshvara are in a dancing posture as are Hevajra, Vajrayogini, Kurukulla and many other Buddhist deities. The Tibetan teacher Machig Labdron is depicted in a dance posture imitating Vajrayogini. A number of Tibetan biographical paintings depict narrative scenes including dance (Tibetan: cham).

Dance appearance is easy to recognize. Typically a simple dancing figure has two legs, one of the legs is raised up and the standing leg is somewhat curved and pressed to the ground. Males in a dance posture generally stand on the right leg and females on the left. It does become increasingly more complicated as the number of legs increase as with some forms of Hevajra.

The Buddhist Tantric texts speak of nine emotions of dancing, three of body, three of speech and three of mind. In Anuttarayoga Tantra a dancing figure (deity) must express physically these nine emotions through posture, gesture, facial expression and attire. (See the Dance Outline Page).

Tags: art

Vajrabhairava Selected Masterworks

November 27, 2010 ·

A page of Selected Masterworks depicting Vajrabhairava - a form of Manjushri.

Vajrabhairava is a wrathful form of Manjushri and functions as a meditational deity of the Anuttarayoga Classification in Tantric Buddhism. As a principal meditational deity, Vajrabhairava belongs to the Vajrabhairava and Yamari class of Tantras and specifically arises from the Vajrabhairava Root Tantra.

Tags: Masterworks · art

Vajravarahi Selected Masterworks

November 26, 2010 ·

A page of Selected Masterworks depicting Vajravarahi - a form of Vajrayogini.

Vajrayogini is the principal female deity of the Chakrasamvara Cycle of Tantras. There are many forms of her each having a unique name and appearance. Some names are descriptive such as Varahi meaning the 'sow,' or Krodha Kali meaning 'black wrathful' yogini. Other names refer to the Indian or Tibetan lineage associated with a particular Yogini form and practice. The most common forms found in art are the Naropa (Naro Khacho) form, Vajravarahi (with the pig face at the side), Krodha Kali (the black form) and Dechen Gyalmo (of the Longchen Nyingtig).

There are many other forms of the deity besides those mentioned above but they are not as commonly found in art as a central subject or sculpture. Besides those painted and sculptural representations, there are also many different mandala configurations for the various forms.

Tags: Masterworks · art

Shakyamuni & Arhats Painting Set

November 26, 2010 ·

Shakyamuni Buddha and the Sixteen Arhats are again shown to be the most common painting subject found in Himalayan and Tibetan art. In this set there are seven compositions making up the full complement of the twenty-five required figures. The set is from the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco. The composition of the seven is somewhat unusual as they appear to be either copied from a set of block prints used as a model or painted directly onto the prints after carved blocks were inked and printed on cloth. (See the Arhats Painting Sets Outline).

Tags: Sets · painting · art

Vajrakila Page - Updated

November 24, 2010 ·

Vajrakila, also known as Vajrakilaya or Vajra Kumara (Vajra Youth) , is the activity aspect from the set of Eight Herukas (Tib.: ka gye) of the Mahayoga Tantras of the Nyingma Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism and a principal meditational deity for both the Nyingmapa and Sakyapa, later taken up by the Jonang and many of the various Kagyu Traditions. The study of Vajrakila can be divided into three major subjects: (1) the early Nyingma and Sakya Traditions, (2) the later 'Revealed Treasure' (Terma) traditions and (3) the Purba Drugse Chempa of the Bon Religion.

See the updated Vajrakila Main Page.

The unique iconographic feature of Vajrakila is the three-sided peg (purba) that is held, pointed downward, with the two principal hands at the heart. Typically Vajrakila has three faces, six hands, four legs and wide outstretched wings behind. He embraces the consort Dipta Chakra who has one face, two hands and two legs.

There are two basic forms of the deity Vajrakila. The first is as described above with the lower body having four legs. An alternate to this is with a lower body shaped as a triangular peg with three blades (purba). In the 'Revealed Treasure' Tradition a variety of other forms developed such as the Nine-headed Vajrakila. There are dozens and dozens of 'Revealed Treasure' Traditions for Vajrakila and it can probably be said that he is the most popular meditaional deity of the Nyingma Tradition. Another deity form sometimes confused for Vajrakila is the deity Guru Dragpur, a form of Padmasambhava, an early Buddhist teacher in Tibet. Numerous wrathful meditational deities and protectors hold the purba (peg) as a hand attribute but they should not be confused with Vajrakila. Examples of these other deities are: Guru Dragpo, Shri Devi Dudsolma of the Naropa tradition, etc.

Tags: iconography

2,600-year-old Buddhist Monastery

November 24, 2010 ·

Copper load of this! Company digging mine in Afghanistan unearths 2,600-year-old Buddhist monastery - By Daily Mail Reporter.

The dating may be a little off but the find is certainly sensational.

Tags: art