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The dakini Simhamukha is a female meditational deity with a lion face. In the Sarma traditions (Sakya, Kagyu, Gelug) she arises out of the Chakrasamvara cycle of Tantras and belongs to the Anuttarayoga 'wisdom' classification. In the Nyingma 'Treasure' tradition she is one of the many forms of Padmasambhava, specifically a secret form of Guru Rinpoche. The Sarma tradition Simhamukha is unrelated to the deity of the same name and appearance in the Nyingma tradition.
"...the wisdom Dakini Simhamukha, with a body blue-black in colour, one face, two hands; three eyes, red, round and glaring; bared fangs and a curled tongue. The right hand holds aloft to the sky a curved-knife marked with a vajra. The left a blood filled skullcup to the heart, carrying a three-pointed khatvanga staff in the bend of the left elbow. Orange hair, eyebrows and beard flowing upwards, with five dry human heads as a crown and fifty wet, blood dripping, as a necklace. With five bone ornaments and a tiger skin as a lower garment; standing on the left leg with the right drawn-up, in the middle of a blazing fire of pristine awareness." [sGrub Thabs Kun bTus, vol.8, folios 288-290. Translated in 1989].
Forms & Types: (see the Simhamukha Outline Page)
- Single Deity (Sakya)
- Three Deity (Sakya)
- Five Deity (Sakya)
- Bodong Sengdong (Sakya, Dagnang)
- Jatson Sengdong
- Longsal Sengmar
- Chagme Sengdong
- Tagsham Sengmar
- Dudul Dorje Sengdong
There are other figures represented in art that also have a lion face, both male and female. These figures, in some cases, can also be called Simhamukha but are secondary figures in the retinue of a principal meditational deity or are worldly gods and deities. Most notably is the lion-faced attendant to Shri Devi, commonly depicted following the donkey or mule. There is also a lion-faced attendant in the fifty-eight wrathful deities of the Guhyagarbha Tantra.
Jeff Watt 6-1998 [updated 10-2016]