Himalayan Art Resources

Buddhist Deity: Vajrasattva Main Page

Vajrasattva Main Page | Vajrasattva Outline Page

Database Search: All Images | Painting | Sculpture | Mandalas

Subjects, Topics & Forms:
- Vajrasattva Definition (below)
- Solitary Hero in bodhisattva posture, from the Yoga Tantras
- Solitary Hero in vajra posture
- Vajrasattva, Yellow (Atisha Tradition)
- Vajrasattva with Consort, Anuttarayoga Tantra
- Heruka Vajrasattva, hands crossed at the heart
- Vajrasattva 17 Deity Mandala (Mitra Gyatsa)
- Vajrasattva (Mindroling Tradition)
- Samputa Vajrasattva, Samputa Tantra
- Vajrasattva Samvara 17 Deity Mandala
- Purification Deities Outline
- Masterworks
- Confusions
- Others...

Confusions:
- Vairochana Buddha
- Vajradhara
- Vajrapani (Peaceful) Bodhisattva
- Vajravidarana
- Others...

Vajrasattva is a Buddhist deity originating in India and primarily functioning universally as a Tantric practice for the purification of sins and defilements. Vajrasattva also has a number of forms used as meditational deities (ishtadevata, yidam).

The 'Solitary Universal Ruler,' in the single aspect without consort, arises from the Yoga Tantras. Vajrasattva is the inner form of the primodial buddha Vajradhara and represents all the Buddha Families.

In the New (Sarma) Schools of Tibetan Buddhism Vajrasattva with consort arises from the class of Anuttarayoga Tantra, specifically from the Abhidhanottara Tantra, 25th chapter, and is known as Heruka Vajrasattva.

In the Nyingma Tradition Vajrasattva is not only a deity of purification but an important meditational deity with many Kama (Oral) and Terma (Treasure) traditions. The most famous meditational form is the Vajrasattva of the Mindroling Monastery Tradition commonly known as the Min-ling Dor-sem.

Depictions of Vajrasattva in sculpture and painting are commonly confused with the similar deities Vairochana Buddha, Vajradhara, Vajrapani, Vajravidarana, the Five Symbolic Buddhas in Sambhogakaya form, White Chakrasamvara and others. In a number of Yoga Tantra examples the form of Vajrapani, in the Sarvadurgati Parishodhana Tantra system, appears exactly the same as the typical 'Solitary Hero' Vajrasattva. A sculpture of the primordial Buddha Vajradhara has the exact same physical iconographic appearance as Heruka Vajrasattva - also depicted with the two hands holding a vajra and bell crossed in embrace holding the consort. In paintings the Heruka Vajrasattva would be painted white while the Vajradhara form always appears blue in colour. In physical appearance Vajrasattva and Vajravidarana are only different because Vajrasattva holds a single vajra scepter while Vajravidarana holds a double vajra scepter. Vajravidarana can also appear in either a white, green or blue form.

Jeff Watt 4-2005 [updated 7-2011, 4-2017]