Subject: Deity Colours - Red (Powerful Activities)

Deity Colours - Red | Colours in Himalayan Style Art | What Are the Colours? | How to Identify a Deity? | Four Ground Colours

Buddhist Iconography | Eleven Figurative Forms | Tantra Classification

Deity Colours:
White | Yellow | Red | Blue-Black | Green | Multi-coloured | Other

Power Deities comprise the third category of the four traditional Tantric Buddhist categories of deities according to activity type, or function. The function and nature of power in Tantric practice is to accomplish tasks and wishes quickly. Power deities are most often red in colour and generally either peaceful in appearance or slightly peaceful and slightly wrathful. A certain element of danger for the practitioner is associated with power deities and activities in Tantric Buddhism.

There are Four principal Tantric Buddhist Activities, or functions as described in the Anuttarayoga Tantric literature: 1. Peaceful Activities, 2. Increasing Activities, 3. Powerful Activities, and 4. Wrathful Activities. The four activities are primarily associated with the two highest classifications of Tantra, Anuttarayoga and Yoga.

There are a further ten well known Tantric categories of deities according to function. The ten span all four levels of Tantra but primarily include and differentiate between the two lowest classes of Tantra, Kriya and Charya.

The Kriya and Charya Tantra levels have their own unique system of classifying deities according to function all though it is not well known outside of scholarly circles. The four activities and the general ten functions are broader and inclusive of all four Tantra levels albeit less precise.

Red Deities:

Male -
- Achala, Rakta
- Amitabha Buddha
- Amitayus Buddha
- Amoghapasha (several forms)
- Avalokiteshvara, Red (several forms)
- Ganapati, Red (several forms)
- Guhyasamaja, Lokeshvara
- Guru Dragpo
- Guru Dragpur
- Hayagriva, Red (several forms)
- Jambhala, Red (1. Traba Ngonshe, 2. Sakya)
- Lha Chenpo (Shiva), Red
- Mahabala
- Mahakala (red forms)
- Manjushri, Red (several forms)
- Samantabhadra, Bodhisattva
- Takkiraja, Red
- Vaishravana, Rakta
- Vajrapani, Rakta
- Virupaksha (Guardian King)
- Yama Dharmaraja, Secret
- Yamari, Rakta
- Others...

Female -
- Ekajati (several forms)
- Guhyajnana Dakini
- Kandro'i Tsomo Che Chang Mar
- Kurukulla, Red (several forms)
- Lhamo Gokarmo
- Marichi, Red (several forms)
- Padma Dakini
- Parnashavari, Rakta
- Sarasvati, Red (1. Krishna Yamari, 2. Sakya, 3. Bodong, 4. Nyingma)
- Shri Devi, Dorje Rabtenma
- Simhamukha, Rakta
- Tara, Red (several forms)
- Tinuma Devi, Red
- Vajrayogini
- Vasudhara, Red

Common Groups:
- The Three Great Red Ones
- The Three Small Red Ones

(Hayagriva is commonly classified as a wrathful activities deity and a meditational deity. Sometimes he is treated as a power deity. Marichi in her various red forms is commonly treated as a power deity although she principally removes and prevents obstacles).

Jeff Watt 3-2012 [updated 2-2013]

[The images below are only a selection from the list above].

Jambhala (Buddhist Deity): Red (Trapa Ngonshe Lineage)
Jambhala (Buddhist Deity)
Red (Trapa Ngonshe Lineage)
Ganapati (Indian God & Buddhist Deity): Red (4 hands)
Ganapati (Indian God & Buddhist Deity)
Red (4 hands)
Kurukulla (Buddhist Deity)
Kurukulla (Buddhist Deity)
Kurukulla (Buddhist Deity)
Kurukulla (Buddhist Deity)
Ganapati (Indian God & Buddhist Deity): Red (2 hands)
Ganapati (Indian God & Buddhist Deity)
Red (2 hands)
Worldly Protector (Buddhist): Lha Chenpo
Worldly Protector (Buddhist)
Lha Chenpo
Kurukulla (Buddhist Deity)
Kurukulla (Buddhist Deity)
Jambhala (Buddhist Deity): Red (Trapa Ngonshe Lineage)
Jambhala (Buddhist Deity)
Red (Trapa Ngonshe Lineage)
Ganapati (Indian God & Buddhist Deity): Red (12 hands)
Ganapati (Indian God & Buddhist Deity)
Red (12 hands)