Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Mahakala (Buddhist Protector) - Chaturbhuja (Four-hands)

མ་ཧཱ་ཀཱ་ལ། ནག་པོ་ཆེན་པོ། 玛哈嘎拉
(item no. 100637)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1600 - 1699
Lineages Drukpa (Kagyu) and Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Black Background on Cotton
Collection Publication: A Tale of Thangkas
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Wrathful

Gender: Male

Summary: This form of Mahakala can be either a protector deity (dharmapala) or a meditational deity (ishtadevata).

Interpretation / Description

Chaturbhuja Mahakala, (Tibetan: nag po chen po chag shi pa. English: the Great Black One With Four Hands embracing the consort).

Sanskrit: Chaturbhuja Tibetan: Chag shi pa

From a general perspective there are many lineages of Chaturbhuja within the Nyingma (old) and Sarma (new) traditions. In the Sarma most lineages of Chaturbhuja Mahakala derive from the great pandita Abhayakaragupta. As the protector for the Chakrasamvara cycle of Tantras this form of Mahakala is very important to all Tibetan Buddhist Traditions. Some traditions only have the form of Chaturbhuja in singular aspect and others have him embracing the consort Chandika.

Abhayakaragupta Lineage: Vajradhara, Bodhisattva Mati, Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, Acharyavira, Du Shap Greater and Younger, Vajrasana the Greater, Abhayakaragupta, Tsami [Lotsawa] Sanggye Shap, Gva Lotsawa Namgyal Dorje, Khampa Aseng, Pagmodrupa, Drigung Jigten Gonpo, etc.

"From a mandala of red-black fire above a lotus, sun, moon and corpse, with one face and four hands, seated in a relaxed posture; to the Great Black One I pay homage." (Nyingma liturgical verse).

At the top center is an Drugpa Kagyu teacher (unidentified). On the left side is an Indian siddha figure. On the right side is another Drugpa teacher.

At the bottom left is Vaishravana Riding a Lion. At the bottom center is the Raven Faced Mahakala. On the right side is Yellow Jambhala.

Jeff Watt

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Mahakala: Chaturbhuja, Four-hands (Betapala)
Mahakala: Chaturbhuja, Four-hands Main Page
Tradition: Drugpa Kagyu Main Page
Mahakala - Chaturbhuja (with Consort)
Publication: A Tale of Thangkas