Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Yama Dharmaraja (Buddhist Protector) - Outer

གཤིན་རྗེ་ཆོས་རྒྱལ། 阎罗法王
(item no. 1100)
Origin Location Mongolia
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Gelug
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Black Background on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# c2003.50.10
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Animal-Feature

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Yama Dharmaraja (Tibetan: shin je cho gyal. English: the Lord of Death, King of the Law): protector of the Vajrabhairava (Yamantaka) cycle of tantras.

Tibetan: Shin je cho gyal

With one face and two hands, dark blue in colour, the head is that of a buffalo, three round eyes, sharp horns entwined with flame, fierce and angry. Held upraised in the right hand is a bone stick composed of a fused spine and skull. In the left hand is a coiled lasso. Adorned with a crown of skulls and bone ornaments, he wears a necklace of fifty freshly severed heads. Appearing extremely animate he stands with his right leg bent and the left extended on the back of a buffalo above a human body and lotus seat. To the right is the consort Chamundi, blue, with one face and two hands. A trident is held aloft in the right hand and a skullcup in the left. Both are adorned with wrathful attire, bone ornaments and various skins, completely surrounded by the swirling orange flames of pristine awareness. Sixteen fearsome attendant deities surround the central couple. At the bottom center is the inner meditational form of Yama Dharmaraja depicted with one face and two hands in a wrathful aspect. Four attendant deities in four different colours surround the inner form.

At the top center is the teacher Tsongkapa and his two principal disciples.

Yama Dharmaraja (also known as Kalarupa) is a wisdom deity protector of the father class of Anuttarayoga Tantra specifically employed by those engaged in the practices of the Vajrabhairava tantras and is found in all the Sarma Schools. The Gelugpa tradition holds Yama Dharmaraja in a special regard as one of the three main Dharma protectors of the School along with the Shadbhuja Mahakala (one face, six hands) and Vaishravana. These three were the special protectors of Lama Tsongkapa. Although similar in appearance and name Yama Dharmaraja is not the same individual as Yama the 'Lord of Death' depicted as the central figure in Buddhist depictions of the hell realms.

Indian Lineage: Vajradhara, Shri Vajrabhairava, Jnana Dakini, Lalitavajra, Vajrasana, Amoghavajra, Jnana Sambhava Bepa, Padmavajra, Dipamkara Shrijnana, (the Nepali) Bharo Chag Dum, (the Tibetan) Ra Lotsawa Dorje Drag, etc.

Jeff Watt 6-98

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Tradition: Gelug Deity Paintings
Region: Mongolia Main Page
Painting Type: Black Ground Main Page
Buddhist Protector: Yama Dharmaraja Main Page
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Main Page (Gallery 1)
Region: Mongolia, Paintings (Miscellaneous Collections)
Buddhist Protector: Yama Dharmaraja, Outer
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Mongolia