Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Mandala of Vairochana Buddha - Sarvavid (Sarvadurgati Tantra)

ཀུན་རིག་རྣམ་པར་སྣང་མཛད། 普明大日如来(佛教本尊)
(item no. 126)
Origin Location Central Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Sakya and Ngor (Sakya)
Size 34.29x33.02cm (13.50x13in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Fine Gold Line on Wood
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1995.12.1
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Peaceful

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Vairochana, Maha Sarvavid (Tibetan: kun rig nam par nang dze lha sum chu so dun kyil khor. English: The 37 Deity Mandala of all the Families of Great Vairochana), the central deity of the Sarvadurgati Parishodhana Tantra belonging to the Yoga classification of the four sets of Tantra.

Sanskrit: Vairochana Tibetan: Nam par nang dze

At the center of the circular enclosure is the buddha Maha Vairochana, peaceful, white in colour, with four faces and two hands in the mudra of meditation, seated in vajra posture, surrounded by a nimbus of blue-red light. At the four main directions are the buddhas King of Purification in the east (below), Precious Supreme Conqueror in the south (left), Powerful One of the Shakya Race in the west (above), and Blossoming Great Flower in the north (right). At the intermediate directions are the consorts of the buddhas, Locana, Mamaki, Pandara and Tara. Surrounding those, seated in a circle, are the 16 Vajras. At the four intermediate directions are the 8 female offering goddesses in sets of two, one above the other. All of these have one face and two hands. Enclosing the inner sanctuary is a square frame composed of five walls of various colour with 'T' shaped structures representing doors. The 4 female Door Guardians, Vajrankushi, Vajrapashi, Vajrasphota and Vajraghanta sit at the entranceways.

Seated in the outer enclosure of the palace are 44 figures, the 16 bodhisattvas, 16 sravakas and 12 pratyekabuddhas. Surrounding that is another set of 5 walls and 'T' shaped doors topped with 4 steps, yellow, blue, red and green, two deer, a Dharma wheel and canopy. A wrathful deity with 3 faces and six hands accompanied by 3 wrathful figures guards each of the entranceways. The roof is adorned with yak-tail fans and victory banners. The tips of a giant double vajra extend out from each of the outer doors representing a vajra ground beneath the entire palace structure. Surrounding that is a ring of red lotus petals and a circle of 128 guardian and worldly deities. An ring of gold vajras and an outer ring of five coloured fire of pristine awareness surround the entire mandala.

'Faultless wisdom of the dharmadhatu, Bhagavan Vairochana with the mudra of meditative stabilization; to the All Knowing Bhagavan, I bow.' (Sakya liturgical verse).

At the top left and right are two lama figures both with the hands performing the mudra of Dharma teaching, wearing red robes and pandita hats, seated atop orange mats. At the bottom left is the wrathful protector Panjarnata Mahakala, black in colour, with one face and two hands. At the right side is Shri Devi, black, with one face and four hands, riding atop a mule through a lake of blood. A wooden frame in the shape of a religious shrine cabinet surrounds the painting.

Maha Vairochana is the chief mandala from the set of 12 arising from the Sarvadurgati Parishodhana Tantra (Eliminating All Bad Rebirths). See the Four Great Kings and Chitta Vajrapani from the same series.

Early Lineage: Vairochana, Vajrapani, king Indrabhuti, the younger king Indrabhuti, Acharya Nagarjuna, Nagabodhi, Jnanavajra, Oddiyana Anandagarbha, Rabjor Shenyen, Padmakara Varman, the great Tibetan translator Rinchen Zangpo and the younger translator Legshe.

Jeff Watt 9-99

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Mandala: Main Page
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery VI
Tradition: Sakya Deity Paintings
Buddhist Deity: Sarvavid Maha Vairochana
Subject: Tantra Text, Sarvadurgati Parishodhana
Painting Style: Tibet (Balri)
Mandalas: Sakya Tradition
Buddhist Deity: Vairochana Buddha Main Page
Mandala: Ritual Mandala Plate (Wood)
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Mandala