Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Ekajati (Buddhist Deity) - (Nyingma Tradition)

རལ་གཅིག་མ། ནང་ལྷ། 一发佛母(佛教本尊)
(item no. 13688)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Nyingma and Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Black Background on Cotton
Collection Private
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Wrathful

Gender: Female

Interpretation / Description

Ekajati (Tibetan: ral chig ma. English: One Braid of Hair), the principal protectress and guardian of the 'Revealed Treasure' tradition of the Nyingma School.

Black in colour and fearsome in appearance she has one central eye and one long white tooth, sharp, biting down over the lower lip. Her yellow hair flows upward like flames, twisted into a single braid. The right hand holds a heart and the left performs a wrathful gesture, the index finger pointed outward and emanating the form of a wolf. Adorned with a tiara, a scarf of smoke encircling the neck, the ears and limbs are decorated with earrings, bracelets, armlets and anklets. Completely surrounded by smoke and flames, standing with the two legs pressing down on two prone figures.

At the top center is Padmasambhava. To the right side are Dechen Gyalmo and Tseringma of the Longchen Nyingtig system. To the left is a red Heruka figure and the protector Rahula. At the middle left is Maning Mahakala. On the right side is Dorje Legpa riding a snow lion. At the bottom center is Durtro Lhamo (Drogdze Wangmo). At the left side is Dorje Yudronma and on the left side is Tsiu Marpo.

The Nyingma form of the Indian Buddhist deity Ekajati is easily recognized by the one eye in the middle of the forehead. She is often depicted with only one breast and sometimes only one leg. This one-eyed form of Ekajati is unique to Tibetan Buddhism and the Nyingma 'Treasure' (Terma) tradition and is not found in Indian Tantric Buddhism.

In the Nyingma Tradition Ekajati is the principal protector for the 'Revealed Treasure' Traditions. She manifests in numerous forms, both as a standard wrathful figure, black, with one face and two arms and appearing in her more famous guise with only one eye, one tooth, and one breast, sometimes even with only one leg as in the Drigung Kagyu Treasure Tradition (see detail lower left).

"Arising from the mandala of suffocating black wind at a kalpa's end,
Mistress of a host of activities and pristine awareness,
Leader of the Mamos, Great Queen of the World;
Homage to the Lord of Mantra, Ekajati!" (Nyingma liturgical verse).

In the Sarma, New Traditions of Tibetan Buddhism after the 10th century, Ekajati is represented in all three types, by many different forms in each, accompanied by different narratives depending on the religious tradition and lineage.

Jeff Watt [updated 12-2018]

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