Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Indian Adept (siddha) - Ghantapa

རྒྱ་གར་གྱི་གྲུབ་ཆེན། 印度大成就者
(item no. 173)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1500 - 1599
Lineages Sakya and Buddhist
Size 68.58x44.45cm (27x17.50in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Shelley & Donald Rubin
Catalogue # acc.# P1995.18.1
Painting School Khyenri
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

TBRC: bdr:P8895

Interpretation / Description

Ghantapa (Tibetan: dril bu pa. English: Bell Holder): a famous siddha from both the Vajrasana and Abhayadatta textual listings of the Eighty-four Mahasiddhas of India.

Ghantapa in the center holds a vajra scepter in the right hand, along with a double sided drum, and a bell in the left. He is dressed in the bone ornaments of a Tantric ascetic. In front is an elaborate feast prepared by the youthful consort seated at the side. (Vajrasana List, #10. The inscription is effaced).

At the top center is the adept Chapari embracing a consort. (Vajrasana List, #70. The inscription is effaced. The identifiction is based on the relationship to the other minor identifiable figures and the iconographic image of Chapari and the 84 Adepts found in the carved block print publication of the Prajnaparamita Sutra from the 1940s, Tibet). At the upper left, flying in the air, is the Singer adept (Luyang Khen, Vajrasana List, #66).

At the top right is Ravigupta (#72) holding a skullcup to the mouth. (The inscription is effaced. The identifiction is based on the relationship to the other minor identifiable figures, etc). At the bottom left is Shakya Shenyen (#64). At the bottom right is the Wolf Yogi, Shyalipa (#71), with a clear name inscription written with fine gold lines.

This painted artwork belongs to a larger set of fifteen paintings portraying the 84 Great Indian Adepts according to the system thought to have originated with the mahasiddha Vajrasana, an important Indian teacher of the mid 11th century.

There are numerous systems for listing the 84 Great Adepts with the most well known and popular being that of Abhayadatta. This has been rendered into English as the Buddha's Lions, The Lives of the Eighty-four Siddhas by Abhayadatta, translated by James B. Robinson. Another version is the Masters of Mahamudra, Songs and Histories of the Eighty-Four Buddhist Siddhas by Keith Dowman.

Jeff Watt 11-2002 (revised 12-2003)

Front of Painting
Wylie Transliteration of Inscription: Upper left: glu dbyang mkhan la na mo. Bottom Left: ... kya ... she ... gnyen ... (sha kya bshes gnyen). Bottom right: si ya li la na mo.

Related Items
Mandalas and the Eight Mahasiddhas

Thematic Sets
Subject: Vajrasana Mahasiddha (Miscellaneous)
Indian Adept (Mahasiddha): Painting (Late Period 17th to the Present)
Subject: Drums in Art Main Page
Subject: Tantric Feast (Ganachakra)
Subject: Travel Bag (Monks & Siddhas)
Subject: Teachers with Drums (Unidentified)
Indian Adept Main Page (Mahasiddha)
Indian Adept: Ghantapa (Masterworks)
Subject: Teachers Holding Drums
Painting Tradition: Khyenri Main Page
Indian Adept: Ghantapa Main Page
Painting Style: Khyenri - Teachers & Siddhas
Collection of Shelley & Donald Rubin