Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Mandala of Hevajra (Buddhist Deity)

ཀྱེ་རྡོ་རྗེ། ནང་ལྷ། 喜金刚(佛教本尊)
(item no. 186)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1400 - 1499
Lineages Sakya
Size 39.37x34.29cm (15.50x13.50in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Fine Gold Line on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1995.21.2
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Interpretation / Description

Shri Hevajra Nine Deity Manadala (Tibetan: pal gye pa dor je lha gu'i khyil kor).

Sanskrit: Hevajra Tibetan: Gye pa dor je

Within the center of the two dimensional circular diagram (mandala) representing the top view of a three dimensional celestial palace and surroundings is the deity Shri Hevajra, dark blue in colour, with eight faces and sixteen hands holding skullcups, standing with four legs in a dancing posture. The first pair of hands embrace the consort Vajra Nairatmya (Selfless One), blue, with one face and two hands holding a curved knife and skullcup, standing on the left leg with the right embracing Hevajra. They are both adorned with bone ornaments and stand atop four corpses within the flames of pristine awareness.

Surrounding the two central figures are eight goddesses of various colours, each with one face and two hands, standing in a dancing posture on the left leg above a corpse seat. Beginning at the top and placed in a clockwise direction is yellow Vetali, multi-coloured Dombini, green Ghasmari, blue Pukkasi, black Gauri, white Shavari, red Cauri, and purple Candali. They are adorned with various ornaments and each hold their own distinct hand objects.

The floor of the celestial palace is divided into four colours ornately patterned with floral designs: red, blue, white and yellow. On the red veranda outside of the palace walls (barely discernable), on each side of the four doors ('T' shaped), are two dancing offering goddesses, sixteen in total. The outer red and white lines forming a square enclosure represent the stylized decorative facade on the four sides of the palace roof; adorned with upright spears, arrows and banners. The elaborate lintels above each of the four doors are constructed of tiered steps topped with a Dharma wheel, two reclining deer, and gold spires with a silk canopy above.

Surrounding the palace is a circle of multi-coloured (rectangular) petals representing the enormous lotus upon which the entire palace structure rests. The outer circle, divided into eight sections, containing small figures and objects is the ring of the eight great charnel grounds filled with corpses, fires, caityas, yogis, nagas, and wrathful worldly deities. The final ring is composed of the multi-coloured fires of primordial wisdom completely enveloping the entire Hevajra Mandala.

Along the top are the lineage gurus for this particular mandala of Shri Hevajra. Starting from the left are the primordial buddha Vajradhara, Nairatmya, Virupa, Krishnapa, Damarupa, Avadhutipa, Gayadhara, Drogmi Lotsawa (992-1072), Seton Kunrig (1025-1113), Shangton Chobar (1053-1136), Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (1092-1158), Sonam Tsemo (1142-1182), Trakpa Gyaltsen (1147-1216), and Sakya Pandita (1182-1251).

On the outside of the mandala circle starting at the left is yellow Ratnasambhava-Hevajra. On the right is red Amitabha-Hevajra. At the Bottom left is white Vairochana-Hevajra and on the right is green Amoghasiddhi-Hevajra. Each of these figures, in the same appearance as the central figure, has two deities on each side, the immediate two are male and wrathful and the further two are goddesses. Placed at the bottom right side, for convenience, are the remaining figures that accompany the deities encircling the outer ring of the mandala. Along the bottom, from the left, is a row of lamas all wearing monastic robes and performing the Dharma Teaching mudra (gesture).

Shri Hevajra is a tutelary deity of the Anuttarayoga Non-dual classification. From the many Hevajra Tantras and forms of the deity, this representation of Hevajra arises from the root Hevajra Tantra of 'two sections' and was popularized by the Indian mahasiddha (the one of great accomplishment) Virupa. The style of the painting is Nepali, evidenced by the strong use of red colours and the intricate circular floral patterns used for the background and flame designs.

Jeff Watt 6-98

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Mandala: Main Page
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery VI
Tradition: Sakya Deity Paintings
Buddhist Deity: Hevajra Main Page
Painting Style: Tibet (Balri)
Mandalas: Sakya Tradition
Buddhist Deity: Hevajra Mandalas