Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Indian Adept (siddha) - Virupa

རྒྱ་གར་གྱི་གྲུབ་ཆེན། 印度大成就者
(item no. 2119)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1500 - 1599
Lineages Sakya and Buddhist
Material Metal
Collection Private
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Mahasiddha

Gender: Male

TBRC: P3293

Interpretation / Description

Virupa, the Lord of Yoga, 9th century (Tibetan: bir wa pa, nal jor wang chug); foremost in magical attainments amongst the Eighty-four mahasiddhas of India. Virupa can appear in a number of different forms and colours - usually brown, maroon or blue. He can also appear in different contexts such as in a set of lineage images, a narrative scene, the set of Eighty-four Mahasiddhas, or as a Guruyoga meditation form.

Virupa is not unique to any one tradition of Tibetan Buddhism and therefore can be found depicted almost anywhere. In the Sakya Tradition Virupa is typically found in one or all of six textually documented forms that follow the major events in his life story. The Sakya iconographic convention for depicting Virupa is to have the right hand raised in a threatening gesture for depicting the narrative of stopping the sun in the sky. The left hand is raised for the narrative of stopping the Ganges river.

An inscription around the base of the sculpture reads:

"With a body blue in colour,
The right hand pressed to the ground,
The left upraised in a threatening gesture,
Seated in the sattva posture;
To the One reversing the Ganga, I bow! Mangalam."

སྐུ་མདོག་སྔོ་ནག་ཕྱག་གཡས་ཀྱིས། གདན་སྟེང་གནོན་ཅིང་གཡོན་པ་ཡིས། སྡིག་མཛུབ་གྱེན་བསྟན་སེམས་དཀྱིལ་ཅན། གམ་ག་ཟློག་ལ་ཕྱག་འཚལ་ལོ།

The verse is recalling an episode from the life of Virupa where he stops and reverses the flow of the Ganges river when he was refused passage on a ferry boat. Another common Sakya praise of Virupa also makes reference to stopping the Ganges river:

"Reversing the Ganga and subduing the evil king;
While holding the sun, drinking the liquor of the entire country, without being drunk;
Completely shattering the Linga and subduing the Chandali;
to the renowned Lord of Power, I bow my head." (Sakya liturgical verse).

Jeff Watt 9-2016

Tibetan Printed Script (Uchen)
English Transliteration: "With a body blue in colour, The right hand pressed to the ground, The left hand upraised in a threatening gesture, Seated in the sattva posture; To the One reversing the Ganga, I bow!" Mangalam.

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Collection: Bonhams on HAR (Painting & Sculpture. Hong Kong Fall 2016)
Indian Adept: Virupa (Sculpture Masterworks)
Indian Adept: Virupa (Left Pointing Gesture)
Indian Adept: Virupa Religious Context
Subject: Hand Gestures (Unusual)
Indian Adept: Mahasiddha Masterworks (Sculpture)
Indian Adept: Virupa Main Page
Sculpture Set: Mahasiddhas (Tsang Atelier, Various Lineages)
Sculpture: Tsang Province Atelier, Tibet
Indian Adept: Virupa (Six Forms)
Indian Adept: Virupa (Sculpture Set 1)