Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Worldly Protector (Buddhist) - Pehar

འཇིག་རྟེན་པའི་ལྷ། ནང་ལྷ། 世俗的神(佛教)
(item no. 283)
Origin Location Mongolia
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Nyingma
Size 96.52x71.76cm (38x28.25in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1996.16.7
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Wrathful

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

The Five Pehar Gyalpos (Kings) of the Terma (Treasure) Lineage.

The central figure is the wrathful Activity King Pehar, white in colour, with three faces and six hands. His right face is red and the left blue. Each face has three eyes and he wears a round gold hat. The first pair of hands hold a sword and stick, the second a bow and arrow and the third a vajra hook and knife. A white silk cape adorns the upper body while the main torso and lower body is attired in a dark blue garment and red boots. Led by a wrathful blue Yakshi, with one face and two hands, he rides upon a white snow lion with a green mane, with another blue Yakshi following behind, above a sun disc and multi-coloured lotus blossom within the orange flames of pristine awareness.

At the top center is Guru Rinpoche Padmasambhava, seated, with one face and two hands holding in the right a vajra to the heart and a skullcup supported in the lap with the left hand. A katvanga staff rests against the left shoulder. He is richly attired in various robes and wears a lotus hat, seated on a pink lotus above a dragon on a pink cloud.

At the top left is the King of Qualities 'Shing Cha Chen,' in a natural colour with one face and two hands holding a hook and lasso, wearing garments similar to the central figure, riding a zombie above a sun disc and lotus seat. At the right is the King of Speech 'Dra Lha Kye Chigbu,' red in colour, holding a stick of cane and a stick of sandalwood; riding a black mule above a sun disc and lotus.

At the bottom right is the King of Mind 'Gya Jin,' blue in colour, with one face and two hands holding a knife and lasso; riding a white elephant above a sun disc and lotus. At the left is the King of Body 'Monbu Putra,' blue in colour, with one face and two hands holding a vajra and lasso attached to two monkeys. At the bottom center is a form of Srog Dag, dressed as a warrior and seated on a bench.

"In former times at Glorious Red Rock, Acarya Padmasambhava, inviting the profound vast protector, Had bound by an oath as the entrusted steward of all Dharma Centres; To Pehar I bow." (Nyingma liturgical verse).

Pehar is a non-Tibetan protector who was invited by Guru Rinpoche and bound by an oath to protect all the Buddhist centres in Tibet. This set of five Pehar figures belongs to the Nyingma Terma Tradition and was later incorporated into the Gelugpa School by the 5th Dalai Lama.

Jeff Watt 7-98


Deity King Pehar.

King Pehar in absolute sense is an emanation of the five Buddhas and in ordinary (common) sense appears as a Deity, Protector Pehar. Here is his history: Many eons, many kalpas ago he was born as the King Damaraja of Asura coutry. At the same time another boy was born as a minister's son. They became good friends. Then they became monks, ordained by abbot Dawe ("moon light"). Damaraja's religious name was Dawe Shinu, his friend's religious name was Tunten Nagpo. Dawe Shinu became a scholar, who enjoyed teaching Dharma, his friend enjoyed meditating. One day Dawe Shinu went to visit a Hindu Temple where he met a beautiful girl named Zitan Metog Ke. Extremely strong desire arose in him toward her. They made love in the Temple. Dawe Shinu broke his vows. They were making love in the Temple for 7 days. His friend, monk Tunten Nagpo came there trying to stop them, but he could not. Dawe Shinu got angry and turned himself into a wild lion and threatened his friend, trying to kill him. Vajrapani protected Tunten Nagpo with His Vajra. Later Dawe Shinu died and he was born in hell, where his name was the Buthcher's horse and where he had suffered a lot. Then he was reborn as a human being, but he was very poor and homeless and he was wandering around. One day he met again his former friend Tunten Nagpo and they did not like each other. Then Dawe Shinu was born in the family of king Muche Tsampo and queen Lumo Tongon. His name was Vajra Kuhe Samati. Again, Tunten Nagpo was meditating in the cave and Vajra Kuhe Samati turned himself into a rat, trying to disturb his former friend. Again, Vajprapani protected Tunten Nagpo. Then Vajra Kuhe Samati (Dawe Shinu) was born as a son of Dudje Tsempo, the king of ancient demons. His name in this rebirth was Mudu Tankhar. His father had five children and he was the third son. Present King Pehar is a reincarnation of Mudu Tankhar. King Pehar has three faces, six arms and he is riding a lion. He is known as a King of Trinle, King of Action. However, when Guru Rinpoche and the Tibetan King Trisum Detsen built the Samye monastery, Guru Rinpoche invited this Deity, King Pehar, from the place, called Petahor. Guru Rinpoche gave him a wife, Mentsun Karmo, and another girlfriend. They built a place for King Pehar in the Northen side of Samye monastery. Even today there is a room called Peharchok. Guru Rinpoche invited many other Deities as well and built many temples for them around Samye. Pehar's temple is called the Turquoise Palace. His wife is Mentsun Karmo.

There are five aspects of Pehar: The Body, Mind, Speech, Knowledge and Activity aspects. The Mind aspect (Tuk ki Gyalpo) of Pehar is brown color with one face and two arms. His right hand is holding a red spear, his left hand is holding a double-edged sword and a lasso. He is wearing a bear skin chale and a black turban. He is riding an elephant, in the midst of fire. The Body aspect (Ku?i Gyalpo) of Pehar is dark blue, with one face and two arms. His right hand is holding a vajra and is left hand is holding a single cymbal. He wears a round hat (tipshu) shaped like a cymbal, gold color, and is riding a black bear. The Knowledge aspect (Yonten kyi Gyalpo) of Pehar is black, with one face and two arms. His right hand is holding an ax, his left a demon?s lasso. He is wearing a tiger skin chale and a black snake skin, and is riding a dragon. The Speech aspect (Sung gi Gyalpo) of Pehar is dark brown, with one face and two arms. His right hand is holding a stick, his left hand a sandal wood club. He wears a black robe and is riding an iron wolf. The Activity aspect (Thinley gyi Gyalpo) of Pehar is navy blue, with three faces and six arms. His first right hand holds a hook, the second an arrow and the third a sword. His first left hand is holding a razor sharp knife, the second a bow and the third a stick. He wears a cymbal-shaped hat, a white chale, tiger skin and leopard skin skirt and is riding a snow lion. Lama Kunga Rinpoche-2/99

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Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Mongolia