Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Vajrayogini (Buddhist Deity) - (Naropa Tradition)

རྡོ་རྗེ་རྣལ་འབྱོར་མ། སྣང་བརྙན་ཡོངས། 金刚瑜伽佛母(全图)
(item no. 290)
Origin Location Eastern Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Sakya, Ngor (Sakya) and Buddhist
Size 49.53x37.47cm (19.50x14.75in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1997.19.2
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Semi-Peaceful

Gender: Female

Interpretation / Description

Vajrayogini, the 'Khechari of Naropa' (Tibetan: dor je nal jor ma, na ro kha cho ma). Belonging to the Chakrasamvara collection of Tantras and one of the five principal tantric practices of the Sakya School. (See Gods & Deities in Tantric Buddhism).

Sanskrit: Vajrayogini Tibetan: Dor je nal jor ma

Sanskrit: Tibetan:

Red in colour with one face and two hands she holds a curved knife in the right and a skullcup upraised in the left. Resting on the left shoulder is a katvanga staff. Adorned with a tiara of skulls and gold, jewel and bone ornaments she wears a necklace of fifty dry skulls standing with the two feet placed on the bodies of red Kalaratri and black Bhairava above a sun disc and multi-coloured lotus seat. Completely surrounded by the flames of pristine awareness she looks up to the pure realm of Khechara and drinks from the skullcup in the left hand.

At the top center is Vira Vajradharma, a form of the primordial buddha Vajradhara, unique to the Vajrayogini system of practice. Red in colour, with one face and two hands he holds aloft a damaru drum in the right and a skullcup held to the heart in the left, with a katvanga staff leaning against the left shoulder, seated in vajra posture.

At the top right and left are two Sakya Lamas wearing monastic robes and the dark red Pandita hats typical of scholars. Both are seated on cushion thrones possibly indicating that the painting was sponsored during the lifetime of the two lamas. (Placed above a lotus seat is often an indication that the individual has passed on to the pure realms).

The lama on the left displays the iconographic signature of the great Jamyang Kyentse Wangpo (1820-1892). Placed in the two hands are a vajra and upturned bell while holding the stems of two utpala flowers supporting a vase on the right and a sword and book on the left. Important to Kyentse Wangpo, he wrote 22 texts on the ritual and practice of Vajrayogini. The lama on the right, possibly Loter Wangpo, places the right hand in the mudra of blessing while holding the stem of a blossom supporting a sword on the right side. The left hand placed in the lap holds the wisdom book. The fact that both these lamas are seated on thrones as opposed to lotuses would indicate that they were alive when the painting was commissioned.

Vajrayogini, is a representation of complete buddhahood in female form. Classified as Wisdom or 'Mother' Anuttarayoga Tantra the practices originate with the Chakrasamvara Cycle of Tantras. Although found in a variety of forms, she is common to all schools of Tibetan Buddhism. In this particular form she is a special teaching passed down from the lineage of the Indian mahasiddha Naropa through to the Sakya School. This form is also popular within the Gelug Tradition.

Guru Lineage: Vajradhara, Vajrayogini, Mahasiddha Naropa, Pamtingpa, Sherab Tseg, Mal Lotsawa, Sachen Kunga Nyingpo, Sonam Tsemo, Dragpa Gyaltsen, Sakya Pandita, Chogyal Pagpa, etc.

Jeff Watt 5-98

Secondary Images
Related Items
Exhibition Appearances
Exhibition: Female Buddhas at RMA

Thematic Sets
Subject: Thirteen Golden Dharmas of Sakya
Buddhist Deity: Deities (Female)
Subject: Female Imagery Introduction
Buddhist Deity: Vajrayogini, Khechara (Naropa Tradition)
Glossary: Vajrayogini/Varahi
Collection of RMA: Ngor Style Paintings
Teacher: Jamyang Khyentse (Minor Figure)
Subject: Semi-peaceful/Semi-wrathful Appearance
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 2
Tradition: Sakya Deity Paintings
Buddhist Deity: Vajrayogini Main Page
Subject: Gods & Deities in Buddhist Art
Subject: Dakini - witches, spirits & deities
Buddhist Deity: Vajrayogini (Main Figure)