Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Vajradhara Buddha

རྡོ་རྗེ་འཆང། སངས་རྒྱས། 金刚持
(item no. 3)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1500 - 1599
Lineages Sakya
Size 62.87x80.01cm (24.75x31.50in)
Material Ground: Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1994.1.3
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Interpretation / Description

Vajradhara, Buddha (Tibetan: dor je chang, sang gye. English: the Vajra Holder, Enlightened One). The primordial buddha, personification of the dharmakaya - truth body of enlightenment and progenitor of the Vajrayana system of buddhism. This is the first painting in a large set of paintings depicting the lamdre Lineage.

Sanskrit: Vajradhara Tibetan: Dor je chang

Peaceful, dark blue in colour, he has one face and two hands folded across the heart with the right holding a vajra and the left a bell expressing the non-duality of ultimate reality. Adorned with a crown of gold and jewels, hair ribbons, earrings, necklaces and bracelets he wears an upper garment of green silk and a lower garment of red and orange colours. Seated in the vajra posture with the legs interlocked atop a moon disc and multi-coloured lotus and lion supported throne he is surrounded by a red nimbus and green areola. The backdrop is ornately displayed with the 'six ornament' design. At the left standing at the edge of the throne is a peaceful attendant, blue in colour, holding a vajra to the heart and a bell at the left side. At the right a wrathful attendant, blue, holds a curved knife and skullcup at the heart. Both are adorned with similar jewels and vestments.

Along the top from left to right are the Five Buddhas: Vairochana, Amoghasiddhi, Ratnasambhava, Amitabha and Akshobhya; followed by the consorts of the Buddhas and the Eight Bodhisattvas. Along the bottom are the six offering goddesses and the Ten Wrathful Deities.

"Master of all-pervasive pristine awareness, unmoving great bliss of dharmata, unsurpassed treasure of wishing jewels; homage to the great Vajradhara." (Nyingma liturgical verse).

According to the Nyingmapa School Vajradhara is an activity emanation of buddha Samantabhadra. The Sarma schools hold Vajradhara as the secret form of Shakyamuni Buddha and the combined essence of all the buddhas of the ten directions and three periods of time gathered as one. It is from Vajradhara that such tutelary deities as Guhyasamaja, Shri Hevajra and Chakrasamvara arise.

This is the 1st painting in a set of the lineage lamas of the Lamdre system. See painting #3, the 2nd in the set and then #23, the 7th in the set.

Jeff Watt 2-99

Reverse of Painting
Special Features: (includes "Om Ah Hum" inscription)

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 6
Buddhist Deity: Vajradhara Main Page
Painting Style: Men-ri (New)
Buddhist Deity: Vajradhara, Solitary
Buddhist Deity: Vajradhara (Lineage Sets)
Painting Set: Margapala [4]