Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Mandala of Guhyasamaja (Buddhist Deity) - Akshobhyavajra

གསང་བ་འདུས་པ། ནང་ལྷ། 密集金刚(佛教本尊)
(item no. 30510)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1500 - 1599
Lineages Sakya, Ngor (Sakya) and Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Private
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Semi-Peaceful

Gender: Male

TBRC: W25350

Interpretation / Description

Guhyasamaja, Akshobhyavajra (Tibetan: sang wa du pa, mi kyo dor je. English: Unshakable Vajra, Secret Assembly). The date of the creation of the painting is likely to fall somewhere between 1520 and 1533.

The painting, according to the inscription, was commissioned by a Kunga Sonam, possibly Jamyang Kunga Sonam (1485-1533, 'jam dbyangs kun dga' bsod nams grags pa rgyal mtshan [TBRC P461]) the 22nd [23rd?] Sakya Tridzin, in the fulfilment of the wishes and aspirations of Ngorchen Konchog Lhundrub (1497-1557, ngor mkhan chen 10 dkon mchog lhun grub [P783]), the 10th Ngor Khenchen. It is interesting to note that Kunga Sonam was the teacher and Konchog Lhundrub the student. It is also possible that the painting was commissioned for the funeral services of Konchog Lhundrub in 1557 or 1558.

"This Shri Guhyasamaja mandala, together with the lineage teachers and Desire [Realm] gods, to fulfill the wishes of the Lord of an ocean of mandalas, Jamyang Konchog Lhundrub, and for the benefit of parents and sentient beings was made by Bhikshu Kunga Gyaltsen. May the merit be dedicated to all sentient beings."

དཔལ་ལྡན་གསང་བ་འདུས་པའི་དཀྱིལ་འཁོར་བླ་བརྒྱུད་འདོད་ལྷ་དང་བཅས་པ་འདི་ཉིད། དཀྱིལ་འཁོར་རྒྱ་མཚོའི་རིགས་བདག་འཇམ་དབྱངས་དཀོན་མཆོག་ལྷུན་གྲུབ་པའི་ཐུགས་དགོངས་རྫོགས་པ་དང་།ཕ་མ་སེམས་ཅན་ཐམས་ཅད་ཀྱི་དོན་དུ། དགེ་སློང་ཀུན་དགའ་རྒྱལ་ མཚན་གྱིས་བཞེངས། དགེ་བ་སེམས་ཅན་ཐམས་ཅད་དོན་དུ་བསྔོ་བར་དགེའོ།

Remarks about Konchog Lhundrub From the TBRC Website "...famed master of the Ngor tradition the son of ngor chen kun dga' bzang po's niece, this teacher was one of the towering figures in the ngor pa tradition after ngor chen kun dga' bzang po; his collected works filled 4 volumes; received his first vows at the age of 18 from dkon mchog 'phel."

Bibliographic reference: Sarva Tathagata Kaya Vag Chitta Rahasya Guhyasamaja Nama Maha Kalpa Raja Tantra, Toh 442. There are five principal lineages for this form of the meditational deity Akshobhyavajra Guhyasamaja. They are the Atisha, Marpa, Go Lotsawa, Khache and Chag traditions (Jowo lugs/ mar lugs/ 'gos lugs/ kha che lugs/ and chags lugs). The mandala painting above belongs to the Go Lotsawa Tradition.

The top register, beginning at the left and starting with Buddha Vajradhara, contains the lineage of Indian, Nepali and Tibetan teachers. The lineage continues down the sides with the figures appearing in lotus circles. The line ends at the bottom right corner with the figure labelled as Sakya Pandita Kunga Gyaltsen.

This particular painting depicts a lineage that is called the 'early' or 'old' lineage according to Jamgon Ameshab Kunga Sonam (1597-1660 [p791]). In the top register beginning on the left are Vajradhara, [Vajrapani - omitted], Indrabhuti, Jnana Dakini, Raja Visukalpa, Brahmin Saraha, Arya Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, Acharya Shakya Mitra, Mahasiddha Nagabodhi, Shri Chandrakirti, Shisha Vajra, and Acharya Krishnacharin. At the upper left is Gomishra. At the upper right is Pandita Viryabhadra. Slightly lower at the upper left is Go Lotsawa. Slightly lower at the upper right is Upa Geser. At the lower left is Nam Ka'upa. At the lower right is Sachen Kunga Nyingpo. Slightly lower again on the left is Lobpon Sonam Tsemo. Slightly lower again on the right is Jetsun Dragpa Gyaltsen. At the bottom right is Sakya Pandita Kunga Gyaltsen. In addition Shisha Vajra had four main students: Acharya Krishnacharin, Gomashri, Pandita Viryabhadra and Akara Chandra. Khugpa Lhatse studied the Guhyasamaja with Virya Bhadra, Akara Chandra and Dipamkara.

In the textual literature, farther down in the list of lineage teachers are Sa Lotsawa Jambaiyang Kunga Sonam immediately followed by Yongdzin Konchog Lhundrub. The painting above was commissioned by Kunga Sonam for his student Konchog Lhundrub - both lineage holders for this particular tradition of Akshobhyavajra Guhyasamaja.

The most general lineage for the Akshobhyavajra Guhyasamaja is as follows: -

"Guhyasamaja Akshobhyavajra Lineage, with the Thirty-two Deity Mandala, Abhisheka, Tantra and Sadhana together with its Branches: Vajradhara, Vajrapani, Acharya Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, Shakya Shenyen, Chandrakirti, Rolpai Dorje, Kalden Dragpai Odzer Jungne Dragpa, Odze Deva, etc."

At the upper left in a large lotus circle is Manjuvajra Guhyasamaja, orange in colour, with three faces and six hands. At the upper right is Lokeshvara Guhyasamaja, red in colour, with three faces, six hands and embracing a consort. At the lower left is Rakta Yamari, red, with one face and two hands, embracing a consort and standing on a buffalo. At the lower right is Krishna Yamari, dark blue, with three faces, six hands, embracing a consort and also standing on a buffalo.

At the bottom right and immediately to the left of Sakya Pandita is the principal protector deity of the Sakya Tradition - Panjarnata Mahakala. He is dark blue in colour and holds a staff 'ghandi' in a horizontal manner across the forearms while the hands hold a vajra curved knife and a skullcup.

The remaining figures in the bottom register are the ten gods of the worldly heavens. Beginning from the left they are Indra on a white elephant, Yama on a buffalo, Varuna on a makara, Yaksha on a horse, Agni on a goat, Raksha on a zombie, Vayu Deva on a deer, Ishana on a buffalo, Brahma on a goose and Bhudevi.

Akshobhyavajra Guhyasamaja Description: "...with a body blue in colour like sapphire, issuing forth rays of blazing light. The main face is blue with a mixed expression of fierceness and desire. The canine teeth are pointed and clenched, frowning and having three eyes. The right face is white in a peaceful manner, left face is red in a desirous manner. All three faces are adorned with very beautiful eyebrows. Each of the six hands are adorned with precious rings. The first two hands hold a nine pointed vajra and a bell embracing the consort [who is in] the same [appearance] as the [Father]. The right second [hand] holds a white wheel with eight spokes. The third [hand] holds a red lotus with eight petals. The left second [hand] holds a green jewel with nine facets. The third [hand] holds a sword, bright blue and blazing with rays of light. Seated with the legs in vajra posture, adorned with the thirty-two major and eighty minor marks, the hair, in braids, is tied on the crown of the head. The jewel on the crown of the head greatly blazes with soothing rays of light [like] the sun and moon. Adorned with eight [different types] of precious ornaments: a crown, earrings, choker, necklace, armlets, bracelets, long necklace and belt. The ears are made more beautiful with blue utpalas and ribbons; wearing various [heavenly] garments bright like Indra's bow [rainbow]." (Jamgon Amezhab, 1597-1659).

Jeff Watt 11-2013

Front of Painting
English Translation of Inscription: "This Shri Guhyasamaja mandala, together with the lineage teachers and Desire [Realm] gods, to fulfil the wishes of the Lord of an ocean of mandalas, Jamyang Konchog Lhundrub, and for the benefit of parents and sentient beings was made by Bhikshu Kunga Gyaltsen. May the merit be dedicated to all sentient beings."

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

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Guhyasamaja, Akshobhyavajra (Mandala Masterworks)
Buddhist Deity: Guhyasamaja - Akshobhyavajra
Buddhist Deity: Guhyasamaja (Masterworks)
Collection: Private 32
Chronology: Sakya Painting & Sculpture - Dated
Subject: Memorial Art (Painting)