Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Vajrasattva (Buddhist Deity)

རྡོ་རྗེ་སེམས་དཔའ། 金刚萨埵
(item no. 306)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Uncertain
Size 59.69x35.56cm (23.50x14in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1996.19.10
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Interpretation / Description

Vajrasattva with consort (Tibetan: dor je sem pa yab yum. English: Vajra Hero Father-Mother), the buddha of purification, essence of all the peaceful Buddha Families, embracing the consort Vajragarvi (Tib.: dor je nye ma, Eng.: Vajra Pride, also known in Tibetan as dor je ying wang chug ma, Sanskrit: Vajradhatu-ishvari).

Sanskrit: Vajrasattva Tibetan: Dor je sem pa

With one face and two hands, white in colour, the buddha Vajrasattva holds in the right hand an upright gold vajra to the heart and with the left an upturned bell, with a vajra handle, at the left hip. Adorned with elaborate jewel and gold ornaments, a crown, earrings, necklace, bracelets and the like, he wears a long green silk scarf and various multi-coloured silks as a lower garment. With the back swaying slightly to the left and both legs placed in vajra posture the consort Vajragarvi is seated in the lap with the legs entwining the Lord. Gazing up, with one face and two hands, naturally pinkish in appearance, she embraces the Lord with a skullcup in the left hand; adorned with similar jewel ornaments and coloured silks.

The two faces are surrounded by a dark green aureola and from the body fine rays emanate to form a nimbus of orange light against a background of swirling cloud and rainbow lights. Both are seated on a white moon disc above a multi-coloured lotus blossom on a ground strewn with precious objects and wish-fulfilling jewels.

"To the divine illusion of the clear light of pristine awareness blazing with the glorious complete marks and examples of the spontaneous three bodies of perfect buddhahood; to Vajrasattva I bow." (Nyingma liturgical text).

In the Sarma Schools this form of Vajrasattva with consort arises from the class of Anuttarayoga Tantra, specifically from the Abhidhanottara Tantra, 25th chapter, and is known as Heruka Vajrasattva. As the inner form of the buddha Vajradhara he represents all the peaceful buddha families. In the Nyingma Tradition Vajrasattva is an important tutelary deity with many Kama (Oral) and Terma (treasure) traditions.

Jeff Watt 9-98

Front of Painting
English Translation of Inscription: "Homage to Vajrasattva and his consort"

Wylie Transliteration of Inscription: dpal rdo rje sems dpa'' yab yum la na mo

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Subject: Purification & Healing (General) Page
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 7
Buddhist Deity: Vajrasatva Main Page
Buddhist Deity: Vajrasattva with Consort