Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Mahakala (Buddhist Protector) - Panjarnata (Lord of the Pavilion)

མ་ཧཱ་ཀཱ་ལ། ནག་པོ་ཆེན་པོ། 玛哈嘎拉
(item no. 312)
Origin Location Central Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Sakya and Ngor (Sakya)
Size 60.96x40.64cm (24x16in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Fine Gold Line on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1996.19.16
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Wrathful

Gender: Male

TBRC: bdr:W25327

Interpretation / Description

Panjarnata Vajra Mahakala (Tibetan: gur gyi gon po dor je nag po chen po. English: the Great Vajra Black One, Lord of the Pavilion [or Canopy]).

Fearsome and wrathful, with one face, three eyes, bared fangs and two hands he holds to the heart a curved knife in the right and a skullcup in the left. Resting across the forearms is an ornate 'gandhi' stick. Adorned with a crown of five dry skulls, earrings, snake ornaments and a necklace of fifty heads he wears a lower garment of tiger skin tied with a red sash. Atop a corpse seat above a sun disc and multi-coloured lotus blossom he stands completely surrounded by the orange flames of pristine awareness. Emanating from the circle of fire is a wolf, black dog, black crow and a garuda directly above. These animals are the 'messengers' of Mahakala.

At the top center is the primordial buddha Vajradhara, blue in colour, holding a vajra and bell. On the right side is the Vajrapanjara Dakini, blue, in a slightly wrathful appearance, holding a curved knife and skullcup. On the left is the mahasiddha Brahmin Vararuci performing the mudra of blessing with the right hand and holding a skullcup in the lap with the left. At the right and left corners are Sakya Lamas wearing monastic robes and red pandita hats, seated on cushions.

At the upper right is Ekajati (Tib.: ral chig ma, Eng.: One Braid), dark blue, with one face and two hands holding a vase, seated in a relaxed posture. Below that is Shri Devi (Tib.: pal den lha mo, Eng.: Glorious Goddess), black, with one face and four hands holding a sword and skullcup in the right and a spear and trident in the left, riding a mule in an ocean of blood.

At the left is Vajrapani Bhutadamara, dark blue, with one face and four hands holding a vajra and lasso held out to the sides and performing the daemon subduing mudra (gesture) at the heart with the central pair of hands. Standing on the white daemon Bhuta Aparajita he is surrounded by flames. Below is Brahmarupa Mahakala, brown in colour having the appearance of an Indian mahasiddha with long hair in a topknot, one face and two hands, holding a shin-bone horn in the right and a skullcup in the left, seated on a corpse.

Directly below Mahakala are five black wrathful deities forming an arch. They are the inner retinue of Mahakala, a father and mother, Kala Rakshasa and Kali Rakshasi and their three offspring Putra, Bhatra and Ekajati Rakshasi. They all have one face and two hands, blue-black in colour and hold a variety of weapons, surrounded by black smoky flames. At the bottom center is the pair Shri Chitipati, skeletal in form each with one face and two hands, standing in a dancing posture.

The eight protectors; Mahakala, Ekajati, Shri Devi and the Five Rakshasa form the famous 'Eight Deity Mahakala' of Sakya (Tib.: gur gyi gon po lha gye). Panjaranatha Mahakala is found in the 18th chapter of the Vajrapanjara Tantra of which he is the protector and guardian. As part of the Hevajra Cycle of Tantras it also belongs to the Non-dual Anuttarayoga classification.

Guru Lineage: Vajradhara, Vajrapanjara Dakini, Brahmin Vararuci, Pandita Deva Vajra, Shraddha Karavarma, Lochen Rinchen Zangpo, Drag Tengpa Yontan Tsultrim, Mal Lotsawa Lodro Drag, Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (1092-1158), etc.

Jeff Watt 5-98

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