Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Padmasambhava - (Main Form)

པད་མ་འབྱུང་གནས། 莲花生大士
(item no. 361)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Nyingma
Size 68.58x48.26cm (27x19in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Fine Gold Line on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1996.20.9
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: King

Gender: Male

TBRC: bdr:P4956

Interpretation / Description

Padmasambhava (Tibetan: pema jung ne. English: the Lotus Born): the Main Founder of Tibetan Buddhism together with His Eight Manifestations.

Pemasambhava Pema Jungne Biographical Details

With a steady gaze looking on all beings, one face adorned with a moustache and small goatee, the right hand holds to the heart an upright gold vajra. The left hand placed in the lap holds a white skullcup filled with nectar. The ornate katvanga staff of a Vajrayana mendicant rests against the left shoulder. Adorned with gold earrings and various ornaments, the head is covered with a lotus hat, a gift of the King of Zahor, with silk brocade topped with a half-vajra and vulture feather. Attired in various robes of different colours reflecting the disciplines of the Vinaya, Bodhisattva and Mantra Vehicles, in a relaxed posture with the right foot extended resting on a lotus cushion, he is seated on a sun and moon disc above a pink lotus.

On small pink blossoms to the left and right are the two main consorts. At the left is Yeshe Tsogyal, formerly the junior wife of King Trisong Detsen. White in colour having the appearance of a goddess she holds upraised a white offering skullcup. To the right is the princess Mandarava, daughter of the King of Zahor (Mandi). Richly attired in silk gowns and a headdress she offers a skullcup with both hands.

At the top center is the buddha Amitabha, Lord of the Lotus Family, red in colour, with the two hands placed in the lap supporting a black begging bowl; seated on a pink lotus. At the bottom center is the powerful tutelary deity Hayagriva, wrathful, red, with three faces and six hands embracing the consort with the first pair; surrounded by the flames of pristine awareness.

To the left and right of Guru Rinpoche are his eight main manifestations. Descending at the left (facing) are [1] Guru Oddiyana Vajradhara (Tib.: urgyan dor je chang), blue in colour, holds up a vajra with the right hand and a bell pressed to the hip with the left; embracing the consort. [2] Guru Shakya Simha (Tib.: shakya seng ge), in the appearance of buddha with the 32 and 80 marks, holds a vajra in the right hand extended over the knee and in the left a begging bowl in the lap. [3] Guru Padmasambhava, appearing as a monk with a red pandita hat, holds a begging bowl with the right hand and the left performs the mudra of explication. [4] Guru Simhanada (Tib.: seng ge dra drog), very wrathful, blue in colour, holds a gold vajra in the raised right hand and performs a wrathful mudra with the outstretched left; completely surrounded by flames.

Descending at the right are; [5] Guru Padma Raja (Tib.: pe ma gyal po) in the appearance of a king holding a damaru drum in the right hand and a bowl containing an upright gold mirror in the left. Adorned with a crown and rich vestments he sits in the relaxed posture of 'royal ease.' [6] Guru Loden Chog Se, holds a damaru in the right hand and a skullcup in the left, adorned with jewel ornaments and flowing robes. [7] Guru Surya Rasmi (Tib.: nyi ma o zer) is yellow like the sun, in the appearance of a mahasiddha with a skull crown and tiger skin garment. He holds a katvanga staff in the right hand and from the fingers of the left rays of the sun shine forth. [8] Guru Dorje Drollo, wrathful, maroon in colour, holds a gold vajra in the upraised right hand and a black kila (Tib.: phur ba, Eng.: peg) in the left. Riding on the back of a fierce tigress he is surrounded by the flames of pristine awareness.

"Self-arising from the stem of a lotus, as the rising sun, Buddha, born on a lotus, issuing a cloud of splendid dakas; homage to Padmasambhava." (Nyingma liturgical text).

Principal among the many teachers to bring Buddhism to Tibet in the 8th century, Guru Rinpoche has eight main manifestations and numerous other forms representing outer, inner and secret aspects. Within the Kama (Oral) Tradition of the Nyingmapa School, Padmasambhava was born in Northern India as the son of a king or minister. In the Terma (Treasure) Tradition he was born on a lotus in Dhanakosha lake as an emanation of the Buddha Amitabha.

Jeff Watt 10-98

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Padmasambhava Main Page
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 7
Padmasambhava: Eight Forms (Single Painting)
Padmasambhava: Patchwork Robe Examples