Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Hayagriva (Buddhist Deity) - Padma Ishvara

རྟ་མགྲིན། ནང་ལྷ། 马头明王(佛教本尊)
(item no. 431)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Nyingma
Size 54.61x46.99cm (21.50x18.50in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1996.10.1
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Wrathful

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Hayagriva (Tibetan: tam drin, English: Horse Neck) from the Eight Sadhana Sections of Mahayoga Tantra.

Very wrathful, red in colour, with three faces, six hands and four legs, the right face is white and the left green. With three large round staring eyes and a cavernous mouth with sharp canine teeth and dark hair flowing upward. On top of the head are three small green horse heads. The first pair of hands hold a white lotus flower and a skullcup while embracing the consort. The second hold a vajra hook and sword and the last pair a stick and noose. Adorned with a crown of five dry skulls, earrings, gold and jewel ornaments, snakes entwined as jewelry and a tiger skin skirt, he is completely attired in wrathful charnel ground vestments and a set of vajra wings. The consort has one face and two hands, blue-black in colour, holding a skullcup in the left hand, adorned in wrathful attire and a leopard skin skirt. Standing with eight legs, the right bent and left straight, atop two corpses above a sun disc and multi-coloured lotus, Hayagriva dwells surrounded by the flames of pristine awareness.

At the top left is the buddha of long-life, Amitayus, red, with the two hands holding a long-life vase in the lap; adorned with silks and jewels. At the right is the protector of the northern direction, Vaishravana, with one face and two hands, holding a victory banner and a mongoose; riding a white snow lion.

"To the Dharma body of all conquerors of the Lotus Lineage, vajra body of the Dharma Lord Amitabha, in a raging great form, emanating from...Avalokiteshvara; homage to Hayagriva, neighing like a horse." (Nyingma Liturgical Text).

Arising from the Mahayoga division of the Inner Tantras, Hayagriva belongs to the set known as the Eight Sadhana Sections. From the two types of Buddhist teaching transmission, Transmitted Precepts and Revealed Treasure (terma), this form of Hayagriva belongs to the latter. Both forms were received, discovered and taught by Arya Nagarjuna. The Terma text was procured from a copper casket in the Shankarakuta stupa at the charnel ground of Sitavana near the present day Bodhgaya in Northern India.

Jeff Watt 10-98

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