Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Mandala of Hevajra (Buddhist Deity) - (Hevajra Tantra)

ཀྱེ་རྡོ་རྗེ། ནང་ལྷ། 喜金刚(佛教本尊)
(item no. 444)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1500 - 1599
Lineages Sakya and Ngor (Sakya)
Size 41.91x34.93cm (16.50x13.75in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1996.1.8
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Semi-Peaceful

Gender: Male

TBRC: bdr:P25326

Interpretation / Description

Shri Hevajra Nine Deity Mandala (Tibetan: pal gye pa dor je'i lha gu'i kyil khor) according to the system of Dombi Heruka from the Hevajra Tantra. Bibliographic reference: Hevajra Tantraraja Nama

Sanskrit: Hevajra Tibetan: Gye pa dor je

Within the center of the two dimensional circular diagram (mandala) representing the top view of a three dimensional celestial palace and surroundings is the deity Shri Hevajra, blue in colour, with eight faces, sixteen hands holding skullcups and four legs in a dancing posture. The first pair of hands embrace the consort Vajra Nairatmya (Selfless One), dark blue, with one face and two hands holding a curved knife and skullcup, standing on the left leg with the right embracing Hevajra. They are both adorned with bone ornaments and stand atop four corpses above a pink lotus within the flames of pristine awareness.

Surrounding the central figures are eight goddesses in various colours, each with one face and two hands, standing in a dancing posture on the left leg above a corpse and lotus seat. Beginning from the top and moving in a clockwise direction they are yellow Vetali, multi-coloured Dombini, green Ghasmari, blue Pukkasi, black Gauri, white Shavari, red Cauri, and purple Candali. They are all adorned with bone ornaments and a necklace of fifty skulls and each holds their own distinct hand objects.

The floor of the celestial palace is divided into four colours ornately patterned with floral designs: red, blue, white and yellow. On the red veranda outside of the palace walls, on each side of the four doors ('T' shaped), are two dancing offering goddesses white in colour, sixteen in total. The outer blue and white lines forming a square enclosure represent the stylized decorative facade on the four sides of the palace roof, adorned with upright spears, arrows and banners. The elaborate lintels above each of the four doors are constructed of four tiered steps topped with a Dharma wheel and two reclining deer with a silk canopy above.

The palace is placed squarely on a horizontal multi-coloured double vajra (Sanskrit: visvavajra) with only the prongs and makara heads (an Indian mythological sea creature) appearing on the four sides. The outer circle containing small figures on a background landscape is the ring of the eight great charnel grounds filled with corpses, fires, caityas, yogis, nagas, and wrathful worldly deities. Surrounding that is a circle of multi-coloured (rectangular) lotus petals representing the enormous lotus upon which the entire palace and charnel ground structure rests. The final ring is composed of the multi-coloured fires of pristine awareness completely enveloping the entire Hevajra Mandala.

In the upper left corner is the Mahasiddha Dombi Heruka (9th century), holding a snake in the right hand, embracing the consort with the left and riding a tigress. To the right is Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (1092-1158), wearing the attire of a layman, performing the mudra (gesture) of generosity with the right hand and holding the stem of a white lotus to the heart, blossoming at the ear.

At the bottom left is the special guardian of the Hevajra Tantra, Panjarnata Mahakala, black, with one face and two hands holding a curved knife and skullcup, standing above a corpse and lotus seat surrounded by flame. At the right is Mahakali Shri Devi, light blue and emaciated, with one face and four hands holding a sword and skullcup in the right and a trident and spear in the left, riding a light brown donkey standing in an ocean of blood.

Shri Hevajra is a tutelary deity of the Anuttarayoga non-dual classification. From the many Hevajra Tantras, and forms of the deity, this representation of Hevajra arises from the root Hevajra Tantra of 'two sections' and was popularized by the Indian mahasiddha (the one of great accomplishment) Dombi Heruka.

Lineage: Vajradhara, Nairatmya, Virupa, Acarya Dombi Heruka, Alala Vajra, Nag Tropa, Garbharipa, Jaya Shrjnana, Acarya Durjayacandra, Bikshu Viravajra, Drogmi Lotsawa, Ngaripa Salwa'i Nyingpo, Khon Gyichuwa Drala Bar, Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (1092-1158), etc.

The style of the painting is Nepali, evidenced by the use of bright red and blue colours and the intricate circular floral patterns used in the background.

Jeff Watt 6-1998

Secondary Images
Related Items
Exhibition Appearances
Exhibition: Mandala, The Perfect Circle (RMA)

Publication: Tibetan Paintings
Mandalas and the Eight Mahasiddhas
Publication: Selection of Works - Painting (RMA)
Publication: Worlds of Transformation

Thematic Sets
Mandala: Mandala Main Page
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 2
Tradition: Sakya Deity Paintings
Buddhist Deity: Hevajra Main Page
Mandala: Inverted-figure Mandala
Tradition: Sakya Protectors (Composition Examples)
Painting Style: Tibet (Balri)
Mandalas: Sakya Tradition
Painting Style: Ngor Mandalas
Collection of RMA: Best of Collection 2
Buddhist Deity: Hevajra Mandalas
Collection of Rubin Museum: Mandala Masterworks
Buddhist Deity: Hevajra Art History
Collection of Rubin Museum: Mandala Masterworks (Curator's Selection)
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Mandala
Tradition: Ngor Main Page (Sakya)
Mandala: Sakya Masterworks
Buddhist Deity: Hevajra Mandala (Masterworks)
Collection of RMA: Ngor Style Paintings
Subject: Ngor Masterworks