Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Hayagriva (Buddhist Deity)

རྟ་མགྲིན། ནང་ལྷ། 马头明王(佛教本尊)
(item no. 481)
Origin Location Mongolia
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Nyingma, Sakya and Gelug
Size 88.90x63.50cm (35x25in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Fine Gold Line on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1996.22.3
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Interpretation / Description

Hayagriva, Secret Accomplishment (Tibetan: tam drin sang drup. English: Horse Neck, Secret Accomplishment), wrathful tutelary deity of the Lotus family.

??King of the Wrathful, Hayagriva, with a body red in colour, three faces and six hands. The main face is red, right green, left white. Each face has three eyes, radiant, with bared fangs. The hair, moustache and beard are blazing. At the crest of the three faces are three green horse heads with mouths sounding with the neighing of horses. ? With six hands, the first right holds a vajra, second a katvanga, third a sword. The first left a wrathful gesture, second a spear, third a lasso of intestine. Having a crown of five dry human skulls and a necklace of fifty fresh, wearing an upper garment of human skin and an elephant hide, and a lower garment of tiger skin; with a Brahman cord of human hair. Adorned with drops of blood, clots of mold, bunches of charnel ashes and coils of snakes. The eight legs trample upon the eight great nagas in the aspect of snakes; standing in the vast blazing fire of pristine awareness.? (Terdag Lingpa Gyurme Dorje (1646-1714) and Min-ling Lochen Dharmashri 1654-1718. Tibetan source text 'dod 'jo bum bzang, Part I, page 247-248).

With three faces, red, green and white, the top of the central head is adorned with three green horse heads. The faces are wrathful with large round eyes, gaping mouths with bared fangs, curled tongues and brown hair flowing upward. With six hands, the three on the right hold a sword, trident and vajra. The three left hands hold intestines, a spear and perform a wrathful gesture. The two upper hands also hold the two left legs of a fresh elephant hide. Extremely ferocious, red in colour, adorned with a crown of five skulls, bone and jewel ornaments, he wears a necklace of fifty fresh human heads, a lower garment of tiger skin and a fresh human skin. With the eight legs, the right bent and left extended pressing down on eight slithering snakes, he stands above a sun disc and multi-coloured lotus surrounded by the flames of pristine awareness.

At the top center is the buddha Amitabha, red in colour with the two hands in the mudra (gesture) of meditation. At the right is Guru Rinpoche Padmasambhava holding a vajra and skullcup, wearing the three robes. At the right corner is Nyerten Bepo Chenpo'i Naljor and below are Khedrup Shangton Chenpo and a lama without a name inscription. All three wear monastic robes and perform various mudras (gestures). To the left is Lama Tsongkapa with the two hands held at the heart in the 'Dharma Teaching' mudra and wearing a yellow pandita hat. At the left corner is Benten Kyepa Chenpo and below are Dorje Chang Kunga Gyaltsen and Drogon Choje Tenpa. All three wear monastic robes and perform various mudras.

At the middle left is a form of Hayagriva inscribed as Ta Lha Arya Remanta, with one face, a horse head above and two hands holding a vajra stick and chain. At the middle right is the direction guardian Chog gyi Gonpo in the appearance of a Tibetan warrior, holding an upraised lance and banner in the right hand and a wealth vase in the left, and riding a horse.

At the bottom center is the special protector for the Hayagriva cycle of practice, Begtse Chen, (Eng.: the 'Great Coat of Mail'). Having the appearance of a red Tibetan warrior covered in leather protective armour, in the right hand he holds a sword and in the left a human heart with a bow and arrow in the bend of the elbow and a lance with a banner against the shoulder. At the lower right riding a wild bear is the consort, Lhamo Dong Marwa - The Goddess with a Red Face, naked, blue, with one face and two hands holding a heart and kila (peg). At the lower left is the son, Lekhan Srog Dag Marpo, riding a wolf, holding a lance and lasso, dressed in the raiment of a warrior. At the upper left is the worldly protector Setrap (also known as Tshangpa), red in colour, holding a wooden club in the upraised right hand and a lasso in the left. Dressed as a warrior, he rides a brown horse. At the right is Damchen Garwa'i Nagpo, blue, holding a vajra hammer in the upraised right hand and a blacksmiths bellows made of tiger skin in the left. Dressed in long flowing garments and wearing a broad hat he rides a brown goat with twisted horns. At the bottom right is a skullcup containing the offering of the five senses.

The painting belongs to the Gelugpa School. The subject, the Secret Accomplishment Hayariva, is a 'Revealed Treasure' teaching (Tib.: terma) of the Nyingmapa School and Begtse Chen, the protector, was popularized by the early Sakya and Kagyu Schools. All of the figures but one have a name inscription written below each seat.

J.Watt 5-98

Front of Painting
Wylie Transliteration of Inscription: Central Figure: Sta mdrin srung sgrub la na mo. Descending from left to right: dben stan skadpa chen po, rje bla ma na mo, 'od dpag med, u brgyan la na mo, gnyer stan sbas po chen po'i rnal 'byor, rdo rje 'chang kun dga' rgyal mtsan la na mo, 'gro mgon chos rje stan pa, rta lha arya re man sta, phyog kyi mgon po, Tshang pa la, be rtse la na mo, dam chen mgar ba nag mo, las mkhan srog bdag dmar po, lha mo rdong dmar ba.

Related Items
Publications
Publication: Dojo Bumzang - Images

Thematic Sets
Buddhist Deity: Hayagriva Main Page
Buddhist Deity: Hayagriva (Secret Accomplishment)
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Mongolia
Tradition: Gelug Deity Paintings
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 3
Tradition: Sakya Deity Paintings
Tradition: Nyingma Deity Paintings