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. 502)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Sakya
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Fine Gold Line, Black Background on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1996.28.1
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Wrathful

Gender: Male

TBRC: bdr:W25327

Interpretation / Description

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

With one face and two hands he holds a curved knife and skullcup to the heart. Resting across the forearms is a 'gandhi' stick from which all other forms of Mahakala emanate. Very fierce with all the wrathful ornaments and attire such as the necklace of fifty freshly severed heads, he wears a tiger skin as a lower garment and a long snake as a Brahmin cord. Standing in a squat posture above a corpse and sun disc he stands within a mass of flaming fire of pristine awareness. Emanating above from the circle of fire is a black garuda and to the sides a wolf, black dog, black crow and a black man. These five are the messengers of Mahakala.

At the top center is the lama Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (1092-1158) with the left hand in the mudra (gesture) of generosity and the left holding the stem of a white lotus to the heart. Directly to the right and left are his two famous sons Lobpon Sonam Tsemo (1142-1182) with the hands performing the Dharma Teaching mudra and Jetsun Trakpa Gyaltsen (1147-1216) with the right hand holding a vajra to the heart and the left a bell held in the lap. At the far left is Sakya Pandita Kunga Gyaltsen (1182-1251) wearing monastic robes and a pandita hat. He holds the two hands in the Dharma Teaching mudra along with two lotus stems. The flower buds blossom at both ears supporting the wisdom sword and Prajnaparamita book. On the right is Chogyal Pagpa (1235-1280), wearing monastic robes and a pandita hat, with the right hand in the mudra of generosity and the left placed in the lap. The first three are known as the 'Three White Ones' (Tib.: kar po nam sum) of Sakya and the last two, ordained monks, are known as the 'Two Red Ones' (Tib.: mar po nam nyi). Along the sides are four lamas, all wearing monastic robes, pandita hats and performing various mudras, in a seated posture. The two figures above wear the pandita hats with the lappets folded across the crown in a popular Sakya style.

At the bottom center is the semi-wrathful black form of the wealth deity Jambhala, naked, in a standing posture, holding a skullcup and mongoose. On the left is Brahmarupa Mahakala holding a curved knife and human shinbone horn, with an upright sword leaning against the right shoulder. On the right is Shri Devi Mahakali (Tib.: pal den lha mo) with one face and four hands holding a sword, skullcup, spear and trident, riding a horse. Along the bottom are four skullcups filled with various offerings of the five senses.

Panjaranatha Mahakala is the protector for the Hevajra Cycle of Tantras. The iconography and rituals are found in the 18th chapter of the Vajra Panjara Tantra, an exclusive 'explanatory tantra' to the Hevajra Tantra itself.

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, etc.

The method of painting is called 'nag thang,' (black scroll) gold outline on a black background.

J.Watt 6-98

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