Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Padmasambhava - (Main Form)

པད་མ་འབྱུང་གནས། 莲花生大士
(item no. 538)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Nyingma
Size 59.69x43.18cm (23.50x17in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1996.32.1
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: King

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Padmasambhava (Tibetan: pema jung ne. English: the Lotus Born) from the land of Oddiyana; one of the three principal figures responsible for establishing Buddhism in Tibet in the 8th century.

Pemasambhava Pema Jungne Biographical Details

Mature in appearance, with one face and two hands, moustache and small goatee, the right hand is in the wrathful mudra holding to the heart a gold vajra. The left hand placed in the lap supports a skullcup containing a long-life vase. Resting against the left shoulder is an ornate katvanga staff. Adorned with gold and jewel earrings, necklace and bracelets, the head is covered with a lotus hat of silk brocade topped with a feather. Attired in various robes of different colours he sits in a relaxed posture on a sun and moon disc and multi-coloured lotus surrounded by a blue-orange nimbus and dark green areola.

At the top center is the bodhisattva of wisdom - discerning awareness, Manjushri, orange in colour, holding aloft a flaming sword of wisdom for severing ignorance and in the left hand the stem of a lotus held to the heart with the blossom supporting the Prajnaparamita sutra. At the left is the bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokiteshvara Sadaksari, white in colour with four hands. At the right is the slightly fierce goddess Sitatapatra, white, with three eyes. The right hand performs the mudra of fearlessness and the left holds aloft a white parasol (complex form).

At the bottom are the two main consorts of Guru Rinpoche. To the left is Mandarava performing the gesture of explication with the right hand and holding a skullcup in the left; in a relaxed posture above a moon disc and pink lotus seat. To the right is Yeshe Tsogyal seated in a kneeling posture she presents a gold pitcher in the right hand while performing the gesture of generosity with the left.

"Miraculous buddha arising from a lotus, unborn, undying, possessing a vajra body, performing the activity of all buddhas of the three times; homage to Padmasambhava." (Nyingma liturgical text).

Guru Rinpoche, principal among the many teachers to bring Buddhism to Tibet, has eight main manifestations and numerous other forms representing his life story and outer, inner and secret aspects. Within the Nyingma Kama (Oral) Tradition he 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 Buddha Amitabha.

Jeff Watt 10-98

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Padmasambhava Main Page
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery III