Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Mandala of Hevajra (Buddhist Deity)

ཀྱེ་རྡོ་རྗེ། ནང་ལྷ། 喜金刚(佛教本尊)
(item no. 59876)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1300 - 1399
Lineages Sakya
Material Ground Mineral Pigment
Collection Private
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Interpretation / Description

Shri Hevajra Nine Deity Manadala (Tibetan: pal gye pa dor je lha gu'i khyil kor). Shri Hevajra is a principal meditational deity of the Anuttarayoga classification in Buddhist Tantra. According to the Sakya system Hevajra belongs to the sub-class of 'non-dual' tantra. The Kagyu system classifies Hevajra as 'Wisdom-mother' tantra. From the numerous texts within the cycle of Hevajra the root Tantra of 'Two Sections' is the most important.

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, dark blue in colour, with eight faces and sixteen hands holding skullcups, standing with four legs in a dancing posture. The first pair of hands embrace the consort Vajra Nairatmya (Selfless One), black, 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 within the flames of pristine awareness. (See a detailed explanation of the form of Hevajra).

"...Shri Hevajra with a body blue in colour, eight faces, sixteen hands and four legs. The main face is blue, right white, left red, upper face smoky; the two remaining pairs of faces are black. Each face has three eyes and four bared fangs; yellow hair flowing upwards; the top of the head is marked with a vishvavajra. The sixteen hands hold sixteen skullcups. The first right holds a white elephant, the first left holds the yellow God of Earth; these two embrace the Mother. In the second right is a blue horse; third - ass with a white patch; fourth - yellow bull; fifth - ash-coloured camel; sixth - red man; seventh - blue sharabha; eighth - cat with a white patch. In the second left hand is the white God of Water; third - red God of Fire; fourth - green God of Air; fifth - white God of the Moon; sixth - red God of the Sun; seventh - blue Yama; eighth - yellow Holder of Wealth. Each head has a crown of five dry human skulls; and a necklace of fifty fresh heads; six bone ornaments; the two right legs are extended, on the thighs the toes of the two folded left legs are pressing in the half-[vajra] posture in a dancing manner; possessing the nine sentiments of dancing: grace, strength and ugliness; laughter, ferocity and frightful; compassion, fury and peace. In the lap is the mother Vajra Nairatmya, with a body blue in colour, one face, two hands, three eyes; yellow hair flowing upwards; right a curved knife, left holding a skullcup and embracing the father; five dry human skulls as a crown; a necklace of fifty dry [skulls]; five bone ornaments; left leg extended and the right drawn up embracing the father. Both are standing in the middle of a blazing fire of pristine awareness." (Gaton Ngagwang Legpa, 1864 - 1941).

Surrounding the two central figures are eight goddesses of various colours, each with one face and two hands, standing in a dancing posture on the left leg above a corpse seat. They are adorned with various ornaments and each hold their own distinct hand objects.

Eight Retinue Goddesses (beginning at the top center):
Yellow Vetali
Multi-coloured Dombini
Green Ghashmari
Blue Pukkashi
Black Gauri
White Shavari
Red Chauri
Purple Chandali.

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 (barely discernible), on each side of the four doors ('T' shaped), are two dancing offering goddesses, sixteen in total. The outer red 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 tiered steps topped with a Dharma wheel, two reclining deer, and gold spires with a silk canopy above.

Surrounding the palace is a circle of multi-coloured (rectangular) petals representing the enormous lotus upon which the entire palace structure rests. The outer circle, divided into eight sections, containing small figures and objects is the ring of the eight great charnel grounds filled with corpses, fires, chaityas, siddhas, yogis, nagas, and wrathful worldly deities. There are also eight mahasiddhas, one per cemetery. Sometimes these mahasiddhas are depicted by the artist in known iconographic forms. At other times the mahasiddha figures are generic in appearance and cannot be identified as a specific known Indian teacher. (See Mandalas & the Eight Mahasiddhas).

The final ring of the mandala is ringed by the multi-coloured fires of pristine awareness completely enveloping the entire Hevajra Mandala. (See a break down of the visual components of the mandala).

Along the top are the lineage gurus for this particular mandala of Shri Hevajra. Starting from the left are the primordial buddha Vajradhara, Nairatmya, Virupa, Kanhapa, Damarupa, Avadhutipa, Gayadhara, Drogmi Lotsawa (992-1072), Seton Kunrig (1025-1113), Shangton Chobar (1053-1136), Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (1092-1158), Sonam Tsemo (1142-1182), Dragpa Gyaltsen (1147-1216), Sakya Pandita (1182-1251) and Chogyal Pagpa (1235-1280).

On the outside of the mandala circle starting at the left is yellow Ratnasambhava-Hevajra. On the right is red Amitabha-Hevajra. At the Bottom left is white Vairochana-Hevajra and on the right is green Amoghasiddhi-Hevajra. Each of these figures is in the same appearance as the central figure of Akshobhya-Hevajra at the center of the composition. Each of the four smaller Hevajra deities has two accompanying figures standing to the right and left sides. These eight figures along with three more in the bottom register on the right side represent the protector deities of the uncommon Raksha Chakra known as the Ten Wrathful Ones. Placed at the bottom right side, for convenience, are the remaining three figures that accompany the deities encircling the outer ring of the mandala. Along the bottom, from the left, is a row of goddesses representing the senses of the body.

Ten Wrathful Ones of the Hevajra Tantra:
East, blue Yamantaka holding a hammer
South, white Prajnantaka holding a mace
West, red Padmantaka holding a lotus
North, blue Vighnantaka holding a vajra
North-east, blue Achala holding a sword
South-east, blue Takkiraja holding a hook
South-west, blue Niladanda holding a stick
North-west, blue Mahabala holding a trident
Above blue, Humkara holding a vajra and bell crossed at the heart
Below, blue Shumbharaja holding a wooden club.

Also in the bottom register at the far right is the donor figure for the painting. Immediately to the left are Shri Devi, riding a mule and Panjarnata Mahakala supporting a 'ghandi staff' in a horizontal manner across the forearms.

Shri Hevajra is a meditational deity of the Anuttarayoga Non-dual classification of Buddhist Tantra. 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) Virupa.

Jeff Watt 11-2011

Numbered List

Lineage Teachers:
1. Vajradhara
2. Nairatmya
3. Virupa
4. Kanhapa
5. Damarupa
6. Avadhutipa
7. Gayadhara
8. Drogmi Lotsawa
9. Seton Kunrig
10. Shangton Chobar
11. Sachen Kunga Nyingpo
12. Sonam Tsemo
13. Dragpa Gyaltsen
14. Sakya Pandita
15. Chogyal Pagpa

Central Mandala Figures:
1. Shri Hevajra (Akshobhya)
2. Vajra Nairatmya
3. Gauri, black
4. Chauri, red
5. Vetali, yellow
6. Gashmari, green
7. Pukkashi, blue
8. Shavari, white
9. Chandali, purple
10 Dombini, multi-coloured

Outer Mandala Figures (White & Blue):
11. Ratnasambhava Hevajra
12. Amitabha Hevajra
13. Amoghasiddhi Hevajra
14. Vairochana Hevajra
15. Yamantaka, blue
16. Takkiraja, blue
17. Prajnantaka, white
18. Niladanda, blue
19. Padmantaka, red
20. Mahabala, blue
21. Vighnantaka, blue
22. Achala, blue
23. Ushnisha Chakravartin
24. Humkara
25. Shumbharaja

Bottom Register:
26. Mohavajra, white
27. Dveshavajra, blue
28. Matsaryavajra, yellow
29. Ragavajra, red
30. Irshavajra, green
31. Nairatmya Yogini, black
32. Kayavajra, white
33. Vakvajra, red
34. Chittavajra, black
35. Panjarnata Mahakala
36. Shri Devi
37. Donor Figure

Eight Cemeteries: (See Charnal Grounds & Cemeteries)
1. Gruesome Charnal Ground
2. Frightful with Skulls
3. Adorned with a Blazing Garland
4. Dense Jungle
5. Fiercely Resounding
6. Forest of the Lord
7. Dark & Terrible
8. Resounding with the Cries Kili Kili

Front of Painting
English Translation of Inscription: [No inscriptions]

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Buddhist Deity: Hevajra Mandalas (Masterworks)
Buddhist Deity: Hevajra Main Page
Collection: Private 22
Mandala: Early Works (1100-1399)
Buddhist Deity: Hevajra Mandalas
Subject: Greyscale - Figurative & General Composition