Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Indian Adept (siddha) - Virupa

རྒྱ་གར་གྱི་གྲུབ་ཆེན། 印度大成就者
(item no. 641)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1400 - 1499
Lineages Sakya
Size 32.39x25.40cm (12.75x10in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1998.11.1
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Mahasiddha

Gender: Male

TBRC: bdr:P3293

Interpretation / Description

Virupa, the Lord of Yoga, 9th century (Tibetan: bir wa pa, nal jor wang chug); foremost in magical attainments amongst the Eighty-four Great Adepts (mahasiddhas) of India.

Brown in colour, with the face turned to the side, he holds upraised in a wrathful gesture the left hand. The right hand is pressed with the palm flat against the seat. Pleasant in appearance, with black hair adorned with red flowers and circular gold earrings, necklaces, bracelets, anklets and a garland of red and blue flowers the body is decorated. Wearing a blue scarf across the upper shoulders, the lower body is wrapped in a yellow and blue loincloth. A red meditation belt secures the legs. In a relaxed posture atop a moon disc and lotus he sits surrounded by a red backdrop of swirling designs, with trees at the sides topped with birds and a canopy above.

At the top left a figure in red monastic robes with the right arm bare performs the mudra of Dharma Teaching, wearing a red pandita hat and seated in vajra posture on a red and blue lotus blossom. At the right a layman with grey receding hair clad in variously coloured garments performs the mudra of generosity with the right hand and blessing with the left, seated on a lotus. At the bottom left is the wrathful protector Panjarnata Mahakala, dark blue, with one face and two hands holding a curved knife and skullcup at the heart with a ghandi stick lying across the forearms. Standing atop a corpse and lotus seat he is surrounded by the yellow flames of wisdom fire. At the right is the protector Shri Devi, blue, with one face and four hands holding a sword, skullcup, spear and trident. Riding a mule in an ocean of blood, she is surrounded by yellow wisdom fire. Virupa was a monk and abbot of Nalanda University in North India. At an elderly age after receiving numerous visions of the wisdom goddess Vajra Nairatmya, he left the structured monastery for a life of wandering and secluded meditation. Significant to the lineages of Hevajra, Chakrasamvara, Rakta Yamari and Vajrayogini, Virupa was the teacher to Dombi Heruka, Kanha and others. The various lineages are mainly preserved in the Sakya School.

Jeff Watt 3-99

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