Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Hayagriva (Buddhist Deity) - Secret Accomplishment

རྟ་མགྲིན། ནང་ལྷ། 马头明王(佛教本尊)
(item no. 65)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Nyingma
Size 50.80x35.56cm (20x14in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Fine Gold Line on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1994.8.7
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Wrathful

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Hayagriva 'Secret Accomplishment' (Tibetan: tam drin sang drup. English: Horse Neck): terrific deity of the Padma (Lotus) Family, manifestation of the wrathful activity of Buddha Amitabha, from the Terma (Treasure) Tradition of Kyergangpa, 12th century.

"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).

Directly above, within a sphere of rainbow light is the Buddha Amitabha, Lord of the Padma Family, red in colour, with the two hands folded in the mudra of meditation placed in the lap - holding a black begging bowl.

At the bottom center is the avowed protector Gyalpo Pehar, dark blue in colour with one face and two hands, holding a noose in the right and a knife in the left. Wearing long dark garments and a large round hat he rides on the back of a white elephant trampling on a corpse. To the left is the protector Begtse Chen, red with one face and two hands, holding a sword in the right and a heart in the left. Wearing the garb of a Tibetan warrior he is standing on a horse and human corpse; the special protector for the Hayagriva cycle of practice. To the right is Garwai Nagpo, chief attendant to the protector Dorje Legpa, dark in colour, holding a hammer in the right hand and a blacksmith's bellows in the left. Wearing long garments he rides atop a shaggy brown goat.

The 'Secret Accomplishment' Hayagriva, practiced in all schools of Tibetan Buddhism, is a Treasure Teaching of the Nyingmapa discovered by Nyemowa Sanggye Wangchen. The Shangpa Kagyu master Kyergangpa acquired the teaching directly from Padmasambhava in a dream and was further instructed to receive the teaching of the 'Terma' from Nyemowa. The practice was then made famous throughout Tibet by the lama Kyergangpa.

Jeff Watt 10-98

Secondary Images
Related Items
Publication: Dojo Bumzang - Images

Thematic Sets
Buddhist Deity: Hayagriva (Secret Accomplishment)
Subject: Wrathful Deities & Function
Subject: Animal Headed/Features Gods & Deities (Buddhist)
Buddhist Deity: Lokeshvara (Related Deities)
Buddhist Deity: Hayagriva (Secret Accomplishment Masterworks)
Buddhist Deity: Hayagriva Traditions
Subject: Trampled Gods & Deities Page (Numbers)
Subject: Protectors - Wrathful Deities that are not Protectors
Subject: Eight Wrathful Ones of the Gelug School
Buddhist Deity: Red Wrathful Appearance
Buddhist Deity: Hayagriva (Secret Accomplishment Iconography)
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 6
Tradition: Nyingma Deity Paintings
Buddhist Deity: Hayagriva Text Collections
Buddhist Deity: Hayagriva Main Page