Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Vajrabhairava (Buddhist Deity) - Heruka (without consort)

རྡོ་རྗེ་འཇིགས་འབྱེད། 金刚大威德(佛教本尊)
(item no. 65552)
Origin Location Mongolia
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Gelug and Buddhist
Material Metal
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Animal-Feature

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Vajrabhairava, Heruka (Tibetan: dor je jig je tung drag lhan chig kye pa. English: Spontaneously Arising Heruka Vajra Terror).

Typically dark blue in colour with the head of a buffalo, three round eyes, two pointed horns - long and sharp, he holds in the two hands at the heart a curved knife and skullcup. Very fierce and wrathful with hair flowing upward like flame, he is adorned with a crown of five skulls, bone ornaments, a necklace of fifty freshly severed heads and wears the hide of an elephant. He stands with the right leg bent and the left straight above a sun disc and lotus seat, completely surrounded by the red rays and gold nimbus of the flames of pristine awareness.

In Tantric iconography there are three common uses for the word 'heruka.' (1) In the Sarma traditions heruka generically conveys the meaning of a one faced, two-handed form of any complex male anuttarayoga deity. The principal form of the deities Vajrabhairava, Hevajra, Kalachakra, and the like, have multiple faces, hands and legs and the very essence, or essential form, is heruka, with one face and two hands. (2) In the Nyingmapa School the word generally refers to one of the Eight Sadhana Sections of Mahayoga Tantra such as Vajrakilaya, Samputa, etc. (3) Specific to the Gelugpa School heruka is used as an alternate name for the tutelary deity Chakrasamvara.

Vajrabhairava, practiced in all the Sarma Schools, is an anuttarayoga meditational deity of the father (method) classification. Of the many lineages to enter Tibet from India the most famous are those of Ra Lotsawa and Mal Lotsawa.

Jeff Watt 6-98

Secondary Images
Related Items
Publication: Selection of Works - Sculpture (RMA)

Thematic Sets
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Mongolia
Buddhist Deity: Vajrabhairava Main Page
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Sculpture (Gallery 1)
Sculpture: Dolonnor Style, Inner Mongolia
Sculpture: Repousse (Images in the Round)
Buddhist Deity: Vajrabhairava, Sculpture
Buddhist Deity: Vajrabhairava, Heruka