Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Shri Devi (Buddhist Protector) - Magzor Gyalmo

དཔལ་ལྡན་ལྷ་མོ། 吉祥天母(佛教护法)
(item no. 7644)
Origin Location Mongolia
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Gelug and Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Private
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Wrathful

Gender: Female

TBRC: W19221

Interpretation / Description

Shri Devi, Magzor Gyalmo (Tibetan: pal den lha mo, mag gyi zor le, gyal mo. English: Glorious Goddess, the Queen who Repels Armies, or the Queen who has the power to turn back armies. Sanskrit: Shri Devi, Yakshi Remati, Shrimati Parvati Rajni): belonging to the larger class of enlightened protector deities known as Shri Devi.

Magzor Gyalmo is regarded as a wrathful emanation of the peaceful goddess Sarasvati, although popular in both Hinduism and Buddhism, the Buddhist deity is more properly known as Vajra Sarasvati and of a different entity and nature than the Hindu goddess Sarasvati. Within the Buddhist Tantric tradition Vajra Sarasavti is believed to be an enlightened deity while the Hindu form of the goddess is believed to be worldly in nature and not enlightened.

"... Shri Devi Remati, Queen of the Army Repelling Weapons, riding a mule, blue-black in colour, with one face and two hands, having bared fangs and gnashing down on a human corpse. Possessing three round red eyes, and the forehead furrowed into a frown, brown hair flowing upwards with licks of flame and smoke issuing forth. The right ear is adorned with a poisonous snake and the left with a lion, crowned with five dry human skulls and a necklace of fifty blood dripping wet [heads] strung with intestines. ... having a lower garment of tiger skin, a snake belt and necklace, etc. The right hand holds to the sky a sandalwood stick marked with a vajra. The left holds to the heart a mustard seed and blood filled skullcup. ... At the level of the navel is a sun and at the crown of the head a crescent moon; above the head is a peacock parasol canopy." (Sharchen Champa Kunga Tashi 1558-1603, TBRC P778. Drub Tab Kun Tu vol.9, pp.606-607. TBRC W19221).

The textual source for Magzor Gyalmo is the Dakinyagnijihajvala Tantra, Dege Kanjur, volume 98, pp.223-253. It is found in the Nyingma Tantra section, vol.3. TBRC w22084.

For the iconographic description above which is from a Sakya liturgical text note that the lion and snake earrings are reversed for Gelug depictions. Therefore in this Gelug composition the lion earring is on the proper right side and the snake on the left side. The Sakya tradition is the origin for the Magzor Gyalmo practice in the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism.

At the top center of the composition is Shakyamuni Buddha. In front of the mule of Magzor Gyalmo is the female retinue deity Makaramukha with the head of a water monster. Behind the mule and bringing up the rear is Simhamukha with the head of a lion. At the top left is Queen of the Summer, red in colour. At the top right is the Queen of Autumn, yellow in colour. At the bottom left is the Queen of Spring, blue in colour. At the bottom right is the Queen of Winter, riding atop a Bactrian camel.

Teachers of the Zhang, Mu and Sakya Lineages: Vajradhara, [Guhyapati Varapani], Pandita Lawa Marpo, [Pandita Sherab Salwa], Che Jungne Zangpo, Nub Gyalwa Yeshe, Shang Chogdru Sherab Lama, Se Sangha Bhadra, Se Palchen Odpo, Se Shang Dode Tsemo, Shang Dingriwa Nyima Drag, Tenzangwa Rinchen Namgyal, Samlingpa Sanggye Jungwa, Jamyang Khonton Tugje Rinchen, Jangsem Rinchen Gonpo, Choje Nyima Shenyen, Choje Konchog Pal Zangpo, Jetsun Jamyang Gonpo, Bodongpa Jamyang Raltri, Namkha Monlam, Je Namkhai Nyingpo, Je Namkha Gyaltsen, Chagyurwa Sonam Sengge, Yang Gonpa Palden Tashi, Ngag Chang Kunga Rinchen, Ngorchen Konchog Palden, Sharchen Champa Kunga Tashi, Sharchen Sherab Jungne, Sharpa Yeshe Zangpo, Kedrub Sanggye Puntsog.

Jeff Watt [image added 12-2020]

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Buddhist Protector: Shri Devi, Magzor Gyalmo Main Page
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