Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Mahakala (Buddhist Protector) - Shadbhuja, Sita (White, Shangpa)

མ་ཧཱ་ཀཱ་ལ། ནག་པོ་ཆེན་པོ། 玛哈嘎拉
(item no. 813)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Shangpa Kagyu
Size 68.58x43.18cm (27x17in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1999.5.5
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Wrathful

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Shadbhuja Sita Mahakala, (Tibetan: pal gon po kar po yi shin nor bu chag drug pa. English: the Glorious Wish-fulfilling Jewel, White Lord with Six Hands): Emanation of Avalokiteshvara and principal wealth deity of the Shangpa Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism.

White in colour with a reddish tinge, wrathful in appearance, he has one face with three round glaring eyes, a gaping mouth and orange hair flowing upward. With six hands the first pair holds a wish-fulfilling jewel and a skullcup containing a vase filled with jewels, the second a curved knife and trident held upraised and third a damaru drum and hook extended to the sides. Adorned with a crown of jewels and gold, earrings, necklaces and bracelets, he wears green and blue scarves across the shoulders and blue-red silks as a skirt. Atop the two prone figures of the elephant headed Ganesh, orange sun disc and multi-coloured lotus flower, he stands surrounded by a wreath of orange pristine awareness fire emblazoned with green and blue wishing jewels.

"Homage to Lord Cintamani. Holy Avalokiteshvara, the gathered compassion of all buddhas of the ten directions and three times; to that emanation, the Six Handed Protector, devotedly with body, speech and mind I bow." (Common liturgical verse).

Encircled by the 'Five Power-Gathering Dakinis' of various colours, white, blue, yellow, red and green, they hold in the right hands a hook and in the left a skullcup containing a precious vase. Peaceful in appearance, each has three eyes, adorned with gold, jewels and various silks; standing in dancing postures. Along the bottom are various offerings and precious substances arranged in a row. Snow peaked and forested mountains fill out the background landscape with a blue sea agitated by waves below and dark azure skies above.

White Mahakala is the wealth aspect of the wrathful protector Shadbhuja Mahakala. Arising from the Kriya class of Tantra, the practice is popular in all schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

Lineage: Vajradhara, Jnana Dakini, Shri Shavaripa, Lord Maitripa, Mahasiddha Rahulagupta, Khedrup Khyungpo Naljor (founder of the Shangpa Kagyu School, 11th century), Nyam Med Rinchen Tsondru, Bonton Kyergangpa (famous terton of the Hayagriva cycle of practice), etc.

Jeff Watt 5-99

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Iconography: Traditional Hierarchy (Buddhist)
Buddhist Protectors: Enlightened
Buddhist Protector: Mahakala Main Page
Tradition: Shangpa Kagyu Main Page
Subject: Wealth Deities Main Page
Mahakala: Shadbhuja, White (6 Hands, Shangpa)
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 5