Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Mandala of Vajrapani (Bodhisattva & Buddhist Deity) - Bhutadamara

ཕྱག་ན་རྡོ་རྗེ། 金刚手菩萨
(item no. 88549)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1300 - 1399
Lineages Sakya and Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Anna Maria Rossi & Fabio Rossi
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Wrathful

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Vajrapani, Guhyapati Bhutadamara Thirty-three Deity Mandala. Bhutadamara means 'subduer of demons' and the function of the mandala and meditation practice is the removal of obstacles. See the Bhutadamara Main Page and the Charya Tantra Bhutadamara Page.

This Vajrapani composition belongs to a larger painting set depicting all of the mandalas described in the famous Vajravali Sanskrit text of Abhayakara Gupta. The deity figures in the top and bottom registers and at the three intermediate points outside of the mandala are from the Sadhanamala Sanskrit text. (See other mandala paintings from the same Vajravali set).

Sanskrit: Vajrapani Tibetan: chag na dor je

Dark blue in colour with one face and four hands, the first pair perform the 'Daemon Subduing' mudra (hand gesture) at the heart. The second pair of hands hold a vajra upraised in the right and a lasso in the left. Very wrathful in appearance with large bulging eyes and hair flowing upwards like flame he wears jewel and snake ornaments and a lower garment of tiger skin. On the back of the white daemon Aparajita - with four hands and an elephant head, he stands atop a sun disc and multi-coloured lotus surrounded by the flames of pristine awareness.

Historical Background for Bhutadamara from the Shining Sun Commentary:

"...generally it is said, in the precious Tantras of the great secret Vajrayana there are immeasurable deities of great accomplishment and deities for accomplishing the increase of activities; this is the main [method] of the deity accomplishing the increase of activities, making firm the common attainments. Practicing this is also the method for the arising of the supreme attainment. This is special for pacifying obstacles, daemons, hindrances, bhutas, rakshas, and the like - commonly, and the four maras which are obstructions to enlightenment - [specifically]. All the great superior teachers [of Sakya] say; 'before entering any retreat it is foremost to do the Achala or Vajrapani retreat first.' To elaborate, of the great six [Vajrapani practices]: the [1] Powerful Great Wheel [Mahachakra], [2] Fierce Garuda, [3] Dharma Protector for the Benefit of Beings, [4] Tantra of the Great Stick, [5] Mantra of the Wrathful Acharya and [6] the Subduer of Daemons, the latter one, the Subduer of Daemons Bhutadamara is the most well known and found in many Tantras. The [long] Bhutadamara Tantra of 160,000 verses has remained in Oddiyana." [(See Kriya Tantra Toh.747, for the short Bhutadamara Tantra)].

"...of the many mahasiddhas to come to Tibet, Acharya Tathagata Rakshita made famous the teachings of the short Charya Tantra of Bhutadamara. In the Vajravali of Acharya Abhayakaragupta there are three mandalas of Bhutadamara, these, extracted from the Tantras contain the essence letters, the long mantra is not taught. Both Trailokyavajra and the Omniscient Buton Rinchen Drub wrote from this Charya Tantra..."

"...now, for the Non-dual Anuttara uncommon explanatory Tantra to the Hevajra, called the Vajrapanjara, it is said; Trailokyavajra's greater and lesser Bhutadamara meditations are based on this - which is found in the Sadhanasamgraha [Sadhanamala]. For the lineage of Atisha the text is found in the Narthang Gyatsa, a very famous collection of teachings. Also, there are the texts of Ngorchen Konchog Lhundrub and Panchen Drangti who wrote the abridged Sadhanasamgraha. Again, Lhachen Shakya Palwai who actually saw the face of Bhutadamara wrote a meditation and initiation text. From the various meditation texts, that of Ngorchen Konchog Lhundrub is used as the basis for the explanation of the practice." [from the commentary of Zhuchen Tsultrim Rinchen (1697-1774) of Dege Gonchen Monastery].

Register Figures:

In the top register are eleven deities. Beginning on the left side are:
1. Janguli or Yellow Tara.
2. Arya Janguli, Yellow with Three Faces and Six Hands [62].
3. Vishvamatra, White with One Face and Two Hands [60].
4. Janguli, Green with One Face and Four Hands [64]
5. Chunda, White with One Face and Four Hands [69].
6. Vajradhara.
7. Ekajati, Black with Twelve Faces and Twenty-four Hands [66].
8. Ekajati, Red with One Face and Two Hands.
9. Ekajati, Blue with One Face and Four Hands.
10. Ekajati, Red with One Face and Four Hands.
11. Ekajati, Blue with One Face and Four Hands.

The numbers above in square brackets indicate the order of the subject according to the edited version of the Sadhanasamuccaya of Thartse Panchen Namkha Chime.

Below the top register on the upper right side is White Tara with one face and four arms along with two retinue deities. On the upper left side are three forms of Ekajati, blue in colour, with one face and two arms, one face and four arms, and one face and six arms.

Above the bottom register on the right and left sides are forms of Marichi riding atop chariots pulled by seven sows, along with two attendant retinue deities each. The two principal Marichi's are forms of the white Kalpoktam Vidhina Sita Marichi. "Inside a vase stupa on a lotus [and] moon [is] White Marichi with five faces, ten hands and four legs. The main face is white, the right black, the left a red pig face, behind is a green face and above is a yellow face. The five right hands hold, a sun disc, a blue vajra, arrow, hook and needle. The five left, a moon disc, bow, branch of the ashoka tree, wrathful gesture together with a lasso and a thread. Adorned with jewels and a garland of small bells. Wearing a white inner and lower garment. [Seated] above a chariot drawn by seven pigs, in a manner with the left leg extended pressing [down on] Vishnu, Shiva, Indra and Brahma. In front of the chariot a crocodile is resting, above is black Great Devi Pig Face with one face and two hands, [holding a] vajra and wrathful gesture. In the right direction is red Great Devi Pig Face with four hands. The right [hands] hold a hook and needle, the left, a wrathful gesture together with a lasso and thread. In the left direction is red Great Devi Pig Face with four hands. The first two [hands] hold a bow and arrow drawn near to the ear, the lower two, a vajra and branch of the ashoka [tree]. Also, each of the three have jewel ornaments and garments of silk. Seated in a manner with the left leg extended."

The bottom register is populated with three forms of Marichi and retinue figures. At the center of the register is the single figure of "...Oddiyana Marichi: with a body red in colour. [With] six faces, the main face is red, the two right faces black and white, the two left faces yellow and green and above a black pig face. All six possess three eyes and bared fangs. The right six of the twelve hands hold, a sword, wheel, pestle, arrow, axe and a one pronged vajra. The six left, a wrathful gesture together with a lasso, skullcup, branch of the ashoka tree, Brahma's head, a bow and a trident. Carrying a katvanga in the bend of the left elbow. Brown hair bristling upwards. A necklace of human heads and adorned with jewels and snakes. Wearing a lower garment of tiger skin."

On the far left side of the register are five figures belonging to the Kalpoktam Marichi Mandala. The principal figure is in the center of the row of five. She is red with three faces and eight arms. "...Marichi, with a body yellow in colour, three faces and eight hands. The main face is yellow, the right red and the left a blue pig face. Each face has three eyes. The four right hands hold, a vajra, hook, arrow and needle. The four left, a branch of the ashoka [tree], bow, thread and a wrathful gesture. Wearing a red inner garment and adorned with jewels and a garland of small bells. In the east is red Vettali with a pig face. [With] four hands the right hold, a needle and hook. The left, a lasso and [branch of] the ashoka tree. Wearing a red inner garment. In the south is yellow Vadali with four hands, the right hold a branch of the ashoka [tree] and a needle, the left a vajra and lasso. In the west is white Varali with four hands, the right [hold] a vajra and needle, the left a lasso and branch of ashoka [tree]. In the north is red Varahamukhi with three eyes [and] four hands. The right hold a vajra and arrow, the left a lasso and branch of the ashoka [tree]. Also, all are youthful maidens, adorned with all ornaments." (Extracted from the text 'A Lamp Removing Obscurations' by Ngorchen Konchog Lhundrub. Translated by Jeff Watt, Vancouver, Canada: 1984).

On the right side of the register again are five figures who are very similar in appearance to the Kalpoktam Marichi set of five deities on the left. The Marichi on the right has three faces and eight arms. The principal face is yellow and the right white and left a blue sow's face. Two of the retinue figures are red in colour and two are yellow.

Jeff Watt, 12-1998 [updated 7-2013]

Front of Painting
English Translation of Inscription: [Name inscriptions for the figures in the top and bottom registers and the roundel figures at the intermediate directions].

Reverse of Painting
English Translation of Inscription: [The three syllables om, ah, hum are written for each figure].

Special Features: (Printed script (Uchen), includes "Om Ah Hum" inscription)

Related Items
Publications
Tantra Classification: Charya Tantra (Performance)

Thematic Sets
Painting Set: Vajravali Mandalas (Sadhanamala Registers)
Buddhist Deity: Vajrapani Masterworks (Painting)
Mandala: Main Page
Buddhist Deity: Vajrapani, Bhutadamara (Masterworks)
Buddhist Deity: Vajrapani Main Page (Peaceful & Wrathful)
Mandala: Early Works (1100-1399)
Collection of Anna Maria Rossi & Fabio Rossi
Buddhist Deity: Vajrapani, Bhutadamara
Buddhist Deity: Vajrapani, Bhutadamara (Charya Tantra)
Buddhist Deity: Vajrapani Mandalas
Buddhist Deity: Vajrapani, Wrathful (Early Paintings)