Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Mandala of Hevajra (Buddhist Deity) - (Hevajra Tantra)

ཀྱེ་རྡོ་རྗེ། ནང་ལྷ། 喜金刚(佛教本尊)
(item no. 88550)
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: Semi-Peaceful

Gender: Male

TBRC: P25326

Interpretation / Description

Shri Hevajra Nine Deity Mandala (Tibetan: pal gye pa dor je lha gu'i khyil kor).

(See another mandala painting from the same set and by the same artist. Also see a comparable Hevajra Mandala).

Sanskrit: Hevajra Tibetan: Gye pa dor je

Within the center of the two dimensional circular diagram (mandala) representing the top view of a three dimensional celestial palace and surroundings is the deity Shri Hevajra, dark blue in colour, with eight faces and sixteen hands holding skullcups, standing with four legs in a dancing posture. The first pair of hands embrace the consort Vajra Nairatmya (Selfless One), blue, with one face and two hands holding a curved knife and skullcup, standing on the left leg with the right embracing Hevajra. They are both adorned with bone ornaments and stand atop four corpses within the flames of pristine awareness.

Surrounding the two central figures are eight goddesses of various colours, each with one face and two hands, standing in a dancing posture on the left leg above a corpse seat. Beginning at the top and placed in a clockwise direction is yellow Vetali, multi-coloured Dombini, green Ghasmari, blue Pukkasi, black Gauri, white Shavari, red Chauri, and purple Chandali. They are adorned with various ornaments and each hold their own distinct hand objects.

The floor of the celestial palace is divided into four colours ornately patterned with floral designs: red, blue, white and yellow. On the red veranda outside of the palace walls (barely discernible), on each side of the four doors ('T' shaped), are two dancing offering goddesses, sixteen in total. The outer red and white lines forming a square enclosure represent the stylized decorative facade on the four sides of the palace roof; adorned with upright spears, arrows and banners. The elaborate lintels above each of the four doors are constructed of tiered steps topped with a Dharma wheel, two reclining deer, and gold spires with a silk canopy above.

Mandalas and the Eight Mahasiddhas: With this particular painting the eight mahasiddhas that are represented in the eight cemeteries are each recognizable and identified. It is common only in the Sakya and some Kagyu Traditions to have identifiable mahasiddhas in the cemeteries. Even then, most often, only a few are iconographically identifiable and most are depicted in a generic form. The Nyingma and Gelug Schools do not have the artistic tradition of depicting identifiable mahasiddhas in their mandala paintings. It is important to remember that only wrathful and semi-wrathful deity mandalas have the eight cemeteries. The mandalas of Peaceful deities do not have a ring of cemeteries.

Surrounding the palace is a circle of multi-coloured (rectangular) petals representing the enormous lotus upon which the entire palace structure rests. The second to final ring is composed of the multi-coloured fires of pristine awareness completely enveloping the Hevajra Mandala. The outermost circle, divided into eight sections, containing small figures and objects is the ring of the eight great charnel grounds filled with corpses, fires, chaityas (stupas), yogis, nagas, and wrathful worldly deities. More often, this ring of cemeteries is found within the ring of the fires of pristine awareness.

The Eight Great Charnel Grounds: according to Tantric literature and the descriptions of wrathful deities and their environments, the eight charnel grounds surround the central palace only for those wrathful and semi wrathful deities such as Hevajra, Chakrasamvara, Vajrabhairava, etc. There are several different sets of eight names and descriptions for the eight great charnel grounds depending on the Buddhist and Hindu Tantric literature consulted. These charnel grounds also have physical locations in India such as the Laughing charnel ground at Bodhgaya and the Cool Grove charnel ground close by, along with the Frightening charnel ground in the Black Hills of Bihar.

From the Hevajra Tantra literature: "In the east is the Gruesome charnel ground (chandograkatasi); south Frightful with Skulls (bhairavakapalika); west Adorned with a Blazing Garland (jvalamalalankara); north Dense Jungle (girigahvaronnati); north-east Fiercely Resounding (ugropanyasa); south-east Forest of the Lord (ishvaravana); south-west Dark and Terrible (bhairavandhakara); north-west Resounding with the Cries Kili Kili (Kilikilaghoshanadita). Furthermore, there are headless corpses, hanging corpses, lying corpses, stake-impaled corpses, heads, skeletons, jackals, crows, owls, vultures, and zombies making the sound, "phaim". There are also siddha with clear understanding, yaksha, raksha, preta, flesh eaters, lunatics, bhairava, daka, dakini, ponds, fires, stupa, and sadhaka. All of these fill the charnel grounds." (Konchog Lhundrub 1497-1557, written in 1551).

The Eight Great Cemeteries, or Charnel Grounds, have six named features for each:[1] a Cemetery, [2] Tree, [3] Direction Guardian, [4] Cloud, [5] Naga and [6] Guardian Deity. (Note that each of these features is found in the above painting, however [6], the Guardian Deity is very difficult to see because of its small size).

East: Gruesome charnel ground (Chandograkatasi), [Tree] Shirisha, [Direction Guardian] yellow Shakra mounted on an elephant, left hand holding a skullcup marked with a vajra, [Cloud] yellow Kolahala, [Naga] yellow Vasuki, [Guardian Deity] white elephant-faced Devasangha. (Mahasiddha Indrabhuti).

South: Frightful with Skulls (Bhairavakapalika), [Tree] Chuta, [Direction Guardian] blue Yama mounted on a buffalo, left hand holding a skullcup and mace, [Cloud] blue Nivritika, [Naga] white Padma, [Guardian Deity] blue buffalo-faced Yama. (Mahasiddha Nagarjuna).

West: Adorned with a Blazing Garland (Jvalamalalankara), [Tree] Kamkala, [Direction Guardian] white Varuna mounted on a crocodile, left hand holding a skullcup and rope, [Cloud] white Bhairava, [Naga] black Karkota, [Guardian Deity] red crocodile-faced Megharaja. (Mahasiddha Virupa).

North: Dense Jungle (Girigahvaronnati), [Tree] Ashvattha, [Direction Guardian] yellow Yaksha mounted on a horse, left hand holding a skullcup and stick, [Cloud] yellow Bhramara, [Naga] red Takshaka, [Guardian Deity] yellow horse-faced Yaksha-senapati. (Mahasiddha Kukkuripa).

North-east: Fiercely Resounding (Ugropanyasa), [Tree] Mahavriksha, [Direction Guardian] white Ishana mounted on a bull, left hand holding a skullcup and spear, [Cloud] white Gadha, [Naga] white Maha-padma, [Guardian Deity] smoky bull-faced Pretasabha. (Mahasiddha Padmavajra).

South-east: Forest of the Lord (Ishvaravana), [Tree] Karanja, [Direction Guardian] red Agni mounted on a gelded-goat with one face and four hands, [Cloud] red Purika, [Naga] blue Hulunta, [Guardian Deity] red goat-faced Rishisabha. (Mahasiddha Dombi Heruka).

South-west: Dark and Terrible (Bhairavandhakara), [Tree] Lambitavrikshika, [Direction Guardian] black Rakshasa mounted on a zombie, left hand holding a skullcup and sword, [Cloud] blue Balahaka, [Naga] green Kulika, [Guardian Deity] black zombie-faced Rakshaganika. (Mahasiddha Ghantapada).

North-west: Resounding with the Cries Kili Kili (Kilikilaghoshanadita), [Tree] Arjuna, [Direction Guardian] blue Vayu mounted on a deer, left hand holding a skullcup and streamer, [Cloud] blue Roshana, [Naga] yellow Shankhapala, [Guardian Deity] green deer-faced Vayuraja. (Mahasiddha Saraha).

The descriptions for the eight cemeteries above come from three different Indian Sanskrit texts named Astasmasana-nama [1], folio 626-627, Astasmasana-nama [2], folio 627-628, and Astasmasanakhyana-nama, folio 646-649. They are found in the Black Tangyur, volume 8 of the Tantra section. All three were translated into Tibetan language by Drogmi Lotsawa, Bhikshu Shakya Yeshe.

On the outside of the cemetery mandala circle starting at the upper left is yellow Ratnasambhava-Hevajra. On the right is red Amitabha-Hevajra. At the Bottom left is white Vairochana-Hevajra and on the right green Amoghasiddhi-Hevajra. Each of these is in the same general appearance as the central deity.

Shri Hevajra is a meditational deity of the Anuttarayoga Non-dual classification. From the many Hevajra Tantras and forms of the deity, this representation of Hevajra arises from the root Hevajra Tantra of 'two sections' and was popularized by the Indian mahasiddha (the one of great accomplishment) Virupa. The style of the painting is from Ngor Monastery in south western Tibet evidenced by the strong use of red colours and the intricate circular floral patterns used for the background and flame designs.

Jeff Watt 1-2013 [text taken primarily from HAR #87225]

Numbered List:
1. Hevajra
2. Nairatmya

Eight Goddesses:
3. East - Gauri (black)
4. South - Chauri (red)
5. West - Vetali (yellow)
6. North - Ghashmari (green)
7. North-east - Pukkashi (blue)
8. South-east - Shavari (white)
9. South-west - Chandali (purple)
10. North-west - Dombini (multi-coloured)

Five Buddha Families - Hevajra:
(Center - Akshobhya Hevajra)
11. Amitabha Hevajra
12. Amoghasiddhi Hevajra
13. Vairochana Hevajra
14. Ratnasambhava Hevajra

Top Register:
15. Vajradhara
16. Nairatmya
17. Vajra Yogini
18. Heruka Kalachakra
19. Heruka Chakrasamvara
20. Vajrasattva
21. Manjuvajra Guhyasamaja
22. Vajravidarana
23. Vajrabhairava
24. Rakta Yamari

Eleven Protection Chakra Deities:
25. Ushnisha Chakravartin (yellow)
26. Humkara (blue)
27. Yamantaka (blue)
28. Padmantaka (red)
29. Vighnantaka (blue)
30. Achala (blue)
31. Takkiraja (blue)
32. Niladanda (blue)
33. Mahabala (blue)
34. Prajnantaka (white)
35. Shumbharaja (blue)

Six Sense & Body, Speech & Mind Goddesses
36. Mohavajra (Eyes)
37. Dveshavajra (Ears)
38. Matsaryavajra (Nose)
39. Ragavajra (Mouth)
40. Irshyavajra (Body)
41. Nairatmya Yogini (Mind-heart)
42. Kayavajra (Body)
43. Vakvajra (Speech)
44. Chittavajra (Mind)

Two Protectors
45. Panjarnata Mahakala
46. Shri Devi

Eight Cemeteries:
A. East - Gruesome Charnal Ground (Chandograkatasi)
B. South - Frightful with Skulls (Bhairavakapalika)
C. West - Adorned with a Blazing Garland (Jvalamalalankara)
D. North - Dense Jungle (Girigahvaronnati)
E. North-east - Fiercely Resounding (Ugropanyasa)
F. South-east - Forest of the Lord (Ishvaravana)
G. South-west - Dark and Terrible (Bhairavandhakara)
H. North-west - Resounding with the Cries Kili Kili (Kilikilaghoshanadita)

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Mandala: Main Page
Buddhist Deity: Hevajra Main Page
Mandalas: Sakya Tradition
Collection of Anna Maria Rossi & Fabio Rossi
Indian Adept: Hands of the Dakini/Deity
Painting Set: Vajravali Mandalas (Sakya Tradition)
Buddhist Deity: Hevajra Mandalas
Mandalas: Cemeteries on the Outside
Buddhist Deity: Hevajra Mandalas (Masterworks)