Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Ekajati (Buddhist Deity)

རལ་གཅིག་མ། ནང་ལྷ། 一发佛母(佛教本尊)
(item no. 90165)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Nyingma
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Private
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Interpretation / Description

Dragtsen: a female deity that functions as a worldly protector associated with the Karma Kagyu Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. This subject appears to be related to the important Nyingma protector deity Ekajati - based solely on appearance - with one eye and one large tooth. (See Dragtsen in a Karma Kagyu Refuge Field painting; bottom right corner).

"Arising from the mandala of suffocating black wind at a kalpa's end,
Mistress of a host of activities and pristine awareness,
Leader of the Mamos, Great Queen of the World;
Homage to the Lady of Mantra, Ekajati!" (Nyingma liturgical verse).

Ekajati is a principal female protector in both the Nyingma (Old) and Sarma (New: Sakya, Kagyu, Gelug) Schools of Tibetan Buddhism. In the Nyingma School she is the chief protector for the 'Revealed Treasure' traditions and manifests in numerous forms, often appearing with only one eye and one tooth, sometimes with only one leg as in the red manifestation from the Longchen Nyintig tradition of Jigme Lingpa. The different forms and descriptions of Ekajati are found in the various 'Revealed Treasure' texts of the Nyingma School.

In the Sarma Schools Ekajati is the mother of Shri Devi (Palden Lhamo) and has a more typical appearance with one face, three eyes, and two breasts, always in a semi-wrathful visage and with one braid of hair (Sanskrit: eka, one; jati, braid [of hair]). She is found in the various Mahakala Tantra texts (anuttaryoga class) originating from India. Ekajati is also found in the lower kriya tantra texts and more commonly in association with the important figure of Tara where she is often seen as an attendant figure standing on the left while the goddess Brikuti stands on the right side.

Jeff Watt 3-2002 [updated 7-2010]

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