Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Mandala of Medicine Buddha

སངས་རྒྱས་སྨན་ལྷ། 药师佛
(item no. 902)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1400 - 1499
Lineages Buddhist
Size 52.07x45.72cm (20.50x18in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1999.27.1
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Interpretation / Description

Medicine Buddha Mandala (Sanskrit: Bhaishajyaguru mandala. Tibetan: sang gye men la kyil kor. English: the Buddha, Guru of Medicine). At the center is the goddess Prajnaparamita.

Tibetan: Sang gye men la

Peaceful, orange of colour, she has one face and four hands. The main pair are held at the heart in the gesture of teaching. The upraised right hand holds a vajra scepter. The left holds a religious text. Seated atop a lion supported throne and surrounded by an elaborate backrest she sits in lotus posture with the right leg crossed over the left. The circle of 8 Medicine Buddhas surround the central figure followed by another circle of 16 bodhisattvas. Worldly deities, arranged in the shape of a square and 4 gate-keepers, surround the central group of figures.

At the top and bottom are rows of lineage teachers extending downward from the Buddha Shakyamuni at the top left. At the sides are the 35 Buddhas of Confession from the sutra of the same name; appearing with varied hand gestures and colours. Above the bottom row of teachers are the 7 Symbols of Royalty.

When tangkas of the Medicine Buddha mandala are painted he switches places with the personified image of Prajnaparamita and occupies one of the eight minor positions surrounding the center. Some paintings actually portray the Sutra text rather than the Goddess.

The form and practice of Medicine Buddha is derived from the Bhaishajyaguru Sutra taught by Lord Shakyamuni. In the Vajrayana Tradition this sutra is classified as a Kriya Tantra. Common to all schools of Tibetan Buddhism Medicine Buddha is particularly important to the medical traditions.

Jeff Watt 9-2000

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Subject: Tibetan Medicine Main Page
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 8
Buddhist Deity: Medicine Buddha Main Page
Mandalas: Female Deities
Buddhist Deity: Medicine Buddha Mandala
Buddhist Deity: Medicine Buddha (Prajnaparamita)
Exhibition: The Art of Tibetan Medicine
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Mandala