Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Mahakala (Buddhist Protector) - Panjarnata (Lord of the Pavilion)

མ་ཧཱ་ཀཱ་ལ། ནག་པོ་ཆེན་པོ། 玛哈嘎拉
(item no. 90545)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Sakya and Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Raised Gold, Black Background on Cotton
Collection Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Wrathful

Gender: Male

TBRC: bdr:W25327

Interpretation / Description

Panjarnata Mahakala (Tibetan: gur gyi gon po nag po, English: the Great Black One, Lord of the Pavilion [or Canopy]), the protector of the Hevajra Cycle of Tantras. (See the Panjarnata Main Page and Outline Page).

Mahakala, blue-black, stands in a squat posture in the form of an ugly rakshasa, fat and dwarfish, (a type of daemon from classical Indian mythology). He holds in the two hands a curved knife used for skinning and a skullcup, both held to the heart. Across the forearms is a 'gandhi' stick with jewel designs at both ends. From this stick of 'Emanation' all the various forms of the deity Mahakala come forth - with multiple faces and hands. The face is fearsome and wrathful with three large round eyes and a gaping red mouth, bared canine teeth and orange and brown hair flowing upward. Adorned with bone ornaments, snakes, a stylized white silk scarf, tiara of skulls and a necklace of heads, he wears a tiger skin lower garment. Above a pink corpse, sun disc and lotus seat he is surrounded by the blazing flames or pristine awareness. Above is a blue Garuda bird.

At the top center is the primordial buddha Vajradhara, blue, with one face and two hands holding a vajra and bell crossed at the heart, seated above a lotus. To the left is Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (1092-1158), adorned in the garments of a layman, holding the stem of a white lotus to the heart with right hand and the left in the gesture of generosity. At the right is Sakya Pandita Kunga Gyaltsen (1182-1251), wearing the robes of a monk and a red pandita hat. The two hands are held at the heart in the Dharma teaching mudra (gesture), holding the stems of two lotus blossoms

At the middle right is Shri Devi (Tib.: pal den lha mo), blue in colour with one face and four hands holding a sword, skullcup, spear and trident, riding a brown mule through an ocean of blood. On the left is the Brahmarupa Mahakala, blue in colour with a white beard, holding a shin-bone horn in the right hand and a skullcup in the left, resting on a corpse and sun disc.

The five wrathful figures below Mahakala are the five rakshasa attendants, Kala Rakshasa, Kali Rakshasa, Putra, Batra and Ekajati Rakshasi. Blue in colour with one face and two hands they hold a variety of implements and wear various wrathful garments while standing upon corpse and sun disc seats surrounded by the flames of pristine awareness.

Panjarnata Mahakala is the main protector of the Sakya School. He arises from the Vajrapanjara Tantra and together with the Brahman form Mahakala are known as the 'Greater and Lesser Mahakalas' (Tib.: gon po che chung).

Panjarnata Lineage: Vajradhara, Dakini Vajrapanjara, Acarya Brahmin Vararuci, Norbu Lingka Dewa'i Dorje, Shraddhakara Varman, Lochen Rinchen Zangpo, Drag Tengpa Yontan Tsultrim, Mal Lotsawa Lodro Dragpa, Sachen Kunga Nyingpo, etc.

The method of painting is called 'nag tang;' gold outline on a black background with various colours added as fill. It is generally only employed for wrathful deities.

J.Watt 7-98

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