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. 90547)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Sakya
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Fine Gold Line, 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 chen po, English: the Great Black One, Lord of the Pavilion [or Canopy]), wrathful emanation of Vajradhara, protector form of Shri Hevajra and the special protector of the Hevajra Cycle of Tantras and practitioners. (See the Panjarnata Main Page and Outline Page).

Mahakala is black in colour with one face and two hands holding a vajra handled curved knife in the right and a skullcup to the heart in the left. Placed across the forearms is an emanation stick (Skt.: gandhi) from which all the other forms of Mahakala arise. He has a fierce expression with three round glaring eyes, a wide gaping red mouth and orange hair flowing upward like flames. Adorned with a stylized white scarf, gold jewelry, snakes, a necklace of fifty heads and wearing a lower garment of tiger skin he stands upon a corpse seat above a sun disc and lotus surrounded by the flames of wisdom fire. Amongst the flames are seen the forms of black dogs, wolves, birds and a Garuda above. Along each side is an attendant deity, a sorcerer on the right and a warrior on the left, richly attired with flowing garments.

At the top center is the primordial buddha Vajradhara, blue in colour, seated, accompanied on each side by an Indian mahasiddha. To the left are two Lamas the first being Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (1092-1158). In the left corner stands the tutelary deity Shri Hevajra and below that is the wrathful Bhutadamara Vajrapani with one face and four hands. On the right are two Sakya lamas wearing monastic robes and red pandita hats. In the right corner is another deity figure - possibly the wealth deity Shadbhuja Sita Mahakala with one face six hands. Below that is blue Ekajati, the mother of all Mahakalas, with one face and two hands holding a vase.

At the bottom right is Shri Devi (Tib.: pal den lha mo), black in colour with one face and four hands holding various weapons; riding a mule through an ocean of blood. On the left is the Brahmarupa Mahakala with a white beard, holding a sword and curved knife in the right hand and a skullcup, crystal mala (prayer beads) and spear in the left; resting upon a sun disc and lotus seat.

Panjarnata Mahakala, a main protector of the Sakya School, arises from the Vajrapanjara - an Anuttarayoga Tantra, and along with the Brahmanrupa Mahakala are known as the Greater and Lesser Mahakalas of the Sakya Tradition (Tib.: gon po che chung).

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 'nag tang' - gold outline on a black background, generally employed for wrathful deities.

Jeff Watt 7-1998

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