Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Mahakala (Buddhist Protector) - Shadbhuja (Six-hands, Shangpa)

མ་ཧཱ་ཀཱ་ལ། ནག་པོ་ཆེན་པོ། 玛哈嘎拉
(item no. 92027)
Origin Location Ladakh, Northern India
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Gelug
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection U. of Michigan Museum of Anthropology
Catalogue # #17477 Koelz Collection
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Wrathful

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Shadbhuja Mahakala (Tibetan: pal nyur dze ye she kyi gon po chag drug pa. English: the Swift Acting Lord of Pristine Awareness with Six Hands). The wrathful manifestation of the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara after having taken on the form of Mahakala - the principal protector of the Shangpa Kagyu and Gelugpa Schools of Tibetan Buddhism. (U. of Mich. cat. 17477 {Likir Monastery}).

Jeff Watt 1-2001

Rinjung Gyatsa:
"...Six-armed, Quick-acting Gnosis Mahakala, fulfiller of the hopes of living beings. He is dead black like the cloud at the end of time, with one face and six arms, gazing angrily with three round, red eyes. He has a gaping mouth with bared fangs and rolled-up tongue, laughing loudly, and tawny, upward-streaming beard, eyebrows and hair. He is annointed with dots of red lead on the brow, and sealed with Akshobhya-raja on the crown of his head. His first right hand holds a vajra knife, his first left a skull full of blood, one above the other at his heart. The second right holds a rosary of dry skulls and the last is violently playing a damaru. The second left holds a trident spear and the last a vajra noose. With his two feet, strong enough to suppress the three realms, together, he is trampling hard on the king of hindering demons (Ganapati). His tiger-skin loincloth is tied with a girdle of green silk and he has a blue snake binding his hair, earrings of red ones, armlets of multicolored ones, a necklace of a green one, and anklets and belt of white ones. All his limbs have strings of little bells on. He is corpulent, dwarfish, stout-limbed and of infinite splendor, and is beautified with a crown of five dry human heads with jewel finials, a long necklace of fifty fresh ones dripping blood, and the six bone ornaments. Giving a terrible, thunderous roar, he is destroying all demons and obstructors and abides amid a blazing mass of fire of Gnosis like the fire at the end of the aeon, with his back resting on the trunk of a sandalwood tree."

From Deities of Tibetan Buddhism, Wisdom Publications, 2000. Translated by Martin Willson from the Rinjung Gyatsa of the Fourth Panchen Rinpoche, Tanpa'i Nyima (1781-1854). Tibetan source text.

Secondary Images
Related Items
Publication: Rinjung Gyatsa

Thematic Sets
Collection of University of Michigan (Koelz Collection)
Painting Style: Guge Kingdom (Western Tibet)
Mahakala: Shadbhuja [Shangpa] Page (Six-hands)
Region: Ladakh, Northern India