- Art History
- Religious Context
- A Question on Mahasiddhas: 1
- A Question on Mahasiddhas: 2
Mahasiddha: great (maha) accomplished one (siddha), or great [spiritually] accomplished one, also known as Indian adepts. They are the principal Indian teachers of Hindu and Buddhist Tantra, or any great religious teacher that is credited with having special attainments and powers.
The study of mahasiddhas is understood through the Three Important Topics of 1. Three basic meanings/definitions, 2. Three functions of mahasiddha depictions, and 3. Three types of appearance. (For a full description of the topics see the Mahasiddha Definition Page).
The most important thing to recognize is that there is a difference between the abstract religious meaning of the term mahasiddha and siddha appearance. Also, not all mahasiddhas have siddha appearance. Some teachers with siddha appearance are not mahasiddhas belonging to a set of Eight or Eighty-four.
In Tantric Buddhism mahasiddhas are primarily associated with Yoganiruttara (Anuttarayoga) - the highest of the four classification systems of Tantra. Most of the famous mahasiddha are from India. There are a number of siddhas from bordering countries such as Luipa and Aryadeva from Sri Lanka, and Suvarnadvipapa from the Golden Land (Burma, Malaysia, Indonesia).
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Jeff Watt 4-2006 [updated 6-2017, 4-2019, 12-2019, 5-2020]
(The images below are only a selection of examples from the painting and sculpture links above).