Himalayan Art Resources

Buddhist Worldly Protector: Vaishravana, Guardian of the North


Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Description (below)
--- 1. General Subject
--- 2. Characteristics (6)
--- 3. Context (3)
--- 4. Art Styles
--- 5. Masterworks
--- 6. Source Texts
- Four Guardian Kings Page
- King Appearance
- Vaishravana Main Page
- Palace Copies
- Confusions: Tibetan Kings, Indian Kings
- Others...

- Vaishravana, King of the North
- Vaishravana: Study Topics
- Kubera, Who Am I?

Six Characteristics:
1. Classification: Deva (Desire Realm God)
2. Appearance:
--- Chinese Style Iconography (King Appearance)
--- Indian Style Iconography (Peaceful Appearance): 30988
3. Colour: Yellow
4. Attributes: Victory Banner & Mongoose
5. Location: Northern Direction (slope of Meru)
6. Attendants: Yaksha Beings (Sanskrit: यक्ष yakṣa. Tibetan: གནོད་སྦྱིན་ gnod-sbyin)

- Shakyamuni & the Sixteen Elders
- Temple Entrance (murals)
- Mandala: Secondary Figures
- Others...

Mandala Examples:
- Medicine Buddha Mandala
- Pancha Raksha Fifty-six Deity Mandala
- Vajrapani & the Four Guardian Kings Mandala
- Tara, Seventeen Deity Mandala
- Others...

Vaishravana, leader of the Yaksha race, is a worldly guardian worshipped as both a protector and benefactor (wealth deity). He lives on the north side of the lower slopes of mount Meru in the Heaven of the Four Great Kings. As the leader of the Four Direction Guardians, he like the others, swore an oath of protection before the buddha Shakyamuni. The stories and iconography of the Four Guardian Kings arise originally with the early Buddhist sutras and become fully developed in the later Mahayana sutras. The Kings are common to all schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Paintings of the Four Kings are found as murals at the entrance way into temples or in sets depicting Shakyamuni Buddha and the Sixteen Great Arhats. They are rarely if ever painted alone or individually.

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Jeff Watt [updated 3-2018]