Himalayan Art Resources

Buddhist Deity: Vajrasattva Main Page

Vajrasattva Masterworks

- Art History

- Iconography

- Religious Context

Vajrasatva is a Buddhist deity originating in India and primarily functioning universally as a Tantric practice for the purification of sins and defilements. Vajrasatva also has a number of forms used as meditational deities (ishtadevata, yidam).

The Sanskrit Spelling of the Name Vajrasatva:
"3. See n.2. A word about the spelling of the suffix sattva as satva throughout the essay. In this I follow Dr. Gauriswar Bhattacharya 2010 who has convincingly demonstrated that in Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit the word satva is consistently spelt with one rather than two 't's." (Revisiting a Kashmiri-Style Buddhist Image of Vajrasatva with Consort by Pratapaditya Pal. Asianart.com. September 19, 2016).

Depictions of Vajrasattva in sculpture and painting are commonly confused with the similar deities Vairochana Buddha, Vajradhara, Vajrapani, Vajravidarana, the Five Symbolic Buddhas in Sambhogakaya form, White Chakrasamvara and others. In a number of Yoga Tantra examples the form of Vajrapani, in the Sarvadurgati Parishodhana Tantra system, appears exactly the same as the typical 'Solitary Hero' Vajrasattva. A sculpture of the primordial Buddha Vajradhara has the exact same physical iconographic appearance as Heruka Vajrasattva - also depicted with the two hands holding a vajra and bell crossed in embrace holding the consort. In paintings the Heruka Vajrasattva would be painted white while the Vajradhara form always appears blue in colour. In physical appearance Vajrasattva and Vajravidarana are only different because Vajrasattva holds a single vajra scepter while Vajravidarana holds a double vajra scepter. Vajravidarana can also appear in either a white, green or blue form.

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Jeff Watt 4-2005 [updated 7-2011, 4-2017, 12-2019]