Himalayan Art Resources

Buddhist Deity: Ekajati Main Page (One Braid)

Ekajati Main Page | Protector Deities Main Page

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Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Ekajati Description (below)
- Ekajati Outline Page
- One Face, Two Arms (sadhanamala)
- One Face, Two Arms (Taranata)
- One Face, Four Arms (sadhanamala)
- One Face, Eight Arms (sadhanamala)
- Twelve Faces, Twenty-four Arms (sadhanamala)
- Ekajati (Nyingma Tradition)
- Masterworks
- Confusions
- Others...

Ekajati as a Retinue Figure:
- Amoghapasha Mandala
- Tara Three Deity Practice
- Others...

Ekajati as a Protector Deity:
- Ekajati, Mother of Shri Devi & Mahakala
- Panjarnata Mahakala Three Deity Practice
- Panjarnata Mahakala Eight Deity Practice
- Others...

Ekajati is a complex deity of Indian origin that should be understood as functioning as a:
1. Meditational Deity with many different forms.
2. Retinue Figure accompanying popular deities such as Lokeshvara and Tara.
3. Protector Deity, both represented as a central figure and as a retinue figure.

The name 'eka + jati' is a Sanskrit word combined of two parts (Sanskrit: eka = one; jati = braid), one and braid, meaning 'one braid' of hair.

(1) As a Meditational Deity Ekajati has a two-armed form, four-armed, eight-armed and a twenty-four armed and twelve headed form. (2) As a Retinue Figure Ekajati, in a wrathful form, stands behind Lokeshvara in the Five-deity practice. Older more traditional forms of practice of Green Tara describe the Three-deity Green Tara with the goddess Marichi standing to the right side of Tara and a semi-wrathful Ekajati standing on the left side. Ekajati is also an important (3) Protector Deity in both the Nyingma and Sarma (Sakya, Kagyu, Jonang, Gelug) Traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.

In the Nyingma Tradition Ekajati is the principal protector for the 'Revealed Treasure' Traditions. She manifests in numerous forms, both as a standard wrathful figure, black, with one face and two arms and appearing in her more famous guise with only one eye, one tooth, and one breast, sometimes even with only one leg as in the Drigung Kagyu Treasure Tradition (see detail lower left).

In the Sarma, New Traditions of Tibetan Buddhism after the 10th century, Ekajati is represented in all three types, by many different forms in each, accompanied by different narratives depending on the religious tradition and lineage.

In the Sakya Tradition, as a protector inherited from Rinchen Zangpo, Ekajati also plays the role of the mother of Shri Devi (Palden Lhamo Dudsolma) and has a more typical appearance with a wrathful visage and one braid of hair.

[49] Ekajati, [one face, four hands].
"Ekajati, [with] a body black in colour, one face and four hands. The first two [hands] hold a curved knife and skullcup. The lower right a sword. The lower left an utpala. [With] three eyes and bared fangs. Brown hair bristling upwards. Swelling breasts and the belly hanging down. Having a lower garment of tiger skin. Adorned with a skull and flower garland and ornaments of blue snakes and small bells, etc. Seated in a manner with the left [leg] extended." (Konchog Lhundrub).

Jeff Watt 4-2007 [updated 9-2009, 4-2017, 12-2018]