Himalayan Art Resources

Subject: Guhyagarbha Tantra (Peaceful & Wrathful Deities)

Nyingma Tradition Main Page

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Guhyagarbha Tantra Explanation (below)
- Bardo Main Page
- Samantabhadra Buddha
- Heruka (Nyingma)
- Winged Deities
- Masterworks
- Confusions: Eight Pronouncement Heruka, Bardo Deities
- Others...

- Samantabhadra Buddha
- Nyingma Heruka Deities (Part 1)
- Nyingma Heruka Deities (Part 2)
- Heruka (General)
- Bardo Thodal Paintings
- Bardo Deities
- The Tibetan Book of the Dead

Five Buddhas:
- Buddha Heruka
- Vajra Heruka
- Padma Heruka
- Guna Heruka
- Karma Heruka

Forty-two Peaceful Deities:
1. Samantabhadra & Samantabhadri (2)
2. Five Male & Female Buddhas (10)
3. Eight Male & Female Bodhisattvas (16)
4. Six Sages of the Six Realms (Muni, Buddhas) (6)
5. Four Male & Female Gatekeepers (8)

Fifty-eight Wrathful Deities:
1. Five Male & Female Herukas (10)
2. Eight Yoginis (8)
3. Eight 'Tramen' (amalgamated deities) (8)
4. Four Female Gatekeepers (4)
5. Twenty-eight Ishvaris (28)

In the Nyingma Tradition the Guhyagarbha Tantra (8th to 10th century) is considered the most important of all Tantras. It describes two basic mandala configurations - one of forty-two peaceful deities and another of fifty-eight wrathful deities - combined they are the One Hundred Peaceful & Wrathful Deities. There is a clear organization and a structured hierarchy in the Tantra and two mandalas. There is also a clear relationship between the deities of the Guhyagarbha Tantra and the various Tibetan Buddhist traditions of the Bardo Todal (Tibetan Book of the Dead). The forty-two peaceful and fifty-eight wrathful deities are the basis for the iconography depicting the subject of the 'Bardo' - Tibetan Book of the Dead. The 'Terton' Karma Lingpa, in the 14th century, is credited with the discovery of the 'treasure text' known as the Liberation Through Hearing in the Bardo, a text intended to be read to the deceased with the wish to influence positively the subsequent rebirth.

Jeff Watt, 3-2010 [updated 6-2017]