Himalayan Art Resources

Buddhist Deity: Chakrasamvara (Ghantapa Tradition)

Chakrasamvara Iconography

The principal characteristics of the Ghantapa Tradition:
- Five deity mandala
- blue Chakrasamvara with four faces and twelve hands
- red Vajrayogini with both legs raised
- four surrounding dakini figures
- absence of any other figures such as Door Guardians

Video: Chakrasamvara: Three Traditions

Chakrasamvara with Five Deities according to the tradition of Ghantapa (Ghantapada). Although referred to as a five deity mandala there are actually six figures with the two central embracing deities, Chakrasamvara and Vajrayogini, counted as one. The Chakrasamvara figure of the Ghantapa Tradition is identical to the form of Chakrasamvara as represented in the famous Sixty-two Deity Mandala of the Mahasiddha Luipa Tradition.

General Description: At the center is Chakrasamvara with four faces and twelve hands, embracing Vajrayogini. In the East is blue Dakini, South is yellow Rupini, West is red Khandarohe and North is green Lama. In some texts the four attendant dakinis are said to have two hands holding a curved knife and skullcup. In other texts they are described as having four hands and holding a curved knife and skullcup along with a damaru and katvanga staff. However it is generally stated in the Tibetan commentaries that in the Luipa Tradition the four dakinis have four arms and in the Ghantapa Tradition they have two arms. In the four intermediate directions are four vases topped with a skullcup.

The significant iconographic feature of the form of Chakrasamvara is the consort embracing the body with both legs raised and wrapped about the torso. Another characteristic are the four faces. The central face is blue with the proper right face yellow, left face green and the back face is red. This configuration of faces is different from the Krishnacharin system of Chakrasamvara where the faces are blue for the main, white for the proper right, red for the proper left and yellow at the back. The Ghantapa form of the deity and mandala can easily be mistaken for the Thirteen Deity Chakrasamvara according to the Maitripa Tradition (see example). The difference is in the number of deities with the Maitripa adding four intermediate dakinis and four Door Guardians.

Jeff Watt 5-2011 [updated 9-2017]