Himalayan Art Resources

Subject: Confession Buddhas (Nagarjuna System)

Confession Buddhas Iconography

- Samye Monastery Murals
- Eastern Tibetan Painting Set
- Mongolian Block Prints
- Miscellaneous Images (below)

Video: Mahayana Purification (book review)

The images below follow the iconographic description for depicting the Thirty-five Confession Buddhas based on the commentary of Nagarjuna (not necessarily the famous Nagarjuna). A block print set from Mongolia also follows Nagarjuna.

The unique characteristics of the Nagarjuna system are the many and varied hand attributes held by at least thirty of the Thirty-five Buddhas.

It has been suggested by Sakya Pandita (1182-1251) and again later by Jonang Taranata (1575-1635) that any system describing hand attributes to the Thirty-five Buddhas and alleging to be from an authentic original and early Indian source text is spurious. Despite doctrinal differences and any discussion of questionable source texts the fact remains that there is art that depicts the disputed system.

Jeff Watt 7-2011


Mahayana Purification. The Sutra of the Three Heaps with commentary by Acharya Nagarjuna and Vajrasattva Meditation. Library of Tibetan Works & Archives, 1980. (Later published as The Confession of Downfalls, 1993).