Himalayan Art Resources

Buddhist Deity: Hevajra (Three Unusual Images)

Hevajra (Unusual Images) | Hevajra Main Page

Three Very Unusual Images of Hevajra:
These three paintings of Hevajra have been put together as a group because they are all very unusual from the point of view of iconography. The first image #593 depicts the visualization of the three figures of Hevajra, body, speech and mind, imagined during a 'stylized food offering' (torma). The painting shows three dharmakara (tetrahedron) with three different circles of deities contained in each. The central dharmakara depicts a blue Hevajra representing mind. The upper dharmmakara depicts a white Hevajra representing body. The lower dharmakara depicts a red Hevajra representing speech. Each of the Hevajra figures is encircle by worldly gods, spirits ans the eight great Naga Kings and Queens.

What is Unusual? It is unusual to find paintings depicting the 'stylized food' visualization described in the Hevajra Tantra. This is the only known painting of the subject.

The second image #19049 is a mandala composition with the central figure of Hevajra and Nairatmya in a cross legged seated posture. Hevajra is depicted in his complex form with eight faces, sixteen hands and four legs. The basic mandala description which includes a total of fifteen deities is described in both the Hevajra Root Tantra and the Samputa Tantra. This fifteen deity description is intended for Nairatmya and not for Hevajra. It is also very curious to note that at the top center of the composition there is a seated figure of Kalachakra and Vishvamata, both depicted in complex form with multiple heads and arms.

What is Unusual? There are no commonly known descriptions of a seated Hevajra, especially in complex form with eight faces, sixteen hands and four legs. There are also no commonly known forms of a seated complex Kalachakra.
The third painting #85721 is really the most impressive. It is a painting made up of seventeen mandalas. The large form in the center is the basic Essence Hevajra known as the Nine Deity Mandala. The majority of the surrounding mandalas, if not all but one, are additional forms of Hevajra or Nairatmya in her singular mandalas, or minor deities and mandalas, all described in either the Hevajra Root, Vajra Panjara or Samputa Tantras. The only exceptions are the figures in the top and bottom registers which are a selection of the the more popular meditational deities at the time of the paintings creation. A small donor figure appears at the far left of the bottom register.

What is Unusual? This painting is unusual because it is trying very successfully to depict all of the mandalas of deities, from three different Tantras, associated with the Hevajra Cycle of practice in one single painted composition.

Jeff Watt 1-2013