Himalayan Art Resources

Mahakala: Brahmanarupa Page

Brahmanarupa (Brahmin Form) | Mahakala Main Page

Database Search: All Brahmarupa Images

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Brahmanarupa Mahakala Definition (below)
- Brahmarupa Outline Page
- Sakya Tradition (Original)
- Tangtong Gyalpo Tradition
- Fifth Dalai Lama Tradition
- Manjuvajra Guhyasamaja
- Chaturmukha Mahakala
-'Drangsong' Mindrolling Tradition
- Brahmanarupa Masterworks
- Confusions: 'drangsong', mahasiddhas
- Others...

Short History: When the great Tibetan Translator Nyen Lotsawa received the Manjuvajra Guhyasamaja (also known as the Jnanapada Lineage) empowerment from the dakini Risula, she also bestowed the initiation of the Mahakala (Chaturmukha) in the special form according to the Guhyasamaja Tantra. At this time she gave him as a servant a dark skinned Brahman. When Nyen Lotsawa and the Brahman reached Nepal the servant changed appearance and took on the form of a monk, an appearance more conducive for travelling in Tibet. After the passing of Nyen Lotsawa the monk remained with Lama Nam Ka'upa and then later with Sachen Kunga Nyingpo.

Brahmarupa Mahakala (Brahmanarupa) is none other than Chaturmukha Mahakala of the Guhyasamaja Tantra. In his wrathful appearance he is black in colour with four faces and four hands, surrounded by the four dakinis. In the Sakya School it is inappropriate to show the wrathful form to anyone who has not received the initiation. For this reason the iconographic tradition arose for painting Chaturmukha in the form of the Brahman servant of Nyen Lotsawa. At the bottom of many Sakya paintings it is a common theme to see Panjarnata Mahakala flanked by a Brahman figure on the right and Shri Devi (Palden Lhamo) on the left. These are the three main protectors of the Sakya School.

Indian Lineage: Vajradhara, Nagarjuna, Balimtapa, Buddhajnana, Marmedze Zangpo, Shrideva, Drime Bepa, Ratnavajra, Ratnakirti, Risula Dakini, Nyen Lotsawa, Lama Nam Ka'upa, Sachen Kunga Nyingpo, etc.

Jeff Watt 2-2003 [updated 4-2017, 8-2017]