Himalayan Art Resources

Mahakala: Legden (Bhagavat, Excellent One)

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Video: Bhagavat Class of Mahakala Deities

Types of Bhagavat Mahakala:
- Three Brother Lords (Sakya Tradition)
- Three Brother Lords [Mahakala], Sitatapatra Retinue Figures
- Bernagchen Mahakala
- Danda Mahakala
- Kartaridhara Mahakala
- Maning Mahakala
- Raudrantaka Mahakala
- Vyaghra Vahana Mahakala
- Yutog Nyingtig Mahakala
- Rinjung Lhantab
- Others...

Bhagavat is a classification of Mahakala like Panjarnata, Chaturbhuja and Shadbhuja. This form of Mahakala (Bhagavan, Bhagavat) has traditionally been referred to by Western scholars as Danda Mahakala. The Tibetan word 'beng' has been translated back into the original Sanskrit as both 'gandi' and 'danda'. Both Sanskrit words refer to a wooden staff or stick, although each has a more precise meaning defining the type of staff or stick, and its precise use.

Legden Mahakala in general has a wrathful 'raksha' appearance with one face and two hands. He wears a heavy cloak and robes along with felt-like boots typical of Tibetan indigenous deities and mountain gods. It is possible that forms of Legden mahakala are cross-over deities partially of Indian origin and partially of Tibetan creation. Heavily robed Mahakala figures were popular at Densatil Monastery as both stupa decorations and as stand alone shrine sculpture. This form of Mahakala appearance is also popular and widespread in the 'Revealed Treasure' traditions of the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism.

"... Legden Nagpo, Desire Free Son, with a body blue-black in colour, one face, two hands, three eyes. The right [hand] holds a large sandalwood gandi marked with a jewel. From the upper [portion] of the gandi fire blazes and from the lower [portion] water flows. From inside the gandi a great army of asuras issue. The left [hand holds] at the side an iron [bowl] filled with various diseases. Wearing a thick upper cloak and tied with a gold belt, wearing boots, a crown of five dry skulls and having a necklace of fifty wet heads, adorned with snakes, three staring eyes, bared fangs and a curled tongue, black flowing eyebrows, moustache and hair, standing with the right leg bent and the left straight in the middle of a blazing mass of fire." (Terdag Lingpa Gyurme Dorje 1646-1714 and Minling Lochen Dharmashri 1654-1718. Tibetan source text 'dod 'jo bum bzang, Part II, page 149-150).

Lineage: Vajradhara, Vajrapani, Shantigarbha, Rombuguhya, Dragtung Nagpo, Gegpa Dorje, Vasudhara, Nubchen, Drang Nga Kundrag, Soban Bum Drag, Kyoban Tuchen, Che Dode Sengge, Rongpa Gvalo, Che Loden Sengge, Lama Siu Chungpa, Jamyang Ringyal, Chogyal Palzang, Chokyong Gyaltsen, Chokyong Rinchen, Tsarchen [Losal Gyatso, 1502-1556], etc. (Tbrc W18, page 30). Note that this lineage is identical to that of Mahakala Vyaghra Vahana.

Jeff Watt 4-2004 [updated 6-2017, 8-2017]
bod brgyud nang bstan lha tshogs chen mo bzhugs so, 2001. ISBN 7-5420-0816-1. Pages 985-1007.

(The images below are only a selection of examples from the links above).