Himalayan Art Resources

Buddhist Deity: Avalokiteshvara, Jinasagara (Rechung)

Jinasagara (Rechung) | Jinasagara Outline Page | Jinasagara Main Page

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- Jinasagara Definition (below)
- Jinasagara Main Page
- Jinasagara Outline Page
- Five Deity
- Five Deity Mandala with Consort
- Nine Deity Mandala (standing with consort)
- Nine Deity Mandala (seated with consort)
- Thirteen Deity Mandala
- Palpung Iconographic Composition
- Minling De Kun Initiation Cards
- Jinasagara (Mitra Yogin)
- Avalokiteshvara Home Page
- Jinasagara Masterworks
- Confusions
- Others....

Red Avalokiteshvara, Ocean of Conquerors (Tibetan: chen re zi gyal wa gya tso. Sanskrit: Avalokiteshvara Jinasagara): a special meditational deity of the Karma Kagyu (Kamtsangpa) School (Five Deity Jinasagara) originating from the 'Revealed Treasure' tradition of the Nyingma School. In the 17th century the Mindroling Tradition of Nyingma popularized a form of Jinasagara known as the Minling De Kun. In the later part of the century Lelung Zhepa'i Dorje popularized an entire cycle of meditations and teachings focusing exclusively on the female deity Guhya Jnana Dakini. A beautiful painting from this Lelung tradition is known to exist in a museum in Poland. Four authors stand out as significant contributors to the tradition of Jinasagara, (1) several Shamar incarnations, (2) Karma Chagme, (3) Minling Gyurme Dorje and (4) the 3rd Panchen Lama Palden Yeshe.

The earliest know mandala painting is a 15th century Karma Kagyu depiction of the Thirteen Deity Jinasagara. Another 15th century painting of Avalokiteshvara with Eleven Faces and One Thousand Arms shows a detail image of a Three Deity Jinasagara with the deities Avalokiteshvara, Hayagriva and Guhya Jnana Dakini. Placed above the three deities is a small image of Padmasambhava.

From amongst the many different forms of Avalokiteshvara as a Tantric Deity, the form known as Jinasagara 'Ocean of Conquerors' also has many varieties of forms. There are three main iconographic features that distinguish the different forms of Jinasagara. First, Jinasagara is either in a (1) solitary appearance or he is embracing a consort, and second, (2) posture, he is either standing or seated, and then third (3) relates to the number of retinue figures that are depicted in the mandala. (See Jinasagara Outline Page).

Depending on the various lineages and traditions of practice, new and old, there can be minor differences in the hand objects of both Jinasagara and the consort. The number of arms depicted for the consort may either be two or four. Many of these slight differences are related to the late 'terma' discoveries in the Nyingma Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism in the last three hundred years.

The early forms of the deity are basically distinguished by (1) consort, (2) posture and (3) number of retinue figures in the mandala.

The main deity is (1) Jinasagara, (2) Hayagriva, (3) Guhya Jnana Dakini, (4) Padmasambhava and (5) Bernagchen Mahakala who is generally depicted at the bottom center of a painted composition and the most commonly depicted in art. The Five Deity is the basic meditational form however there are many other forms of Jinasagara, along with mandalas of varying size and numbers of retinue figures.

Karma Kagyu Lineage: Dharmakaya Amitabha, Sambhogakaya Avalokiteshvara, Nirmanakaya Padmasambhava, Machig Drupa'i Gyalmo (Siddhirajni), Tebu Drime Shenyen, Rechung Dorje Drag, Lama Zangri Repa, Drogon Repa Chenpo, Gyalse Punya Vajra, Drupchen Karma Pakshi - the 2nd Karmapa, etc.

(See a depiction of the Five Deity Jinasagara as a detail in a painting of Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Taye, in a Vajradhara & Karma Kagyu Lineage composition and two paintings of the Eleven-faced Avalokiteshvara #58355, #852).

Jeff Watt 2-2003 [updated 5-2017]