Himalayan Art Resources

Buddhist Deity: Vajrabhairava & Gelug Protectors Composition

Vajrabhairava & Gelug Protectors Composition | Gelug Tradition Main Page

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Vajrabhairava & Gelug Protectors Composition Description (below)
- Vajrabhairava Main Page
- Eight Wrathful Ones of the Gelug School
- Ten Wrathful Ones
- Masterworks
- Confusions
- Others...

Eight Wrathful Ones:
1. Vajrabhairava (ishtadevata)
2. Hayagriva (ishtadevata)
3. Shadbhuja Mahakala (Wisdom Protector)
4. Shri Devi Magzor Gyalmo (Wisdom Protector)
5. Begtse Chen (Wisdom Protector)
6. Yama Dharmaraja (Wisdom Protector)
7. Vaishravana Riding a Lion (Worldly Protector)
8. Shangpa (Worldly Protector)

Vajrabhairava is commonly depicted at the center of a composition surrounded by a group of six, seven, or eight wrathful deities. These 'Eight Wrathful Ones' have often been mistakenly confused and conflated with Protector Deities (Dharmapala). They are however not a group of protectors but rather a group of wrathful deities special for the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism. The title - Eight Wrathful Ones - is a unique Gelug tradition designation and not shared by other traditions. The list generally contains two meditational deities (ishtadevata - Vajrabhairava and Hayagriva), four wisdom protector deities (Shadbhuja Mahakala, Shri Devi Magzor Gyalmo, Begtse Chen, and Yama Dharmaraja), and two worldly deities (Vaishravana Riding a Lion and Shangpa). However, this is not the only list, there are several different lists of the Eight Wrathful Ones. The list above is one of the more commonly known.

Jeff Watt 2-2016 [updated 9-2019]

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