Himalayan Art Resources

Buddhist Deity: Chakrasamvara Iconography

Chakrasamvara Main Page

Forms & Types:
- Description (below)
1. Standard Forms & Traditions:
--- Heruka
--- Luipa Tradition
--- Krishnacharin Tradition
--- Ghantapa Tradition
2. Unusual Forms
3. Physical Features
4. Mandalas
- Forms Outline
- Retinue Figures
- Confusions
- Others...

- Chakrasamvara: Three Traditions
- Chakrasamvara - Four Faces
- Chakrasamvara Unusual Forms
- Physical Features
- Mandala Deity Assembly
- Chakrasamvara Mandala Configurations
- Chakrasamvara Masterwork: HAR #85746

There are as many as fifty different Chakrasamvara traditions in Tibetan Buddhism. A number of the deity forms are the same between traditions but also many of the forms are different and varied in both large and small ways. The three most famous traditions are those of Luipa, Krishnacharin and Ghantapa followed by Maitripa, Mitra Yogin and Abhayakara Gupta.

"...Shri Chakrasamvara with a body blue in colour, four faces and twelve hands. The main face is blue, left face red, back face yellow and right face white. Each face has three eyes and four bared fangs. The first two hands hold a vajra and bell embracing the mother. The lower two hold an elephant skin out-stretched; third right a damaru, fourth an axe, fifth a trident, sixth a curved knife. The third left holds a katvanga marked with a vajra; fourth a vajra lasso, fifth a blood filled skullcup, sixth carries the four-faced head of Brahma. The right leg is straight and presses on the breast of red Kalaratri; left bent and pressing on the head of black Yama. The hair is tied in a topknot on the crown of the head; on the crest a wish-fulfilling jewel ornament and crescent moon. The soft spot at the top of the head is marked with a vishvavajra. Each head has a crown of five dry human skulls; a necklace of fifty fresh heads and six bone ornaments; wearing a lower garment of tiger skin; possessed of the nine emotions of dancing; grace, fearlessness and ugliness; laughter, ferocity and frightfulness; compassion, fury and peacefulness."

"In the lap is the Mother Vajravarahi, with a body red in colour, one face, two hands and three eyes. The left holds a blood filled skullcup embracing the Father and the right a curved knife in a threatening gesture pointed in all directions. The hair is worn piled on the head; a crown of five dry human skulls and fifty dry as a necklace. The left leg is straight and right bent, embracing the Father. Both Father-Mother stand in the middle of a blazing fire of pristine awareness." (Written by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820-1892). The Collected Works of the Great Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, vol.7, fol.215-226. Gyud de Kun Tus, vol.25, folios 11-19. [Translated October 14, 1989]).

There are four female gate keepers in the four cardinal directions, each has one face and four arms: Kakasya (blue, raven-faced), Ulukasya (green, owl), Shvanasya (red, dog) and Shukarasya (yellow, boar). In the intermediate directions and the inner corners of the palace within the mandala are Yamadahi, Yamaduti, Yamadamstri and Yamamathani.

Chakrasamvara Lineage, Abisheka, Root Tantra and Commentary: Vajradhara, Vajrapani, Maha Brahmin Saraha, Acharya Nagarjuna, The Protector Shavari, Luipa, Darikapa, Vajra Ghantapa, Kumarapada, Jalandharapa, Krishnacharya, Guhyapa, Nampar Gyalwai Shap, The Acharya Barmai Lobpon, Tilopa, Naropa, Pamtingpa Kuche Nyi, Lama Lokkya Sherab Tseg, Lama Mal Lotsawa, The Lord of Dharma Sakyapa (Sachen Kunga Nyingpo 1092-1158).

The Gantapada Lineage of Three Cycles, together with its Branches: Vajradhara, Vajravarahi, Vajra Ghantapada, (etc., continuing from Ghantapa in the previous lineage).

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Jeff Watt 6-2017 [Updated 12-2019]

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