Himalayan Art Resources

Buddhist Deity: Yamari Main Page

Meditational Deities Page

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Yamari Description (below)
- Rakta Yamari
- Krishna Yamari
- Vajrabhairava
- Yama Dharmaraja
- Confusions
- Others...

Video: Yamari Cycle of Tantras

Yamari is a Tantric Buddhist class, or cycle, of meditational deities. In the 'Sarma' or 'New' Tantra tradition there are three principal tantras known as the Rakta, Krishna and Mahavajrabhairava. The term ‘yamari’ is made up from the two words ‘yama’ and ‘ari.’ Together they mean ‘killer of death.’ Death is the principal metaphor for this meditational deity and the three main meditational forms. The original concept and descriptions of the deities originated in India. Several indigenous Tibetan forms of the deity have arisen from the Nyingma and Drigung Kagyu Traditions. These new Yamari deities can be derived from the 'Revealed Treasure' tradition or 'Pure Vision.' The new forms have slight but noticeable variations in appearance which distinguish them from the Indian versions.

Yamantaka class of deities are related by name and metaphor to the Yamari class but are a much broader classification and often appearing as secondary figures rather than principal meditational deities. (See the Ten Wrathful Ones). Other common confusions are related to Yama, the judge of the dead from the Abhidharma literature. (See the Glossary: Yama, Yamari, Yamantaka).

With reference to Yama Dharmaraja:
"In the special, noble, Vajra Vehicle [Vajrayana], among the numerous four tantras [kriya, charya, yoga and anuttara] this protector is of the Anuttarayoga. Of those, from the three [classes], Method, Wisdom and Non-dual, this is Method Tantra. From the three famous Father Tantras of the Yamari Cycle, Rakta [Red], Krishna [Black], and Bhairava [Terrifying], this is the uncommon protector of the Vajrabhairava." (Ngor Ponlop Ngagwang Legdrub, 19th century).

Jeff Watt 1-2019

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