Himalayan Art Resources

Buddhist Deity: Vajradhara & Eighty-four Mahasiddhas

Vajradhara Iconography

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Vajradhara & the Eighty-four Mahasiddhas Explanation (below)
- Systems of Mahasiddhas
- Masterworks
- Confusions
- Others...

Types of Painting Composition:
- Single Composition (All Eighty-four Mahasiddhas)
- Three Painting Composition: Example #1, Example #2
- Five Painting Composition: Example #1
- Seven Painting Composition: Example #1
- Eleven Painting Composition: Example #1, Example #2
- Thirteen Painting Composition: Example #1, Example #2
- Fifteen Painting Composition: Example #1
- Twenty-nine Painting Composition: Example #1, Example #2 (Misc. Sets)
- Forty-three Painting Composition: Example #1
- Multiple Composition
- Others...

Sanskrit: Vajradhara Tibetan: Dor je chang

Vajradhara, Buddha (Tibetan: dor je chang, sang gye. English: the Vajra Holder, Enlightened One). The primordial buddha, personification of the dharmakaya - truth body of enlightenment and progenitor of the Vajrayana system of Buddhism.

The New (Sarma) Schools believe that Vajradhara is the secret, or inner, form of Shakyamuni Buddha and the combined essence of all the buddhas of the ten directions and three periods of time gathered as one. It is from Vajradhara that such meditational deities as Guhyasamaja, Shri Hevajra and Chakrasamvara arise. According to the Nyingmapa School, Vajradhara is an activity emanation of buddha Samantabhadra.

A common theme in Tibetan painting is to depict in one composition the Buddha Vajradhara surrounded by the Eighty-four Indian Adepts (mahasiddhas). Often they would be arranged, or crowded, into one painting and occasionally divided between three, five or nine paintings. In the 18th and 19th centuries sets with three and four mahasiddhas per painting were commissioned. From Palpung Monastery came many new compositions with a varied number of mahasiddhas depicted in the composition.

Jeff watt 3-2002 [updated 1-2017, 6-2017]