Himalayan Art Resources

Buddhist Deity: Vajrakila (Iconographic Forms)

Vajrakila Main Page

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Iconographic Forms Description
- Vajrakila Outline Page
- Sakya (Khon Tradition)
- Nyingma Kama & 'Revealed Treasure'
--- Purba (Rinchen Terdzo)
--- Gyu Lug Purba
--- Ratna Lingpa Purba
--- Nine Faces, Eighteen Arms
- Purba/Peg
- Mount Meru-like Kila
- Eight Heruka Main Page
- Confusions: Guru Dragpur, Deities with a Kila Lower Body, Bon: Purba Drugse Chempa
- Others...

- Vajrakila: Peg Wielding Deity. Part 1
- Vajrakila: Peg Wielding Deity. Part 2
- Vajrakila: A Bridge Between Traditions
- Kila/Purba 'Peg'
- Kila Peg & Mount Meru

The unique iconographic feature of Vajrakila is the three-sided peg (purba) that is held, pointed downward, with the two principal hands at the heart. Typically Vajrakila has three faces, six hands, four legs and wide outstretched wings behind. He embraces the consort Dipta Chakra who has one face, two hands and two legs.

There are two basic forms of the deity. The first is as described above with the lower body having four legs. An alternate to this is with a lower body shaped as a triangular peg with three blades (purba). In the 'Revealed Treasure' Tradition a variety of other forms developed such as the Nine-headed Vajrakila. There are dozens and dozens of 'Revealed Treasure' Traditions for Vajrakila and it can probably be said that he is the most popular meditaional deity of the Nyingma Tradition. Another deity form sometimes confused for Vajrakila is the deity Guru Dragpur, a form of Padmasambhava, an early Buddhist teacher in Tibet. Numerous wrathful meditational deities and protectors hold the purba (peg) as a hand attribute but they should not be confused with Vajrakila. Examples of these other deities are: Guru Dragpo, Shri Devi Dudsolma of the Naropa tradition, etc.

"...the king of wrath, bhagavan Vajrakumara, with a body blue-black [in colour], three faces and six hands. The right face is white, left red, the center blue. Held with the two pairs of right and left hands are a nine and five pointed vajra, a blazing mass of fire and a trident. The remaining two roll a kila. The body is huge and heavy, with bared fangs, three eyes - round and red, brown hair flowing upward; wearing an elephant hide, human skin, and a tiger skin as a lower garment. Adorned with white, red, green, and black snakes as a crown, necklace and sash, decorating the arms and legs. Five dry skulls adorn the head. Wearing a garland of fifty fresh [heads], marked with clots of rakta, spots of great ash and a smear of grease, adorned with various jewel ornaments. With four legs the right are bent and left extended atop the head of Ishvara - face down, and the breast of Uma, standing in the middle of a massive fire of pristine awareness." (Sakya Ngawang Kunga Lodro, 1729-1783).

Database Search: All Objects | Paintings | Mandalas | Sculpture | Purba/Peg

Jeff Watt 9-2019 [updated 12-2020]

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