Himalayan Art Resources

Glossary: Tibetan Buddhism

Glossary: Index Page

Abhidharmakosha: a Buddhist text of the 4th-5th century composed by the scholar Vasubandhu. Detailed explanations of Buddhist cosmology serve as the basis for the painting subjects Wheel of Life, Mount Meru Offering (mandala) and the Rebirth Game.

Abhisheka: Initiation, a ritual involving a teacher and one or more students. It can last a few minutes or up to several days. Participating in an initiation ritual is an essential entrance point for almost all Vajrayana practice. There can also be a number of different objects and initiation cards used during the ritual.

Acharya: an educated and experienced teacher. Within some academic systems the term is used as an official level of accomplishment, a diploma, equivalent to a Masters or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).

Action Seal: a human consort or partner for participating in the sexual yogas (karma yoga) taught in the highest yoga tantras.

Action Tantra (kriya tantra, kriya yoga, bya rgyud): the first of the four classifications of tantra according to some traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. Kriya, Charya, yoga, and Anuttarayoga.

Airs (lung): relating to the pysho-physical tantric body theory of veins, airs (winds) and drops.

Anthropomorphic Figures & Deities: applying human-like features to animals and inanimate objects. (Examples: manuscript pages, Elephant-headed God, Lion-faced Goddess).

Anuttarayoga Tantra or Yoga-niruttara Tantra: (Tib. ) the fourth and highest classification of the four sets of Buddhist Tantras according to a popular system. The three sub divisions of Anuttarayoga are: [1] Method (Father), [2] Wisdom (Mother) and [3] Non-dual. The term Anuttarayoga is often shortened to Anuttara. The names of the three lower tantra sets in descending order are Yoga, Charya and Kriya. The system presented here with accompanying links is based on a famous 19th century Sakya compilation of Tantric practices known as the Ngor Mandalas. There are minor differences in class and order between all of the Tibetan Buddhist traditions.

Arhat (Sanskrit: arhat, arahant): meaning a 'worthy one.' In the Tibetan language the word used is 'netan' which is a translation of the Sanskrit word 'sthavira' meaning 'elder' (Sanskrit: sthavira. Tibetan: ne tan): Buddhist saints representing the earliest followers of the Buddha, always found in a group of sixteen in Himalayan art. They are often painted on cloth, murals, and constructed of metal, stone and wood. In China the arhats, or elders, are called lohan and are commonly numbered as a group of eighteen or five hundred.

Asana (Skt.): seated or standing postures of which there are a variety of prescribed forms arising from iconographic descriptions found in religious texts.

Atiyoga: regarded as the highest level and most profound of the Nyingma classification of teachings, also synonymous with the term Dzogchen.

Attribute: a symbolic object associated with a particular subject based on well known examples and textual iconography.

Avadana Stories: narratives of the previous lives of the Buddha Shakyamuni and close students, illustrated in sets of paintings or as manuscript illuminations. The common literary source is the Bodhisattvavadanakalpata of Kshemendra, 11th century, Kashmir).

Avalokiteshvara: one of the principle students of the Buddha according to the Mahayana sutras. Avalokiteshvara is known by many names such as Avalokita, Lokeshvara, Lokanatha, and Mahakarunika. (See the Avalokiteshvara Glossary).

Bardo: the state of existing between death and rebirth. Also on of the six topics of the Six Dharmas of Naropa.


Bodhisattva (Tib.: jang chub sem pa): idealized beings in the appearance of youthful heavenly gods, generally male and richly attired in silks and jewels. They represent the principal students of the Buddha according to the Mahayana Sutras of Northern Buddhism. Click here for full definition.

Body Mandala: related to Perfection Stage meditation practice and the veins, airs and drops of the subtle tantric body.

Buddha: often referring to the historical Shakyamuni Buddha, however in the Mahayana Sutras (religious texts) there are many other buddhas. The Tantric texts describe in detail the various appearances of these buddhas. (see the Buddha Names Glossary).

Buddhist Religion: the philosophy, or way of life, taught in India by Gautama Siddhartha in the 5th century B.C. Buddhism has been a major influence on the creation of art in all of Asia.

Bon Religion: the indigenous religion of Tibet and the Himalayan regions, founded by Tonpa Shenrab of Tazik, Central Asia. (Bon Religion Glossary).

Calm Abiding: the name used for meditation both common and foundational for all forms of Buddhism. Calm abiding is also the basis for all other meditations in Mahayana and Vajrayana practice.

Caution Words & Sensitive Subjects Glossary: a list of potentially troublesome terms along with explanation.

Chaitya (Sanskrit): a Buddhist funerary mound made of stone, a metal or clay reliquary, and a ritual object symbolically representing the mind of complete enlightenment.

Chakra (wheel): protection chakra, weapon chakra, veins & airs chakra, energy center. There are man specialized wheels described in Tantric Buddhism. Some are visualized in meditation while others are employed in mandalas and yantras.

Chakrasamvara: a principal deity and tantric system in the Wisdom (mother) classification of the anuttarayoga tantras.

Channel: the conduits through which the elements and airs of the body travel according to psycho-physical tantric theory. (See Body Mandala).

Charya Tantra: Performance Tantra, the second tantra in the classification system of the four standard tantras.

Clear Light:

Colours: in tantric theory colours are used to represent emotions, defilements, activities and wisdom.

Compassion: a complex and highly technical term in Mahayana Buddhism relating to the concept of ‘bodhichitta’ and the enlightenment thought.

Complete Enjoyment Body: sambhogakaya, the second of the four bodies of a buddha.

Confession: there are several different levels and techniques for the practice of confession based on vows, pledges and the different tantric cycles.

Concentration: referring to calm abiding (meditation) and the practice of single pointed concentration on an object.

Cutting (gchod): a system of practice based on the Prajnaparamita literature developed in Tibet by Machig Labdron in the 11/12th century.

Cutting Through (khregs chod): an advanced teaching in the Nyingma Tradition related to both meditation and the view.

Daka: male spirits, witches and deities.

Dakini: female spirits, witches and deities. Dakini, depending on religious tradition and specific literature, can be a female nature spirit, witch, or deity assisting in spiritual development. The daka is the male counterpart. Originally, and even today in India, dakinis are very low ranked spirits believed to inhabit cemeteries and charnal grounds. In the Tibetan language the term dakini is translated as 'sky flyer or 'sky goer' referring to the ability to fly through the air. In Indian literature the term dakini is believed to be a non-Sanskrit word possibly originating from an indigenous language of India. In Tantric Buddhism a classification of attendant, retinue deity and meditational deity are called dakini based on the Indian model (Vajra Dakini, Padma Dakini, Vajrayogini, etc.).

Deity: a term that is used for gods, meditational forms, bodhisattvas, goddesses, wisdom deities, worldly deities, mundane spirits, local deities and mountain gods. The term deity almost always needs to be qualified and defined.

Deity Yoga: a special characteristic of Vajrayana Buddhism related to generation and perfection stage yoga.

Deva/devi: the Sanskrit word for god and goddess. These terms are also interchangeable with ‘deity.’

Dependent Arising: the twelve links of dependent arising as taught in foundational Buddhism is the cornerstone of Buddhist philosophy and the concept of emptiness.

Dharani: a syllabic formula committed to memory and used as a mnemonic device or for purposes of meditation. Most deities have their own unique dharani and one or more mantras. Some dharani are coded keys for memorizing a sutra, others belong to deities and generation stage yoga practice. Some formula are for magic and healing.

Dharmapala: Buddhist protectors, deities that are entrusted with the role of protection for both the religion and the followers. There are two classes, [1] enlightened protectors (jnanapala) and [2] worldly protectors (lokapala).

Direction Guardians: the four heavenly kings residing on the lower slopes of the four sided mythical mount Meru, the center of the idealized Buddhist and Hindu worlds.

Direct Approach:

Divination: any form of prognostication. Some techniques were taught in the tantra literature and others are of indigenous Tibetan creation.

Dream Yoga: the practice of lucid dreaming in order to continue to study or meditate during the sleep state.

Drop: related to the veins and airs of the body according to tantric theory.

Dzogchen: the name of a system of practice that is considered the highest and most profound within the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.

Emanation Body: nirmanakaya, the first of the four buddha bodies.

Emptiness: a fundamental Buddhist concept concerning the lack of inherent existence and self-existence in all objects and phenomena.

Enlightened Protector: a Buddhist term, the first of the two types of Dharmapala; protectors that are wrathful emanations of the buddhas, fully enlightened beings. Examples: Mahakala and Shri Devi).

Faith & Refuge: in Buddhism faith has the definition of confidence rather than the general Christian definition of belief. The objects of faith in Mahayana Buddhism are the teacher, the teachings, and the enlightened community of followers. In Vajrayana Buddhism the guru, ishtadevata and dharmapala are added. Sometimes the dharmapala is replaced by the class of dakinis.

Father Tantra (Method Tantra): one of the three divisions in the anuttarayoga tantra classification of tantric Buddhism.

First Dissemination (snga dar): the period of time in the first millennium when Buddhism was introduced into Tibet and the Himalayan regions.

Four Activities: peaceful, increase, powerful and wrathful. Special activities related to tantric theory.

Gelugpa School of Tibetan Buddhism (also known as the Ganden School, and New Kadampa): founded by Tsongkhapa in the early 15th century. It was very active in promoting the monastic system and creating very large monasteries that housed thousands of monks.

Generation Stage: the first of the two special types of meditation taught in Deity Yoga of Vajrayana Buddhism.

God: deva, devi, deity, are all interchangeable terms which need to be qualified and explained based on the various contexts used in literature and practice.

Goddess: female gods, devi, enlightened and worldly deities.

Guhyamantrayana: Secret Mantra Vehicle, another name for Vajrayana Buddhism. Mantrayana, tantrayana and vajrayana are all synonymous terms.

Guhyasamaja: the principal tantric cycle of the father division within the classification of anuttarayoga tantra.

Guru (Teacher): religious teacher or preceptor in South Asia. For Vajrayana Buddhism the term is specifically used for a Tantric teacher. The titles of acharya or kalyanamitra are used for Sutrayana, or ordinary, religious teachers. (See Teacher).

Guru Sampradaya: teacher lineage, the lineage of teachers extending from the primordial buddha of the distant past up to the tantric teacher of the present time. Within the tradition of tantric Buddhism, lineages are a traditional authentication of orthodoxy and legitimacy. there can be dozens of lineages for a single practice and thousands of different authoritative lineages in total.

Hand Gestures & Mudras Glossary:

Hats of the Himalayas Glossary:

Heat Yoga (tummo): one of the practices of the Six Dharmas of Naropa.

Heaven: pureland, buddha-field, are all terms which need to be qualified and explained based on India, Buddhist, and Tantric cosmology.

Hevajra: both a tantric text and a meditational deity belonging to the anuttarayoga classification of tantra.

Highest Yoga Tantra: Yoganiruttara (Anuttarayoga).

Himalayan Art: the definition of Himalayan Art is art indigenous to the Himalayas and surrounding regions, predominantly concerned with religious subjects and recognizable through the unique use of composition, symbols and motifs. Individual works of art are commonly created in sets forming much larger works of art. The geographic area of the Himalayas and surrounding regions comprises; North India, Nepal, Bhutan, Historical Tibet, Mongolia, China, Buryiat and South-Eastern Russia (Siberia).

Himalayan Buddhism: the form of Buddhism practised in the country of Bhutan.

Holy Days: special religious holidays based on the lunar calendar.

Iconography: the study and identification of portraits, along with the subject matter of an artwork.

Iconometry: the geometric rules, drawing guides and measurements used in the creation of correctly proportioned tantric figures in Himalayan art.

Illusory Body: one of the six topics of the Six Dharmas of Naropa.

Initiation (abhisheka): the formal and ritualized introduction to a Buddhist tantric cycle of practice which includes a mandala and deity.

Indian Adept (Skt.: maha siddha): the great Hindu and Buddhist Tantric practitioners of medieval India.

Indian Scholar (Skt.: acharya, pandita): a term referring to scholars in general (acharya) and to those engaged in debate and disputation (pandita).

Ishtadevata (Sanskrit): referring to a personal meditational deity in the Tantric Buddhist system of practice.

Jataka Stories: narratives of the previous lives of Shakyamuni Buddha, often represented in sets of paintings, manuscript illuminations, or carvings. In Himalayan art the most common representations are based on the 3rd/4th century text of Aryashura called Jatakamala, Garland of Stories. This is a compilation and re-writing of thirty-four popular stories in both verse and prose style.

Jonang Tradition: an independent tradition of Buddhism in Tibet closely aligned to the Sakya, Bulug, Bodong and Shangpa traditions, all located in the Tsang province of Central Tibet.

Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism: there are two types of Kagyu Tradition both unrelated to each other. The first is founded by Marpa Chokyi Lodro. This school later developed into four major and eight minor branches.

Kalachakra: both a tantric text and a meditational deity belonging to the Anuttarayoga classification of tantra.

Kama: a Nyingma term referring to oral teachings from the distant past.

Karma Yoga: the sexual yoga practices of Anuttarayoga tantra.

Kriya Tantra (action tantra): the first of the four classifications of tantra.

Lama (guru, teacher):

Lamdre (margaphala): a tantric cycle of practice based primarily on the Hevajra tantra originating with the mahasiddha Virupa and popular within the Sakya tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.

Lineage: the sequence of teachers that traces the legitimacy of a text, teaching system or tantric cycle of practice.

Linga: a drawing of a figure, usually naked and bound, used in yantra practice.

Luohan: (see Arhat).

Lokapala: worldly protector or guardian; in Buddhism, a lesser deity that has not yet reached complete enlightenment. (See Worldly Protector).

Lotsawa: a Tibetan scholar or teacher who translates Indic or Asian languages into the Tibetan language.

Maitreya: a bodhisattva student of Shakyamuni Buddha according to the Mahayana sutras and believed to be the next buddha to appear - the buddha of the future.

Manjushri: a bodhisattva student of the buddha in the Mahayana sutras.

Mahamudra: a synonym for enlightenment, the name of a number of different Buddhist teachings, loosely considered an independently standing tradition from India.

Mahasiddha: (See Indian Adept). (Mahasiddha Technical Glossary).

Mahayana Buddhism (Great Vehicle): the Buddhism of Northern India, the Himalayas, China and East Asia.

Mahayoga Tantra: a Nyingma tradition term referring to the first of the three highest levels of tantric teachings.

Mala: a string of beads used for counting prayers, mantras or dharanis. The mala is sometimes used in divination rituals and as an object of blessing when held by a teacher and placed on the head of a student. The mala, along with the vajra and bell, is one of the three principal ritual objects in the possession of a Buddhist Tantric practitioner.

Mandala: a circular diagram, highly technical and precise, representing the entire universe; the container and contained, animate and inanimate. Mandalas are painted on cloth, on the ceilings of temples, as murals, fashioned from metal, wood or stone, sometimes coloured threads and also from coloured sand. (Mandala Technical Glossary, Mandala Types Glossary).

Manjushri: in Mahayana Buddhism a student of the Buddha and found in the sutra literature. In Vajrayana he is a fully enlightened Buddha that appears in various forms as a meditational deity and protector.

Mantra: Mantras belong to the Buddhist classification of dharani. The meaning of mantra is ‘man’ mind, ‘tra’ to protect - to protect the mind. Mantras are verbal formulas used by Buddhists to protect the mind from distraction and unwholesomeness. They are typically composed in the Pali and Sanskrit languages but can also be in Prakrit, Apabramsha, and other languages. Although some written scripts such as Brahmi and Nagari are traditionally considered to be more auspicious any script can be used to write mantras.

Mantrayana: the mantra vehicle or mantra school of Buddhism. This is an alternate name for Vajrayana Buddhism.

Margaphala: (See Lamdre).

Meditational Deity: in Sanskrit an ishtadevata, a simple or complex figurative form employed as a meditational object in Tantric Buddhism.

Metaphor: used to characterize the meaning and function of many Tantric deities and practice cycles. (See Metaphor Outline).

Method Tantra: in anuttarayoga tantra there are three further sub-divisions: method (father) wisdom (mother) and nondual.

Mind of Clear Light:

Mnemonic: a memory device. Systems of mnemonics are used at all levels of Buddhist instruction. Memory devices are commonly used in Tantric Buddhism for dharani, mantra and deity forms.

Mongolian Buddhism: the name of the form of Buddhism practiced in Mongolia.

Monastery, Residence & Retreat Terminology Glossary:

Monastic Titles & Terms Glossary (In Progress):

Mother Tantra (Wisdom Tantra): one of the three sub-divisions of anuttarayoga tantra: mother (wisdom), father (method) and non-dual.

Mountain Deity: a class of indigenous worldly gods and spirits that are associated with mountains and later subjugated and employed as protectors of Buddhism.

Mudra: hand gestures, part of a highly symbolic religious language. The term is also used to refer to a tantric consort, or partner.

New Schools (sarma): the indigenous Tibetan traditions that arose after the 11th century, primarily referring to the Sakya, Marpa Kagyu, Shangpa Kagyu, Jonang, Gelug and others.

Ngondro: preliminary practices of Tibetan Buddhism. These are divided into common which teach Mahayana principles and uncommon that teach tantric practices.

Number Sets & Lists: Buddhism is well known for creating lists of topics and this is especially true for Tantric Buddhism.

Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism: the oldest of the four main schools, established with the founding of Samye Chokor Ling monastery in the 8th century by Padmasambhava and Shantirakshita. Nyingma means old, or ancient, and differs from the other three schools, Sakya, Kagyu and Gelug, in a number of ways. The three later schools are collectively called the Sarma schools, meaning new. A significant characteristic of the Nyingma is that it is anarchic with no central authority. All of the other schools have a clear authority and hierarchy.

Padmasambhava (Tib.: Guru Rinpoche): the Indian founder of Tantric Buddhism in Tibet. In the 11th century with the rise of the Revealed Treasure tradition (Tib.: terma) the worship of Padmasambhava took on a cult status. Hundreds of new deity forms of Padmasambhava were created representing all aspects of iconography and Tantric activity; peaceful, wrathful, male, female, wealth, power, healing, etc. (Padmasambhava Names & Terminology).

Pandita (Sanskrit): a Tibetan Buddhist term used to describe either an Indian scholar that assisted, along with a Tibetan scholar, in the translating of Sanskrit texts into the Tibetan language, or a Tibetan scholar that translates Sanskrit into Tibetan. (See example: Sakya Pandita and Indian Scholar).

Patriarchs: the lineage of teachers that followed immediately after Shakyamuni Buddha.

Path and Result: (See Lamdre, Margaphala). The name of a tantric cycle of teaching that originated with the mahasiddha Virupa. It was later adopted by several Tibetan Buddhist traditions. Today it is primarily practiced and continued in the Sakya tradition and its many branch schools.

Perfection Stage: the second of the two special meditation practices taught in Deity Yoga of Vajrayana Buddhism. The first is Generation Stage.

Performance Tantra (spyod rgyud, charya tantra): the second of the four tantra categories according to Tibetan Tantric Buddhism.

Pledges (samaya): in Vajrayana Buddhism pledges are commitments to the teacher, practices, and path towards the goal of enlightenment. Pledges (samaya) are different than the vows that are found in Foundational and Mahayana Buddhism.

Postures in Iconography Glossary: physical postures used for meditation or contemplative practices.

Powa (transference): voluntary ejection of the consciousness at the time of death, or before. One of the six practices described in the Six Dharmas of Naropa.

Preliminary Practices, (Common & uncommon):

Prajnaparamita: both a body of Mahayana literature and a tantric deity who is the personification of the sutra literature.

Prayer Flag: a printed image on cotton cloth intended to hang in the wind, containing Buddhist prayers and mantras, images of deities and animals. Some flags are printed on paper.

Prayer Wheel: The Prayer Wheel, sometimes referred to as a 'mani korlo' or mani wheel, is primarily a phenomena of the Buddhist Himalayas, Nepal, Ladakh and Tibet along with regions influenced by Tibetan Buddhism. Mention is made of the Prayer Wheel in the Mani Kabum, an apocryphal Tibetan text dated to the 11th to 13th century. The most popular of the mantras contained is the Mani Mantra, the sound essence of the deity Avalokiteshvara.

Prophecy: foretelling the future. There are a number of different systems used for prognostication. The principal subjects are the Sixteen Elders, the bodhisattva Maitreya and the Kalachakra Tantra.

Protector Deity Glossary:

Purba (Tibetan term. Sanskrit: kila): a peg, shaped like a three bladed dagger, a ritual object represented three dimensionally in metal, wood or crystal; for pegging down disturbances and obstacles arising in the practice of Tantric Buddhism.

Pureland: a term used for heavens and buddha-realms of various types, such as Sukhavati, Abhirati, Potalaka, Khechara and the Copper Coloured Mountain.

Purification: a practice within tantric systems and very much related to the Mahayana practice of Confession. There is also a category of deities that have the function of purification.

Rainbow Body:

Raksha/Rakshasi: dangerous spirits and daemons of classical Indian literature. Their fearsome appearance became the model for wrathful Buddhist deities such as Mahakala and Shri Devi, characterized by round bulbous red eyes, gaping slathering mouths with large bared canine teeth, flaming disheveled hair, large bellied with stocky limbs.

Retreat: the practice of isolated meditation conducted over several days, months or years. Tantric deities have fixed lengths of time for performing a basic retreat. The time periods varies between deities with one month being standard for Kriya level deities and six months for anuttarayoga deities.

Revealed Treasure (Tib.: ter ma): (See Terma).

Ritual Objects Glossary (In Progress)

Sadhana: a ‘method of accomplishment,’ a highly structured meditation practice employing the generation stage yoga, or both with the inclusion of the perfection stage yoga.

Sakya School of Tibetan Buddhism:

Samaya: a pledge, similar to a ritual promise, but some what different than a vow. A preceptor officiated over the bestowing of vows and the vows are promised to the preceptor. Pledges are taken on by oneself, and oneself is responsible For keeping and maintaining them.

Sampannakrama: generation stage yoga meditation, one of the two unique meditation practices of Vajrayana Buddhism.

Sampradaya (lineage): lineage of teachers.

Sarma: (New Schools). A general term for the schools of Tantric Buddhism that are Introduced to Tibet or influenced from India after the 11th century. These are primarily the Kadam, Sakya, Marpa Kagyu, Shangpa Kagyu, Jonangpa and Gelug.

Second Buddha: In the Tibetan Buddhist world there are several notable individuals that are referred to as the 'Second Buddha of this Age' following after the historical Shakyamuni Buddha and not to be confused with the idea of 'the future buddha' Maitreya. The term 'second buddha' is not a technical term or official in any Buddhist lexicons. The term can be used for any number of individuals, famous teachers, or as a personal term of respect for any humble or beloved personal teacher. The term can be used in a similar way to the very common Tibetan word 'rinpoche' which means 'precious one.' Both terms are used as an epithet only.

Second Dissemination: referring to the 11th century and the introduction of the ‘new’ schools of Buddhism in Tibet.

Shangpa Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism: founded by Kedrup Kyungpo Naljor in the 11th century, although having the same name, this school is unrelated to the Kagyu School descending from Marpa, Milarepa and Gampopa.

Shakyamuni Buddha: the historical buddha, founder of Buddhism.

Siddha: a tantric practitioner that gas realized some level of attainment through continued practice.

Siddhi: various attainments acquired through tantric practice.

Six Dharmas of Naropa: (sometimes called the ‘Six Yogas of Naropa’). Heat, illusory body, dream, clear light, intermediate state and transference.

Smoke Offering: a ritual of burning juniper branches to create an aromatic smoke as an offering to local spirits and gods. In the Nyingma and Bon traditions this is done either once or twice daily. There are also special days in the religious calendar foe the performance of smoke offerings.

Stupa: a Buddhist funerary mound made of stone, a metal or clay reliquary, and a ritual object symbolically representing the mind of complete enlightenment.

Tangka: a Tibetan painting or textile created on cloth, easy to roll, and transportable.

Tantra: meaning continuum, a genre of Hindu and Buddhist religious literature. (Tantric Subjects (Vajrayana) Glossary (In Progress).

Tara: a female deity taught in the Tantric literature. A female buddha with many different forms, functions and levels of practice.

Teacher (guru): a religious instructor, tutor or mentor. A student can have many teachers each having different levels of experience and proficiency.

Terma: ‘treasure’ referring to Buddhist texts and objects hidden in the 8th century, by Padmasambhava and his close students, with the intention that they are discovered in more modern times for the benefit of those future generations.

Terton: a discoverer of ‘revealed treasure’ in the Nyingma Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.

Tetrahedron: a four sided geometric object used to represent emptiness. As a tantric Buddhist symbol three of the four sides are enclosed and a single side is open, appearing like a triangular receptacle or container.

Tibetan Buddhism: a term commonly used to refer to all forms of Tantric Buddhism of the Himalayas, Central Asia, Mongolia, Siberia, etc. (See Himalayan Buddhism, Mongolian Buddhism).

Titles & Honorifics: various forms of address are used when interacting with religious figures and Buddhist practitioners.

Torma (Skt.: bali): dough sculpture, cone shaped and sometimes elaborately decorated and coloured, used as stylized food offerings in Bon and Buddhist rituals and initiations.

Transference (powa): the transferring of the consciousness at the time of death or prior into another body or to a pureland or buddhafield.

Tsa Tsa: stamped clay images, molded clay.

Tsakli (Sanskrit term, tsagli, tsakali): small paintings, generally the size of playing cards, created in sets and used in Buddhist and Bon rituals and initiations, containing illustrations of deities, animals, objects, and abstract images. Tsakli are used as ritual objects and not to be confused with miniature paintings.

Tummo (heat yoga): one of the topics in the Six Dharmas of Naropa. A yoga practice originating from the Hevajra Tantra.

Utpattikrama: the perfection stage, the second of the two unique forms of meditation taught in Vajrayana Buddhism.

Vajra (Tibetan: dor je. English: the best stone): [1] from the Vedic literature, the scepter of the Hindu god Indra namely a lightening bolt, [2] from the Puranic literature, a weapon made from the bones of a rishi, and [3] a word representing Tantric Buddhism - Vajrayana. As a Buddhist scepter it is a small object made of metal generally having five or nine prongs at each end that bend inward to form two rounded shapes. As a ritual object it is usually accompanied by a bell with a half vajra handle (Sanskrit: ghanta).

Vajrabhairava: a meditational deity of the father tantra sub-class of anuttarayoga tantra.

Vajracharya: the individual responsible for the creation of the mandala, the shrine and directing the sequence of a ritual.

Vajrapani: a student of the Buddhas mentioned in the Mahayana sutra literature. In Vajrayana Buddhism Vajrapani is a very important and prominent meditational deity within many different iconographic forms.

Vajra Vehicle: Vajrayana, Guhyamantrayana, Mantrayana; all of these are synonyms for Tantric Buddhism.

Vajravali: a famous Buddhist initiation and meditation manual that describes the form and function of mandalas along with detailed descriptions of the deities they contain.

Vajrayana: Tantric Buddhism, the form of Northern Buddhism that relies primarily on the Tantras, technical manuals said to have been taught by the Buddha, and offer complete enlightenment in 1, 7 or 21 lifetimes.

Veins and Airs: (see Body Mandala).

Vidyadhara: knowledge holder, a title referring to a level of proficiency in Vajrayana Buddhism.

Wheel of Life: the Buddhist world view represented on cloth or painted as a mural, illustrating the six realms of existence, the twelve links of dependent arising and the three poisons.

Winds (airs, lung): relating to the veins, winds and drops of the psycho-physical body of tantric theory.

Wisdom Tantra (mother tantra): one of the three sub-categories of anuttaryoga Tantra: method, wisdom and non-dual.

Worldly Protector: a Buddhist term used to differentiate between different types of protector deities; the guardian kings of the four main directions, the ten protectors of the eight directions, above and below, along with regional and mountain deities.

Yantra: diagram, device, also referring to the very active and dynamic yogic postures and routines in Vajrayana Buddhism.

Yantra Yoga: various physical exercises described in the anuttarayoga tantras used in conjunction with the channels, airs and drops practices.

Yoga: (Skt.): [1] an ancient philosophical system of India included under the broad designation of Hinduism. [2] Yoga is also a form of gentle physical training, Hatha Yoga, associated with Hindu and Buddhist Tantra. [3] Yoga also refers to the two types of meditation practice in Tantric Buddhism, Generation Stage and Perfection Stage. [4] Yantra Yoga refers to the physically aggressive training in Tantric Buddhism and [5] Karma Yoga refers to the path using esoteric sexual practices as a path to enlightenment. [6] Yoga Tantra is the 3rd of the four Tantra classifications of Vajrayana Buddhism.

Yoga-niruttara Tantra: (See Anuttarayoga Tantra).

Yoga Tantra: the 3rd of the four Tantra classifications of Vajrayana Buddhism. "The Secret Mantra Yoga Tantras are the Tattvasamgraha, Vajra Shikhara, Shri Paramadya, Trailokyavijaya, [etc.], the Sarvadurgati Parishodhana Tantra, Sarvarahasyo, [etc.]."

Yogini Tantra: referring to a loosely defined group of tantra texts belonging to the anuttarayoga classification of Vajrayana Buddhism.

Jeff Watt [updated 12-2019, added to HAR 8-2020]