Himalayan Art Resources

Buddhist Worldly Protector: Rahula Iconography

Rahula Main Page

Subjects & Topics:
- Description (below)
--- Buddhist
--- Hindu
--- Tibetan
- Outline Page
- Red, riding a dragon (Dudul Dorje)
- Five Deity
- Thirteen Deity
- Fifteen Deity
- Indian Astrological God
- Secondary Figure: Yutog Nyingtig
- Retinue Figures
- Confusions: Rahula (sthavira), Nagaraksha
- Others...

"From a fierce E [syllable] in a realm equal to space, the Lord arises out of wrathful activity, smoky, with nine heads, four hands and a thousand blazing eyes; homage to the Great Rahula - Protector of the Teachings." (Nyingma liturgical verse).

There are numerous forms of the protector Rahula. Generally he will have the nine heads and naga lower body. Sometimes the faces are all black in colour and at other times the faces can appear in different colours depending on the specific 'Revealed Treasure' literature describing a special form. There are also differences in the retinue figures - again depending on the Terton (Revealer) and the descriptive literature. It is very easy to confuse the main deity Rahula with the similar appearing retinue figures. Rahula is included as a retinue figure in the group of Yutog Nyingtig protector deities.

In painted compositions it is common for the deity Vajrapani in wrathful form to appear at the top center or to the side. Vajrapani is represented there as a kind of seal or a reminder to the worldly deity that he or she is still being watched and monitored by an enlightened power. In the Nyingma tradition the protector Rahula is considered extremely ferocious and terrifying. He is believed to cause the physical affliction of strokes on those practitioners that do not perform the rituals correctly or if they are done in an untimely manner.

Database Search: All Images

Jeff Watt 1-2010 [updated 5-2017, 1-2020]

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