Himalayan Art Resources

Indian Adept: Ghantapa (Palpung Style)

Ghantapa Main Page

There are two types of composition depicted below. The first is Ghantapa as the central figure in the composition and the second composition is Ghantapa together with two other mahasiddhas.

For the single siddha composition - flying in the sky, thoroughly embraced by the wisdom consort, the mahasiddha Ghantapa holds in the right hand a gold vajra and in the left a bell. The head is adorned with blossoming flowers and a red ribbon. Gold bracelets and anklets adorn the limbs. Wearing a long blue and orange scarf, he is attired in a short red skirt. The consort is naked save for the ornaments of a tiara, bracelets and anklets.

Legend: At the bottom center is the King Devapala, standing with the hands upraised, who having insulted the mahasiddha, the latter now with vajra-anger, and dropping a large blue pot of alcohol, causes the Goddess of the Earth to incur a flood. A regretful Devapala and a lone subject, with reverence call out for help, with the hands reverently joined in the gesture of petitioning. Instantly, on hearing the needful plea the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara appears standing at the bottom right, white in colour and wearing a krishnasara deer skin over the left shoulder, proceeds to save the kingdom by averting the flood. The now remorseful king, requesting teachings, receives the parting words of the mahasiddha and consort as they ascend to the pureland of the Dakinis.

At the top left is a bodhisattva from the standard set of eight great bodhisattvas.

Ghantapa belongs to the famous set of 84 mahasiddhas and is most commonly associated with the Chakrasamvara initiation and teaching lineage (Sanskrit: guru sampradaya) common to all the Sarma Schools: Sakya, Kagyu and Gelugpa.

Jeff Watt [added 1-2020]