Himalayan Art Resources

Buddhist Deity: Hayagriva Traditions

Hayagriva Iconography

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Description (below)
- Colours
- Physical Appearance
- Compendia (text collections)
- Confusions
- Others...

Sarma Traditions:
- Red, Three Faces and Eight Hands (Ocean of Sadhanas)
- Red, One Face and Two Hands (Ocean of Sadhanas)
- Red, Four Faces and Eight Hands; Five Deities (Ocean of Sadhanas)
- Red, Four Faces and Eight Hands (Ocean of Sadhanas)
- Red, Solitary 17 Deity (Mitra Gyatsa)
- Red, Solitary (Nartang Gyatsa)
- Red, Solitary (Shakyashri Bhadra Tradition)
- White, with consort
- Red, Padmanarteshvara 12 Deity (Mitra Gyatsa)
- Shvana Hayagriva (Atisha)
- With Garuda Wings (Atisha) (Atisha)
- 'Very Secret' Padma Ishvara (Sakya & Sera)
- Hayagriva (Ten Wrathful Ones)
- Others...

Hayagriva is common to both the Nyingma and Sarma Schools (Sakya, Kagyu and Gelug) and his practices are found ranging from simple forms to complex deities with multiple faces and arms, inhabiting mandalas accompanied by numerous attendant figures. Hayagriva is one of the principal deities in the Nyingma system of the Eight Heruka (Kagye).

There are some traditions of Hayagriva that characterize the deity as having four faces and eight arms. In these cases the green horse head on the top of the central face is counted as a fourth face. Two of the iconographic forms above have large unfurled wings extending to the sides, the Atisha named 'With Garuda Wings' and the Padma Ishvara.

Nyingma Traditions:
- Solitary
- Chintamani with consort
- Secret Accomplishment of Kyergangpa (no wings)
- Black Hayagriva
--- Nyangral
--- Guru Chowang
--- Dagyal
--- Riding a Tiger
- Padma Vag (Kagye) (with wings)
- Dregpa Kundrol of Drugu Yangwang (no wings)
- Lama Gongdu (with wings)
- Longchen Nyingtig
- Others...

The black forms of Hayagriva appear to be derived from the Nyingma tradition and more like all from the 'Revealed Treasure' lineages.

Jeff Watt 7-2022

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