Himalayan Art Resources

Buddhist Deity: Pancha Raksha Main Page

Pancha Raksha Main Page | Pancha Raksha Outline

Database Search: All Images | Paintings | Sculpture | Mandalas

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Pancha Raksha Definition (below)
- Pancha Raksha Outline
- Individual Figures (Bari, Sadhana-samucchaya, etc.)
- Five Deity (Atisha, Bari, etc.)
- Thirteen Deity (Vajravali)
- Fifty-six Deity
- Mandalas
- Single Composition
- Wood Panel Set
- Masterworks
- Confusions
- Others...

- The Five Pancha Raksha:
- Maha Pratisara: Four faces, eight hand, yellow in colour.
- Maha Sahasrapramardini: One face, six hands, white in colour.
- Mahamayuri: Three faces, six hands, green in colour.
- Sitavati: One face, four hands, red in colour
- Mantramanudharani: One face, four hands, blue in colour.

The 'Five Protectors' are a group of five female deities that are the personifications of five early Buddhist texts (sutra), the oldest dated to the 4th century A.D. The personifications are also of the special verbal utterances contained in the sutras - called mantras. These five deities each have specific functions and are directed towards accomplishing worldly welfare and happiness, preventing and surviving natural disasters, curing snakebite, overcoming fear and averting pestilence and epidemics.

There are many forms for each of these five female deities, with multiple heads and arms, and many different traditions of practice. The Pancha Raksha deities are most popular in Nepal but can be found throughout the Himalayas and Central Asia as well as in China, Korea and Japan.

Bari Gyatsa Descriptions:
[61] Maha Pratisara: from the "Vairochana Net of Illusion" [Tantra] arose Pratisara as the chief [deity] of the Five Protectors [Pancha Raksha].
Maha Pratisara, [with] a body yellow in colour, four faces and eight hands. The main face is yellow, the right white, the left red and behind blue. Each face has three peaceful eyes. The four right hands hold, a sword, wheel, trident and arrow. The four left, a vajra, lasso, axe and bow. Having peaceful ornaments and garments. Seated in a manner of ease with the left leg extended.

[62] Maha Mayuri [Pancha Raksha]. (See four side figures)
Maha Mayuri, green, with three faces and six hands. The main face is green, the right black [and] the left white and each face has three eyes. The three right [hands] hold, a peacock feather, arrow and [gesture of] supreme generosity. The three left [hold], a jewelled yak-tail fan, bow and vase held at the side. With the moon as a backrest, wearing peaceful ornaments and garments. Seated in the half [vajrasana] posture.

[63] Maha Sahasrapramardana [Pancha Raksha].
Maha Sahasrapramardana, white, with one face and six hands. [The three] right [hands] hold, a sword, arrow and [gesture of] supreme generosity. The left [hold], a bow, lasso and axe. With a moon supporting the back and having peaceful ornaments and [a peaceful] appearance. Seated in a manner of ease.

[64] Maha Mantramanudharin [Pancha Raksha].
Maha Mantramanudharin, [with] a body blue-black in colour, one face and four hands. [The two] right hold, a vajra and [the gesture] of supreme generosity. [The two] left, a staff and the wrathful gesture together with a lasso. With the sun as a backrest, the ornaments and manner of sitting are the same as before.

[65] Maha Sitavati [Pancha Raksha].
Maha Sitavati, [with] a body red in colour, one face and four hands. [The two] right hold a garland and [gesture of] supreme generosity. The left, a hook and a book held to the heart. [Having garments and adornments] the same as the others.

Jeff Watt 5-2005 [updated 4-2017]

English References:

Religions of India In Practice, edited by Donald S. Lopez, Jr. Princeton University Press, 1995. The Power of Mantra: A Story of the Five Protectors. Todd T Lewis, pp.227-234.

Popular Buddhist Texts from Nepal, Narratives and Rituals of Newar Buddhism. Todd T. Lewis. Translations in Collaboration with Subarna Man Tuladhar and Labh Ratna Tuladhar. Foreward by Gregory Schopen. State University of New York Press, 2000. Chapter 6. The Refuge of Recitation: The Pancaraksa, pp.119-164.

Mahamayuri & Pancha Raksha Text Catalogue:
1. Bari Gyatsa of Bari Lotsawa. Sadhana and generic initiation.
2. Drup Thab Gyatsa of Konchog Lhundrub. Sadhana and generic initiation.
3. Drup Thab Gyatso of Thartse Panchen (Sadhanamala re-write). Sadhana and generic initiation.
4. Mitra Gyatsa of Mitra Yogin. Pancadevi with 15 deity mandala sadhana.
5. Mitra Gyatsa Commentary by Khyentse Wangpo (notes on Pancadevi).
6. Drup Thab Kuntu. (2 texts on Pancadevi and a 'vase accomplishment').
7. Sadhanamala (Tibetan, Tangyur) ?
8. Sadhanamala (Sanskrit; Bhattacharya). #197 sadhana and #201 Pancadevi.
9. Gyu De Kuntu. Mandala empowerment and a sadhana for the 56 Deity Pancaraksha Devi Mandala.