Himalayan Art Resources

Subject: Thirteen Golden Dharmas of Sakya

Sakya Tradition Main Page

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Thirteen Golden Dharmas Description (below)
- List of Deities
- Thirteen Golden Dharmas (Rinjung Lhantab)
- Thirteen Golden Dharmas Outline Page
- Deities According to Function
- Red Deities
- Masterworks
- Confusions
- Others...

Video: Thirteen Golden Dharmas

The Thirteen Golden Dharmas (Tib.: ser cho chu sum) of the Sakya Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism are a group of special meditational practices so named because Sachen Kunga Nyingpo was required to offer gold to the teacher in requesting the initiation and teachings. The thirteen different teachings do not all come from the same teacher but rather several such as Bari Lotsawa, Mal Lotsawa and Nyen Lotsawa.

The thirteen are divided into four groups with the first nine deities red in colour: the Three Red Ones, Three Great Red Ones, Three Small Red Ones, and the Four Miscellaneous Deities. The three sets of Red Ones are standard to all groupings of the Thirteen Golden Dharmas.

The Three Red Ones (mar mo kor sum) are all forms of Vajrayogini and are primarily used as meditational deities with the goal of realization. (1) Vajrayogini of Naropa, (2) Vajrayogini of Indrabhuti and (3) Vajrayogini of Maitripa - all from the Chakrasamvara cycle of Tantras.

The Three Great Red Ones (mar po kor sum) are power deities and used in subjugation or the rapid acquisition of material goods and wealth. (4) Kurukulla of the Hevajra Tantra, (5) Takkiraja of the Guhyasamaja Tantra and (6) Maharakta Ganapati associated with the Chakrasamvara Tantra (see Maharakta Outline Page).

The Three Small Red Ones (mar chung kor sum) are also power deities and used for acquiring specific material results. (7) Kurukulla-Tara of the Vajrapanjara Tantra, (8) Red Vasudhara of the Chakrasamvara cycle of Tantras and (9) Tinuma, the activity form of Vajravarahi, also of the Chakrasamvara cycle.

The four standard remaining deities which are common to most Sakya tradition groupings of the Thirteen Golden Dharmas are employed for a variety of sickness and disease. Red Jambhala is the exception and he is employed as a wealth deity. (10) Black Manjushri, (11) Shabala Garuda from the Kalachakra Tantra, (12) Simhanada Avalokiteshvara from its own tantra and (13) Red Jambhala from the Chakrasamvara Tantra.

There are several sets, or enumerations, that can make up the Thirteen Golden Dharmas. The alternate deities are often a result of differing opinions of past teachers and slight differences in the traditions and needs of the various branch or sub-schools of Sakya, such as the Dzongpa, Ngor, Tsar, Bulu, Bodong and Jonang.

Alternates that are added or used as substitutes to the above list are (14) Simhamukha Dakini associated with the Chakrasamvara Tantra, (15) Amaravajradevi also of the Chakrasamvara Tantra, (16) Buddha Amitayus (white or red) from his own Tantra and (17) Black Garuda.

Jeff Watt [updated 2-2018, 3-2020]

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