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Wrathful Guardians of Buddhism - Aesthetics and Mythology
« on: March 08, 2013, 06:16:26 PM »
I found an article about the wraftful Guardians. Read more below:

An enigmatic aspect of Buddhist iconography is the presence of wrathful, terrifying forms. Though these awesome, hair-raising images seem contradictory to Buddhist ideals, they are not personifications of evil or demonic forces. Rather they symbolize the violence that is a fundamental reality of the cosmos in general, and of the human mind in particular. In addition to destroying the passions of the mind, the purpose of gods is to protect the faithful. The wrathful deities, who symbolize the tremendous effort it takes to vanquish evil, especially perform this function.




An enigmatic aspect of Buddhist iconography is the presence of wrathful, terrifying forms. Though these awesome, hair-raising images seem contradictory to Buddhist ideals, they are not personifications of evil or demonic forces. Rather they symbolize the violence that is a fundamental reality of the cosmos in general, and of the human mind in particular. In addition to destroying the passions of the mind, the purpose of gods is to protect the faithful. The wrathful deities, who symbolize the tremendous effort it takes to vanquish evil, especially perform this function.

In the arena of Buddhist art, the two main classes of objects that constitute our interest are the small bronze sculptures, kept on altars, and the scroll-paintings, better known as thangkas. Both are intended as temporary dwellings for the spiritual, beings into which Buddhism projects its analysis of the nature of the world. They are thus not aesthetic objects but roosting places, actual dwellings for the energies projected into them with the aid of mantras, which are often inscribed on them; the power of those energies can then be canalized towards the Buddhist goal.

Not surprisingly thus, these wrathful deities, though benevolent, are represented in visual arts as hideous and ferocious in order to instil terror in evil spirits which threaten the dharma.

According to the norms of canonical iconography, these wrathful protective deities are described as figures possessing stout bodies, short but thick and strong limbs and many of them have several heads and a great number of hands and feet. The color of their faces and bodies and faces is frequently compared with the characteristic hue of clouds, precious stones, etc. Thus we often read in the Sadhanas (Canonical texts) that one or the other wrathful deity is black “like the cloud which appears at the end of a kalpa (aeon)”, blue “like an emerald” or white “like a mountain of crystal”. The yellow color is compared to that of pure gold, and the red color of some of them is supposed to be “like the hue produced when the sun rises and its rays strike a huge mountain of coral”. These Sadhanas often mention that the body of a ferocious protective deity is smeared with ashes taken from a funeral pyre and with sesame oil or that their skin is covered with grease-stains, blood spots and shining specks of human fat.

Their faces possess a typical wrathful expression: the mouth is contorted to an angry smile, from its corners protrude long fangs – often said to be of copper or iron -, or the upper teeth gnaw the lower lip. A “mist of illnesses” comes forth from the mouth and a terrific storm is supposed to be blowing from the nostrils of the flat nose. The protruding, bloodshot eyes have an angry and staring expression and usually a third eye is visible in the middle of the forehead.

The most important category of these deities is the group of eight, known as Dharampalas (Sans. Dharam: religion; Pala: protector), known in Tibetan as Drag-ched. The Dharampalas, or defenders of Buddhism, are divinities with the rank of Bodhisattva, and are supposed to wage war without any mercy against the demons and enemies of Buddhism.

These eight deities are:

Palden Lhamo
Tshangs pa

Yama: The God of Death
According to the popular version of the mythological origins of Yama, a holy man was told that if he spent fifty years living in deep meditation in a cave, he would reach enlightenment. On the night of the twenty-ninth day of the eleventh month of the forty-ninth year, two robbers entered his cave with a stolen bull whose head they proceeded to cut off. When they realized that the hermit had witnessed their act, they decided to kill him. He begged them to spare his life, explaining that in a few minutes he would reach enlightenment and that all his efforts would be lost if they killed him before the expiration of the fifty years. The thieves ignored his request and cut off his head. Immediately, he assumed the ferocious form of Yama and put the bull’s head on his own headless body. He then killed the two robbers and drank their blood from cups made from their skulls. In his fury, he threatened to destroy the entire population of Tibet. The Tibetan people appealed to the deity Manjushri (the Bodhisattva of wisdom), to protect them from Yama. Manjushri then assumed the form of Yamantaka (conqueror of death), defeated Yama, and turned him into a protector of Buddhism, in order to save the people.

In visual imagery he is often shown accompanied by his consort, Chamundi, who offers Yama a skull bowl full of demon-blood elixir. He is represented nude, wearing a garland of severed human heads. Dark blue in color he has a buffalo’s head, and is shown in a dynamic position on this animal.

Mahakala: The Great Black One
The legendary history of Mahakala was written by Khedrup Khyungpopa, founder of the Shangpa Kagyu tradition, in the eleventh century. He says that the reason for the special powers and effectiveness of Mahakala goes back to Avalokiteshvara’s vow to remain in the mortal world and not reach Buddhahood until all sentient beings were enlightened. After helping hundreds of thousands of people for countless years to reach enlightenment, Avalokiteshvara saw no decrease in suffering, but rather an increase in defilements. He then became discouraged. As soon as he had that thought, his head immediately split into a thousand pieces. Amitabha, one of the five transcendent Buddhas, put the pieces back together and made eleven heads, telling Avalokiteshvara to make the same promise again but to keep it better. Accordingly out of Avalokiteshvara’s eleven faces, ten are peaceful, but one is wrathful, representing Mahakala.

Avalokiteshvara, saddened, fell unconscious for seven days, after which he thought that the world’s suffering souls needed results in a hurry without excessive effort. He then wished to turn himself into a wrathful deity in order to defeat more rapidly and effectively the obstacles to the happiness of others. With this thought the letter HUM in dark blue color came out of his heart. That Hum became Mahakala. It is not without significance that in the mantra ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’, the syllable Hum invokes energetic powers.

The birth of Mahakala was followed by an earthquake and with one voice the Buddhas in the heaven declared that he would have the power to grant all wishes if the wishes were honest and good.

Mahakala was the personal tutelary deity for the Mongol ruler Kublai Khan. His terrifying imagery ultimately derives from the angry form of the Hindu god Shiva, known as Bhairava. In Tibetan iconography he typically has one head with three bulging eyes. His eyebrows are like small flames, and his beard is made of hook-like shapes. He can have two to six arms.

The essential nature of Mahakala in the Tibetan pantheon can be gauged from the fact that he is worshipped as the Protector of the tent. Because of the nomadic nature of the Tibetan people, much of their life is spent in arduous and hazardous travel, complicated by the generally hostile environment they live in. During their sojourns, they use the Tent as a temporary abode, making it a very important part of their lives. He is also unquestionably the most vital Dharampala, since every monastery, no matter what the order, has a shrine devoted to this deity.

Yamantaka: The Conqueror of Death
Yamantaka, the ferocious emanation of Manjushri (Bodhisattva of wisdom), is the most complicated and terrible of all the wrathful Buddhist divinities. Under this from he conquered the demon king of death, Yama, who was depopulating Tibet in his insatiable thirst for victims. According to this myth, in his paroxysm of insight, Manjushri traveled all the way to the underworld to seek out Yama, the God of death, who dwells with all his minions in the sealed up iron cities of hell. Yama appears in Indian mythology with the head of a water buffalo. To tame Yama, Manjushri adopted the same form, adding to it eight other faces and a multiple array of arms, each holding fearful and deadly weapons. He further sprouted a corresponding number of legs, and surrounded himself with a vast host of terrifying beings. To confront death, he thus manifested the form of death itself, magnified to infinity. Death (Yama) saw himself endlessly mirrored back to himself, infinitely outnumbered by himself. Death was literally scared to death. Thus the yogi who meditates through the imagery of Yamantaka intends and hopes to develop a sense of identity strong enough to face down death, and the fear that attends upon it. Each head, each limb, each attribute, symbol and ornament of Yamantaka expresses the total mobilization of the faculties of enlightenment needed for this ultimate confrontation.

Both Yama and Yamantaka are represented with bull’s heads, but Yama always has an ornament, shaped like a wheel on his breast, which is his distinctive mark.


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Re: Wrathful Guardians of Buddhism - Aesthetics and Mythology
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2013, 11:08:57 PM »
I wish to share the information on the famous female Dharmapala Palden Lhamo:

the dark blue protector and only female among the Eight Guardians of the Law, is also Mahakali.  Her Sanskrit name Shri Devi means Great Lady, ie. Lady Goddess; Okkin Tungri to northern Mongolians.  Her name is often pronounced Penden Hamo.

One of the 5 Tseringma or Long-life Sisters and consort of Mahakala, she is Magzor Gyalmo -- Queen of Armies -- and is also considered a wrathful emanation of Saraswati.

Amazing Magzor from Ladakh between 3 rider-less black steeds and a rolled bearskin, amidst rocket fire.

She is usually depicted in nakthang [black-ground style scroll] crossing the sea of blood riding side-saddle on a white mule.  There is an eye on the left rump of the mule which is the place where her irate husband's arrow found a mark.  She had killed her son and used his flayed skin as a saddle blanket.

In many monasteries her image is in a corner and is always kept covered.

Lhamo (Skt. Kaladevi,) also called Remati, was married to Shinje, the king of the dudpos, who at the time of their marriage was the king of Lanka.  She had vowed either to gentle him and make him favourable towards the religion of Buddha, or else to see to it that an end be put to that whole dynasty.

Hard as she tried over many years, she could not effect any improvement in his evil ways and so she determined to kill their son who was being raised to be the one to finally do away with Buddhism in that kingdom.

During the king's absence, Devi accomplished the dreadful dead.  She killed her son and flayed him, then drank his blood using his skull for a cup and also ate his flesh.  She then left the palace and using her son's skin as a saddle cloth, set off for her northern home on one of the king's finest steeds.

On his return, seeing what had happened, the king seized his bow and with a fierce and terrible curse shot off a poisoned arrow, but the arrow only pierced the animal's rump and there it stuck fast.  The queen easily neutralized the king's imprecation, and removing the deadly barb she said: "May the wound of my mount become an eye large enough to watch over the twenty-four regions, and may I myself be the one to extirpate the lineage of the malignant kings of Lanka!" Then Palden Lhamo continued northwards, easily traversing India, Tíbet, Mongolia, and part of China, and finally settled, say some people, on the mountain Oikhan, in the Olgon district of Eastern Siberia. This mountain is said to be surrounded by large, uninhabited deserts, and by the ocean Muliding.

~Paldan Lhamoi kang shag, an offering sadhana mentioned in Schlagintweit, 1863.

In tangkas, she is depicted with red hair to indicate her wrathful nature.  Although she may wear the crown of five skulls symbolizing the transmutation of the passions, yet the serpent of wrath is there, too.

Unlike the support of the other 7 dharmapalas, she is atop, or surrounded by, the Himalayas.  This not only indicates her association with that region but also her origin as Mahakali, daughter of Himalaya, the Indian deity.  She also wears the garland of freshly severed heads characteristic of Kali. 

The important distinction is that in this instance the sea of boiling blood, the corpses, and entrails are not associated with offerings intended to appease her.   Lhamo's ultimate nature is as a support and a protector of the way of compassion.  The personal protector of the Dalai and Panchen Lamas, Palden Lhamo is especially venerated by the Gelug denomination.

Her mule which she rides side-saddle is led through the flames by Makaravaktra, the makara-headed dakini, with lion-head dakini Simhavaktra following behind. 

The sun shines from her navel and her hair is adorned with a crescent moon - peacock feather jewel.  Sometimes she is shaded by a peacock feather fan or parasol. Her steed is bridled and trimmed with vipers (like that of Freya, the Norse deity) from which hang a bag of diseases, a ball of magical thread and her dice.  One form of mo, the Tibetan system of divination by dice, is associated with her.

Palden Lhamo, Victorious Goddess-Defender of the Mahayana, was armed by the gods themselves. Hevajra is the one who gave her the dice to determine men's lives.  Her peacock feather fan is the gift of Brahma.  Kubera gave her a lion which protects and decorates her right ear.  The naga king gave her a serpent for her left ear.  Vajrapani gave her a hammer to use as a weapon.  Her mule is the gift of the other gods.

~ Tangka description by Natalie Marsh, Huntington Archive, Ohio State U.

Remati is the name of the very wrathful form of Palden Lhamo.  Depicted as dark blue, with 3 eyes, she is shown wielding a sickle or a sandalwood club, and holding a blood-filled skull while seated on her mule.

A Ladakhi thangka in the Koelz collection at University of Michigan shows her with four arms.  She holds a curved knife and skull bowl in her lower hands, and brandishes a sword and a staff waving a banner of skin.

It used to be the custom in Lhasa, to ridicule powerful members of society once a year, and so "the tutelary deity of Tibet and its government, the goddess Palden Lhamo, took possession of the lady destined to act as the chief lampooner during the festival of the New Year and spoke through her mouth. The goddess selected her from among the crowd of women gathered at a central well as they drew water for the crowds participating in the festival."

~ Michael Aris. The Boneless Tongue


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Re: Wrathful Guardians of Buddhism - Aesthetics and Mythology
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2013, 05:22:02 AM »
It is always refreshing and interesting to find new posts like this. I have learnt something important today! I would like to share about Begtse.

With one face and two hands, in the appearance of a red 'tsen' daemon, dressed like a Tibetan warrior, he is covered in protective armour. In the right hand he holds a sword with a black scorpion shaped handle. The left hand typically clutches to the breast a fresh heart with a bow and arrow held in the bend of the elbow and a long lance and banner leaning against the shoulder. Aside from the armour, he usually wears all the wrathful vestments such as the crown of five skulls, a necklace of fifty freshly severed heads, and the like. Typically he stands atop a sun disc with the right foot on the corpse of a horse and the left on the corpse of a man and he is completely surrounded by the flames of pristine awareness fire.

Within the New (Sarma) Schools of Sakya and Kagyu the practice of Begtse Chen was popularized by Marpa Lotsawa and Sachen Kunga Nyingpo.

The History of Deity Begtse.

Begtse Deity is also known as Tricpa Chamsin. One is one of the main protectors of the Sakya school, he is also a Dharma protector of the Gelugpa school as well. He is also known as a father of Noo-jin Tseu Marpo. Here is a history of Begtse Deity according to the Sakya Lama Tsarchen Losal Gyatso. Many kalpas ago two sons were born in the family of king Sergyi Shugchan and queen Upale Ke. The older brother's name was Trakden and the younger brother's name was Trakgye. They had different religious beliefs and they could not agree with each other. They had many debates. In these debates whoever lost had to follow the winner's religion. The older brother won but the younger one refused to follow him and ran away. The older brother caught him and tried to punish him, but the younger brother said: "Even if you will try to kill me I will not accept your religion, please let me go and I promise in the future when you will reach Enlightenment, I will protect your teachings". The older brother released him and gave him a set of copper armour, a coral stick, an arrow and a bow; and he gave him the name Sogtag Yamshi Marpo. Then they split. In another lifetime when the older brother became Buddha (Shakyamuni), the younger brother was born in the North West Marutse cemetery. His father's name was Nujin Zangkiralpachen and his mother's name was Sinmo Thrakiralbachin. The parents laid two eggs, one of them was coral, another one was "se" (name of material). Those eggs flew in the sky, conquering many gods, then they flew into the earth, conquering many nagas. They even threatened their own parents. The parents asked Akachati, Mahakala's mother, for protection and Akachati threw her katamka ( a ritual stick) at the eggs and broke them. From the coral egg a coral man with yellow hair bound on the top of his head came out. He was wearing copper armour, carrying a copper sword, an arrow and a bow and a coral stick. He said:" My name is Sogdag Yamshu Marpo". From another egg the blue female came out. She had shell teeth and turquoise eyebrows, her hair was made out of fire. She was wearing an agate and lapis lazuli necklace. She was carrying a copper knife and a purba and she was riding a man-eating bear. Akachati subdued them. Thus they became the Dharma Protectors. The lineage of this Deity was carried by Marpa Losawa and Ne Lotsawa. Ne Lotsawa gave it to Nakaupa. Nakaupa gave it to Sachen Kunga Nyingpo. Thus Begtse Chamsin (brother and sister) became protectors of the Sakyapa.

Begtse is worshipped in Tibet as one of the Eight Dharmapala, the Guardians of the Buddhist Dharma; as a god of war; and as a special protector of the Gelugpa sect. The name Begtse means "hidden coat of mail" but in Tibet Begtse is also commonly known as LCam sring, meaning "brother and sister," for he is often shown alongside his sister gDong dmar ma.


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Re: Wrathful Guardians of Buddhism - Aesthetics and Mythology
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2013, 07:31:54 AM »
I would like to share some very interesting stories about Mahakala

The Many Forms of Mahakala, Protector of Buddhist Monasteries
The Dhe-Tsang monastery, built in 1414 by a close disciple of Je Tsongkhapa is situated in the Gyalrong district of eastern Tibet. When its founder, Ngawang Drakpa, came to the region intending to build a monastery there, he realized that the place was special but couldn't decide on the best location to build the hermitage. At that very moment, a huge crow swooped down on him, picked off his scarf, and flew away with it. The monk hastened to follow the crow. Eventually, the garment was found hanging from the branches of a Juniper tree. Here it is relevant to observe that the crow is visualized in Tibetan Buddhism as an incarnation of Mahakala, whose name literally means the 'Great Black One.' Taking this occurrence to be an auspicious omen, Ngawang decided to build the monastery around the tree, which would itself serve as a natural pillar of the prayer hall.
During the actual construction of the monastery, the revered monk faced many obstructions from the local Bonpo masters who practiced a primitive form of shamanism and thus felt threatened by the unfolding of the Buddhist faith in Tibet. Whatever was constructed of the building during the day would collapse during the night. These mishaps were attributed to the black magic performed by the Bonpos. One day, when Ngawang Drakpa was contemplating the problem, the crow reappeared. Much relieved by its presence, the venerable monk wrote a letter to his guru Tsongkhapa in Lhasa, asking for help. The master in response to his pupil's plea then composed a practice brimming with spiritual potency and gave it the name: 'The Solitary Hero Vajra Bhairava Sadhana.' He gave it to the crow to deliver it to Ngawang Drakpa. When the latter received the manual he performed the practice immediately, which led to the subduing of all the leading Bonpo priests. This text later became one of the most significant one used in all Gelukpa monasteries and retains its popularity to the present day.

When the major part of construction was completed, the lama began to look for master sculptors who could create spiritually charged images for the retreat. One day, three black men came to the monastery and stayed there for some time. They later revealed that they were sculptors from India. Delighted on hearing this, Ngawang Drakpa eagerly sought their services in building the required deity statues. Of the three men from India, only one agreed to stay on and help. As per his promise, the sculptor created all the statues requested except that of Mahakala, which alas, was only half-finished when the day of inauguration arrived.

The celebrations for the occasion consisted of various ritual dance performances. At the end of the program, the Indian sculptor declared that he too wished to perform a dance for the contemplation of the audience and proceeded to enthrall them with an exceptionally energetic performance wearing a swirling costume and a large wrathful mask, leaving the viewers in raptures. Towards the conclusion of the dance, his physical form suddenly started to shrink until finally only the giant mask remained on the ground and there was no trace of the body of the dancer. Taken aback by the bizarre turn of events, the monks rushed to the chamber where the half finished statue of Mahakala lay. To their utter surprise, the statue was complete. The sculptor had merged with his creation, granting it an unparalleled spiritual potency.

The story does not end here however. Later they were informed that the two companions of the Indian sculptor, who had declined to stay on, had each made a Mahakala statue at two different monasteries and had likewise mysteriously disappeared into their respective creations. It was not long before the perceptive adepts realized that these sculptors were none other than the great god Mahakala in his various manifestations, incarnating himself as the savior and protector of monasteries. Thus at Ngawang's hermitage he was the Six-Armed Mahakala and had created a sculpture of himself with half-a-dozen hands. In a similar manner the other two had created icons of the Four-Armed and the White Mahakala respectively. Collectively, they were named the three Mahakala brothers and became vastly popular all over Tibet.

Though Mahakala's image is honored in all Tibetan monasteries, it is only at Dhe-Tsang that he is regarded as a living member of the sangha. Thus for example during offering ceremonies it is still customary for the chant leader to announce: "Do not forget the black man's share," and the same of what each monk receives is also set aside for Mahakala and presented to his sacred image. This tradition originated in the fact that when the so called 'black man from India' was sculpting the icons and was asked what he desired in return for his services replied "Only that much that is offered to the monks." When counting the number of residents at this exceptional monastery, this generous protector is also taken as a member. As an interesting fact it should be mentioned here that this monastery was destroyed in the 1950's, falling victim to the political and revolutionary activities of the day. It was however, rebuild spectacularly and was reopened in 1997, with the best wishes and participation of 170 representatives from fifteen nations under the patronage of his holiness Khejok Rinpoche.

The Symbolic Iconography of the Three Mahakala Brothers
Each of the three forms of Mahakala has some distinctly different qualities and aspects, symbolized by the physical forms and also the various implements they hold in their hands.

The Six-Armed (Shadbhuja) Mahakala (mGon po phyag drug pa)

This form is most favored by the Gelukpa order of Tibetan Buddhism, and in this manifestation Mahakala is considered to be the fierce and powerful emanation of Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of compassion.



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Re: Wrathful Guardians of Buddhism - Aesthetics and Mythology
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2013, 10:14:09 AM »
While Mahakala is an emanation of Avalokiteshvara, another great Dharma Protector, the Four-Faced Mahakala is an emanation of Manjushri. The latter is closely related to Dorje Shugden as it was a practice of Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen. This Protector can be seen in  thangkas depicting Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen.

Four-Faced Mahakala is the Protector of the Guhyasamaja and Chakrasamvara tantras. He was practised by Nagarjuna and Lama Tsongkhapa.

Below is a description of the iconography which can be found on this website:

"This form of Mahakala has four faces and four arms indicating that he has realized the four noble truths. His central face and body is dark blue in color, while his right face is white, his left face is red and his top face is black. The main hands of Four Faced Mahakala holds a curved knife and a skull cup. The curved knife and the skull cup are iconic implements of Mahakala that symbolizes his enlightened nature in Tantric imagery.
The second pair of hands holds a raised sword in the right and a spear in the left. The right leg is bent and the left straight standing atop a prone corpse-like figure. His three eyes stare at our negative karma and obstacles wrathfully with a vision of past, present and future simultaneously."

Jessie Fong

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Re: Wrathful Guardians of Buddhism - Aesthetics and Mythology
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2013, 01:03:35 PM »
Here's an extract sharing on Kubera

In the Vedic times in Indian Mythology, Kubera was a being associated with evil. He was envisaged to be the chief of all evil creatures living in darkness. It was only after Hinduism consolidated into what it is today that this hideous dwarf began to get acknowledged as a god and as one of the eight guardians of the world. He still remained the king of the Yakshas. Today, in the Hindu pantheon, Kubera is widely known as the god appointed the guardian of the treasures of the gods. He often rides in his airborne magic chariot Pushpak and showers jewels and other precious objects onto the lands he passes over to succor the poor.

There are two versions of how Kubera was elevated to the stature of a god. The first version postulates that Kubera performed stringent austerities for thousands of years and, as a reward, was promoted.

Another rather more romantic version is that one day Kubera had gone to rob a temple of Shiva, who is the king of robbers. During the robbery Kubera's taper had somehow been blown out. No matter how hard the dwarf tried he could not relight the taper. Nevertheless, he persisted with his efforts no matter how nefarious they were and, on the tenth attempt, he succeeded. Shiva is a benign god who is often pleased by the most illogical of efforts. This perseverance of Kubera's in his attempt to rob the god's temple won him much admiration from Shiva who subsequently granted the dwarf access to the Hindu pantheon of gods.

Kubera is physically envisioned as a dwarf with an ugly and deformed body. His skin is white and he has three legs. He has a set of only eight teeth. Why this is so is rather mysterious, as are so many physical features of the other Hindu gods. Since Kubera was so deformed, he had difficulty in moving around. Brahma took pity and ordered Vishwakarma, the architect of the gods and a god in his own right, to build the disabled god a chariot. Vishwakarma conceived and built Pushpak, an aerial chariot which moves of its own accord and which is so large that it can contain a whole city. Kubera flies in this fantastic chariot and throws down jewels and other precious objects to people on the ground to aid them with averting poverty.

-- The Buddhist Kubera by Otgonbayar Ershuu


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Re: Wrathful Guardians of Buddhism - Aesthetics and Mythology
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2013, 02:06:18 PM »
One of these eight dieties is Yama:The God of Death'
According to the popular version of the mythological origins of Yama,a holy man was told that if he spent fifty years living in deep meditation in a cave,he would reach enlightenment.On the night of the twenty nineth day of the eleventh month of the forty nineth year, two robbers entered his cave with a stolen bull whose head they proceeded to cut off.When they realized that the hermit had witnessed their act,they decided to kill him. He begged them to spare his life,explaining that in a few minutes he would reach enlightenment and all his efforts would be lost if they kill him before the expiration of the fifty years.The thieves ignored his request and cut off his head.Immediately, he assumed the ferocious form of Yama and put the bull's head on his own headless body.He then killed the two robbers and drank their blood from cups made from their skulls.In his fury,he threatened to destroy the entire population of Tibet.The Tibetan people appealed to the diety Manjushri (Bodhisattva of wisdom) to protect them from Yama.Manjushri assumed in the form of Yamantaka
(Conqueror of death) defeated Yama.and turned him into a protector of Buddhism, in order to save the people.
In visual imagenary, he is often shown accompanied by his consort ,Chamundi,who offers Yama a skull bowl full
of demon-blood elixir.He is represented nude,wearing garland of severed human heads.Dark blue in color he has a buffalo's head,and is shown in a dynamic position of this animal.