Buddhist Deities 3
Samantabhadra (Tibetan: Guntu Sangpo)
is the primordial Buddha associated with compassion and is known as
a protector of the sutra. He is the antecedent of all and the
expanse of reality. He holds sway over existence and quiescence in
their entirety. He is naked and blue in color, and is most often
pictured embracing his white consort Samantrabhhadri. They are
another emanation of Adibuddha, the ever-present potential for
Buddhahood, that has always been and always be.
Senge Dongchenma (Sanskrit: Simhamukha or
Simhavaktra) is known as "the lion-headed one", a particularly powerful
guardian dakini emanation of Padmasambava. She is most often dark blue but
she can be red, as she dances with a vajra chopper and skull cup.
Shakyamuni attained enlightenment after six
years of fasting and meditation, became known as Buddha and founded
Buddhism. He was born about 2500 years ago as Siddhartha Gautama, a prince
and son of the king Suddhodana and queen Mayadevi. He is believed to have
had 550 incarnations with more yet to come, but he is called Shakyamuni (the
Sage of Shakya Clan) and when a reference is made to "the Buddha", he is the
(See: Je Tsongkhapa)
Troma Nagmo is a wrathful form of Vajrayogini.
With great splendor of original nature, she suppresses demonic forces. In
particular, she is an exponent of the Chod lineage with emphasis on
severance, cutting all extremes.
Vairochana is an emanation of Adibuddha and
represents the cosmic element of form (rupa). He is the primordial wisdom of
the sphere of reality. His is in the center of the mandala consisting of the
five Transcendental Buddhas, and his rites pacify negative emotions. He is
white and his two hands are held against the chest with his thumbs and
forefingers touching. He radiates the light of Buddhahood and his consort is
Akashadhateshvari, who is the sovereign lady of infinite space. So the dance
of light and the space for it to radiate through creates the united dance of
Dharmadhatu. It is this dance that is represented by these unions and the
sexual imagery depicted in Tantra.
Vajradhara is an emanation of Adibuddha,
considered by some to be the highest deity of the Buddhist Pantheon in
Vajrayana Buddhism, and its source. He is the central figure in the Refuge
Tree of Kagyupa lineage. He is the Tantric form of Shakyamuni and his name
means the bearer of the thunderbolt. Vajradhara embodies the primordial
awakened mind and many Tantric teachings are attributed to him. He is an
expression of Buddhahood itself in both single and yabyum form. He is
depicted with his arms crossed on his chest, each holding a dorje.
Vajrakilaya (Vajrakila) is a wrathful form of
Padmasambava. He is a Tantric deity who is embodied in the purba. He has at
least six arms and wears a crown of skulls.
Varjrapani is a wrathful Bodhisattva and along
with Avalokitesvara and Manjusri, he is one of the three family protectors.
He fights a spiritual battle against the forces of ignorance, craving and
samsara. He is a blue Tantric figure that is surrounded by a flamed halo,
and wears a garland of skulls and a wreath of snakes.
Vajrasattva is the priest of the five
Transcendental Buddhas. His practice is one of purification through the
realization that in your true nature, you were never impure. He is
visualized in the foundation meditation practices of Tantra, with the aim of
generating Bodhichitta, the cosmic will to enlightenment. He is represented
in two forms, single and yabyum. He is usually white in color and sits
crossed legged with a dorje (vajra) in his right hand with palm upward
against his chest and a bell in his left resting on the left thigh.
Vajravahari (Tibetan: Dorje Phamo) is the
essence of the five kinds of knowledge and is the embodiment of pleasure.
She is a two-armed red goddess who exhibits a dorje (vajra) in her right
hand along with a raised index finger and in her left.
Vajrayogini (Tibetan: Dorje Naljorme) is one
of the most important dakinis. She is a yidam of the Highest Tantra and
appears in many Tantric practices. She is youthful and passionate for the
Dharma. Her eyes are red and she has a forked tongue protruding through her
teeth. A tiger skin is draped on her and wears human skulls while dancing on
a human corpse. She dances with her right leg raised and has between four
and twenty-four arms.
White Tara, the Mother of all the Buddhas,
bestows the gift of longevity and is an elegant emanation. She energizes
those who visualize her, and that energy can be invested in one’s spiritual
practice. She is still and centered sitting in a full lotus, belonging to
the Lotus Family of Amitaba. She has seven eyes: one each on the soles of
her feet; one each on the palms of her hands; one each in the normal place
on her face and one in the "third eye" position on her forehead. Several
important White Tara practices have been passed down through the Karmapas
and Dalai Lamas.
See our Homage to
the 21 Taras
Yamantaka (Tibetan: Shinjeshe) is the
conqueror or slayer of death as the wrathful emanation of Manjusri. He is a
member of the Vajra Family of Akshobya and concerned with overcoming the
poison of hatred. He is usually dark blue and is depicted in his simplest
form (usually rupas) with one bullhead and two arms. He wears a crown of
skull, has a third eye, a skullcap in his left hand and a chopper in his
right. In thankas he most often has nine heads, sixteen feet and thirty four
arms, all hold tantra symbols.
Yeshe Tsogyal a female siddha, was
Padmasambava’s chief female disciple and main consort, and represents the
feminine principle. She is responsible for memorizing, documenting and then
concealing many of the termas left by Padmasambava. She was a dakini who
took human form.
Notes: We use the term Transcendental Buddha that is
interchangeable with Dhyani and Jina Buddhas.
We want to express our deepest heartfelt gratitude to
Tulku Yeshe Nyima for his selfless assistance in correcting, clarifying and
expounding upon this humble attempt to assemble a brief description of many
of the primary deities. Any errors or omissions are totally our
Buddhist Deities 2
Buddhist Deities 1