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Vajrayana deities in Buddhist Art


Vajrayogini


Vajrayogini has variety of forms, but the one commonly use is something in between wrathful and peaceful. She is usually in the red color, with one face and two hands holding a curved knife and skull cup filled with nectar and she is adorned with bone ornaments. All these different ornaments and objects have many very deep meanings. The curved knife usually represents the fact that she cuts all defilements. The cup represents what in Sanskrit is called “mahasukha” - “the great bliss”, which means Vajrayogini is in a complete state of great bliss all the time.


Kurukulle

Kurukulle projects the divine and Enlightened beauty to attract us to the Dharma. She uses her enchanting “magic” to remove all our obstacles to practice.


She is usually depicted in red with four arms, holding a bow and arrow made of flowers in one pair of hands and a hook and noose of flowers in the other pair. She dances in a Dakini-pose and crushes the asura Rahu (the one who devours the sun).


Palden Lhamo


Palden Lhamo is an old Tibetan female guardian deity. She is the only female deity of the 8 Dharmapalas. She is worshiped in particular by the yellow hat monks of the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism, and is considered the patron saint of Lhasa and the Dalai Lama himself. She is the wrathful manifestation of Tara.


Palden Lhamo is pictured riding on a mule through a sea of blood. She is black and blue, with flaming eyebrows and a mustache. In her hand she carries a cup made of her child’s skull, who was the product of an incestuous act. She is also surrounded by the loops of a string made with 15 severed heads. In her navel we can see a bright sun disc.


Tsongkhapa


Tsongkhapa is a documented historical figure. He is the founder of the one of the main schools of Tibetan Buddhism: Gelugpa School.


Tsongkhapa is very easy to recognize – he wears the yellow hat secured for the Gelugpa, his hands make the gesture of Dharmacakra-Mudra (The Turning Wheel of Doctrine), and on his right and left sides we can find, respectively, the sword (a symbol of wisdom) and the book, supported by two lotus flowers.


Padamsambhava – Guru Rinpoche


He is the historically tangible founder of Tibetan Buddhism. He is considered the founder of the oldest school of Tibetan Buddhism, the Nyingma school, but is nevertheless of great importance for all the other schools too.

There are eight different forms, the most common of them being fairly easy to recognize: he is depicted sitting with a special hat with upturned ear flaps and a spring at the top. As hardly anyone else in Tibetan iconography, Guru Rinpoche is pictured with a beard. In his left hand he holds a blood-filled skull-cup and in the right the Vajra. With his left elbow he holds a magic wand, which tip is usually a flaming trident.

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