Manjushri, the Buddha of Wisdom has emanated into countless emanations. He emanates in different forms and aspects according to the time, people and dispositions. He manifests as Yidams or meditational deities in all four classes of Tantras to suit the needs of practitioners. Manjushri also emanates in the form Protectors to protect the Buddhadharma and Dharma practitioners.
Kalarupa is one of the emanations of Manjushri, manifesting as a Dharma Protector or Dharmapala. Kalarupa (Sanskrit) or Choegyal (Tibetan) has by his side, his consort, Tsamundi, an emanation of the goddess Saraswati.
Kalarupa’s has many names like Yama Dharmaraja, Lord of Death, King of the Law or Black Karma Yama. This terrifying form of the Buddha of Wisdom, personifies enlightenment through the conquest of anger.
Although Kalarupa is found in all the Dharma Schools, the Gelugpa tradition holds Yama Dharmaraja in special regard as he is one of the three main Dharma protectors of the Gelugpa- along with the Six-Arm Mahakala and Vaishravana.
A Dharma Protector is a wrathful deity who has pledged to defend the Dharma and support practitioners from inner and outer obstacles. Dharmapalas manifest with a fierce expression like protruding fangs, blood-shot eyes, holding skull-cops filled with blood, coloured skin, and carrying wrathful attributes like threatening weapons, a crown of skulls, standing on humans or other figures, which represent our negative afflictions.
There are two classes of Dharma Protectors: enlightened and unenlightened Dharma Protectors.
- Enlightened or extra-worldly Protectors are emanations of enlightened beings such as Dharmapala Setrap, six-armed Mahakala and Kalarupa. They are already out of the six realms of samsara. They willingly manifest in a worldly form to be closer to us and help us remove obstacles for our Dharma practice.
- Unenlightened Protectors are powerful beings, which were demons, spirits or even non-Buddhist deities. They have been subdued by high Lamas and bound by oath to protect Dharma institutions, Dharma practitioners and their work. We do not take refuge in or pray to unenlightened Protectors but we may propitiate them for help. Examples of unenlightened Protectors are Nechung and Namkar Barzin.
Manjushri’s Emanations as Various Dharma Protectors
Apart from Kalarupa, Manjushri has also emanated as other Dharma Protectors like four-faced Mahakala and Dorje Shugden.
- Kalarupa is regarded as the protector of the Yamantaka tantras and helps to subdue the afflictions that arise during our practice of the Yamantaka tantras. Kalarupa’s practice helps us also to destroy ignorance and to develop wisdom to overcome our anger and suffering.
- Four-Faced Mahakala is the protector of the Guhyasamaja and Chakrasamvara Tantras. Four-Faced Mahakala is also efficacious for the subjugation of the afflictive emotions like anger and depression.
- The most recent and therefore potent is Dorje Shugden. Dorje Shugden arose to be the special protector of Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings on Emptiness and has been highly regarded by the highest Gelugpa lamas of the modern time.
How Kalarupa Arose as a Protector
At the time when Buddha Shakyamuni was absorbed in the process of generating the mind of Bodhicitta at Dorje Den (Bodhgaya), it was said that an army of three hundred and sixty million devils manifested to attack him in order to stop him. The Buddha in return meditated on the mandala of Yamantaka and the devils were stopped, subdued and placed onto the path of generating the Bodhicitta mind. It was then that the Buddha imparted the tantric treatise of Yamantaka to those present and entrusted it to Chagna Dorje or Vajrapani.
Buddha Shakyamuni then manifested himself in the form of the assemblage of deities of the wrathful Yamantaka mandala in all its component parts and gave instructions on the tantric treatise. He also caused the manifested emanations of Yamantaka to perform numerous miracle deeds of different kinds to suit the nature and inclination of each of the individual subjects to be subdued and he instructed them, ‘should any one deviate from my instructions, may all their heads and bodies burst.’ Subsequently, it was said that Buddha Shakyamuni in the form of Yamantaka got hold of his handstaff and stirred the ocean. This resulted in an enormous whirlwind, which caused the whole earth to shake.
Choegyal or Kalarupa manifested externally with the face of a buffalo and alongside with his consort Tsamundi, surrounded by four male and four female Shinjes or Yamas, as part of Yamantaka’s entourage. His internal aspect is manifested as solitary and buffalo-faced with his entourage. It is said that in this form, he went to Yama, seven levels below the earth. He trampled upon all the sixteen doorless iron citadels with sixteen feet and by doing so violently subdued its inhabitants. The chiefs of the Yamas individually offered their life-essence to him and were oath-bound. They pledged to protect the Buddha Dharma as long as this aeon endures. They also pledged to work for all deeds of Yamantaka to complete successfully.
Kalarupa, The Way to Enlightenment by the Conquest of Anger
Kalarupa’s terrifying form displays the ugliness that arises from inner obstacles like anger, fear, hatred, pride and jealousy. From these poisons, Kalarupa demonstrates our appearance to others when we use harsh speech and harsh actions or are under afflictive emotions like anger, jealousy or hatred.
The fierceness of his iconography teaches us to remind ourselves that all the causes and effects of anger arising from ignorance are dreadful and distorted.
Yet, his entire form sits on a lotus to signify that everything he does, no matter how wrathful his appearance is, is done out of deep compassion to help us out of our suffering. He is thus also the opponent of all that is foul and despicable.
As an emanation of Manjushri, Kalarupa’s practice ultimately helps us to destroy ignorance and to develop wisdom to overcome our anger and suffering. From any lineage, anyone who is dedicated to cut out his anger, can practise Kalarupa.
The Outer, Inner and Secret Form of Kalarupa
In his “outer” form, he is depicted with one face and two hands, the head is in the form of a buffalo, blue in colour with three round eyes, sharp horns, whose right hand brandishes a bone stick composed of a fused spine with a skull on top and a lasso in the left hand. He is adorned with a crown of skulls and bone ornaments, wearing a necklace of fifty freshly severed heads. He stands upon a blue-coloured bull with his right leg bent and the left extended. The bull is kneeling on top of a human figure. To the left side of Kalarupa stands frequently his black consort Tsamundi. Her dress is made of ox-skin and black silk. Her breasts are emaciated and her hair are hanging loosely in stripes. Her attributes are a trident and a skull-cup.
The “inner” form is also dark-blue, but here the ruler of the hells has the head of a fierce raksasa , and his hands are holding a chopper and a skull-cup. His feet step upon a corpse. Surrounding the ‘Inner’ Kalarupa are four attendant figures each in a different colour: white, yellow, red and dark blue. Each stands atop a buffalo having the same colour as the mounted figure.
The “secret” aspect is red in colour and he steps upon a bull of the same colour. His attributes are a jewel and a skull-cup.
Kalarupa as a Dharma Protector of the Lamrim
In 1373, Lama Tsongkhapa was advised by his teacher Dondrub Rinchen, to focus on the following Dharma Protectors: Vaisravana, Mahakala and Kalarupa. These three were the special protectors of Lama Tsongkhapa and are also the Dharma Protectors of the Lamrim. Within the Lamrim tradition, there are three scopes of practice:
- The initial scope practitioner is someone who practices for a better future life.
Kalarupa is the Dharma Protector of the small or initial scope.
- A middle scope practitioner practices for individual liberation.
Vaishravana also known as Dzambala is the Dharma Protector of the Medium or middle Scope of the Lamrim.
- A great scope practitioner practices to attain enlightenment in order to lead other beings to liberation and happiness.
6 Armed Mahakala, an emanation of Avalokiteshvara, Buddha of Compassion is the Dharma Protector of the Great Scope of the Lamrim.
Kalarupa as a Dharma Protector for the Yamantaka Tantras
Yamantaka, is a wrathful, buffalo-headed meditational deity or Yidam of the Highest Yoga Tantra. Yamantaka, also called Vajrabhairava, is one of the principal three meditational deities of the Gelug school.
Yamantaka is specifically the type of practice that is done to overcome death and extend one’s life. Yamantaka: Yama is “death”, the “Lord of Death”, and antaka, “the one who puts an end to”, and so Yamantaka means “the one who puts an end to the Lord of Death”.
Yamantaka is in the form of an extremely strong and forceful figure and has Manjushri in his heart. Other Dharmapalas of the Yamantaka Tantra along with Kalarupa are 6-Arm Mahakala, Palden Lhamo and Vaishravana.
Kalarupa puja is highly recommended by Lord Tsongkhapa himself. There are many benefits of performing Kalarupa puja once a week or at least regularly. These include:
- Will push the Lord of Death, Yama back and extend life. Kalarupa is a direct opponent of Yama like untimely or accidental death.
- Increases wisdom by creating the causes to eliminate ego. Kalarupa is Manjushri. Our real enemy is our ego.
- Helps with overcoming many types of magic, spells, negative words, incantations and bad astrological dates.
- Eliminate obstacles for big projects to embark upon or retreats or big works. Great for dharma centres success.
- When a prayer becomes “stagnant” or seems to not work, Kalarupa puja “rushes” things ahead.
- Increases study and practice of Dharma.
- Increases one’s interest in emptiness and teachings on emptiness.
- Eliminate obstacles to realisation of emptiness.
- Blessing the individual to have interest in the profound teachings of emptiness which cuts samsara at the roots.
- Will expedite tantric practice, rituals, rites and attainments.
- Mind experiences more lightness, less confusion and clarity.
- Can help assist the mind to make good decisions not based on anger or faulty emotions.
- Blesses the family, your team, your group, your company and goals.
- You create causes for a sharp mind.
- Wonderful to bless a new home, new office, new land. It is also good to bless your existing dwellings. Creates more harmony.
- Protects Yamantaka practitioners from obstacles arising from their own karma.
- Assists by creating conducive conditions for the practice of Yamantaka in order to gain high realisations and ultimately enlightenment.
Kalarupa pujas are done in the three great monasteries of Gaden, Sera and Drepung daily for 600 years now. Puja means to clear, to clear obstacles and to clear one’s mind. It is great to have this done for someone’s birthday, anniversary or any special day to bless them on their special day.
You can do this puja yourself, join a group to do the puja, or sponsor the puja to be done for you. This puja can be done in one’s office, home, or from a distance.
Druchuma Puja- Ritual Words of the Sixty-four
This special puja called Druchuma, or The Sixty-Four Part Torma Offering to Kalarupa was composed by Kyabje Pabongkha Dechen Nyingpo.
Click here to download the puja text (PDF).
Note: The recitation on page 23 of the puja text has to be recited a specific number of times. If 4 people are doing the puja together, each person will have to recite 4 times from the top to the bottom of the page. If only 2 persons is reciting the text, it has to be done 8 times.
If you’re interested in ordering a Kalarupa Puja, you can do so online through vajrasecrets.com or through Kechara Puja House +603-78033908.
Offering tormas is a way to gain attainments according to Kyabje Zong Rinpoche. The shape, color and design of the tormas correspond to the winds/ channels and psychic points in our body. So when we offer tormas up, we are offering the attainments or the wish for attainments within those channels/ psychic points. In this way, the making and offering tormas is a very important and part of the practice.
Making tormas and offerings tormas are done for the Kalarupa Puja. There are 2 sets of offering to be prepared:
- one set is to be placed on the altar
- one set is to be sent out during the puja
This is a video of a session of preparing the torma offerings for Kalarupa Puja.
Prayers to Kalarupa
Praise To The Dharma King, Kalarupa
Kalarupa, splendid, fierce in form!
A string of human heads, mouths dripping blood
Hangs from your shoulders; destroyer of the pride
Of irresistible Mara-hosts, I praise you!
With vajra song, making great uproar,
I offer a torma, complete in all its parts
Tea and liquor offerings, foes’ minced flesh
And fish, adorned with oceans of blood and fat.
The worst of enemies who harms the
Doctrine Of the Tathagatha, you smash to dust!
From now on, you destroy for us the yogins,
The fears of sickness age and death – I praise you!
Showing your fangs, as dazzling white as Venus,
Your eyes, destroying enemies, dart like lightning,
As with your pores blazing like the great fire
At time’s end you burn all demon-hosts – I praise you!
Lord of all Mamos, such as Chamundi
Possessed of effulgent splendour like sunlight
When you shout “DZA” to accomplish Divine Activities
You conquer fox-like hindering demons – I praise you!
All demons keep you on their heads like a hat
Your angry, buffalo-demon’s mouth gapes open
And shakes the great earth, screaming, rattling & buzzing
Wielder of skull-club born from YA, I praise you!
Attendants mounted on buffaloes sharp of horns
And hoof, others on dusty whirlwinds, such
As Shakali and Shinje-Bebma – a retinue
Of demons of the three worlds – surround you, I praise you!
O splendid-virtued, forcefully laughing, “HA HA”!
Accept the offerings, ARGHAM and the rest,
And incessantly carry out the promise
You swore before the glorious Yamantaka!
His spiritual energy in the form of sound helps to transform the mind:
OM KALARUPA HUNG PHET
- Oracles and Demons of Tibet- René De Nebesky-Wojkowitz
- Tsongkhapa A simple Guide to a Powerful Practice- H.E. the 25th Tsem Rinpoche
- Faces of Enlightenment- H.E. the 25th Tsem Rinpoche
- The Guardian Deities of Tibet by Ladrang Kalsang
For more interesting information:
- All About Manjushri / 关于文殊菩萨
- Powerful Pujas
- Tiny advice on tormas
- Learning Pujas from Gen-la
- Dharma Protectors of Tibetan Buddhism
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If you are in the United States, please note that your offerings and contributions are tax deductible. ~ the tsemrinpoche.com blog team