Rime Thangkas (Free Download)

Aug 22, 2017 | Views: 72,913

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Wonderful Rime (non-sectarian) images of the Enlightened Beings for you to download and print in high-resolution for absolutely free!

I realise that it can sometimes be difficult to find good quality, iconographically correct images of the various Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, especially in places where Dharma is not strong, or in remote areas. Therefore, I am very happy to be able to make this selection of images available to everyone to download at absolutely no charge. And guess what they are perfect for everyone as they are Rime. In fact they cover all four major traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, so no matter what lineage you practice, you will find something beautiful and divine here for you!

The images are high-resolution and of sufficient quality to be printed clearly in A4, A3 or even poster size and framed for your altar or shrine. I am making this available for all dharma practitioners around the world and for those who just want sacred images in their environment. Enjoy, be blessed and share this with others. Do visit this page again and again as there will be a total of 108 thangkas uploaded here. Let me know in the comments sections which images you downloaded. I would feel very happy to know.

Tsem Rinpoche

 

1. Buddha Shakyamuni (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Guru Rinpoche, Lama Tsongkhapa, Buddha Shakyamuni, Four-Faced Mahakala, Dorje Shugden, Palden Lhamo and Dorje Drolo.

Buddha Shakyamuni from where the 84,000 Dharmas arise compassionately turned the wheel of Dharma until his parinirvana at 81. Due to his great kindness in turning the wheel of Dharma enshrined in the 108 volumes of the Kangyur, many have been liberated from samsara and many will continue to be liberated.

It is said Shakyamuni’s teaching will pervade our world system for 5,000 years after which only signs of Dharma will be seen but actual Dharma will not be practised. Shakyamuni established the order of the monks and nuns in which pure discipline (vinaya) can be practised bringing beings to higher states of rebirth which spread all over Asia and now the west. The sangha community embodies the teachings, practice and discipline as taught by Buddha. Buddha strongly advised his students that the true Dharma is within ourselves when we have transformed the very inner poisons eg. ignorance, hatred and desire into enlightenment.

Dorje Shugden arose specifically to protect Lama Tsongkhapa’s uncommon view of emptiness, which is the Buddha’s highest teachings on wisdom. However, he is a an enlightened being and he can still be relied on by practitioners of any other lineages or traditions. There is no limit or restrictions to an enlightened being’s compassion and skilful means to benefit sentient beings. It was said during Buddha’s time Dorje Shugden was one of his main students.

 

2. Buddha Shakyamuni (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Buddha Shakyamuni, Lama Tsongkhapa, Guru Rinpoche, Nagarjuna, Kalarupa, Six-Armed Mahakala, Guru Dorje Drolo and Dorje Shugden.

The historical Shakyamuni Buddha was the fourth Buddha in line of 1,000 to appear in this fortunate aeon. It is said only the first, second, third, fourth and last Buddhas will teach the extremely quick path of Tantra. Shakyamuni Buddha taught all three yanas of Buddhism in it’s entirety which not all Buddhas will do because of karma and circumstance of sentient beings. It is said those born during the time Shakyamuni’s sacred three yanas of Buddhism are existing are extremely fortunate. Born a prince and manifesting the 12 golden deeds of an enlightened being, his teachings has pervaded Asia, Southeast Asia, Middle East and now the west.

It is said to see, hear or visualise Shakyamuni Buddha will plant the seeds of enlightenment in one’s mindstream. During the time of the historical Buddha, the King of Lanka (modern day Sri Lanka) desired to see Lord Buddha in person but it was not possible due to distance. Lord Buddha had an image made of himself and sent to the king and said whatever respect or worship performed to this image will equal to making offerings to the actual Buddha in person. From this sprung the tradition of depicting the historical Buddha in painting and sculpture.

Dorje Shugden is well-established by many high lamas of Sakya, Gelug, Kagyu and even Nyingma traditions to be an enlightened Dharma Protector. Thus, he can be regarded as a powerful Dharma Protector of the Buddha’s teachings although he arose specifically to protect Lama Tsongkhapa’s uncommon lineage of Nagarjuna’s Middle View that is the Buddha’s highest teaching on wisdom. That is why, he wears the round yellow hat because it represents this special lineage of Nagarjuna’s view.

 

3. Four-Armed Chenrezig or Avalokiteshvara (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): H.H. the 10th Panchen Lama, Amitabha, Four-Armed Chenrezig, Six-Armed Mahakala, Dorje Shugden and Tsangpa Karpo (peaceful Setrap).

His Holiness the 10th Panchen Lama Choekyi Gyaltsen is widely regarded as the emanation of Buddha Amitabha and for many lifetimes, the Panchen Lama line of incarnations had been the tutor of the Dalai Lama’s previous lives who are widely regarded as emanations of Chenrezig. The many incarnations of Panchen Lama also were erudite teachers to hundreds of masters, yogis, high ranking tulkus and sangha in the history of Indian as well as Tibetan Buddhism.

The line of incarnations of Panchen Lama stems back to the time of the historical Shakyamuni Buddha.

On the other hand, Tsangpa Karpo and Dorje Shugden had been the protectors of the Panchen Lama for a number of incarnations. In fact, the 10th Panchen Lama himself composed special extensive prayers to Dorje Shugden and this has been included within his collected written works. This shows that the Panchen Lama himself had the highest regard for Dorje Shugden as an enlightened protector and his powerful ability to assist sentient beings of this time.

 

4. Amitabha (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Guru Rinpoche, Amitabha, Four-Armed Chenrezig, White Tara, Guru Dorje Drolo, Four-Armed Mahakala, Dorje Shugden and Palden Lhamo.

Amitabha Buddha can benefit beings on many levels especially by transforming the desire energy into that of enlightenment. The highest level of practitioner of Amitabha will gain enlightenment during the time of Shakyamuni. The lower scope practitioner will be able to take rebirth in places where Amitabha or Avalokiteshvara’s practice is prevalent to continue their spiritual journey. The medium scope will have the fortune to take rebirth from a lotus in Sukhavati paradise in the presence of Amitabha receiving prophecy of their impending enlightenment from Amitabha himself.

Amitabha practice is very strong both in Tibet and China. In China there are many schools of Amitabha practice and it is highly revered as it is known to be efficacious. Chinese Buddhist when meeting or parting another person will salute each other by saying ‘Namo Omitofuh’ which means ‘Praise to Amitabha’. This is to constantly recognise the inherent nature of Amitabha in all beings they encounter. Buddha mentioned clearly all of us have the seed of enlightenment, it’s just we have to recognise this. Reciting the sutra and mantra of Amitabha diligently with great faith combined with certain layman’s vows will create the causes of taking birth in what is known as the ‘Western Paradise’ of Amitabha. Practitioners of this path are said to have no fear at the time of death as Amitabha will with an entourage escort the practitioner personally.

There are allegations that Dorje Shugden is a Gelug Dharma Protector and that he will not protect those who worship Guru Rinpoche or those of other traditions. This is not true as Dorje Shugden is an enlightened being and therefore, he will protect all beings regardless of whether they worship Guru Rinpoche or not.

 

5. Medicine Buddha (Main figure)

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Lama Tsongkhapa (top tier), Green Tara (2nd tier), White Umbrella (3rd tier), monk representing sponsor offering mandala (bottom left), Dorje Shugden (bottom, rightmost)

Medicine Buddha made a vow during another aeon that all beings who suffer from sickness if they call up on him, he will heal them. Illness are both mental and physical which the root cause will be arising from ignorance, hatred and desire. From the three root causes arises the 84,000 mental afflictions which manifests as various diseases of body and mind. The practice of Medicine Buddha is said to purify, counter and heal these afflictions.

Medicine Buddha images and practice is also powerful for purifying the area to avoid natural disasters. The practice of Medicine Buddha is said to be the most powerful healer of all our inner and outer diseases eventually bringing us to full enlightenment.

Recitation of Medicine Buddha mantra onto both people and animals is said to purify immediate karmas and help them take a good rebirth. It is good practice to recite the mantra of Medicine Buddha to an animal and blow on them to help them take positive rebirths where they can practice dharma in a future life. It is also beneficial to blow the mantra onto animal bones or flesh that are long dead to help them take good rebirth. Medicine Buddha practice has so many benefits and therefore very prevalent within all schools of Tibetan and Chinese Buddhism.

Dorje Shugden is said to have the strength of a thousand Dharma Protectors. Therefore, he has the amazing ability to protect the lineage of Lama Tsongkhapa, have the healing abilities of Medicine Buddha, fulfil wishes in the manner of Green Tara and protect one from spirits and other negative afflictions like White Umbrella.

 

6. Vajravarahi (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Vajravarahi, Vajradhara, Four-Armed Mahakala, Mahakala Bernagchen and Dorje Shugden.

In Tibetan Buddhism, Vajravarahi or Dorje Phagmo in Tibetan is a semi-wrathful form of Vajrayogini, who in turn is associated with the Chakrasamvara Tantra. In terms of iconography, she is the female counterpart of Heruka Chakrasamvara and is widely practised in many Tibetan Buddhist traditions but principally relied on within the Kagyu tradition. Her practice is said to confer very high attainments just on relying on her mantra combined with keeping pure samaya with the guru, performing twice monthly ganacakra offerings and reciting a short prayer to ascend to her Kechara paradise daily. Vajrayogini in any form is extremely efficacious during the degenerate age of Kaliyuga where the five signs are clear. The five signs being degeneration in lifespan, time, sentient beings, actions and views and finally afflictions.

According to the Kagyu, Indian and other Tibetan lineages, Buddha Shakyamuni is believed to have arisen

as Buddha Vajradhara in order to teach the Tantras. Furthermore, many practitioners within India and Tibet have achieved very high realisations through her practice and particularly her mantra. The mantra can only be recited with full permission and initiation or it has no effects. She is practised in all schools of Tibetan Buddhism but particularly revered within the Kagyu School. Within the same school, Mahakala Bernagchen is the principle protector as illustrated in this scroll painting.

This painting is ideal for all practitioners perhaps having a special attraction to Rime Kagyu followers.

 

7. H.H. The 4th Zhabdrung Jigme Norbu Rinpoche (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Guru Rinpoche, Four-Armed Chenrezig, Talo Sangngak Choling Monastery, H.H. the 4th Zhabdrung Rinpoche Jigme Norbu and Dorje Shugden.

A thangka of H.H. the 4th Zhabdrung Tulku Jigme Norbu and Dorje Shugden, the Dharma Protector he promoted to the people of Bhutan. Above him is Four-Armed Chenrezig, whom the Zhabdrung tulkus are considered to be emanations of. At the top left is Guru Rinpoche and on the right is Talo Sangngak Choling, the monastic seat of Zhabdrung Jigme Norbu.

Although a Drukpa Kagyu High Lama, Zhabdrung Jigme Norbu had written extensive prayers to Dorje Shugden. The collected works of the 4th Zhabdrung Jigme Norbu, published by the National Library of Bhutan contain two liturgies pertaining to Dorje Shugden. Thus, it is clear that he recognised the beneficial nature of Dorje Shugden and actively promoted it in Bhutan during his lifetime. If the 4th Zhabdrung Jigme Norbu wrote a long puja text to Dorje Shugden, it is the same as he is promoting this beneficial practice to his disciples, lineage and Bhutan. He wrote this text to Dorje Shugden in order for his disciples to use this text to invoke Dorje Shugden’s blessings and protection. After all, a master of his level and stature cannot make mistakes as he is highly realised.

 

8. Kalachakra (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Buddha Shakyamuni, Kalachakra, Vajra Vega, White Tara and Dorje Shugden.

Kalachakra means Wheel of Time or ‘time-cycles’ and is also a Tantric deity or yidam of Vajrayana Buddhism. The name also represents complex meditation practices contained within the Kalachakra Tantra literature. The meditations contained in this tantric system has the great ability to bring one to complete enlightenment.

Also to transform one’s inner world into that of an outer paradise. A situation is neither good or bad for a seasoned practitioner of Kalachakra because all phenomena lack inherent truth therefore cause and result are according to viewpoint and changeable.

According to the Kalachakra Tantra, Buddha Shakyamuni taught the Kalachakra Root Tantra in Dharanikota (near modern-day Amaravathi) in south-eastern India to the first king of Shambhala. This King brought the tantra back to Shambhala where it is the main practice of this mythical land. All the Kings of Shambhala are the lineage holders of this Kalachakra tantra and they empower their subjects into this practice.

Shambhala is a physical place where one can enter with this body but exists on a slightly different plane. Many high beings are able to visit in their astral bodies. Practitioners have physically entered the realm also. His Holiness the Panchen Lama and his line of incarnations are masters of this tantra and said to have travelled to this realm and recorded the sights and sounds in detail in ‘The Way to Shambhala’ or in Tibetan ‘Shambhala Lamyig’.

We are currently in the reign of the 21st King of Shambhala. Shambhala residents are said to live very long lives, peacefully abiding within ethics and the practice of Dharma. Their main practice being Kalachakra which is one of the highest yoga tantras revealed in this world system by Buddha Shakyamuni. It is said by practicing Kalachakra on the outside world one is able to create the causes to take rebirth in Shambhala. It is the only highest yoga tantra given publicly to mass audiences as higher tantras are very secret. It is with the hope to plant the seeds of Shambhala in their mindstreams by attending these initiations. It is hoped by receiving this initiation, one will create the causes to take rebirth in Shambhala where one can practice in peace and without wars or disturbances.

It is well known His Holiness the line of Panchen Lamas are the emanations of the Kings of Shambhala to bring Dharma to the lands outside of Shambhala. It is a speciality practice of the line of Panchen Lamas of Tibet. Many benefits arise from the practice of this profound tantric system.

Furthermore, Dorje Shugden for many lifetimes as great translators and lineage holders had been responsible for the dissemination and preservation of the Kalachakra Tantra in Tibet. According to the long fulfilment puja (kangsol) text, Dorje Shugden at the beginning of the puja is called forth from the mystical land of Shambhala, the last great stronghold of the Kalachakra lineage and practice on earth. One of the places Dorje Shugden abides is Shambhala. The previous Panchen Lama has built an ornate and extensive chapel to Dorje Shugden in his sprawling monastery of Tashilunpo in Tibet.

 

9. Machig Labdron (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Padampa Sangye, Tromo Nagmo, Machig Labdron, Dorje Shugden, Chang Shon and Palden Lhamo.

Machig Labdron was the famous 11th century awakened Tibetan yogini who received the Shije (Pacification of Suffering) teachings from the Indian master and yogi, Padampa Sangye. Machig Labdron is believed to have been the incarnation of Yeshe Tsogyel, the consort of Guru Rinpoche, and developed the Tantric lineage and practice of Chod. Chod is considered one of the few authentic tantric traditions that is indigenous of Tibet. Her image is very widespread as it represents the complete destruction of the self-destructive ego which ties us to samsara. Chod practice traditionally was done in cemetaries to invoke fear and then to examine where this fear arises from in order to identify the ego. The practice of Dorje Shugden is another authentic indigenous protector of Tibet and widely regarded as an emanation of Manjushri, the Buddha of Wisdom. This thangka contains beautiful images of various holy beings to bless our environments and ourselves.

 

10. Extremely Secret Hayagriva (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Red Ganapati, Kurukulle, Hayagriva, Begtse Chen and Dorje Shugden.

Tamdrin Yangsang or Extremely Secret Hayagriva is a tantric practice that originates from the Nyingma tradition. This special practice is both yidam and protector and is said to be highly blessed in purifying karmas that lead to extreme diseases such as fits and paralysis. It is famous in Tibet. It has also been one of the main practices of Sera Je Monastery since the time of Lama Tsongkhapa and in Sera there is housed a phurba (dagger) of this deity when touched to one’s head is said to heal. The great Sangha community at this monastery practised Tamdrin Yangsang together with Dorje Shugden for centuries without conflict. According to some who hold wrong views, Dorje Shugden is said to be in conflict with those who practise the Nyingma tradition. Needless to say, Dorje Shugden has no conflict with any of the pantheon of enlightened deities and protectors.

 

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11. Red Dzambala (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Red Dzambala, White Mahakala, Gyenze, Yellow Yamantaka, Dorje Shugden and Namtose.

Dzambala and the other deities surrounding him personify the acquisition of wealth. However, due to their enlightened nature, wealth is not merely defined within the context of materialism but also on the generation of spiritual wealth – merits, generosity, wisdom and so forth. After all, the wealth of the enlightened ones is in actuality an antidote to miserliness – the direct reason why some people are born in poverty or become impoverished. Furthermore, Dorje Shugden along with his emanation Gyenze have a particular reputation for being the swiftest deities to bestow such incredible wealth and uplifting many sincere practitioners out of the gloom of poverty and miserliness.

This beautiful painting contains many deities related to invoking wealth.

 

12. Dorje Shugden (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen, Buddha Shakyamuni, Manjushri, Dorje Shugden, Brahmarupa and Setrap.

In the 17th century, the high lama Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen was a contemporary of the Great Fifth Dalai Lama and heart disciple of the 4th Panchen Lobsang Chokyi Gyeltsen. He was a pure monk in the monastic tradition established by Buddha Shakyamuni and he was also recognised by the Panchen Lama to be in the incarnation of Panchen Sonam Drakpa in a long line of successive incarnations stemming all the way back to Venerable Manjushri. His Holiness the 4th Panchen Lama was the highest spiritual authority of his time and when he recognised Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen as the undisputed incarnations of Panchen Sonam Drakpa and many other high incarnations, no one doubted. Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen’s previous incarnations stem back to the time of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni.

Due to an aspiration generated in a previous life, Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen passed away and arose as the Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden as predicted by Nechung protector. Mahakala Brahmarupa and Setrap Chen are protector deities propitiated by Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen when he was alive and it is believed that they were the first to enthrone Dorje Shugden. Together Dorje Shugden, Mahakala Brahmarupa and Setrap have a special and close relationship. Dorje Shugden will eliminate our worldly obstacles if you sincerely call upon him. When worldly obstacles are removed, spiritual practice can be focused on without interruption. Dorje Shugden is said to help not only Buddhists, but anyone who is in need of help or in dire situations. He is well known to always help everyone in dire situations with clear and effective remedies. Reliance on Dorje Shugden requires no special ceremonies, rituals nor commitments as long as one practices being a good person.

 

13. Sakya Dorje Shugden Tanag (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): H.H. the 39th Sakya Trizin Dragshul Trinley Rinchen, Vajrayogini, Sakya Dorje Shugden Tanag, Mahakala of the Doors and Cittipati.

Dorje Shugden Tanag literally means Dorje Shugden riding on a black horse. He is a unique form of Dorje Shugden that arose within the Sakya tradition, is one of the earliest forms of the protector deity and is propitiated as an enlightened Dharma Protector.

You can see this form of Dorje Shugden on numerous older Sakya thangkas.

The 39th Sakya Throneholder Dragshul Trinley Rinchen was a renowned master, erudite scholar and lineage holder. He taught hundreds of students who became scholars, masters and great practitioners by following his teachings. He was also a great practitioner of Dorje Shugden and proliferated this practice throughout the Sakya lineage.

Aside from Dragshul Trinley Rinchen, there were many other great Sakya throneholders who practised and proliferated Dorje Shugden Tanag within the Sakya tradition. These great masters include:

  1. 30th Sakya Throneholder Sonam Rinchen (1705-1741)
  2. 31st Throneholder Sachen Kunga Lodro (1729-1783)
  3. 33rd Throneholder and Mahasiddha Padma Dudul Wangchug (1792-1853)
  4. 35th Throneholder Tashi Rinchen (1824-1865)
  5. 37th Throneholder Kunga Nyingpo (1850-1899)

 

14. H.H. the 31st Sakya Trizin Ngawang Kunga Lodro (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Hevajra, Vajrayogini, H.H. the 31st Sakya Trizin Ngawang Kunga Lodro, Mahakala of the Doors and Sakya Dorje Shugden Tanag.

The 31st Sakya Throneholder Ngawang Kunga Lodro was the son of the 30th Sakya Throneholder Sonam Rinchen. He was considered to have been an emanation of Dorje Shugden at that time and an erudite scholar, accomplished Tantrika and a great lineage holder of the Sakya tradition. He was the teacher of hundreds of scholars, masters and great practitioners. He composed the 149 page Dorje Shugden fulfilment ritual text (kangso) that is used to propitiate Dorje Shugden within the Sakya tradition even until today. He is also known as a lineage holder of the Naro Kechari Vajrayogini practice within the Sakya tradition. These hand painted scrolls are beautiful to print out for our shrines.

Aside from Kunga Lodro, there were many other great Sakya throneholders who practised and proliferated Dorje Shugden Tanag, the special form of Dorje Shugden within the Sakya tradition, who rides on a black horse. These great masters include:

  1. 30th Sakya Throneholder Sonam Rinchen (1705-1741)
  2. 33rd Throneholder Padma Dudul Wangchug (1792-1853)
  3. 35th Throneholder Tashi Rinchen (1824-1865)
  4. 37th Throneholder Kunga Nyingpo (1850-1899)
  5. 39th Throneholder Dragshul Trinley Rinchen (1871–1936)

 

15. Hevajra (Main figure)

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(Left to right): His Holiness the 30th Sakya Trizin Sonam Rinchen, Dzambala, His Holiness the 39th Sakya Trizin Dragshul Trinley Rinchen, Mahakala of the Doors, His Holiness the 31st Sakya Trizin Ngawang Kunga Lodro, Buddha Shakyamuni, Hevajra, Vajrayogini, Cittipati and Sakya Dorje Shugden Tanag.

Hevajra is one of the main highest yoga tantric meditational deities of the Sakya tradition as well as the others schools of Tibetan Buddhism and the 30th Sakya Throneholder Sonam Rinchen featured as the largest of the three Sakya Trizins depicted here enthroned Dorje Shugden as a protector of the Sakya tradition.

Hevajra belongs to the set of mother tantras of the highest Yoga order. With correct practice one is able to gather the creative drops received from the mother and father at birth within one’s central psychic channel to experience bliss as well as clear light. The experience of bliss and clear light is fundamental in helping us purify traces and attachments to objects. With this purification, one is able to leave sufferings behind.

The 31st Sakya Throneholder Ngawang Kunga Lodro was his son and the emanation of Dorje Shugden who composed the Dorje Shugden fulfilment ritual text (kangso) that is used to propitiate Dorje Shugden as an enlightened Dharma Protector within the Sakya tradition up until today. Both the 30th and 31st Sakya Throneholders are highly respected and revered for their mastery of the Buddhist teachings, and their ability to teach others. They were considered highly attained if not enlightened. These hand painted scrolls are beautiful to print out for our shrines.

The 39th Sakya Throneholder Dragshul Trinley Rinchen was a renowned master, erudite scholar and lineage holder who also taught hundreds of scholars, masters and great practitioners. He was an ardent practitioner of Dorje Shugden and proliferated the practice throughout the Sakya tradition. Aside from the three aforementioned Sakya throneholders, there were many other great Sakya throneholders who practised and proliferated Dorje Shugden Tanag and these include the following:

  1. 33rd Throneholder and Mahasiddha Padma Dudul Wangchug (1792-1853)
  2. 35th Throneholder Tashi Rinchen (1824-1865)
  3. 37th Throneholder Kunga Nyingpo (1850-1899)

 

16. H.H. the 30th Sakya Trizin Sonam Rinchen (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Vajrayogini, Buddha Shakyamuni, His Holiness the 30th Sakya Trizin Sonam Rinchen, Hevajra, Gonpo Tramsuk (Brahmarupa), Mahakala of the Doors and Sakya Dorje Shugden Tanag.

The 30th Sakya Throneholder Sonam Rinchen enthroned Dorje Shugden as a protector of the Sakya tradition and establish the Dorje Shugden Tanag lineage. Sakya Throneholder Sonam Rinchen was considered highly realised and clairvoyant. He therefore saw it was time to include Dorje Shugden within the Sakya lineage for the benefit of many beings which he did. He also saw clearly that Dorje Shugden’s nature was that of benefit for practitioners. High masters of his calibre would not make mistakes especially if they were throneholders of his calibre. Furthermore, Hevajra and Vajrayogini are the main higher tantric practices of Sakya tradition. In addition, Mahakala of the Doors is the main protector of the Sakya School and Gonpo Tramsuk (Brahmarupa) is an emanation of 4-faced Mahakala as those who are uninitiated within the Sakya tradition are not allowed to behold the face of this Mahakala. This beautiful hand-painted scroll is a wonderful addition to anyone’s shrine.

Aside from Sonam Rinchen, there were many other great Sakya throneholders who practised and proliferated Dorje Shugden Tanag, the special form of Dorje Shugden within the Sakya tradition, who rides on a black horse. These great masters include:

  1. 31st Throneholder Sachen Kunga Lodro (1729-1783)
  2. 33rd Throneholder Padma Dudul Wangchug (1792-1853)
  3. 35th Throneholder Tashi Rinchen (1824-1865)
  4. 37th Throneholder Kunga Nyingpo (1850-1899)
  5. 39th Throneholder Dragshul Trinley Rinchen (1871–1936)

 

17. H.H. the 30th Sakya Trizin Sonam Rinchen (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Sachen Kunga Nyingpo, His Holiness the 30th Sakya Trizin Sonam Rinchen, Hevajra, Vajrayogini, Mahakala of the Doors, Palden Lhamo, Gonpo Tramsuk (Brahmarupa), Dzambala and Sakya Dorje Shugden Tanag.

The 30th Sakya Throneholder Sonam Rinchen enthroned Dorje Shugden as a protector of the Sakya tradition and establish the Dorje Shugden Tanag lineage. Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (1092-1158) was the first of the Five Founding Fathers of the Sakya Lineage.

Sakya Throneholder Sonam Rinchen was considered highly realised and clairvoyant. He therefore saw it was time to include Dorje Shugden within the Sakya lineage for the benefit of many beings which he did. He also saw clearly that Dorje Shugden’s nature was that of benefit for practitioners. High masters of his calibre would not make mistakes especially if they were throneholders of his calibre.

Aside from Sonam Rinchen, there were many other great Sakya throneholders who practised and proliferated Dorje Shugden Tanag, the special form of Dorje Shugden within the Sakya tradition, who rides on a black horse. These great masters include:

  1. 31st Throneholder Sachen Kunga Lodro (1729-1783)
  2. 33rd Throneholder Padma Dudul Wangchug (1792-1853)
  3. 35th Throneholder Tashi Rinchen (1824-1865)
  4. 37th Throneholder Kunga Nyingpo (1850-1899)
  5. 39th Throneholder Dragshul Trinley Rinchen (1871–1936)

 

18. 6 Sakya Trizins or Throneholders of Sakya (Main figures)

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(Top to bottom): H.H. the 37th Sakya Trizin Kunga Nyingpo, H.H. the 39th Sakya Trizin Dragshul Trinley Rinchen, H.H. the 30th Sakya Trizin Sonam Rinchen, H.H. the 31st Sakya Trizin Ngawang Kunga Lodro, H.H. the 33rd Sakya Trizin Padma Dudul Wangchug, H.H. the 35th Sakya Trizin Tashi Rinchen, Vajrayogini, Gonpo Gur and Sakya Dorje Shugden Tanag.

The 30th Sakya Throneholder Sonam Rinchen enthroned Dorje Shugden as a protector of the Sakya tradition and establish the Dorje Shugden Tanag lineage. The 31st Sakya Throneholder Ngawang Kunga Lodro was his son and the emanation of Dorje Shugden who composed the Dorje Shugden fulfilment ritual text (kangso) that is used to propitiate Dorje Shugden as an enlightened Dharma Protector within the Sakya tradition up until today. Both the 30th and 31st Sakya Throneholders are highly respected and revered for their mastery of the Buddhist teachings, and their ability to teach others.

These Sakya Throneholders were considered highly realised, erudite and clairvoyant. They therefore saw it was time to include Dorje Shugden within the Sakya lineage for the benefit of many beings and they encouraged his practice among their thousands of disciples. They also saw clearly that Dorje Shugden’s nature was that of benefit for practitioners otherwise six great throneholders would not have encouraged Dorje Shugden’s practice within their complete lineage. These six high masters of their calibre would not make mistakes especially if they were throneholders of an effective and powerful lineage such as Sakya. If they did make mistakes then today’s Sakya lineage would be corrupted and ineffective.

The 39th Sakya Throneholder Dragshul Trinley Rinchen was a renowned master, erudite scholar and lineage holder who also taught hundreds of scholars, masters and great practitioners. He was an ardent practitioner of Dorje Shugden and proliferated the practice throughout the Sakya tradition.

Aside from the three aforementioned Sakya throneholders, there were many other great Sakya throneholders who practised and proliferated Dorje Shugden Tanag and these include the following:

  1. 33rd Throneholder and Mahasiddha Padma Dudul Wangchug (1792-1853)
  2. 35th Throneholder Tashi Rinchen (1824-1865)
  3. 37th Throneholder Kunga Nyingpo (1850-1899)

 

19. Guru Rinpoche (Main figure)

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Sacred Guru Rinpoche thangka with Mother Green Tara on his left and World Peace Protector Dorje Shugden on his right. Then two Nyingma protectors at the bottom which are Dorje Drolo and Garuda.

Despite contemporary misconceptions about the pairing of Guru Rinpoche and Dorje Shugden, a number of important antique thangkas depicting both deities on the same painting do exist. Unfortunately, Guru Rinpoche’s wrathful manifestation of Dorje Drolo in recent times is often mistakenly depicted stepping upon a monk-like figure wearing a round hat representing Dorje Shugden, thus reinforcing the wrong notion that Dorje Shugden is a spirit. However, this does not alter the facts of older antique thangkas that showcase Dorje Shugden as an authentic enlightened Dharma protector.

 

20. Standing Guru Rinpoche (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Vajrakilaya, Samantabhadra, Rahula, Guru Rinpoche, Ekajati, Dorje Legpa and Dorje Shugden.

Guru Rinpoche, also known as Guru Padmasambhava was an 8th century Indian master who travelled to Tibet in order to spread the Buddha’s teachings. He relied on Vajrakilaya as his main practice and was able to subdue powerful obstructive beings in Tibet who opposed the spread of the Buddha’s teaching. He bound them by sacred oath to become beneficial protectors of the Dharma. These days, some say that the practice of Dorje Shugden is in conflict with the practices taught by Guru Rinpoche but historical evidence points to the contrary. In fact, many devotees of Guru Rinpoche worship Dorje Shugden as their main protector. There are even a number of ancient thangkas that depict Dorje Shugden as one of the prominent protectors of the Nyingma tradition.

Guru Rinpoche will have no conflict with Dorje Shugden and vice versa. It is time to have more ‘Rime’ (combined lineage) paintings and works.

 

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21. Guru Rinpoche (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Buddha Shakyamuni, Buddha Vajradhara, Shrijnana Dipamkara Atisha, Guru Rinpoche, Lama Tsongkhapa, Nechung, Dorje Shugden and Acala.

Guru Rinpoche, also known as Guru Padmasambhava, was an 8th century Indian Buddhist master who travelled to Tibet in order to spread the Buddha’s teachings. Guru Rinpoche is highly revered within all schools of Tibetan Buddhism. He was invited to Tibet to subdue powerful obstructive beings who opposed the spread of Buddha’s teachings. He waged supernatural war with these deities and won due to his high spiritual attainments. Instead of vanquishing these obstructive beings, he chose to follow the Buddha’s teaching on compassion and bound them to oath never to harm sentient beings again. They promised to protect and provide for practitioners on the Buddhist path. One such being was Nechung, also known as Pehar Gyalpo. Once a powerful spirit from Persia he came to reside in Tibet and after battling with Guru Rinpoche he was subdued. Guru Rinpoche also had him promise to aid the “Holder of the White Lotus”, meaning an emanation of Chenrezig. When the powerful line of the Dalai Lamas arose, Nechung came to their aid for temporal matters, as they are considered to be the emanations of Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion. Since that time, Nechung came to be regarded as one of the State Dharma Protectors of Tibet.

Shrijnana Dipamkara Atisha was a great Bengali (Indian) master, who travelled to Tibet in order to translate and teach Buddhist teachings at a time when the teachings had declined. He is known as a reviver of the faith in Tibet. Having spent the majority of his life learning and studying the teachings, especially during his 12-year stay in the Srivijaya Kingdom of Sumtra (Indonesia) where he studied the teachings on compassion intensely, he was perfectly able to bring about a renaissance of Buddhist practice in Tibet. His heart disciple, Dromtonpa, went on to establish the Kadam School in Tibet. One of the Kadam School’s major practices was that of Acala. Practitioners relied on Acala to remove all manner of obstacles, especially those related to the spiritual path to enlightenment.

Lama Tsongkhapa was the 14th century scholar-yogi who established the Gelug School, which went on to become the dominant and most widespread of all Tibetan Buddhist Schools. After spending years studying and meditating, he went on to establish monastic institutions of learning and practice producing limitless masters, tantrikas, yogis, scholars and teachers of the Buddhist path. Dorje Shugden is now considered to be the primary Dharma protector of this school, aiding practitioners along the spiritual path.

Although Buddha Shakyamuni and Buddha Vajradhara are depicted as separate figures, they are in fact the same. Here Buddha Shakyamuni is depicted as the originator of the Sutra teachings, and across from him is the form he took to teach the Tantras, Buddha Vajradhara.

While each figure and the protectors associated with their lineages are unique in their own right, some people consider their worship to be at odds with each other. This could not be more further from the truth. All three lamas are in fact enlightened beings and therefore do not operate on the convention of duality. They are all embodiments of compassion, so treat all sentient beings equally. To have and worship images of these three great masters together will bring much benefit and spiritual merit, no matter which tradition you belong to.

 

22. Palden Lhamo (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Guru Rinpoche, Lama Tsongkhapa, Palden Lhamo, Nechung and Dorje Shugden.

The fearsome Palden Lhamo or Shri Devi in Sanskrit, is widely believed to be an emanation of Saraswati, the Goddess of Wisdom. She was originally part of the entourage of Mahakala but became a powerful protectoress in her own right. She is considered the principle protectress of the incarnations of the Dalai Lamas and is also considered to be a State Dharma Protector, alongside Nechung.

Palden Lhamo as worshipped within the Gelug tradition is also known as Magzor Gyalmo or the ‘Queen who Repels Armies’. According to the old lore, she was originally married to the cruel King of Lanka who persecuted Buddhists. The queen vowed that if she failed to convert the king to Buddhism, she would put an end to his dynasty. She tried many times to convert him but failed each time and the king even raised their son to kill Buddhists. She was enraged and with no recourse, she slaughtered her son while her husband was out hunting to fulfil the vow she had taken to end his dynasty if she was left with no other choice.

Palden Lhamo escaped on a mule as the king returned and discovered what had happened. He chased her and shot the rump of the mule she was riding. However, using her supernatural abilities she was able to heal the mule and in the wound’s place appeared a wild and glaring eye. It was then that she declared, “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 eliminate the lineage of the malignant kings of Lanka!”

After making the vow, she travelled north through India and Tibet, through China to Mongolia and settled somewhere in Siberia. She eventually became the fearsome protectress of the Dharma that we know today. Her retinue of powerful assistants includes the Lion-headed dakini Simhamukha behind her and the Makara-headed (water monster) dakini Makaravaktra in front of Palden Lhamo, holding the reins of the mule.

With regards to Nechung, there is much talk about him being at odds with Dorje Shugden. However, this conflicts with the fact that Nechung was the one who requested Dulzin Drakpa Gyeltsen (1374-1434 CE), Lama Tsongkhapa’s foremost disciple, to arise as a Dharma protector. He was also the one to create the right conditions for Dulzin’s later incarnation, Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen (1619–1656 CE) to arise as the swift and wrathful Dorje Shugden. Therefore, Nechung cannot be at odds with Dorje Shugden because he was instrumental in the circumstances that led to Dorje Shugden arising as the protector of our time. If Nechung was really at odds with other Dharma protectors this would actually showcase his childish behaviour and would not be befitting of his eminent position as a Dharma protector or even one of Tibet’s State Protectors.

 

23. Heruka Chakrasamvara in the Kagyu Tradition (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Buddha Shakyamuni, Buddha Vajradhara, Heruka Chakrasamvara, Four-faced Mahakala and Dorje Shugden.

Heruka is the principle deity of the Chakrasmavara Tantras. He is a meditational Buddha of the highest yoga tantra classification, which means that his practice has the potential to bring us directly towards enlightenment within one lifetime. Heruka’s practice uniquely utilises desire as a means towards achieving liberation from samsara or suffering. Heruka is also one of the main tantras that most of the 84 Mahasiddhas of ancient India relied upon in order to gain their great attainments.

According to ancient lore, there is a god named Maha Ishvara or Mahadeva, and his consort Uma or Kalaratri. They reside at the top of Mount Meru and have their emanations stationed at 24 sacred places in India. As the highest of the worldly gods, Mahadeva is extremely powerful and used to constantly revel in sexual pleasure with his consorts. His worshippers were likewise overcome by his energies and acted in all manner of strange and licentious ways. His influence was great and began to drag mankind deeper into desire and ignorance.

In order to subdue him, Buddha Vajradhara (the form that Buddha Shakyamuni took to reveal the tantras) emanated as Heruka, taking on the appearance of Mahadeva. His body was smeared with ash and the crescent moon adorned the matted hair atop his head. Though he emanated in a form that mirrored Mahadeva, his nature is that of innate great bliss and emptiness, which are the special qualities of a fully enlightened Buddha.

Using his psychic powers, Mahadeva examined the mysterious Heruka and realised that he was no match against him. He was subdued and offered himself and his consort as the cushions for Heruka’s feet, to show the universe the Heruka was indeed greater. Together with his retinue of daka and dakinis, Heruka emanated in each of the 24 sacred sites where Mahadeva had stationed his emanations, where they reside to this day. Those who practice Heruka invoke upon these dakas and dakinis from the 24 sites to converge at specific parts of the body during their daily sadhanas to manipulate the body’s psychic energy channels. This in turn gathers the psychic winds and elements, which coupled with certain meditations, allows the Heruka practitioner to achieve great spiritual attainments.

The form of Heruka Chakrasamvara depicted here is one of the main practices of the Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism. All schools of Buddhism treasure Heruka’s practice, including the Gelug School in which it is also a main practice. The distinguishing iconographic feature of this Kagyu lineage of Heruka is that the single left leg of Vajravarahi/Vajrayogini (Heruka’s consort) descends down to the ground. In other forms, such as those favoured by the Gelug School, both of Vajravarahi/Vajrayogini’s legs are wrapped around Heruka’s waist in the embrace of union.

Four-faced Mahakala is a Dharma protector associated explicitly with the Heruka Tantras and is propitiated by Heruka practitioners for spiritual protection and for the granting of material necessities so that they can concentrate on their spiritual practice. Four-faced Mahakala has a very close connection with Dorje Shugden. In his previous lives as great lamas and teachers, Dorje Shugden relied on Four-faced Mahakala as one of his primary protectors. In fact, when Dorje Shugden arose in his current form, it was Four-faced Mahakala together with Setrap Chen that enthroned him as a Dharma protector in his own right.

 

24. H.H. the 4th Panchen Lama (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Manjushri, H.H. the 4th Panchen Lama, H.H. the 5th Dalai Lama, Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen, Dorje Shugden and Four-Faced Mahakala.

The Panchen Lama line of incarnations are believed to be emanations of Amitabha, the Buddha of Boundless Light. Amitabha is relied on strongly within Pure Land Buddhism that is popularly practised in East Asia. He embodies the awakened aggregate of discernment and that means he purifies desire within the mindstream of practitioners. He currently resides in Sukhavati, the Western Pure Land, where practitioners aspire to take rebirth in order to continue their spiritual practice.

Panchen Lama is not just a name but a title bestowed by the Great Fifth Dalai Lama upon his illustrious teacher, Lobsang Chokyi Gyeltsen and it literally means ‘Great Scholar’ in recognition of his teacher’s scholarly prowess. Since then, the Panchen Lamas have been regarded as the second highest incarnation lineage after the Dalai Lamas in Tibet. Although this incarnation lineage stems all the way back to India, it is traditionally traced back to Kedrub Gelek Pelsang, one of the two main heart disciples of Lama Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelug tradition.

Lobsang Chokyi Gyeltsen who later became known as the 4th Panchen Lama was born in a village called Drukgya in the Lhan valley, in Tsang, in 1570. He searched for and enthroned Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso as the 5th Dalai Lama and Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen as the 4th Zimkhang Gongma (the incarnation of Panchen Sonam Drakpa). These two lamas became the heart disciples of Lobsang Chokyi Gyeltsen.

Lobsang Chokyi Gyeltsen managed to keep suppression by the Tsang king at bay by healing the king from disease and subsequently, he was allowed to recognise the Fifth Dalai Lama. Later, he forged an alliance with the invading Mongols after they had defeated the Tsang king and thus, he was able to enthrone the Dalai Lama as the temporal leader of Tibet at Drepung Monastery. In turn, the Dalai Lama unified Tibet and established his government of the Gaden Podrang. He offered his monastic seat of Tashi Lhunpo to his guru, Lobsang Chokyi Gyeltsen and also bestowed upon him the title Panchen Lama. Thereafter, Lobsang Chokyi Gyeltsen was known as the Panchen Lama and Tashi Lhunpo became the monastic seat of the Panchen Lama incarnation lineage. On the spiritual side, he wrote prolifically and one of his most famous works was the Lama Chopa, also known as the Guru Puja. It was originally transmitted through an oral tradition and stemmed from the sacred teachings and transmissions that Manjushri gave to Lama Tsongkhapa.

Four-Faced Mahakala is a protective emanation of Manjushri, the patron Bodhisattva of Wisdom and is a protector of the Cakrasamvara Tantra. This is one of the main tantric systems widely practised within the Gelug order and therefore, this protector is widely propitiated by many high lamas of our tradition as well.

Upon his passing Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen arose in the form of Dorje Shugden, who became a protector of the teachings of Lama Tsongkhapa and has been widely propitiated as such ever since.

 

25. H.H. the 10th Panchen Lama (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Amitabha, Lama Tsongkhapa, H.H. the 10th Panchen Lama, Tsangpa Karpo and Dorje Shugden.

The Panchen Lama line of incarnations are believed to be emanations of Amitabha, the Buddha of Boundless Light. Amitabha is relied on strongly within Pure Land Buddhism that is popularly practised in East Asia. He embodies the awakened aggregate of discernment and that means he purifies desire within the mindstream of practitioners. He currently resides in Sukhavati, the Western Pure Land, where practitioners aspire to take rebirth in order to continue their spiritual practice.

Panchen Lama is not just a name but a title bestowed by the Great Fifth Dalai Lama upon his illustrious teacher, Lobsang Chokyi Gyeltsen and it literally means ‘Great Scholar’ in recognition of his teacher’s scholarly prowess. Since then, the Panchen Lamas have been regarded as the second highest incarnation lineage after the Dalai Lamas in Tibet. Although this incarnation lineage stems all the way back to India, it is traditionally traced back to Kedrub Gelek Pelsang, one of the two main heart disciples of Lama Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelug tradition. Furthermore, the Great Fifth Dalai Lama bestowed the monastery of Tashi Lhunpo in Shigatse to be the monastic seat of the Panchen Lamas. Therefore, Tashi Lhunpo which was originally established by the First Dalai Lama Gendrub Drub has since become the monastic seat of the later incarnations of the Panchen Lama.

In 1938, the 10th Panchen Lama was born in what is today’s Qinghai province. He was enthroned and given the name Choekyi Gyaltsen at Kumbum Monastery in 1949. In 1954, the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama travelled to Beijing in order to attend the first session of the first National People’s Congress, meeting Mao Zedong and other Chinese leaders. When the Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959, the Panchen Lama remained in Tibet and supported the Chinese government in order to be the spiritual head of his people that remained in Tibet. Following a tour of Tibet, in 1962 the Panchen Lama wrote a document entitled the 70,000 Character Petition denouncing the abusive policies of the Chinese in Tibet. In 1964, he was publicly humiliated and dismissed from all posts and imprisoned. In 1978, he returned his monastic vows and married Li Jie, a soldier and medical student. In 1983, Li Jie gave birth to a daughter who was named Yabshi Pan Rinzinwangmo. She is highly revered as she is the only known offspring of the either Panchen Lama or Dalai Lama incarnation lineages. The Panchen Lama entered clear light from a heart attack in Shigatse at the age of 51 in 1989.

One of the main protectors of the Panchen Lama line of incarnations is Tsangpa Karpo, the peaceful aspect of Setrap Chen. Setrap along with his various manifestations is a Dharma Protector that arose in ancient times in India and was brought to Tibet by Lotsawa Loden Sherab. Dorje Shugden was also closely associated with the Panchen Lamas by virtue of his previous life as Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen, the heart disciple of His Holiness the 4th Panchen Lama. There is a large chapel dedicated to Dorje Shugden in Tashi Lhunpo Monastery which still stands today. It was consecrated by Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche at the request of His Holiness the 9th Panchen Lama. Within the collected works of the 10th Panchen Lama, there is an extensive liturgy propitiating Dorje Shugden. Therefore, his writings bear testament to the fact that the Panchen Lama worshiped and considered Dorje Shugden to be beneficial and his practice efficacious.

 

26. Yamantaka (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Six-Armed Mahakala, Palden Lhamo, Yamantaka, Kalarupa and Dorje Shugden.

Yamantaka or Vajrabhairava is one of the three Kingly Tantras (Tib: Sang De Jig Sum) of the Gelug order as proliferated by Lama Tsongkhapa. The other two tantras are Guhyasamaja and Heruka Cakrasamvara. Yamantaka is the manifestation of Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Stainless Wisdom. From amongst the many lineages of practices to enter Tibet, two translators, Ra Lotsawa and Mal Lotsawa were known to have disseminated the main transmissions of Yamantaka. This tantra utilises anger as a means to purify all delusions and it is the only tantra that has the potential to purify extreme negative karma of the most heinous crimes.

It was the Indian master by the name of Lalitavajra who was the first to reveal the Yamantaka Tantra. Lalitavajra was a 10th century scholar-master from Nalanda Monstary in Bihar, India. His main yidam (meditational deity) was Manjushri. One day, he had a pure vision of Manjushri exhorting him to travel to the land of Oddiyana in order to retrieve the Yamantaka Tantra. This master made the long journey there and encountered a special dakini, Vajra Vetali, who is better known as Yamantaka’s consort along with other dakinis who eventually revealed the entire Yamantaka Tantra to him. Unfortunately, they refused to allow him to take the texts with him. Therefore, he was only allowed to memorise as much of the texts as he could in the short time he was in their presence. Upon their departure, this master quickly put down in words whatever he had memorised and the practice lineage had descended down in this manner.

The Dharma Protector Kalarupa or Chogyal in Tibetan is another manifestation of Manjushri. He is the principle protector of the Yamantaka Tantras and also one of the main protectors of the Gelug order. He was one of the main protectors of Lama Tsongkhapa himself and he is propitiated as the protector of the lower scope of the Lam Rim. That means that Kalarupa is relied upon during the study and contemplation of the Lam Rim in order to clear inner obstacles and gain insight into the Lam Rim teachings.

Palden Lhamo is the principle protectress of Tibet and the Dalai Lama incarnations. She is the emanation of the wisdom goddess, Saraswati and she is therefore widely worshipped. On the other hand, Six-Armed Mahakala is an emanation of Avalokiteshvara and propitiated as the protector of the highest scope of the Lam Rim. He is propitiated in a similar manner as Kalarupa but mainly towards the study, contemplation and realisation of the highest scope of the teachings.

During the time of the 5th Dalai Lama and just after the passing of Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen, there were many calamities and problems that arose during this period. The 5th Dalai Lama initially thought that the problems were due to a powerful spirit. Therefore, he commissioned powerful Nyingma lamas including the famous Mindroling Lama to perform powerful fire rituals to destroy the spirit. On one occasion, the lama while performing a fire ritual, had successfully attracted Dorje Shugden onto the ladle by the power of his meditations. Then, he dropped the ladle into the fire, which was supposed to destroy Dorje Shugden. But when he brought out the ladle, Yamantaka appeared on the ladle instead. He did this a few times and realised that Dorje Shugden was not an ordinary spirit but is in fact one with Yamantaka. He is therefore a fully enlightened being, as Yamantaka is an emanation of Manjushri.

 

27. Kurukulle (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Takkiraja, Maharakta Ganapati, Kurukulle, Setrap and Sakya Dorje Shugden Tanag.

The sublime Kurukulle is a female deity who is red in colour. Her practice is one that invokes upon the activity of control and magnetisation. She is in dancing posture and has four arms holding a bow, an arrow made of flowers, a noose and a vajra hook of flowers. Kurukulle is considered to be a manifestation of Red Tara, one of the twenty-one Taras of the old Tara Tantras. Interestingly, her name is actually Kurukulla although her name is popularly pronounced as Kurukulle, due to the Tibetan pronunciation of her mantra and Sanskrit grammar. Kurukulle is also very popular among the Newar (Nepali) Tantric Buddhists in general.

Within the Sakya order of Tibetan Buddhism, Kurukulle is counted amongst “the Three Great Red Ones” or Marchen Korsum. This group of deities is included in the Thirteen Golden Dharmas, a series of practices that were transmitted in ancient times from India and Nepal to Tibet. Takkiraja and Maharakta Ganapati form the rest of the Three Great Red Ones. Takkiraja is depicted in solitary form and his name literally means the King of Desire. He manifests the activity of control and stems directly from the Guhyasamaja Cycle of Tantras. On the other hand, Ganapati Maharakta is related to the Chakrasamvara Cycle of Tantras. In fact, this Ganapati is regarded as an emanation of Avalokiteshvara. These teachings are called Golden Dharmas because they are very precious teachings and also in remembrance of the old days when intrepid Tibetan translators had to travel to India and offer a lot of gold for the teachings obtained from the early Indian masters.

Within the large Sakya collection of sadhanas known as the Drubtab Kuntu, there are five sadhanas for the propitiation of Kurukulle. According to Sakya scholars, the scriptural source for the practice of Kurukulle is found within the Shri Hevajra Mahatantraraja and transmitted in accordance with the tradition of Lalitavajra. It descends down from the Mahasiddha Virupa and the Tibetan translator Drogmi (993-1050 CE).

Finally, Dorje Shugden Tanag literally means ‘Dorje Shugden riding on a black horse’. He is a unique form of Dorje Shugden that arose within the Sakya tradition, is one of the earliest forms of the protector deity and is propitiated as an enlightened Dharma Protector. You can see this form of Dorje Shugden on numerous older Sakya thangkas.

 

28. Red Vasudhara (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Kurukulle, Tinuma, Marichi, Red Vasudhara, Sakya Dorje Shugden Tanag, Dorje Setrap and Tsui Marpo.

Vasudhara’s name literally means ‘A stream of jewels’ in Sanskrit. She is widely regarded as a Bodhisattva of wealth, prosperity and abundance. Hence, she is popular in several Himalayan countries and is the subject of many thangka and statue representations. Her practice originated in ancient India and later her worship spread to Nepal, where she enjoyed a large following amongst the Buddhist Newars of the Kathmandu Valley. As such she became one of the main objects of refuge within Newari Buddhism.

The origins of Vasudhara can be traced back to a text known as ‘The Inquiry of the Layman Sucandra’. This text recalls the story of a poverty stricken layman by the name of Sucandra who had gone seek Buddha Shakyamuni’s guidance. He requested the Buddha for a method to obtain wealth in order to feed his extended family and hopefully be able to engage in charitable works as well. The Buddha bestowed upon him Vasudhara’s dharani (long mantra) and ritual to Sucandra that would result in good fortune and prosperity. As he engaged in the rituals and the proliferating of her practice, Sucandra rapidly prospered. Noticing his sudden windfall, the monk Ananda asked Buddha Shakyamuni how he had obtained his fortune so quickly. Shakyamuni told Ananda that it was through the practice of Vasudhara and bestowed upon him the practice of Vasudhara’s dharani and told him to ‘impart it to others for the good of many.’ Thus, Vasudhara’s practice is meant to alleviate suffering because she is said to bestow physical wealth and abundance as well as spiritual wealth.

Apart from Nepal, Vasudhara’s practice also spread to Tibet and has since became known as an important wealth bestowing practice within Tibetan Buddhism. She is considered to be one of the 21 Taras, as she is known as the “Golden/Yellow Tara” or in Tibetan, Drolma Sermo or Norgyunma. In Tibet, the worship of Norgyurma is most popular amongst the laity and thus she is known as a benefactor of the laity. Within the Sakya order, Red Vasudhara’s practice stems from the Chakrasamvara Tantras and is counted as one of “the Three Small Red Ones” or Marching Korsum. This group is included among the Thirteen Golden Dharmas, which were transmitted in ancient times from India and Nepal.

In the thangka above Vasudhara, Kurukulle and Tinuma form the rest of the Three Small Red Ones and are depicted alongside a standing Marichi, the bodhisattva associated with light and the sun. Tinuma’s practice also stems from the Chakrasamvara Tantras and she is considered to be a variant form of Vajrayogini. Kurukulle is the manifestation of Red Tara, one of the twenty-one Taras and her practice invokes upon the activity of control and magnetisation. The three Dharma protectors at the bottom are known as the Three Kings popularly worshipped within the Sakya tradition. The set of Three Kings is a Sakya grouping consisting of Tsiu Marpo, Dorje Setrap and Dorje Shugden Riding a Black Horse (Tanag).

 

29. Vajrasattva (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Buddha Amitabha, Buddha Samantabhadra, Vajrasattva, Vajrakilaya and Dorje Shugden.

The Buddha Vajrasattva first appeared in ancient India and his tantric practice centres primarily upon the purification of delusions and negative karma. Like many other Buddhas within Vajrayana Buddhism, Vajrasattva has a number of popular forms and is relied on as a meditational deity (‘Yidam’ in Tibetan or ‘Ishtadevata’ in Sanskrit).

The most common and popular form of Vajrasattva is known as ‘Solitary Universal Monarch.’ Vajrasattva as a figure is mentioned in the Mahavairocana Tantra and the Vajrasekhara Sutra. However, the Vajrasattva Root Tantra is known as Dorje Gyan or “Vajra Ornament”. Vajrasattva is regarded as the inner form of Buddha Vajradhara, who is the tantric form of Buddha Shakyamuni, and represents all the Buddha Families. In another form, Vajrasattva appears embracing a consort. This form arises from the class of Anuttarayoga Tantra, specifically from the 25th chapter of the Abhidhanottara Tantra and is known as the practice of Heruka Vajrasattva. In the Nyingma order, Vajrasattva is an important meditational deity and the most famous lineage of Vajrasattva originates from the Mindroling Monastery Tradition commonly known as the Min-ling Dor-sem.

Vajrasattva is a popular purification practice and thus relied on heavily by all schools of Tibetan Buddhism, especially in relations to Ngondro or the preparatory practices to receiving advance teachings on Tantra. Each practice like that of Vajrasattva requires practitioners to engage in a retreat of a 100,000 repetitions. In this case, it is Vajrasattva’s mantra that is recited, complete with the necessary prayers, liturgies and offerings. Higher Tantric practice requires a tremendous amount of merit to practice as it is a fast paced method towards enlightened. Hence, the path is often fraught with obstacles due to our negative habituation and karma. Purification practices like Vajrasattva are essential in preparing the mind to practice so it has less obstacles.

In Buddhism, complete purification requires what is known as the four opponent powers, which are (i) regret, (ii) refuge, (iii) remedy and (iv) the promise not to repeat the negative action again. Vajrasattva as a deity can be relied upon as a worthy object of refuge as he is fully enlightened being and his practice is remedial in purifying our negative karma. The practitioner begins the purification practice by developing deep regret for negative actions by having a sound understanding of karma and its effects. After realising the root cause of suffering lies in our actions, we make a heartfelt promise not to repeat the same negative actions. In adhering to the four opponent powers, we purify karma right to the root and thereby remove all imprints and traces of our negative actions. When we have sufficiently purified our karma, we find that our minds are lighter, clearer and able to understand the teachings at a deeper level and we are also able to gain a lasting spiritual realisation of the teachings.

Buddha Amitabha is one of the Five Dhyani Buddhas and resides in his Western paradise of Sukhavati where practitioners with deep faith and those endowed with merit can take rebirth in order to continue practicing the path to become a fully enlightened being. He represents the awakened aggregate of mental discernment and purifies desire, hence he is red in colour. He is also deeply connected with the Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden as he resides on the highest floor of Dorje Shugden’s mandala. Hence, all who rely on Dorje Shugden for assistance against their obstacles and negative karma are also spiritually connected with Buddha Amitabha. On the other hand, Vajrakilaya is a wrathful emanation of Vajrasattva and is considered the main practice within some Nyingma and Sakya traditions.

 

30. Four-Armed Chenrezig (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Buddha Shakyamuni, Maitreya, Manjushri, Four-Armed Chenrezig, Vajrapani, Six-Armed Mahakala and Dorje Shugden.

The thangka here depicts the “Three Protectors”, known in Tibetan as the Rigsum Gonpo. This enlightened trinity refers to Chenrezig or Avalokiteshvara, Manjushri and Vajrapani. They symbolically represent the compassion, wisdom and skilful means of all the Buddhas of all times (past, present, and future) respectively. They also represent the body, speech and mind of all the Buddhas. In Tibet, the great Buddhist King Songtsen Gampo was said to have constructed four temples dedicated to this sacred trinity around the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa. This bears testament to the importance of these three great enlightened beings who have emanated as Bodhisattvas since ancient times.

Chenrezig’s sacred name literally means the “All-Seeing Lord”. He is regarded as the embodiment of compassion and his divine presence is invoked through his well-known six syllable mantra, OM MANI PADME HUM. His most commonly depicted form has four arms that represent the “Four Immeasurables” of loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and perfect equanimity. With two of his hands folded at his heart, he holds a blue wish-granting gem, symbolising the great compassion of all Buddhas. With his other right hand, he holds aloft a mala of 108 beads, representing his ability to guide all beings on the path to liberation. With his other left hand he holds aloft the stem of an immaculate lotus, indicating that he is unstained by samsara and he has great compassion. Chenrezig’s practice is excellent for those who are angersome as his practice lessens anger and also for those who suffer from depression.

Manjushri, or Jampal Yang in Tibetan, literally means “Gentle-voiced” and he has the appearance of a youthful 16-year-old prince. He has long hair that is piled up into five topknots indicating the five types of wisdom he bestows. He holds aloft a fiery wisdom-sword that cuts through all obscurations. With his left hand he holds the stem of an immaculate lotus that supports a text on the “Perfection of Wisdom” in one hundred thousand stanzas that is symbolic of the highest form of wisdom – correct view of emptiness. Hence, by relying of Manjushri we are able to develop powerful memory, a flair for the arts, some measure of clairvoyance and deep insight into the Buddha’s teachings.

Vajrapani, known as Chagna Dorje in Tibetan, literally means ‘Holder of the Vajra’. He is wrathful and in the form of a yaksha being. With his right leg bent and left outstretched, he stands in pratyalidha posture. He holds a golden five-pointed vajra in his right hand, and with his left hand held in front of his heart he makes the threatening gesture at our delusions and negative karma. Vajrapani also is known as the Lord of Secrets and that means he bestows practitioners with a special aptitude to practice Tantra. He is also the Subduer of all Inner and Outer Maras. Inner maras are delusions and the self-grasping mind while outer maras refer to malevolent spirits and obstructing beings.

On top is Buddha Shakyamuni, the reigning Buddha of this time period, while Maitreya is the future Buddha to come. Six-Armed Mahakala is the direct emanation of Chenrezig and he is charged to protect the highest scope teachings of the Lam Rim while Dorje Shugden is said by many lamas like Kyabje Dagom Rinpoche to be the main protector of the Gelug teachings.

 

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31. Avalokiteshvara Simhananda (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Black Manjushri, Yellow Dzambala, Avalokiteshvara Simhananda, Shabala Garuda, Sakya Dorje Shugden Tanag, Tsui Marpo and Setrap.

Avalokiteshvara is a popular archetypal Bodhisattva in the Sutras, in which he strives towards enlightenment. Within the teachings of Vajrayana Buddhism, he is said to be a Buddha, who attained full enlightenment during a past aeon only to manifest as a Bodhisattva on the path to inspire and bless many in our current aeon. Within the Sutras and Tantras, Avalokiteshvara is known by many names including Lokeshvara, Avalokita, Avalokiteshvara, Lokanatha and Mahakarunika. He is famous as he is considered one of the Eight Great Bodhisattva disciples of Buddha Shakyamuni and for his landmark sermon at the behest of Buddha Shakyamuni as narrated in the Heart Sutra.

The Sanskrit honorific ‘arya’ meaning ‘noble’ or ‘noble one’ is often used at the beginning of the name for each of the Eight Great Bodhisattvas as well as notable enlightened beings such as Tara. Arya Avalokiteshvara, known as Chenrezig in Tibetan, is the patron Bodhisattva of Tibet and is still widely revered and worshipped throughout the Mahayana Buddhist world. Within Tibetan Buddhism, there are many lineages of various forms of Avalokiteshvara that span all four classes of Tantra alongside numerous other oral traditions and terma (treasure teachings) traditions that have arisen within the Nyingma order.

The great Indian and Tibetan masters who proliferated the practice of Avalokiteshvara are Jowo Atisha, Bari Lotsawa, Mitra Yogin, Machig Labdron, Kyergangpa, Tsembupa, and so forth. It is said that the Indian master Jowo Atisha promoted the practice of Avalokiteshvara as one of the most important and thus, he is widely practised as one of the Four Deities of the Kadampa order which arose from Jowo Atisha’s teachings. In fact, Avalokiteshvara is also linked to the creation myth of the Tibetan people. He is said to have emanated as a monkey and mated with a demoness who is said to have been an emanation of Tara. Their offspring became the Tibetan race.

There are four popular forms of Avalokiteshvara that are more commonly practised than others and they are Sahasrabhuja, Amoghapasha, Chaturbhuja and Simhananda. The practice of Avalokiteshvara Simhananda is one of Thirteen Golden Dharmas of the Sakya order. It is regarded as an important practice within the Sakya order and descends down through great masters such as Bari Lotsawa Rinchen Drag to Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (1092-1158 CE). The practice originated in India, from ancient masters such as Chandragomin and Suvarnadvipa. It then entered Tibet in the 11th century through the efforts of Rinchen Zangpo, Jowo Atisha, Bari Lotsawa and others. This practice is now found in all traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.

Historically, Avalokiteshvara Simhananda was also proliferated in Mongolia and China by Sakya Pandita Kunga Gyaltsen (1182-1251 CE) after he healed Goden Khan of leprosy using the special healing rituals of the deity. Avalokiteshvara Simhananda is propitiated particularly in rituals to appease nagas. Therefore rituals and pujas associated with Avalokiteshvara Simhananda have a healing effect on those with skin conditions like leprosy, cancer and other related illnesses which are commonly believed to be caused by nagas. Furthermore, these rituals are also used in the offering of torma (ritual cakes) and incense to appease nagas as they are partial towards the great compassion of Avalokiteshvara.

Within the thangka you will also see Black Manjushri, Dzambala and Shabala Garuda together with Avalokiteshvara Simhananda. The practices of these deities are also part of the Sakya order’s Thirteen Golden Dharmas. Black Manjushri is particularly effective for purification, healing of certain dangerous diseases and clearance of negative interferences like black magic, malevolent spirits and so forth. Dzambala on the other hand eliminates poverty while increasing inner and outer wealth. Shabala Garuda is a practice derived from the Kalachakra Tantra that helps in the healing of contagious diseases that are caused by nagas. The three Dharma protectors at the bottom are known as the Three Kings and are popularly worshipped within the Sakya tradition. The Three Kings consist of Tsiu Marpo, Dorje Setrap and Sakya Dorje Shugden Riding a Black Horse (Tanag).

 

32. Nagarjuna (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Manjushri, Nagarjuna and Dorje Shugden.

The Buddhist master Nagarjuna was born to a Brahmin family in the land of Beda, South India. When he was born, it was prophesied that Nagarjuna would only live for 10 days, however due to the offerings made by his father, it was then prophesied that Nagarjuna would live until the age of seven. When he was seven, his parents sent him away on a pilgrimage because they could not bear to see his corpse when he died. He found his way to the great monastic academy of Nalanda. While at Nalanda Monastery, he was ordained and initiated into the mandala of Amitayus by the master Saraha (Rahulabhadra) and thereby freed himself from an early death. Thereafter, Nagarjuna studied and grew up to become one the greatest philosophers, scholars and masters of ancient India.

As he grew up, Nagarjuna’s comprehension of the subtleties of the Buddha’s teachings became deeper and this is expressed in a number of commentaries on the doctrine of shunyata or emptiness and the great Middle Way. His teachings were especially revered and formed the backbone of what would become known as Mahayana Buddhism and more specifically, the philosophy of the Madhyamaka School.

Nagarjuna spent much of his life teaching and at some point, had many supernatural beings come to his teachings. These included the serpentine Nagas who were said to have disguised themselves as humans and anointed themselves with sandalwood to mask the smell of human beings, as they are adverse to it. The Nagas invited the master into their world and offered him a great treatise containing a rare teaching from Shakyamuni Buddha. Today, we know this teaching as the One Hundred Thousand Verse Prajnaparamita Sutra which until that time had never been revealed in the human world before.

Aside from teaching and composing great treatises, Nagarjuna was a great patron of many Buddhist temples, monasteries and stupas. He was also a fierce debater and defeated countless non-Buddhists in great debates. In the Indian dialectical tradition, losing a religious debate would require one to convert to the faith of the victor. It is said that Nagarjuna’s spent the remainder of his life in meditation at Shri Parvata. It is also said that his death was due to a stalk of Kusha grass, which was used to decapitate him. This causes for this was the negative karma Nagarjuna had created decapitating an insect. Nagarjuna’s heart disciple, Aryadeva became his successor in continuing the legacy of his teachings and philosophy.

Dorje Shugden is said to wear the round yellow hat to denote that his main activity is to protect Lama Tsongkhapa’s special lineage of Nagarjuna’s view of emptiness. Blessed by Manjushri, Lama Tsongkhapa was able to distil the essence of Nagarjuna’s philosophy and thereby impart a special lineage following which many have gained special insight rapidly. Hence, Dorje Shugden is a very special protector to safeguard this lineage.

 

33. Amitayus (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): White Tara, Ushnishavijaya (Namgyalma), Amitayus, Dorje Shugden and Vairochana Shugden (Shize).

According to the scriptures, Amitabha and Amitayus are essentially the same enlightened being. Within the doctrine of Mahayana Buddhism, a fully enlightened Buddha is said to possess three bodies, beginning with emanation body (Nirmanakaya), enjoyment body (Sambhogakaya) and the ultimate truth body (Dharmakaya). Amitayus is the enjoyment body form of the Buddha Amitabha.

Within the context of representation, the distinguishing feature between both enlightened beings lies with the fact that Buddha Amitabha has the appearance of a Buddha in monk robes while Buddha Amitayus has the appearance of a princely bodhisattva. Buddha Amitabha cradles a black begging bowl in his hands while Buddha Amitayus holds a long-life vase with his hands.

Buddha Amitayus is mentioned in the Mahayana Sutras and is also a very popular meditational Buddha within Vajrayana Buddhism as well. Aside from the main lineage, there are also mandala practices of the Nine Deity Mandala of Amitayus along with Amitayus embracing his consort. Milarepa’s heart disciple, Rechungpa (1083-1161), received a special lineage of Buddha Amitayus from the Indian master Tipu Pandita while on one of his sojourns down to India. Upon his return, he transmitted the tradition to Milarepa and the practice was known as the Rechung tradition. Ultimately, Buddha Amitayus primarily functions as a long-life deity to extend one’s lifespan, merits and all that is necessary to sustain one’s life.

He is usually placed together in a set of Three Long-life Deities – Buddha Amitayus, White Tara and Ushnishavijaya. Hence, they are depicted in the thangka along with the principle deity Dorje Shugden and Vairochana Shugden riding upon an elephant. These are all powerful deities capable of bringing purification, increasing our merits and lifespan.

 

34. White Tara (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Ushnishavijaya (Namgyalma), Amitayus, White Tara, Dorje Shugden

Tara is known as Jetsun Drolma in Tibetan and she is a very important figure in Tibetan Buddhism. She is known as the ‘saviouress’ and is also considered the embodiment of the activity of all the Buddhas. According to the Tara Tantras, she was a young Bodhisattva princess who inhabited a different world system in a distant past. Her name was Yeshe Dawa and she had deep faith in the Buddha of that world system and made tremendous amounts of offerings to him. She also went to receive teachings and engaged in deep meditations as well. At one time, she received a special teaching on the development of Bodhicitta – the infinitely compassionate mental state of a Bodhisattva.

After the teachings, some monks approached her and suggested that because of her level of attainment she should next pray to be reborn as a male to progress further in her next life. She contemplated their words and told the monks that it is only the “weak minded” who would see gender as a barrier to attaining enlightenment. Nevertheless, she realised that there have been few who have developed the aspiration to work for the welfare of sentient beings in a female form. Therefore, she made the aspiration to be reborn in a female form again and again to work tirelessly to liberate all beings until samsara is emptied. She then remained in a state of meditation and perceiving her supreme aspiration, the Buddha prophesied that she would manifest enlightenment and be known as the Goddess Tara.

In the ancient text known as the Praise to the 21 Taras, Tara is said to have emanated in 21 main forms. The most popular of these forms are the Green and White Taras. White Tara is white in colour and unlike her green counterpart, she sits in full meditation. Nevertheless, she makes the same sacred gesture as Green Tara, though she also holds the stem of an Utpala flower in her left hand. She has seven eyes – three eyes on her sacred face, one on each hand and one on the soles of each feet. They represent her ability to look into each realm of samsara along with her clairvoyant ability to look into the past, present and future simultaneously with great compassion. White Tara is the healing emanation of Tara and her white colour represents her ability to purify illnesses. This is achieved by the practitioner’s generation of merit by relying on her and the purification of previous negative karma of harming others. Hence, her practice is also considered to be a long life practice as well.

White Tara is popularly placed together with Ushnishavijaya and Amitayus and together they are known as the Three Long Life Deities. They are often depicted together on thangka paintings and statues. Usnishavijaya is an eight-armed goddess of purification and long life while Amitayus is the Bodhisattva of Boundless life. Amitayus appears in princely form and bestows merits, long life and all necessary resources to practice the Dharma. Finally, Dorje Shugden is a powerful Dharma Protector who clears all obstacles to our long and healthy life and practice of the Dharma. That is why all these Buddha figures are depicted in this thangka with the primary focus on White Tara.

 

35. Loma Gyonma (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Medicine Buddha, White Tara, Loma Gyonma, Trakpo Sumtril, Dorje Shugden and Vairocana Shugden (Shize).

The Forest Goddess is an example of an Indian folk deity absorbed into Tantric Buddhism. She is a popular practice and has numerous forms with varying emphases. For the practitioner of Esoteric Buddhist meditation, the Forest Goddess is an emanation of the Buddha, and her special characteristic or metaphor is that of sickness and healing. The Forest Goddess Parnasavari’s name means ‘The Mountain Mendicant Wearing Leaves’ and she is associated with the mysterious forest Shavari tribe of ancient India. She has three faces, six arms and wears a skirt and garland of green leaves endowed with medicinal qualities. Hence, she is deeply associated with the jungle tribes and their famous healing abilities, particularly of curing contagious diseases.

Her practice had since proliferated to the Himalayas and in Tibet, whenever a lama gives a large scale teaching, it is customary to include the initiation and blessing of the Forest Goddess in order to ward off disease. The implements and her skirt symbolise her potent ability to heal the most virulent and contagious diseases by way of the root cause, the purification of the karma of harming others. Hence, she heals us of inner sickness, which is our delusions that lead us to harm others and outer sicknesses by way of purification of the karma of harm that we had inflicted on others in the past.

Although she is considered to be originally a folk Indian deity by some scholars but for Buddhists, she is considered and emanation of Tara herself. In fact, she is specifically the 20th Tara mentioned in the Praise of the 21 Taras, Lhamo Rithroma (the Mendicant Tara) who averts all diseases. Hence, she is a popular practice amongst Buddhists in the Himalayas and also ancient India. There were a number of ancient statues have been unearthed in Pala period excavations in Dacca, India from the 10th to 12th century period when Buddhism still existed in that region of India.

Medicine Buddha is described as the supreme physician who cures suffering using the medicine of his teachings that are based on the vows he had taken when he was bodhisattva on the path. In addition, White Tara who is the emanation of Tara that pacifies all diseases of the 6 realms, Trakpo Sumtril who is a combination of Vajrapani, Hayagriva and Garuda in one deity and practice along with Dorje Shugden Shize who is an emanation of Dorje Shugden that pacifies sickness and diseases. Just like Loma Gyonma, these enlightened beings heal us of the basis of inner and outer sicknesses via the purification of our delusions and negative karma.

 

36. Standing Yeshe Tsogyal (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Guru Padmasambhava, Standing Yeshe Tsogyal, Wangze, Za Rahula and Dorje Shugden.

Yeshe Tsogyal was born in 777 CE as a princess in the Kharchen region of Tibet. Her name literally means ‘Victorious Ocean of Wisdom’ or ‘Queen of the Wisdom Lake’. She is widely believed to have been an emanation of Vajrayogini. She is said to have lived for 99 years and was renowned to be the main spiritual consort of Guru Rinpoche. She became fully awakened and was thus a spiritual master in her own right.

According to her biography, she was initially the consort of King Trison Detsen before she was offered up to Guru Rinpoche as an offering during an initiation. Her main practice was Vajrakilaya and after engaging in extensive practice, she gained a vision of the deity which was a sign of her great spiritual attainments. It is said that while in Nepal, she offered ransom for Acharya Sale and she took him as her spiritual consort as well.

After she became Guru Rinpoche’s consort, she became his scribe and wrote down teachings with Guru Rinpoche who assigned many of these teachings as terma or ‘hidden treasures’. Yeshe Tsogyal was instructed by Guru Rinpoche to hide many of these teachings, as they were only to be revealed in the future. At the end of her life, she flew directly to Zangdok Palri or Copper-coloured Mountain, the pure realm of Guru Rinpoche.

Guru Rinpoche himself is widely considered to be one of the most important Indian lineage holders and is credited with the introduction of the early Buddhist tantras to Tibet. He is also considered to be one of the previous lives of Lama Tsongkhapa and established Buddhism in Tibet during the reign of the Tibetan King Trisong Detsen. When he first arrived to Tibet, he faced opposition from supernatural beings and thus, he subdued them and bound them by oath to protect the Dharma. Za Rahula was one of the beings that Guru Rinpoche subdued and he swore to protect the Dharma. He is depicted alongside Dorje Shugden, the protector of many Buddhist practitioners of all Tibetan traditions.

 

37. Manjushri (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Four-Armed Chenrezig, Manjushri, Vajrapani and Dorje Shugden.

This thangka depicts the “Three Protectors”, known in Tibetan as the Rigsum Gonpo. This enlightened trinity refers to Manjushri, Chenrezig, and Vajrapani. They symbolically represent the wisdom, compassion and skilful means of all the Buddhas of the past, present and future respectively. They also represent the body, speech and mind of all the Buddhas.

In Tibet, the great Buddhist King Songtsen Gampo is said to have constructed four temples dedicated to this sacred trinity around the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa. This bears testament to the importance of these three great enlightened beings who have emanated as Bodhisattvas since ancient times.

Manjushri, or Jampal Yang in Tibetan, literally means “Gentle-voiced” and he has the appearance of a youthful 16-year-old prince. He is one of the most popular Bodhisattvas in the Buddhist pantheon and his earthly abode is in the Wu Tai Shan Mountains of China. He is widely known to be the patron Bodhisattva of Wisdom. He holds aloft a fiery wisdom-sword that cuts through all obscurations in his right hand. With his left hand he holds the stem of an immaculate lotus that supports a text on the “Perfection of Wisdom” in one hundred thousand stanzas which is symbolic of the highest form of wisdom – the correct view of emptiness. Hence, by relying of Manjushri we are able to develop powerful memory, a flair for the arts, some measure of clairvoyance and deep insight into the Buddha’s teachings.

Chenrezig’s sacred name literally means the “All-Seeing Lord”. He is regarded as the embodiment of compassion and his divine presence is invoked through his well-known six syllable mantra, OM MANI PADME HUM. His most commonly depicted form has four arms that represent the “Four Immeasurables” of loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and perfect equanimity. With two of his hands folded at his heart, he holds a blue wish-granting gem, symbolising the great compassion of all Buddhas. With his other right hand, he holds aloft a mala of 108 beads, representing his ability to guide all beings on the path to liberation. With his other left hand he holds aloft the stem of an immaculate lotus, indicating that he is unstained by samsara and he has great compassion. Chenrezig’s practice is excellent for those who are angersome as his practice lessens anger and also for those who suffer from depression.

Vajrapani, known as Chagna Dorje in Tibetan, literally means ‘Holder of the Vajra’ and he represents the Buddha’s power or skilful means. He is in peaceful aspect with his right hand holding a five-pointed vajra at his heart and his left pressing down on his moon disk seat. He is blue in colour and sits in a relaxed meditation posture. He wears the six ornaments of a Bodhisattva representing the Six Perfections. Vajrapani also is known as the Lord of Secrets and that means he bestows practitioners with a special aptitude to practise Tantra. He is well-known to pacify inner and outer Maras. Inner maras are delusions and the self-grasping mind while outer maras refer to malevolent spirits and obstructing beings.

Dorje Shugden is the emanation of Manjushri and he has taken the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard Lama Tsongkhapa’s special teachings. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering wisdom sword. He rides a snow lion which represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles and create conducive conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish.

 

38. Vajrayogini (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Naropa, Vajradharma, Hero Vajradharma, Naro Kacho, Maitri Kacho (Flying Vajrayogini), Dorje Shugden and Vajravarahi.

Vajrayogini is a female tantric Buddha and she has many forms that are derived from various lineages. She mainly embodies the fully enlightened female (shakti) aspect of a Buddha. She belongs to the Mother Tantra classification, which refers to her practice concentrating on the wisdom aspect of the path to Buddhahood. She is also the principal dakini, the compassionate female guides and nurturers of tantric meditation who lead practitioners to enlightenment. In the thangka, the main figure in the middle is Naro Kechari as she arose from the pure vision of the Mahasiddha Naropa.

In Anuttara (Highest) Yoga Tantra, principal dakinis normally appear in union with a male consort and this can be seen in the cases of deities such as Guhyasamaja, Hevajra, and Kalachakra. In the case of Vajrayogini, she is the principal female Buddha of the Chakrasamvara Tantra and therefore, she is normally in union with Heruka Chakrasamvara. Furthermore, Vajrayogini is also considered a Vajradakini, who are yidams or meditational deities in their own right. Their practices have evolved from the main practices of their consorts, simplifying the otherwise complicated original practice by reducing it to a single-deity meditation without sacrificing the main benefits and features of the original. Hence, Vajradakini practices such as Vajrayogini and Nairatmya are derived from the original Chakrasamvara Tantra and Hevajra Tantra respectively.

In essence, Vajrayogini is known as “Sarvabuddha-dakini” or the Dakini Who is the Essence of all Buddhas. Her mantra is known as the King of All Mantras as it has the most powerful ability to bless us with spiritual attainments even without any visualisation or meditation. There are 11 Yogas in the generation stage of her practice and a few which have the power of transforming ordinary actions like sleeping, waking and ordinary daily tasks into a collection of merits. Ultimately, her Tantra offers salvation for ordinary practitioners at death with her special promise of guiding practitioners towards Kechara, or the Paradise of the Dakinis, in which we can continue deep practices to become a Buddha without fear, obstacles and interruptions.

Within Vajrayogini practice, soliciting the blessings of the lama and the lineage master are of paramount importance in order for our practice to bear results. Hence, the lama is visualised as the red Vajradharma with arms crossed at the heart, holding the vajra and bell. The lineage masters are visualised as Hero Vajradharma, holding a damaru and skullcup while cradling a khatvanga. Aside from the main Naro Kechari form, Vajrayogini also appears in the form of Maitri Kechari, who is known as Flying Vajrayogini, and arose from the vision of Maitripa. Another common form is known as Indra Kechari, or Vajravarahi, who arose from the vision of Indrabodhi.

Last of all, Dorje Shugden is a Dharma protector with a special affinity with Vajrayogini practitioners. This is because he himself arose from an incarnation lineage that includes the likes of Naropa, the progenitor of Naro Kechari practice, and Tsarchen Losel Gyatso who had practised and proliferated her Tantra and is listed as one the lineage masters invoked upon every day by Vajrayogini practitioners.

 

39. Ucheyma (Severed Headed Vajrayogini) (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Maitri Kacho (Flying Vajrayogini), Maitri Kacho (One-Leg Up Vajrayogini), Naro Kacho, Sukhasiddhi, Ucheyma (Severed Headed Vajrayogini), Vajra Varnani (green assistant), Vajra Vairocani (yellow assistant), Cittipati, Vajravarahi and Dorje Shugden.

The central deity is known as Severed Headed Vajrayogini, Chinnamasta or Dorje Neljorma Ucheyma. Both Chinnamasta (Sanskrit) and Ucheyma (Tibetan) literally mean, ‘She Whose Head is Severed’. The meaning behind her form is to show practitioners that they need to completely remove the grasping and self-identification with the “I” or the ego. Generally, the identity of the self is strongly associated with our face more than any other part of our body. We usually recognise a person when we look at a person’s face. Hence, our self-identification or ego is strongly associated with our face. To show us that this self-identification needs to be overcome on the spiritual path to enlightenment, Vajrayogini uses her ritual chopper to decapitate herself. This is symbolic of her practice eradicating the ego.

The Severed Headed Vajrayogini removes all afflictive mental constructs by removing the root cause – the identification of the self, the ego. We are either attached to or averse to people and circumstances because we have an ego to please, gratify and protect. But in the grander scheme of things, this self-identification with the ‘I’ is illusory and does not really exist. Therefore, Vajrayogini reveals this ultimate truth through the dramatic decapitation of her head and at the same time is still able to live and function. She is able to live due to her direct perception of emptiness and egolessness.

Contrary to what some people might think, the eradication of the self does not destroy individualism, our personality or make us into a mindless person. In fact, the eradication of the ego makes us become a vibrant and compassionate person, someone that has greater awareness of the suffering of others. In other words, we become much warmer, kinder, forgiving, tolerant, conscientious, generous, contemplative and we are become a joy to be with. The cutting of the ego or the ‘I’ brings us towards awakening our true self, the Buddha nature within.

The Severed Headed Vajrayogini has two dakini attendants. From the trunk of her neck, there are three severed blood vessels spurting three jets of blood that flow into the mouths of her own decapitated head that she carries in her left hand and into the mouths of her two attendants. Tsem Rinpoche explained that the three jets of blood represent that her practice purifies the three psychic poisons of ignorance, hatred and desire. In turn, this leads to the attainment of the three bodies of a Buddha – the emanation body, the enjoyment body and the truth body. In other words, the severance of the ego via her tantric path leads to the purification of all delusions and ultimately, the attainment of Buddhahood itself.

Severed Headed Vajrayogini is surrounded by some of her other forms, including Naro Kacho, two forms of Maitri Kacho, Sukhasiddhi and Vajravarahi. These forms of Vajrayogini are more commonly practised compared to Severed Headed Vajrayogini and are prevalent in most Tibetan Buddhist lineages. Though they may look different, all forms are indivisible from her true nature and all her practices can lead practitioners to enlightenment. Naro Kacho arose from a vision beheld by the Mahasiddha Naropa, Maitri Kacho from a vision beheld by Maitripa, and Indra Kacho from a vision beheld by Indrabodhi. The Lord and Lady of the Charnel Ground, known as Cittipati, are one of the main protectors of the Vajrayogini Tantra.

Last of all, Dorje Shugden is a protector with special affinity with Vajrayogini practitioners because he arose from an incarnation lineage that includes Naropa and Tsarchen Losel Gyatso who practised and proliferated her Tantra.

 

40. Ucheyma (Severed Headed Vajrayogini) (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): H.H. the 7th Panchen Lama, Ucheyma (Severed Headed Vajrayogini), Vajra Varnani (green assistant), Vajra Vairocani (yellow assistant), Dorje Shugden and Cittipati.

The central deity is known as Chinnamasta or Dorje Neljorma Ucheyma. Both Chinnamasta (Sanskrit) and Ucheyma (Tibetan) literally mean, ‘She Whose Head is Severed’. The meaning behind her form is to show practitioners that they need to completely remove the grasping and self-identification with the “I” or the ego. Generally, the identity of the self is strongly associated with our face more than any other part of our body. We usually recognise a person when we look at a person’s face. Hence, our self-identification or ego is strongly associated with our face. To show us that this self-identification needs to be overcome on the spiritual path to enlightenment, Vajrayogini uses her ritual chopper to decapitate herself. This is symbolic of her practice eradicating the ego.

The Severed Headed Vajrayogini, as she is also known, removes all afflictive mental constructs by removing the root cause – the identification of the self, the ego. We are either attached to or averse to people and circumstances because we have an ego to please, gratify and protect. But in the grander scheme of things, this self-identification with the ‘I’ is illusory and does not really exist. Therefore, Vajrayogini reveals this ultimate truth through the dramatic decapitation of her head and at the same time is still able to live and function. She is able to live due to her direct perception of emptiness and egolessness.

Contrary to what some people might think, the eradication of the self does not destroy individualism, our personality or make us into a mindless person. In fact, the eradication of the ego makes us become a vibrant and compassionate person, someone that has greater awareness of the suffering of others. In other words, we become much warmer, kinder, forgiving, tolerant, conscientious, generous, contemplative and we are become a joy to be with. The cutting of the ego or the ‘I’ brings us towards awakening our true self, the Buddha nature within.

The Severed Headed Vajrayogini has two dakini attendants. From the trunk of her neck, there are three severed blood vessels spurting three jets of blood that flow into the mouths of her own decapitated head that she carries in her left hand and into the mouths of her two attendants. Tsem Rinpoche explained that the three jets of blood represent that her practice purifies the three psychic poisons of ignorance, hatred and desire. In turn, this leads to the attainment of the three bodies of a Buddha – the emanation body, the enjoyment body and the truth body. In other words, the severance of the ego via her tantric path leads to the purification of all delusions and ultimately, the attainment of Buddhahood itself.

The 7th Panchen Lama, Palden Tenpai Nyima is featured floating above because of his compilation of sadhanas from the ancient Sadhanamala texts. This includes a particular sadhana or collection of prayers, visualisation and mantra focused on Ucheyma. Incidentally, Dorje Shugden in many of his previous lives was a lineage master of the Vajrayogini tantras as well. These previous lives include the likes of the Mahasiddha Naropa and Tsarchen Losel Gyatso. The Lord and Lady of the Charnel Ground, known as Cittipati, are one of the main protectors of the Vajrayogini Tantra.

Last of all, the ascetic meditator engaging in his devotional practices towards Ucheyma in the cemetery represents the ideal environment for tantric practice because such environments invoke deep renunciation towards worldly affairs and attachments. All Buddhist traditions advocate meditating on the bones of the deceased because it reminds us of our mortality and hence, we develop revulsion towards the transient nature of worldly or ordinary existence.

 

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41. Vajravarahi (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Jigten Sumgon, Chenga Chokyi Gyalpo, Lama Tsongkhapa, Vajravarahi, Achi Chokyi Drolma and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Vajravarahi (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Dorje Phagmo (Tibetan); Adamantine Sow (English); Indra Kacho (Sanskrit)
Vajravarahi is a female tantric Buddha who appears in many different forms throughout the various lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. She embodies the fully enlightened female aspect of a Buddha and her path of practice is considered a Mother Tantra, meaning her practitioners concentrate on the wisdom aspect leading to Buddhahood. She is also a principal dakini, the compassionate female guide and nurturer of tantric meditation who leads practitioners to enlightenment. Her practice arose from a pure vision beheld by the Mahasiddha Indrabodhi, which is why she is sometimes called Indra Kacho, meaning Indra’s Dakini. Here “Indra” refers to Indrabodhi, with “kacho” being a Tibetan word referring to the dakini (Vajravarahi) from Kechara. Kechara is Vajravarahi’s pureland where she resides.

In Highest Yoga Tantra, principal dakinis normally appear in union with male consorts, who are the central figures of the practices. Some examples include Sparshavajra who appears in union with Guhyasamaja; Nairatmya who appears in union with Hevajra; and Vishvamata who appears in union with Kalachakra. In the case of Vajravarahi, she is the principal female Buddha of the Chakrasamvara Tantra and therefore, she is normally depicted in union with Heruka Chakrasamvara. Vajravarahi is one of the most popular female Tantric deities found in all traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. She usually has either a single boar’s face that appears in her hair or from the left side of her face and she stands in a dancing posture.

Deity: Jigten Sumgon
The master Jigten Sumgon (1143-1217) was the founder of the Drikung Kagyu order and the main disciple of Phagmo Drupa. He is also said to have been an emanation of the Indian master Nagarjuna. He founded Drikung Thil Monastery in 1179 and is best known for the set of teachings known as The Five Profound Paths of Mahamudra, which have since become major teachings within the Drikung Kagyu tradition. Some of Jigten Sumgon’s teachings were collected by a disciple and compiled into what is now known as the Heart of the Great Vehicle’s Teachings.

Deity: Chenga Chokyi Gyalpo
Chenga Chokyi Gyalpo was the 11th throneholder of the Drikung Kagyu tradition and is famed for having the Narthang version of the Kangyur, or spoken words of the Buddha, and the Tengyur, or commentaries on the Buddha’s teachings, copied. He also bestowed numerous teachings to one of his most famous disciples, the incomparable Lama Tsongkhapa. These included the Drikung Kagyu lineage teachings on the Six Yogas of Naropa, which are advanced Tantric meditation techniques capable of expediting the journey to enlightenment.

Deity: Lama Tsongkhapa
Lama Tsongkhapa founded the Gelug tradition based upon the teachings he received from various masters including those from the Drikung Kagyu tradition. However, he primarily based his tradition on teachings from the Kadampa masters. Lama Tsongkhapa is known to have been an emanation of the Buddha Manjushri and best known for two great works, the Lamrim Chenmo (Graduated Stages on the Path to Enlightenment) and Ngarim Chenmo (Graduated Stages on the Path of Tantra).

Deity: Achi Chokyi Drolma
Achi Chokyi Drolma is the special protectress who arose to protect the Drikung Kagyu order. She is considered to be the reincarnation of Jigten Sumgon’s grandmother who was an emanation of Vajrayogini, another form of Vajravarahi. However, she has since come to be relied on by practitioners from outside the Drikung Kagyu order as well, such as those belonging to the Gelug tradition.

Deity: Dorje Shugden
Dorje Shugden is the special protector who arose to protect teachings within the Gelug order and he is known to be the reincarnation of Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen, whose incarnation lineage stems all the way back to the Buddha Manjushri. Dorje Shugden has also been relied upon by practitioners of other lineages including the Nyingma, Sakya and Kagyu traditions.

42. Dukkar (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Buddha Shakyamuni, Dukkar, Dorje Shugden and the Three Mahakala Lords.

Deity: Dukkar (Tibetan)
Alternative names: Sitatapatra (Sanskrit); White Parasol (English)
The awe-inspiring Dukkar is an extremely efficacious female deity. According to scriptural sources, her all-powerful form emerged from the ushnisha or sacred crown protuberance of Buddha Shakyamuni, while he was in deep meditative absorption amidst the assembly of the gods in the Heaven of the Thirty-Three. Hence, Buddha Shakyamuni is depicted above Dukkar in this thangka. Her supreme practice was popular in ancient India and has managed to retain its popularity to this day because it is extremely potent in averting obstacles for Buddhist practitioners.

In fact, Dukkar is invoked to protect practitioners from a wide range of problems and calamities ranging from attacks from malevolent spirits to unjustified legal suits. Her mantra is also said to repel negative interferences and purify negative defilements. Furthermore, her long mantra or dharani is traditionally worn in an amulet for protection, even in extremely dangerous circumstances, and it also has the power to alter adverse weather conditions. The protective blessings of Dukkar are invoked in a number of rituals such as her torma offering, fire puja, the creation of a protective circle, drawing of her mandala and her dharanis, which are often inserted into stupas and statues as highly sacred items.

The most commonly depicted form of Dukkar has 1,000 heads, 1,000 arms, 1,000 legs and thousands of eyes that oversee sentient beings. With her two central hands, she holds a Dharma wheel and a white parasol from which she takes her name. In her other hands she holds a multitude of various weapons. Her skin is radiant white in colour and her body is adorned with the various accoutrements of a bodhisattva.

Deity: Three Mahakala Lords
At her sacred feet lie the ’Three Brother Lords’ – three Mahakalas that hold wooden sticks who are associated with Dukkar’s practice and often depicted together with her. They are said to protect all those who practise Dukkar sincerely.

Deity: Dorje Shugden
Dorje Shugden, who is a highly powerful protector of the Dharma, accompanies the Buddha above Dukkar. Relied upon by masters of all traditions for the past 350 years, Dorje Shugden is a worthy accompanying deity to Dukkar’s protective practice.

43. Sengdongma (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Buddha Shakyamuni, Manjushri, Vajrayogini, Sengdongma, Dorje Shugden and Kache Marpo.

Deity: Sengdongma
Alternative names: Simhamukha (Sanskrit); Lion-Faced Dakini (English)
The great ferocious dakini Sengdongma is an impressive female meditational deity. Within the Kagyu, Sakya and Gelug traditions, Sengdongma arises from the Chakrasamvara cycle of Tantras and is considered to be one of the attendant dakinis within the mandala of Vajrayogini, who is depicted in the upper right hand corner of the thangka. Thus, Sengdongma’s practice belongs to the Highest Yoga Tantra classification. The form of Sengdongma prevalent in the Nyingma tradition is a unique one. In this tradition she is considered the ‘secret’ form of Guru Padmasambhava, according to the inner, outer and secret manifestations of his form.

During the time of Buddha Amitabha which was aeons before Buddha Shakyamuni, there lived a demon by the name of Garab Wangchuk whose daughter was a lion-faced demoness named Tramen Sengdongma. She thrived on killing many innocent beings and her trail of destruction became widespread. She threatened sincere practitioners and undermined Buddha Amitabha’s teachings. It was then that the enlightened beings gathered to manifest an identical-looking being in order to tame the demoness. Through the collective blessings of all the enlightened beings, a wisdom being appeared in the form of a lion-faced dakini, who was empowered by all the Buddhas to subjugate the demoness. The dakini, Sengdongma, was far more powerful than the demoness and when they fought, the demoness began to lose her strength. Furthermore, Sengdongma entered a deep state of concentration called Taming the Maras and thus emanated countless dakinis who continued her work of subduing demons. In this manner Tramen Sengdongma was subdued and took an oath to serve the Dharma and became a protector.

Deity: Buddha Shakyamuni
Buddha Shakyamuni turned the Wheel of Dharma, giving many different types of teachings including that of the Vajrayana (Adamantine Vehicle) tradition which concentrates on the practice of Tantra. At one time, Buddha Shakyamuni made it known that there was a method to dispel ignorance, and so his bodhisattva disciple Vajrapani requested that he teach this method. Buddha Shakyamuni entered into the meditative state known as Taming the Maras and then taught the entire cycle of teachings centred on Sengdongma. He taught in many different ways and these transmissions were received by Vajrapani in order to be concealed and revealed at a later time.

Later in Bodhgaya, a king by the name of Suraya Singha invited 500 panditas – great scholars and masters of various faiths – so that he could make offerings to them. At that time, a debate between the Thirtika and Buddhist panditas was arranged. It is said that Suraya Singha and the Buddhist panditas supplicated Guru Padmasambhava for his assistance during the debate. He appeared and tamed the Thirtika opponents in a contest of miraculous powers. The Thirtikas then began using black magic to take revenge for their defeat. It was then that Guru Padmasambhava revealed the Sengdongma practice, long hidden by the bodhisattva Vajrapani. He engaged in the practice and defeated the Thirtika panditas once and for all.

Sengdongma provides very effective protection against negative conditions, illnesses and misfortune, particularly those that are specifically sent against us through the use of black magic. Her practice is beneficial in the clearing of spirit disturbances and black magic. Her practice is also excellent for eliminating obstacles and problems to our Dharma practice, ensuring the practitioner’s health and success in both spiritual and secular endeavours.

Deity: Manjushri
Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, is propitiated in his myriad forms to increase one’s wisdom, insight and merits.

Deity: Dorje Shugden
Dorje Shugden is the emanation of Manjushri and a highly powerful protector of the Dharma and its practitioners.

Deity: Kache Marpo
Kache Marpo is an emanation of Hayagriva and a protector of the Dharma. He serves as Dorje Shugden’s main minister. Together with Dorje Shugden they are the perfect accompanying deities to Sengdongma’s practice to clear obstacles quickly and effectively.

44. Saraswati (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Manjushri, Saraswati, Palden Lhamo and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Saraswati (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Yangchenma / Yangchen Drolma (Tibetan); Goddess Tara of Song and Music (English)
Saraswati is a well-known Indian goddess of music, wisdom and learning. She is widely regarded as both the emanation of Tara as well as the consort of Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom. Saraswati is the enlightened embodiment and bestower of awakened eloquence and special insight into the Buddha’s teachings. Due to her wisdom-bestowing nature, Saraswati is deeply interconnected with Manjushri. She is considered by many great masters to be the goddess and patron of the arts, music, language, literature, poetry, philosophy, and for all those engaged in creative endeavours.

Saraswati also emanated as Vajravetali or Dorje Rolangma, the consort of Vajrabhairava (Yamantaka), a wrathful form of Manjushri whose practice belongs to the Highest Yoga Tantra classification. In this form she is said to have revealed the Vajrabhairava Tantras to the great Indian master Lalitavajra who consequently spread the practice.

Furthermore, Saraswati was a yidam or personal meditational deity of the 14th Century Tibetan master Je Tsongkhapa who founded the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. He composed a beautiful devotional poem entitled Prayer to Saraswati, based on the pure visions that he had of her. Saraswati is believed to have frequently appeared to Je Tsongkhapa on his travels, offering counsel and inspiration throughout his years of study and contemplation.

Deity: Palden Lhamo
In the Gelug tradition, Palden Lhamo is known as Magzor Gyalmo or the Queen who Repels Armies and is regarded as the wrathful emanation of Saraswati. She is propitiated as a protector of the Dharma. Palden Lhamo is also the protectress of the Dalai Lama’s line of incarnations.

Deity: Dorje Shugden
Dorje Shugden is recognised to be an emanation of the bodhisattva Manjushri. In fact, Dorje Shugden arose from a long line of incarnated lamas who strove to proliferate and protect the teachings. He is a protector of recent origins, arising 350 years ago, and due to his strong affinity with beings of this time, he is widely renowned to be efficacious and powerful in overcoming our obstacles and creating favourable conditions for our practice.

45. Thousand-Armed Chenrezig (Main Figure)

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(Top to bottom): Manjushri, Vajrapani, Thousand-Armed Chenrezig, Green Tara and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Thousand-Armed Chenrezig (Tibetan)
Alternative names: Avalokiteshvara (Sanskrit); Arya Sahasrabhuja Ekadasamukha (Sanskrit); All-Seeing Universal Lord (English); Noble Thousand-Armed Eleven-Headed (English)

Chenrezig is known as the Buddha of Compassion and his thousand-armed form is testament to his unceasing mission to help sentient beings overcome their suffering. Upon gaining enlightenment, Chenrezig made a vow never to rest until he has freed all sentient beings from the torment of samsara or cyclic rebirth.

Despite his best and strenuous efforts through which he saved countless beings, still many countless more remained within samsara. Struggling to comprehend the needs of so many beings, Chenrezig’s head split into 11 pieces. Upon seeing his plight, his guru – the Buddha Amitabha – appeared to him and taking the 11 pieces, made him 11 new heads which Chenrezig could use to hear the cries of all those left in samsara. Hearing so many beings, Chenrezig endeavoured to stretch his arms out to assist them but found that his arms shattered into pieces from the effort to help all. Coming to his aid once more, the Buddha Amitabha bestowed him with a thousand new arms with which to aid sentient beings.

10 of Chenrezig’s 11 heads represent the 10 stages on the Bodhisattva’s path to Buddhahood. The 11th represents complete enlightenment in the form of the Buddha Amitabha. All his heads appear in peaceful form, save his black head which is wrathful. It represents Chenrezig’s compassion to help even those who are the most difficult to tame.

Chenrezig has eight principal hands, the first two with palms joined at the level of his heart while hold a wish-fulfilling gem, which represents bodhicitta or the compassionate mind of enlightenment. Five of his other primary hands hold a crystal mala symbolic of leading beings out of samsara in the same way that one bead leads to another; a lotus representing wisdom; an empowerment vase symbolic of purification of negative karma; a wheel representing his teaching of the Dharma; and a bow and arrow symbolic of his use of wisdom and skilful means to aid others. His eighth principal hand is shown in the mudra of supreme giving from which is visualised nectar that provides relief from suffering. His remaining 992 hands are also in the mudra of supreme giving.

Each of his 1,000 arms have eyes in the centre of their palms, representing not only Chenrezig’s ability to see the torment all sentient beings go through, but also the 1,000 Buddhas of our aeon. In essence, he represents the enlightened activity of all 1,000 Buddhas combined into one figure. Draped over Chenrezig’s left shoulder is a deer skin. In ancient India it was believed that deer were born with natural compassion; as the deer skin covers his heart, it symbolises Chenrezig’s unceasing love and compassion for all sentient beings.

The Thousand-Armed Chenrezig is the main object of refuge in the profound fasting retreat practice known as Nyungne. The practice includes the keeping of strict vows, maintaining complete silence and fasting. It centres on the recitations of prayers and mantras while visualising the Thousand-Armed Chenrezig. ‘Nyungne’ in Tibetan literally means ‘abiding in the fast’ and the practice is believed to heal diseases, help one to develop compassion and purify negative karma.

The origins of Nyungne stem from a figure known as Gelongma Palmo. She was an Afghani princess who lived during a time when Afghanistan was once a great Buddhist kingdom. She became a fully ordained Buddhist nun who overcame the dreaded disease of leprosy through the practice of Nyungne and reliance upon Thousand-Armed Chenrezig. It was from this venerable nun that the extraordinary lineage of Nyungne practice began.

Deity: Manjushri (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Jampal Yang (Tibetan)
Manjushri is known as the Buddha of Wisdom. He holds a wisdom sword which cuts ignorance from our lives, and the stem of a lotus on top of which rests a Perfection of Wisdom text, symbolic of his practice granting wisdom, insight and merit. He is closely associated with Chenrezig as they are part of the trinity known as Rigsum Gonpo (Three Protectors).

Deity: Vajrapani
Alternative name: Chagna Dorje (Tibetan)
The third deity in the Rigsum Gonpo triad, Vajrapani represents the energy or power of the enlightened beings. He holds a vajra aloft in his right hand, noose in his left and stands in a warrior pose. He is also known as the Lord of Secrets, since he bestows practitioners with the special aptitude to practise tantra. He is well-known to pacify inner and outer maras. Inner maras are delusions and the self-grasping mind ,while outer maras refer to malevolent spirits and obstructing beings.

Deity: Green Tara
Alternative name: Drolma
Tara is said to have arisen from a tear cried by Chenrezig when he saw the plight of beings suffering. Another story tells of how she emanated from his heart. Known as the Mother of Liberation, Tara represents compassion and the virtues of success in working to help others. She sits in the middle of Chenrezig’s pure land called Potala, with the Buddha Amitabha seated at the top of the celestial palace. Amitabha is considered the guru of both Chenrezig and Tara and his placement at the top of the palace signifies their honouring of him as their spiritual teacher.

Deity: Dorje Shugden
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of Manjushri in the form of a Dharma Protector. He clears obstacles and provides conducive conditions for spiritual practice to flourish, especially for those who practise compassion and work for the benefit of others. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering wisdom sword. He rides a snow lion which represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha.

46. Vajradharma (Main Figure)

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(Top to bottom): Buddha Shakyamuni, Vajradharma, Vajrayogini, Hero Vajradharma and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Vajradharma (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Dorje Cho (Tibetan)
Within the extremely potent Vajrayogini Tantras of Tibetan Buddhism, there are 11 Yogas or meditative exercises described for practitioners to further their spiritual practice. These meditative practices are meant to transform one’s ordinary conceptions of the self-cherishing ‘I’ into the divine pride of Vajrayogini, an enlightened being. This is coupled with the transformation of the practitioners’ environment, which is generated as the mandala or divine abode of Vajrayogini. Various people that practitioners encounter are likewise generated as the dakas and dakinis of Vajrayogini’s entourage.

Of the 11 Yogas, there are three that are meant to be practised during ordinary daily activity. Normally, ordinary daily activities only create karma, either good or bad. Through the practice of these three yogas, it means that those activities, rather than being ordinary, are transformed into activities that generate spiritual merit. These three yogas are (i) the Yoga of Daily Activity, (ii) the Yoga of Sleeping, and (iii) the Yoga of Waking Up. With regards to sleeping and waking up, through their associated yogas we transform the hours we spend sleeping into spiritual practices.

However, the most important of these practices is that of Guru Yoga. This is a special practice which solicits the blessings of one’s spiritual teacher in order to successfully accomplish the aims of Vajrayogini’s meditational practice. In Vajrayogini’s Guru Yoga, the spiritual teacher is visualised as Vajradharma. In essence he looks similar to Vajradhara, the tantric form of Buddha Shakyamuni, holding a vajra and bell crossed at his chest, but he has a coral red hue instead of being blue in colour. Therefore, the spiritual teacher is visualised as a fully enlightened being, not in his ordinary aspect, in order to receive the highest blessings of an enlightened being.

Deity: Buddha Shakyamuni (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Sangye Shakya Tupa (Tibetan)
The historic Buddha Shakyamuni was the first to turn the Wheel of Dharma during our current aeon. We are fortunate because the Buddha taught the paths of both Sutra and Tantra. Using Tantric teachings, we are able to accomplish enlightenment within a single lifetime, rather than the three countless aeons required to achieve enlightenment using Sutric teachings.

Furthermore, it was Buddha Shakyamuni who manifested as Heruka Chakrasamvara and Vajrayogini in order to subdue the god Bhairava and his consort Kalaratri, as their energies were having a detrimental effect on beings within samsara. In doing so, he gave countless sentient beings the hope to overcome their suffering through the practice of Tantra.

Deity: Naro Kechari Vajrayogini (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Dorje Neljorma (Tibetan)
This form of Vajrayogini arose from a pure vision beheld by the Indian Mahasiddha Naropa, hence her name Naro Kechari (or Naropa’s Dakini). This form of Vajrayogini and her practice has since become the main form transmitted due to the efficacy of her practice and blessings of her lineage. Her Tantra promises rebirth in her pure land known as Kechara Paradise, in order that practitioners can continue their spiritual journey without worldly distractions until they become a fully enlightened Buddha.

Deity: Hero Vajradharma (English)
Alternative names: Vira Vajradharma (Sanskrit); Pawo Vajradhara (Tibetan)
At the beginning of the long Vajrayogini sadhana (daily practice), the practitioner solicits the blessings of the lineage masters beginning from the Mahasiddha Naropa all the way to one’s own root guru in order to empower the sadhana to be successful and to receive their blessings. During the various visualisations, one’s root guru is visualised as Vajradharma as mentioned above. The remaining lineage masters are all visualised as Hero Vajradharma, holding damarus, skullcups and cradling khatvanga tantric staffs.

Deity: Dorje Shugden
Dorje Shugden has a special regard for the Vajrayogini Tantras. Before he arose as a Dharma Protector, he had for several lifetimes been great Mahasiddhas, scholars and Tantric practitioners. During his incarnations as the Mahasiddha Naropa and the master Tsarchen Losel Gyatso, he was pivotal in the revelation and proliferation of the Tantra. In his Dharma Protector form, Dorje Shugden clears obstacles and provides conducive conditions for spiritual practice to flourish, especially for those who practise compassion and work for the benefit of others.

47. Wrathful Guru Rinpoche (Main Figure)

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(Top to bottom): Four-Armed Chenrezig, Wrathful Guru Rinpoche, Medicine Guru Rinpoche, Ekajati and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Wrathful Guru Rinpoche
Alternative names: Guru Padmasambhava (Sanskrit); Pema Jungne (Tibetan)
Guru Rinpoche, also known as Guru Padmasambhava, is highly revered within all schools of Tibetan Buddhism and there are three well-known stories regarding his birth. The first recounts his birth from a lotus in the Dhanakosha Lake in the country of Oddiyana and is why he has the epithet “Lotus-Born”. The second tells of his birth in North India as the son of a king, while the third suggests he was from South India and the brother-in-law of Santarakshita, abbot of the famed Nalanda Monastery.

It was in the 8th Century that Santarakshita travelled to Tibet to establish the first monastic institution there under the patronage of King Trisong Detsen, who is considered the second of Tibet’s three great Dharma kings. However, Santarakshita faced many supernatural obstacles to the founding of the monastery due to the interferences of local mountain gods and spirits scared of losing their disciples to the Buddhist faith. Santarakshita invited Guru Rinpoche to Tibet to subdue the obstructive beings who opposed the spread of Buddha’s teachings.

Guru Rinpoche waged supernatural war against these deities and won due to his high spiritual attainments. Instead of vanquishing these obstructive beings, he chose to follow the Buddha’s teachings on compassion and bound them to oath never to harm sentient beings again. They promised to protect and provide for practitioners on the Buddhist path. One such being was Nechung, also known as Pehar Gyalpo. Once a powerful spirit from Persia, he came to reside in Tibet and after battling with Guru Rinpoche, he was subdued. Nechung also promised to aid the “Holder of the White Lotus”, meaning an emanation of Chenrezig. When the powerful line of Dalai Lamas arose, Nechung came to their aid for temporal matters, as the Dalai Lamas are considered emanations of Chenrezig. Since that time, Nechung has come to be regarded as one of the State Dharma Protectors of Tibet.

The depiction of Guru Rinpoche in this thangka is his wrathful form. Similar to his peaceful form, he is portrayed holding a vajra in his right hand, symbolic of his ability to subjugate negative beings. In the crook of his left arm rests a trident, representing his consort Mandarava, while he holds a blood-filled skull-cup in his lap. He sits in a posture of royal ease. Normally depicted with a peaceful countenance, in this image Guru Rinpoche scowls in wrath. This wrath is not directed at people or beings but the karma that arises from people’s negative actions. This leads them to suffer the consequences of their actions which usually involves pain in one form or another. As a fully enlightened being who operates from the highest form of compassion, Guru Rinpoche manifests in wrathful form to battle the debilitating effects of this negative karma.

The four rings of energy surrounding Guru Rinpoche represent his mastery of the four elements that constitute physical existence – earth, water, air and fire. The scorpions he emanates represent the overcoming of negative karma, the transformation of our mental delusions into those of an enlightened being and also the clearing of inferences within our lives such as spirit disturbances and negative supernatural occurrences.

Deity: Four-Armed Chenrezig
Alternative name: Avalokiteshvara (Sanskrit)
Chenrezig’s sacred name literally means the “All-Seeing Lord”. He is regarded as the embodiment of the compassion of all enlightened beings. In this form, his four arms represent the Four Immeasurables of loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and perfect equanimity. His two main hands, folded at his heart, hold a blue wish-fulfilling jewel, symbolising the great compassion of all the Buddhas. With his other right hand he holds aloft a mala (rosary) comprising of 108 beads, representing his ability to guide all beings on the path of liberation from suffering. His remaining left hand grasps the stem of an immaculate lotus, indicating that he is unstained by the delusions of samsara.

Deity: Medicine Guru Rinpoche (English)
Alternative name: Guru Padmasambhava Bhaisajyaguru (Sanskrit); Ogyen Menlha (Tibetan)
Guru Rinpoche has many forms and one of the most efficacious is Guru Rinpoche Medicine Buddha. In this form, he appears blue in colour, holding the stem of an aurora plant, similar to Medicine Buddha Bhaisajya Guru (Sanskrit), also known as Sangye Menlha (Tibetan). In his left hand he holds a skull-cup overflowing with healing nectar and a long life vase. The practice of Medicine Guru Rinpoche is said to cure illnesses, promotes healing and lengthens one’s life.

Deity: Ekajati
Alternative name: Ralchigma (Tibetan)
Ekajati is considered the main protector of the terma or revealed teachings prevalent within the Nyingma tradition. However, her practice can also be found in all other major traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. She appears dark blue in colour with a single braid of hair flowing upward, after which she derives her name (“Eka” means ‘one’ while “jati” means ‘braid of hair’). She has one eye and one long and sharp tooth, which bites down over her lower lip, and one breast.

In her right hand which is in a wrathful mudra, she holds aloft a human corpse. In her left hand she holds a human heart. She is depicted in a dancing posture, atop a prostrate human figure, with a triangular throne. The human figure represents obstacles and our negative karma. In her role as a Dharma protector Ekajati is known as the protector of all secret mantras. She reminds practitioners of their tantric commitments and not to reveal tantric meditation practices to those who are not ready to receive them.

Deity: Dorje Shugden
Dorje Shugden is a Dharma protector that has been propitiated by all four major Tibetan Buddhist schools. Dorje Shugden is recognised to be an emanation of the bodhisattva Manjushri. In fact, Dorje Shugden arose from a long line of incarnated lamas who strove to proliferate and protect the teachings. He is a protector of recent origins, arising 350 years ago, and due to his strong affinity with beings of this time, he is widely renowned to be efficacious and powerful in overcoming our obstacles and creating favourable conditions for our practice.

48. Maitreya (Main Figure)

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(Top to bottom): Buddha Shakyamuni, Buddha Kashyapa, Maitreya, White Mahakala and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Maitreya (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Jampa (Tibetan); Ajita (Sanskrit)
Maitreya’s name literally means ‘Great Love’ in the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit. He is said to currently be a crowned bodhisattva residing in Tushita pure realm, awaiting his time to take rebirth on earth to become the future Buddha. Once reborn, he will sit under a sacred tree and achieve complete and perfect Enlightenment like his predecessor, Buddha Shakyamuni. By that time, Buddha Shakyamuni’s teachings will have disappeared and the world will be engulfed in a dark age as it is devoid of true Dharma.

Thereafter, Maitreya will go on to perform the 12 great deeds of a fully enlightened Buddha. One of the major deeds he is to perform is the turning of the wheel of the Dharma, which means that he will give teachings and re-establish the fortunate era of Buddhadharma. It is said in the scriptures that Maitreya will be the fifth Buddha to do this during this great eon, while Buddha Shakyamuni was the fourth Buddha. According to prophecy, Maitreya will become Shakyamuni’s successor but unlike his predecessor, Buddha Maitreya will only teach the path of Sutra. This means that he will not give teachings on Tantra.

It is said that Maitreya also manifested as one of the Eight Bodhisattva disciples of Buddha Shakyamuni. The great Indian master Asanga is said to have received visions of the Bodhisattva Maitreya and was transported to Tushita in order to receive teachings directly from him. The Indian master went on to pen down these incredible teachings into what is known as the “Five Treatises” by Maitreya and from these texts arose the Method lineage of the Lamrim (or the Stages on the Path to Enlightenment).

It is said that Lama Tsongkhapa and Atisha are currently residing in Tushita as part of the retinue of Maitreya. Hence, those who engage in Lama Tsongkhapa’s Guru Yoga or Gaden Lhagyama create the causes to be reborn in Tushita amongst the retinue of Maitreya. Some lamas like Domo Geshe Rinpoche purposely install large icons of Maitreya in monasteries and temples to created the causes to be reborn amongst the retinue of disciples of Maitreya.

Deity: Buddha Shakyamuni (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Sangye Shakya Tupa (Tibetan)
Shakyamuni is the historical Buddha of our current era and together with Maitreya and Buddha Kashyapa, they are collectively known as the Buddhas of the Three Times – past, present and future. The Buddha of the Past is Kashyapa; the Buddha of the Present is Buddha Shakyamuni; and the Buddha of the Future is Maitreya. Before he became Buddha Shakyamuni, he was a prince known as Siddartha who renounced his courtly life in pursuit of an answer to sickness, old age and death. He attained complete enlightenment under a Bodhi tree in a place that is now known as Bodhgaya. This sacred location is a major power place for Buddhists from around the world. In fact, the Buddha recommended pilgrimage to four places: Bodhgaya as the place of his enlightenment, Lumbhini as the place of his birth, Sarnath Park near Varanasi as the place where he gave his first teachings and Kushinagar as the place of his Mahaparinirvana or place of his great passing.

Deity: Buddha Kashyapa (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Osung Chenpo (Tibetan)
Buddha Kashyapa attained enlightenment prior to Buddha Shakyamuni. Therefore he is the third of the thousand Buddhas of this Fortunate Aeon. Buddha Kashyapa, together with Maitreya and Buddha Shakyamuni, form a trio that is collectively known as the Buddhas of the Three Times – past, present and future. The Buddha of the Past is Kashyapa; the Buddha of the Present is Buddha Shakyamuni; and the Buddha of the Future is Maitreya. Just like Buddha Shakyamuni, Kashyapa descended from Tushita to take a final rebirth before manifesting complete and perfect enlightenment under a sacred tree. Unfortunately, his teachings completely disappeared before the age of Buddha Shakyamuni.

Deity: White Mahakala (English)
Alternative name: Shadbhuja Sita Mahakala (Sanskrit); Gonpo Karpo Chagdrugpa (Tibetan)
White Mahakala is, in essence, the emanation of Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion. He is also the wealth protector deity of the Shangpa Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. White Mahakala protects by providing inner and outer wealth for practitioners. This protector deity is today so popular that he is now propitiated within all schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

Deity: Dorje Shugden
Dorje Shugden is recognised to be an emanation of the bodhisattva Manjushri and he arose from a long line of incarnated lamas who strove to proliferate and protect the Buddhadharma. Furthermore, Dorje Shugden is a protector of recent origins and hence, he is widely renowned to be efficacious and powerful in overcoming our obstacles and creating favourable conditions for our practice.

49. Dukkar Se Sum (Main Figure)

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(Top to bottom): Buddha Shakyamuni, Green Tara, Sengdongma, Dukkar, Prajnaparamita, Kalarupa and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Dukkar (Tibetan)
Alternative names: Sitatapatra (Sanskrit); White Parasol (English)
The awe-inspiring Dukkar is an extremely efficacious female deity. According to scriptural sources, her all-powerful form emerged from the ushnisha or sacred crown protuberance of Buddha Shakyamuni, while he was in deep meditative absorption amidst the assembly of the gods in the Heaven of the Thirty-Three. For this reason Buddha Shakyamuni is depicted above Dukkar in this thangka. Her supreme practice was popular in ancient India and has managed to retain its popularity to this day because it is extremely potent in averting obstacles for Buddhist practitioners.

In fact, Dukkar is invoked to protect practitioners from a wide range of problems and calamities ranging from attacks from malevolent spirits to unjustified legal suits. Her mantra is also said to repel negative interferences and purify negative defilements. Furthermore, her long mantra or dharani is traditionally worn in an amulet for protection, even in extremely dangerous circumstances, and it also has the power to alter adverse weather conditions. The protective blessings of Dukkar are invoked in a number of rituals such as her torma offering, fire puja, the creation of a protective circle, drawing of her mandala and her dharanis, which are often inserted into stupas and statues as highly sacred items.

Though Dukkar is commonly depicted with a form that has 1,000 heads, 1,000 arms, 1,000 legs and thousands of eyes that oversee sentient beings, the form depicted here is simpler. With her hands, she holds a Dharma wheel and a white parasol from which she takes her name. Her skin is radiant white in colour and her body is adorned with the various accoutrements of a bodhisattva. In Gelug monasteries, prayers to Dukkar, Sengdongma and the Prajnaparamita are recited before a formal debate session in order to eliminate obstacles. This recitation has since become a popular puja employed by the monks to effectively remove obstacles and is colloquially known as Dukkar Se Sum.

Deity: Sengdongma (Tibetan)
Alternative names: Simhamukha (Sanskrit); Lion-Faced Dakini (English)
The great ferocious dakini Sengdongma is an impressive female meditational deity. Within the Kagyu, Sakya and Gelug traditions, Sengdongma arises from the Chakrasamvara cycle of Tantras and is considered to be one of the attendant dakinis within the mandala of Vajrayogini. Thus, Sengdongma’s practice belongs to the Highest Yoga Tantra classification. The form of Sengdongma prevalent in the Nyingma tradition is a unique one. In this tradition she is considered the ‘secret’ form of Guru Padmasambhava, according to the inner, outer and secret manifestations of his form.

During the time of Buddha Amitabha which was aeons before Buddha Shakyamuni, there lived a demon by the name of Garab Wangchuk whose daughter was a lion-faced demoness named Tramen Sengdongma. She thrived on killing many innocent beings and her trail of destruction became widespread. She threatened sincere practitioners and undermined Buddha Amitabha’s teachings. It was then that the enlightened beings gathered to manifest an identical-looking being in order to tame the demoness. Through the collective blessings of all the enlightened beings, a wisdom being appeared in the form of a lion-faced dakini, who was empowered by all the Buddhas to subjugate the demoness. The dakini, Sengdongma, was far more powerful than the demoness and when they fought, the demoness began to lose her strength. Furthermore, Sengdongma entered a deep state of concentration called Taming the Maras and thus emanated countless dakinis who continued her work of subduing demons. In this manner Tramen Sengdongma was subdued and took an oath to serve the Dharma and became a protector.

Deity: Prajnaparamita (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Yum Chenmo (Tibetan)
Prajnaparamita literally means ’Perfection of Wisdom’ in Sanskrit and this refers to perfect non-conceptual wisdom, the last of the Six Perfections; the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra, with its central theme on emptiness, was recovered by Nagarjuna from Nagaraja, the King of the Nagas who had been guarding them at the bottom of the sea.

Prajnaparamita also refers to the female deity who is the embodiment of transcendent wisdom and Prajnaparamita is therefore known as the Mother of the Buddhas. It is said that Buddha Shakyamuni himself meditated on Prajnaparamita. In Tibet, Prajnaparamita is known as Yum Chenmo or the ‘Great Mother’ and features prominently in the Chod tantric system created by the Tibetan female master, Machik Labdron.

Deity: Buddha Shakyamuni (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Sangye Shakya Tupa (Tibetan)
Buddha Shakyamuni turned the Wheel of Dharma, giving many different types of teachings including that of the Vajrayana (Adamantine Vehicle) tradition which concentrates on the practice of Tantra. At one time, Buddha Shakyamuni made it known that there was a method to dispel ignorance, and so his bodhisattva disciple Vajrapani requested that he teach this method. Buddha Shakyamuni entered into the meditative state known as Taming the Maras and then taught the entire cycle of teachings centred on Sengdongma. In addition, Buddha Shakyamuni is believed to have manifested Dukkar from his ushnisha or crown protuberance while he was teaching the host of worldly gods in the Heaven of the Thirty-Three.

Deity: Arya Tara (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Green Tara (English); Drolma (Tibetan)
Tara’s name literally means ’She who Liberates’ and she is a female deity associated with compassion and enlightened activity. There are different forms of Tara, such as the Eight Taras who Protect from Fear and the Twenty-One Taras, but the most popular are Green Tara, who is associated mainly with enlightened activity and protection, and White Tara, who is associated with pacification of inner and outer illnesses. She is known to have been particularly close to a large number of great Indian and Tibetan masters like Atisha, Shakya Shri Bhadra and so forth. With her right leg extended in her ever-readiness to assist, Tara is known for swift action and manifests many miracles through her sacred images in both India and Tibet.

Deity: Kalarupa (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Damchen Chogyal (Tibetan)
The Dharma Protector Kalarupa is a manifestation of Manjushri. He is the principle protector of the Vajrabhairava Tantras and also one of the main protectors of the Gelug order. He was one of the main protectors of Lama Tsongkhapa himself and he is propitiated as a Lamrim protector of the lower scope. That means that Kalarupa is relied upon during the study and contemplation of the lowest scope of the Lamrim in order to clear inner obstacles and gain insight into the Lamrim teachings.

Deity: Dorje Shugden
Dorje Shugden is recognised to be an emanation of the bodhisattva Manjushri and he arose from a long line of incarnated lamas who strove to proliferate and protect the Buddhadharma. Furthermore, Dorje Shugden is a protector of recent origins and hence, he is widely renowned to be efficacious and powerful in overcoming our obstacles and creating favourable conditions for our practice.

50. Healing Guru Rinpoche (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Healing Guru Rinpoche and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Healing Guru Rinpoche (English)
Alternative names: Guru Padmasambhava Bhaisajyaguru (Sanskrit); Ogyen Menlha (Tibetan)
Guru Rinpoche, also known as Guru Padmasambhava, is highly revered within all schools of Tibetan Buddhism and there are three well-known stories regarding his birth. The first recounts his birth from a lotus in the Dhanakosha Lake in the country of Oddiyana and is why he has the epithet “Lotus-Born”. The second tells of his birth in North India as the son of a king, while the third suggests he was from South India and the brother-in-law of Santarakshita, abbot of the famed Nalanda Monastery.

It was in the 8th Century that Santarakshita travelled to Tibet to establish the first monastic institution there under the patronage of King Trisong Detsen, who is considered the second of Tibet’s three great Dharma kings. However, Santarakshita faced many supernatural obstacles to the founding of the monastery due to the interferences of local mountain gods and spirits scared of losing their disciples to the Buddhist faith. Santarakshita invited Guru Rinpoche to Tibet to subdue the obstructive beings who opposed the spread of Buddha’s teachings.

Guru Rinpoche waged supernatural war against these deities and won due to his high spiritual attainments. Instead of vanquishing these obstructive beings, he chose to follow the Buddha’s teachings on compassion and bound them to oath never to harm sentient beings again. They promised to protect and provide for practitioners on the Buddhist path. One such being was Nechung, also known as Pehar Gyalpo. Once a powerful spirit from Persia, he came to reside in Tibet and after battling with Guru Rinpoche, he was subdued. Nechung also promised to aid the “Holder of the White Lotus”, meaning an emanation of Chenrezig. When the powerful line of Dalai Lamas arose, Nechung came to their aid for temporal matters, as the Dalai Lamas are considered emanations of Chenrezig. Since that time, Nechung has come to be regarded as one of the State Dharma Protectors of Tibet.

Orgyen Menlha or Healing Guru Rinpoche is a special manifestation of Guru Rinpoche in which he appears in the aspect of Medicine Buddha. In the Dudjom Tersar lineage, Orgyen Menlha represents the outer form of the Lama, and the practice is delineated in the text called Orgyen Menlha Dutsi Bum Zang. Those who engage in his practice are able to receive inner and outer healing of one’s body, speech and mind. Inner healing is the pacification of one’s psychic poisons of ignorance, hatred and desire, the source of all our negative karma and obscurations. In addition, Ogyen Menlha purifies negative karma of the body, which is the cause for us to suffer physical illnesses and diseases.

Deity: Dorje Shugden
Dorje Shugden is the emanation of the bodhisattva of wisdom, Manjushri and he has taken the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard Buddha’s teachings, especially the special teachings on the Middle Way view. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind and to create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish.

 

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51. Ucchusma (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Buddha Akshobhya, Ucchusma and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Ucchusma (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Tromo Metsek (Tibetan); Krodhini Bhurkumkuta (Sanskrit)
The practice of the black dakini Ucchusma arose from a pure vision beheld by the Indian Mahasiddha Drupangsa. He had a vision of her in the forest and received the initiation of her practice through the purifying nectar poured from the sacred vase that she carries in her hands. Her appearance is that of a wrathful black dakini with one face, three eyes and two hands which hold a sacred vase containing purifying nectar at the level of her heart. Her body is corpulent, her hair is loose and her legs stand straight upon a sun disk on top of a lotus.

The main benefit of Ucchusma’s practice is to gain complete enlightenment via the purification of one’s body, speech and mind. Her mantra is used to purify negativities in order to gain the realisation of emptiness. Hence, the practice is traditionally recited while bathing and brushing one’s teeth. The water used is visualised to be derived from the sacred vase of Ucchusma. Thus, the water is empowered with the purifying blessings of Ucchusma in order to clean one’s negative karma.

Deity: Buddha Akshobhya (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Mitrugpa (Tibetan)
Buddha Akshobhya is one of the Five Dhyani Buddhas and represents the consciousness aspect of the five aggregates purified and in its enlightened form. The other four purified forms of the aggregates are represented by the other four of the Five Dhyani Buddhas. In the scriptures, he is known as the Lord of the Eastern Pure Land Abhirati, also known as ‘The Joyous’. His name literally means ‘immovable’ and his practice pacifies anger. Pujas and rituals to Akshobhya are performed to purify the heavy negative karma of taking rebirth in the hell realms. Ucchusma belongs to Akshobhya’s family meaning that her purification practice also pacifies anger and the negative karma associated with actions performed out of anger. Her practice also purifies the heaviest of negative karmas such as those causing rebirth in the hell realms. Akshobhya is depicted with one face, two arms and is blue in colour.

Deity: Dorje Shugden
Dorje Shugden is recognised to be an emanation of the bodhisattva Manjushri and he arose from a long line of incarnated lamas who strove to proliferate and protect the Buddhadharma. Furthermore, Dorje Shugden is a protector of recent origins and hence, he is widely renowned to be efficacious and powerful in overcoming our obstacles and creating favourable conditions for our practice.

52. Heruka Vajrasattva (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Heruka Vajrasattva and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Heruka Vajrasattva (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Vajra Hero Father and Mother (English); Dorje Sempa Yab-Yum (Tibetan)
Vajrasattva in sacred union with his consort is a Tantric meditational deity specifically for the purification of negative karma and defilements, and is particularly utilised in Annuttarayoga Tantra cycles including Guhyasamaja, Hevajra and Chakrasamvara. Hence, this practice is also classified as an Anuttarayoga Tantra. Heruka Vajrasattva is specifically mentioned and taught within the 25th chapter of the Abhidhanottara Tantra.

He is described to be embracing his consort with his two hands across his consort’s back. His appearance defers slightly in the Nyingma tradition in which he holds the vajra at the upper back of the consort and the bell at her lower left. Both father Vajrasattva and the mother consort are uniquely adorned with jewels and bone ornaments.

Within the Sakya liturgy, Heruka Vajrasattva is described to be white in colour, with one face, two hands holding a vajra and bell, and embracing the mother. He is adorned with six bone ornaments and seated with the legs in vajra posture, with the Lord of the Family as a crown, the same in appearance. He is in sacred union with Mother Vajragarvi on his lap, who has a body white in colour, holds a curved knife and skullcup, and is adorned with five bone ornaments.

Heruka Vajrasattva is commonly confused with other similar deities like Vajradhara, Vajrapani, Vajravidarana and other similar Buddhas. Physically, Buddha Vajradhara has the exact same iconographic appearance as Heruka Vajrasattva with two hands holding a vajra and bell while embracing the consort, but with a slightly different manner in which the vajra and bell is held.

Deity: Dorje Shugden
Dorje Shugden is the emanation of the bodhisattva of wisdom, Manjushri and has taken the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard Buddha’s teachings especially the special teachings on the Middle Way view. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind and to create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish.

53. Guhyasamaja (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Buddha Shakyamuni, Lama Tsongkhapa, Heruka Chakrasamvara, Guhyasamaja, Yamantaka, Four-Faced Mahakala, Six-Armed Mahakala, Kalarupa and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Guhyasamaja (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Sangwa Dupa (Tibetan); Guhyasamaja Akshobhyavajra (Sanskrit)
Guhyasamaja is one of the three Kingly Tantras (Tibetan: Sang De Jig Sum) of the Gelug order as proliferated by Lama Tsongkhapa. The other two tantras are Vajrabhairava and Heruka Chakrasamvara. ‘Guhyasamaja’ literally means ‘secret assembly’. This refers to the practice of the gathering and manipulation of the psychic winds in the body in order to accomplish the awakening of the mind. Guhyasamaja is called the King of Tantras as comprehension of this tantric system allows one to understand the inner workings of all other tantric systems. It is said that the survival of the tantras depends on the continued proliferation and practice of this tantric system.

The complete tantric text consists of 17 chapters, though a separate “explanatory tantra”, also known as the Guhyasamaja Uttaratantra, is sometimes considered to be the former’s 18th chapter. Many scholars believe that the original work consisted of the first twelve chapters and chapters thirteen to seventeen were later added as explanatory material. There are five principal lineages for this form of the meditational deity Akshobhyavajra Guhyasamaja. They are the Atisha, Marpa, Go Lotsawa, Khache and Chag traditions. .

Deity: Heruka Chakrasamvara (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Khorlo Demchok (Tibetan)
Heruka is the principle deity of the Chakrasamvara Tantras. He is a meditational Buddha of the highest yoga tantra classification, which means that his practice has the potential to bring us directly towards enlightenment within one lifetime. Heruka’s practice uniquely utilises desire as a means towards achieving liberation from samsara or suffering. Heruka is also one of the main tantras that most of the 84 Mahasiddhas of ancient India relied upon in order to gain their great attainments.

According to ancient lore, there was a god named Maha Ishvara and his consort Kalaratri. They resided at the top of Mount Kailash and had their emanations stationed at 24 sacred places in India. As the highest of the worldly gods, Maha Ishvara was extremely powerful and used to constantly revel in sexual pleasure with his consorts. His worshippers were likewise overcome by his energies and acted in all manner of strange and licentious ways. His influence was great and began to drag mankind deeper into desire and ignorance.

In order to subdue him, Buddha Vajradhara (the form that Buddha Shakyamuni took to reveal the tantras) emanated as Heruka, taking on the appearance of Maha Ishvara. Heruka even had human ash smeared all over his body and a crescent moon in his matted and piled up hair to match the god. Though he emanated in a form that mirrored Maha Ishvara, his nature was that of innate great bliss and emptiness, which are the special qualities of a fully enlightened Buddha.

Using his psychic powers, Maha Ishvara examined the mysterious Heruka and realised that he was no match against him. He was subdued and offered himself and his consort as the cushions for Heruka’s feet, to show the universe that Heruka was indeed greater. Then together with his retinue of dakas and dakinis, Heruka emanated in each of the 24 sacred sites where Maha Ishvara had stationed his emanations, and his emanations reside there to this day. Those who practise Heruka invoke upon these dakas and dakinis from the 24 sites to converge at specific parts of the body during their daily sadhanas to manipulate the body’s psychic energy channels. This in turn gathers the psychic winds and elements which, coupled with certain meditations, allows the Heruka practitioner to achieve great spiritual attainments.

The form of Heruka Chakrasamvara depicted here is one of the main practices of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. The distinguishing iconographic feature of this Gelug lineage of Heruka is that Vajravarahi/Vajrayogini’s legs are wrapped around Heruka’s waist in the embrace of union.

Deity: Yamantaka (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Vajrabhairava (Sanskrit); Shinje She (Tibetan); Dorje Jigje (Tibetan)
Yamantaka or Vajrabhairava is the manifestation of Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Stainless Wisdom. From amongst the many lineages of practices to enter Tibet, two translators Ra Lotsawa and Mal Lotsawa were known to have disseminated the main transmissions of Yamantaka. This tantra utilises anger as a means to purify all delusions and it is the only tantra that has the potential to purify extreme negative karma associated with the most heinous crimes.

It was the Indian master Lalitavajra who was the first to reveal the Yamantaka Tantra. Lalitavajra was a 10th century scholar-master from Nalanda Monastery in Bihar, India. His main yidam (meditational deity) was Manjushri. One day, he had a pure vision of Manjushri exhorting him to travel to the land of Oddiyana in order to retrieve the Yamantaka Tantra. This master made the long journey there and encountered a special dakini, Vajra Vetali, who is better known as Yamantaka’s consort along with other dakinis who eventually revealed the entire Yamantaka Tantra to him. Unfortunately, they refused to allow him to take the texts with him. He was only allowed to memorise as much of the texts as he could in the short time he was in their presence. Upon their departure, this master quickly put down in words whatever he had memorised and the practice lineage descended down in this manner.

Deity: Buddha Shakyamuni (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Sangye Shakya Tupa (Tibetan)
Shakyamuni is the historical Buddha of our current era and together with Maitreya and Buddha Kashyapa, they are collectively known as the Buddhas of the Three Times – past, present and future. The Buddha of the Past is Kashyapa; the Buddha of the Present is Buddha Shakyamuni; and the Buddha of the Future is Maitreya. Before he became Buddha Shakyamuni, he was a prince known as Siddhartha who renounced his courtly life in pursuit of an answer to sickness, old age and death. He attained complete enlightenment under a Bodhi tree in a place that is now known as Bodhgaya. This sacred location is a major power place for Buddhists from around the world. In fact, the Buddha recommended pilgrimage to four places: Bodhgaya as the place of his enlightenment, Lumbini as the place of his birth, Sarnath Park near Varanasi as the place where he gave his first teachings and Kushinagar as the place of his Mahaparinirvana or place of his great passing.

Deity: Lama Tsongkhapa (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Sumati Kirti (Sanskrit); Lobsang Drakpa (Tibetan)
Lama Tsongkhapa founded the Gelug tradition based upon the teachings he received from various masters including those from the Drikung Kagyu tradition. However, he primarily based his tradition on teachings from the Kadampa masters. Lama Tsongkhapa is known to have been an emanation of the Buddha Manjushri and best known for two great works, the Lamrim Chenmo (Graduated Stages on the Path to Enlightenment) and Ngarim Chenmo (Graduated Stages on the Path of Tantra).

Deity: Four-Faced Mahakala (English)
Alternative names: Chaturmukha Mahakala (Sanskrit); Gonpo Shel Shi (Tibetan)
Four-Faced Mahakala is a Dharma protector associated explicitly with the Heruka Tantras and is propitiated by Heruka practitioners for spiritual protection and for the granting of material necessities so that they can concentrate on their spiritual practice. Four-Faced Mahakala has a very close connection with Dorje Shugden. In his previous lives as great lamas and teachers, Dorje Shugden as a lama relied on Four-Faced Mahakala as one of his primary protectors.

Deity: Six-Armed Mahakala (English)
Alternative names: Shadbhuja Mahakala (Sanskrit); Gonpo Chagdrugpa (Tibetan)
Six-Armed Mahakala is an emanation of Avalokiteshvara and propitiated is the protector of the highest scope of the Lamrim. He is propitiated in a similar manner as Kalarupa but mainly towards the study, contemplation and realisation of the highest scope of the teachings.

Deity: Kalarupa (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Damchen Chogyal (Tibetan)
The Dharma Protector Kalarupa is a manifestation of Manjushri. He is the principle protector of the Vajrabhairava Tantras and also one of the main protectors of the Gelug order. He was one of the main protectors of Lama Tsongkhapa himself and he is propitiated as a Lamrim protector of the lower scope. That means that Kalarupa is relied upon during the study and contemplation of the lowest scope of the lamrim in order to clear inner obstacles and gain insight into the Lamrim teachings.

Deity: Dorje Shugden
Dorje Shugden is the emanation of the bodhisattva of wisdom, Manjushri and he has taken the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard Buddha’s teachings especially the special teachings on the Middle Way view. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind and to create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish.

54. Ucchusma (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Ucchusma and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Ucchusma (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Tromo Metsek (Tibetan), Krodhini Bhurkumkuta (Sanskrit)
The practice of the black dakini Ucchusma arose from a pure vision beheld by the Indian Mahasiddha Drupangsa. He had a vision of her in the forest and received the initiation of her practice through the purifying nectar poured from the sacred vase that she carries in her hands, as depicted in the thangka. Her appearance is that of a wrathful black dakini with one face, three eyes and two hands which hold a sacred vase containing purifying nectar at the level of her heart. Her body is corpulent, her hair is loose and her legs stand straight upon a sun disk on top of a lotus.

The main benefit of Ucchusma’s practice is to gain complete enlightenment via the purification of one’s body, speech and mind. Her mantra is used to purify negativities in order to gain the realisation of emptiness. Hence, the practice is traditionally recited while bathing and brushing one’s teeth. The water used is visualised to be derived from the sacred vase of Ucchusma. Thus, the water is empowered with the purifying blessings of Ucchusma in order to clean one’s negative karma.

Deity: Dorje Shugden
Dorje Shugden is recognised to be an emanation of the bodhisattva Manjushri and he arose from a long line of incarnated lamas who strove to proliferate and protect the Buddhadharma. Furthermore, Dorje Shugden is a protector of recent origins and hence, he is widely renowned to be efficacious and powerful in overcoming our obstacles and creating favourable conditions for our practice.

55. Saraswati (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Manjushri, Saraswati, and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Saraswati (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Yangchenma / Yangchen Drolma (Tibetan); Goddess Tara of Song and Music (English)
Saraswati is a well-known Indian goddess of music, wisdom and learning. She is widely regarded as both the emanation of Tara as well as the consort of Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom. Saraswati is the enlightened embodiment and bestower of awakened eloquence and special insight into the Buddha’s teachings. Due to her wisdom-bestowing nature, Saraswati is deeply interconnected with Manjushri. She is considered by many great masters to be the goddess and patron of the arts, music, language, literature, poetry, philosophy, and for all those engaged in creative endeavours.

Saraswati also emanated as Vajravetali or Dorje Rolangma, the consort of Vajrabhairava (Yamantaka), a wrathful form of Manjushri whose practice belongs to the Highest Yoga Tantra classification. In this form she is said to have revealed the Vajrabhairava Tantras to the great Indian master Lalitavajra who consequently spread the practice.

Furthermore, Saraswati was the yidam or personal meditational deity of the 14th Century Tibetan master Je Tsongkhapa who founded the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. He composed a beautiful devotional poem titled “Prayer to Saraswati” based on the pure visions that he had of her. Saraswati is believed to have frequently appeared to Je Tsongkhapa on his travels, offering counsel and inspiration throughout his years of study and contemplation.

Deity: Dorje Shugden
Dorje Shugden is recognised to be an emanation of the bodhisattva Manjushri. In fact, Dorje Shugden arose from a long line of incarnated lamas who strove to proliferate and protect the teachings. He is a protector of recent origins, arising 350 years ago, and due to his strong affinity with beings of this time, he is widely renowned to be efficacious and powerful in overcoming our obstacles and creating favourable conditions for our practice.

56. Five Forms of Manjushri (Main figures)

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(Top to bottom): Orange Manjushri, Four-Armed Manjushri, Manjushri Lion’s Roar, White Manjushri, Black Manjushri and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Manjushri Lion’s Roar (English)
Alternative names: Jampel Sengetra (Tibetan); Vadisimha Manjushri (Sanskrit)
Manjushri is the patron Buddha of Wisdom. In his right hand, he holds a flaming wisdom sword which cuts away the roots of ignorance from our lives and in his left hand, he holds the stem of a lotus on top of which rests a Perfection of Wisdom text. This text is symbolic of his practice granting wisdom, insight and merit. He is closely associated with Avalokiteshvara and Vajrapani as they are part of the trinity known as Rigsum Gonpo (Three Protectors). Manjushri also belongs to a group of deities that are known as the Eight Bodhisattva Disciples of Lord Buddha, alongside Avalokiteshvara, Vajrapani, Maitreya and others. Manjushri is frequently featured in Sutras because he is known to have asked important spiritual questions, which Lord Buddha answered by giving extremely beneficial teachings.

This form of Manjushri is known as Vadisimha Manjushri, literally meaning ‘Manjushri Lion’s Roar’, as he rides on a lion. This name actually refers to variety of Manjushri’s classical forms. In some forms Manjushri holds a sword like in this depiction and in others, he forms the Dharmachakra (Wheel of Dharma) mudra at his heart. The most famous depiction of Manjushri Lion’s Roar can be found prominently featured in temples on Mount Wu Tai, also known as the Five Peaks of Manjushri.

The great scholar and Tibetan Buddhist master, Je Tsongkhapa is said to have appeared in the form of Manjushri Lion’s Roar in a pure vision (one of five visions) to his heart disciple, Khedrub Je. There are also a number of depictions of Manjushri Lion’s Roar at the Manjushri Chapel in Sakya, Tibet which has contributed to the prevalence Manjushri’s worship in this form.

Deity: Orange Manjushri
Alternative names: Jampel Arapatsana (Tibetan); Arapachana Manjushri (Sanskrit)
Orange Manjushri is widely regarded as the main form of Manjushri and therefore, the most common depiction of the deity. He carries in his hands the two iconic emblems of Manjushri: the flaming wisdom sword representing the great ability of wisdom to cut asunder ignorance and the Perfection of the Wisdom Sutra resting on a lotus held by the other hand, representing the highest wisdom, the emptiness of inherent existence.

The orange colour of his skin represents the growth and proliferation of wisdom, clarity, merits, memory, eloquence, knowledge and the arts in practitioners. He is also called the Lord of Awakened Speech, which reveals his special ability to purify the negative karma of one’s speech and the development of a powerful ability to influence others positively into the Dharma.

Deity: Four-Armed Manjushri
Alternative names: Jampel Tsenchog (Tibetan); Manjushri Namasamgiti (Sanskrit)
This is another popular emanation of Manjushri, whose name is derived from an ancient Tantric text that literally means ‘Chanting the Names of Manjushri’ or ‘Manjushri Namasamgiti’ which contains the various names of Manjushri. Aside from carrying the usual emblems of the burning wisdom sword and the Perfection of Wisdom text, he also carries a bow and an arrow with his other two hands. These signify the union of method and wisdom needed to reach enlightenment, something which his practice develops.

Deity: White Manjushri
Alternative names: Jampel Karpo (Tibetan); Sita Manjushri (Sanskrit); Siddhaikavira (Sanskrit); White Arapachana Manjushri (English)
This form of Manjushri and his practice originates in the Siddhaikavira Mahatantraraja or the Solitary White Manjushri Tantra. Although there are a number of lineages of White Manjushri’s practice, the name generally refers to this specific form. White symbolises the pacification of ignorance. Hence, White Manjushri is popularly worshipped in the monasteries in order to gain higher insight into the Buddha’s teachings and to develop the special wisdom of debate.

Deity: Black Manjushri (English)
Alternative names: Jampel Nagpo (Tibetan); Krshna Manjushri (Sanskrit)
According to the Charya and Yoga Tantras, Manjushri first emanated in this form as a retinue deity in the mandala of the Buddha Vairochana. A popular meditational deity, the practice of Black Manjushri arrived in Tibet from India through the efforts of Bari Lotsawa Rinchen Drag (1040-1112). Black Manjushri’s practice is known to be highly effective in the wrathful purification of ignorance and negative karma. His practice is also said to be highly effective against negative interferences, spirits, zombies, harmful nagas and other malevolent forces.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way view. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish.

57. Vajrayogini (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Vajrayogini, Mahasiddha Naropa and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Vajrayogini (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Naro Kechari (Sanskrit); Dorje Neljorma (Tibetan)
Vajrayogini is a female tantric Buddha who has many forms and is practised in many lineages within Tibetan Buddhism. She embodies the fully enlightened female aspect of a Buddha and her path of practice is considered a Mother Tantra, meaning her practitioners concentrate on the wisdom aspect leading to Buddhahood. She is also a principal dakini, the compassionate female guide and nurturer of tantric meditation who leads practitioners to enlightenment. Her practice arose from a pure vision beheld by the Mahasiddha Naropa, also depicted in the thangka, which is why she is sometimes called Naro Kechari, meaning Naropa’s Dakini. ‘Naro’ here refers to Naropa and ‘kacho’ is a Tibetan word referring to the dakini from Kechara. Kechara is Vajrayogini’s pureland where she resides.

In Highest Yoga Tantra, principal dakinis normally appear in union with male consorts, who are the central figures of the practices. Some examples include Sparshavajra who appears in union with Guhyasamaja; Nairatmya who appears in union with Hevajra; and Vishvamata who appears in union with Kalachakra. In the case of Vajrayogini, she is the principal female Buddha of the Chakrasamvara Tantra and therefore, she is normally depicted in union with Heruka Chakrasamvara.

Vajrayogini is also considered a Vajradakini, who are yidams or meditational deities in their own right. Their practices evolved from the main practices of their male consorts, but in a form that simplifies an otherwise complicated original practice by reducing it to a single-deity meditation without sacrificing the main benefits and features of the original. Vajrayogini is a supreme deity that is equal to all the other higher tantric deities that confer enlightenment to within one lifetime, even though she appears in a single deity.

Vajrayogini is also known as ‘Sarvabuddha-dakini’ or the Dakini Who is the Essence of all Buddhas. Her mantra is commonly referred to as the King of All Mantras because mere recitation of the mantra alone, without any accompanying visualisation or meditation, has the most powerful ability to bless practitioners with spiritual attainments. Within the generation stage of her practice, there are 11 Yogas which have the power of transforming ordinary actions like sleeping, waking and daily tasks into activities that generate spiritual merit. Ultimately, her practice offers salvation for ordinary practitioners at the time of death through her special promise of guiding practitioners towards Kechara, or the Paradise of the Dakinis. There, we can continue deep practices on the journey to become a Buddha in an accelerated manner, without fear, obstacles and interruptions.

Deity: Mahasiddha Naropa (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Panchen Naropa (Tibetan)
Mahasiddha Naropa was once the highest scholar in the land of India and was thus made one of the Gatekeepers of Nalanda Monastery, a prestigious position granted only to those who have mastered study of the scriptures and the art of debate. At the behest of an old dakini, Naropa went in search of his teacher, the Mahasiddha Tilopa. The devotion Naropa had for his teacher is now legendary, especially the account of his 13 trials and tribulations that he underwent in order to liberate his mind. After these trials were over, his teacher initiated him into the practice of Vajravarahi and instructed him to enter meditative retreat on the deity. Within six months, he is said to have gained a vision of Vajravarahi in the form of Vajrayogini Naro Kechari who initiated him into her practice. He is therefore known as the progenitor of the Vajrayogini practice in the Naro Kechari form.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Bhagawan Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden has a special regard for the Vajrayogini Tantras. Before he arose as a Dharma Protector, he had for several lifetimes been great Mahasiddhas, scholars and Tantric practitioners. During his incarnations as the Mahasiddha Naropa and the master Tsarchen Losel Gyatso, he was pivotal in the revelation and proliferation of Vajrayogini’s Tantra. In his Dharma Protector form, Dorje Shugden clears obstacles and provides conducive conditions for spiritual practice to flourish, especially for those who practise compassion and work for the benefit of others.

58. Saraswati (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Saraswati and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Saraswati (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Yangchenma / Yangchen Drolma (Tibetan); Goddess of Song and Music (English)
Saraswati is a well-known deity in both the Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist traditions. In both religions, she is considered by many great masters to be the goddess and patron of the arts, music, language, literature, poetry, philosophy, and for all those engaged in creative endeavours.

Within Tibetan Buddhism, Saraswati is known as the Buddha of music, wisdom and learning. She is widely regarded as both the emanation of Tara as well as the consort of Manjushri, the Buddha of Wisdom, to whom she is deeply connected with due to her wisdom-bestowing nature. While she is depicted here in her leisurely peaceful form, she also emanates in a more wrathful form known as Vajravetali (Sanskrit) or Dorje Rolangma (Tibetan) who is the consort of Vajrabhairava (Yamantaka), a wrathful form of Manjushri whose practice belongs to the Highest Yoga Tantra classification. In the form of Vajravetali, she is said to have revealed the Vajrabhairava Tantras to the great Indian master Lalitavajra who consequently spread the practice.

Furthermore, Saraswati was the yidam or personal meditational deity of the 14th Century Tibetan master Je Tsongkhapa who founded the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. He composed a beautiful devotional poem titled “Prayer to Saraswati” based on the pure visions that he had of her. Saraswati is believed to have frequently appeared to Je Tsongkhapa on his travels, offering counsel and inspiration throughout his years of study and contemplation.

In the Hindu tradition, Saraswati is part of the female trinity (Tridevi) together with Lakshmi and Parvati. This trinity assists their consorts Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva respectively to create, maintain and destroy the cyclic systems of the universe. In Hinduism, Saraswati’s name means ‘She Who Possesses Speech That Purifies’. As such, she is a celebrated female deity with powers of healing and purification. The earliest mentions of her occur in Rigveda, the oldest of the Hindu scriptures. In it she is said to be the “best of mothers, best of rivers, best of goddesses, Sarasvati”.

Like her Buddhist counterpart, the Hindu version of Saraswati also manifests in wrathful forms who are propitiated in the practice of Tantra. One of her most well-known is Nila Saraswati or ‘Blue Saraswati’. In this form, she is said to be part of the 10 Mahavidyas or Knowledge-Holders who are 10 aspects of the ultimate divinity in the form of goddesses. Her ferocity is said to be second only to Kali, the most wrathful of all Hindu goddesses. Her wrath is said to be the manifestation of her loving-compassion, like a mother who scolds a child to protect them from playing with fire and hurting themselves.

Prayers to Saraswati are usually recited at dawn for a spiritually-fulfilling day or the beginning of academic or creative endeavours for a successful project or school day.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Bhagawan Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is recognised to be an emanation of Manjushri and arose from a long line of incarnated lamas who strove to proliferate and protect the teachings. He is a protector of recent origins, arising 350 years ago, and due to his strong affinity with beings of this time, he is widely renowned to be efficacious and powerful in overcoming our obstacles and creating favourable conditions for our spiritual practice.

59. Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Brahmarupa Mahakala, Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen
Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen was the heir to the Zimkhang Gongma line of incarnations. The first in the line of these illustrious incarnations was the great Panchen Sonam Drakpa (1478-1554). ‘Zimkhang Gongma’ literally means the Lord of Upper Residence and refers to the great ladrang (household) of Panchen Sonam Drakpa nestled in the hills above Drepung Monastery. It also refers to this incarnation line as well. Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen was a contemporary of the Great 5th Dalai Lama and both lamas were the heart disciples of His Holiness the 4th Panchen Lobsang Chokyi Gyeltsen.

Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen was a pure monk, an erudite scholar and had a great following of students, especially amongst the Mongol royalty. He once encountered the Dharma Protector Nechung through the state oracle and was reminded of an ancient promise that his previous life had made to arise as a protector of Lama Tsongkhapa’s special teachings. These teachings were Lama Tsongkhapa’s elucidation of Nagarjuna’s Middle Way philosophy. Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen explained to Nechung that he had no anger which was necessary to arise as a protector. Nechung merely replied that he would make the necessary conditions manifest to help him arise a great protector. As such, Nechung fanned the rivalry between disciples of Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen and the Great 5th Dalai Lama.

In the end, disciples of the 5th Dalai Lama plotted to assassinate the popular Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen to allow the Dalai Lama to arise as the leading lama of the day. The first couple of assassination attempts were unsuccessful as Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen could not be killed through ordinary means such as stabbing and poisoning. Finally, the great tulku himself revealed to his would-be killers the manner in which he could be murdered. Thus the promise he made lifetimes ago came to pass, as the murderers forced a khata (silk scarf) down his throat and suffocated the lama. It was then that Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen arose as Dorje Shugden and eventually came to be known as a popular Protector of the Sakyas and Gelugs. Even those within some traditions of the Nyingma and Kagyus traditions consider him to be an extraordinary protector of the Dharma as well.

Underneath his depiction in this thangka, you can see a monastic disciple offering his lama a mandala offering, symbolic of offering up the entire universe to one’s spiritual teacher. There are also two humble Mongolian lay disciples paying obeisance to their guru, Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen.

Deity: Brahmarupa Mahakala (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Gonpo Tramsuk (Tibetan)
Brahmarupa literally means the ‘One in the Brahmin Form’. Portrayed as a dark-skinned Indian yogi, Brahmarupa is a form of the Four-Faced Mahakala, an emanation of Manjushri, the Buddha of Wisdom. He is considered to be a protector of both the Guhyasamaja and Chakrasamvara Tantras. He is therefore widely propitiated by many great lamas, yogis and practitioners in order to clear their path of inner obstacles while they engage in spiritual practice and retreats on these two tantric systems. During his life Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen propitiated Brahmarupa Mahakala as his main Dharma Protector.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Bhagawan Rudra (Sanskrit)
When Dorje Shugden first arose as a Dharma Protector, he was enthroned as such within the Sakya tradition. This was due to affinity with the tradition stemming from his previous life as Sakya Pandita. At Sakya, he was mainly propitiated riding upon a horse and sitting on a lama’s lion throne. Later, his practice spread within the Gelug tradition and was propitiated at his chapel known as Trode Khangsar in Lhasa, where he was portrayed riding a snow lion. Later, the great Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche and his student Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche proliferated his practice widely.

60. Manjushri (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Manjushri Arapachana and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Manjushri Arapachana (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Jamyang Arapatsana (Tibetan)
Manjushri is the patron Buddha of Wisdom. In his right hand, he holds a flaming wisdom sword which cuts away the roots of ignorance from our lives and in his left hand, he holds the stem of a lotus on top of which rests a Perfection of Wisdom text. This text is symbolic of his practice granting wisdom, insight and merit. He is closely associated with Avalokiteshvara and Vajrapani as they are part of the trinity known as Rigsum Gonpo (Three Protectors). Manjushri also belongs to a group of deities that are known as the Eight Bodhisattva Disciples of Lord Buddha, alongside Avalokiteshvara, Vajrapani, Maitreya and others. Manjushri is frequently featured in Sutras because he is known to have asked important spiritual questions, which Lord Buddha answered by giving extremely beneficial teachings. The practice and rituals associated with Manjushri Arapachana was first described in the Siddhaikavira Tantra.

The orange colour of his skin represents the growth and proliferation of wisdom, clarity, merits, memory, eloquence, knowledge and the arts in practitioners. He is also called the Lord of Awakened Speech, which reveals his special ability to purify the negative karma of one’s speech and the development of a powerful ability to influence others positively into the Dharma.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Bhagawan Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way view. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish.

 

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61. Four-Armed Ganapati (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Four-Armed White Ganapati and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Four-Armed White Ganapati (English)
Alternative name: Chaturbhuja Sita Ganapati (Sanskrit); Tsodag Karpo Chagzhipa (Tibetan)
In the Tibetan tradition, Ganapati is the Sanskrit name normally used to describe this elephant-headed deity. However, his Indian epithet ‘Ganesha’ carries the same meaning ‘Lord of the Followers of the God Shiva’. Amongst Buddhists, there is tendency to use the name Ganapati to differentiate the enlightened Ganapati deity versus the worldly Ganesha deity.

This particular Four-Armed White Ganapati is in accordance with the tradition of 11th Century Indian master Jowo Atisha. Another master named Pandit Gayadhara introduced a number of other forms of Ganapati to Tibet, which are very much practised within the Sakya tradition. During a later period, the Nyingma tradition also proliferated lineages of Ganapati practice stemming from terma or Hidden Treasure teachings.

In this form however, Ganapati is considered to be an emanation of Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of Compassion, meaning he is a deity that one can take refuge in and rely upon. Ganapati’s primary function is that of a wealth-bestowing deity, referring to both the generation of outer and inner wealth. Inner wealth is that of wisdom and merit based primarily on the realisation of generosity, the direct counter to miserliness which leads one to poverty-stricken states. Outer wealth refers to material resources that one requires to sustain one’s livelihood and Dharma practice. Most forms of Ganapati belong to the Kriya or Action classification of Buddhist Tantra.

His sacred mantra is: OM BHRUM GANAPATI SOHA

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Bhagawan Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way view. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources. He has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish.

62. Orange Manjushri (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Saraswati, Orange Manjushri and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Orange Manjushri
Alternative names: Jampel Arapatsana (Tibetan); Arapachana Manjushri (Sanskrit)
Manjushri is the patron Buddha of Wisdom. In his right hand, he holds a flaming wisdom sword which cuts away the roots of ignorance from our lives and in his left hand, he holds the stem of a lotus on top of which rests a Perfection of Wisdom text. This text is symbolic of his practice granting wisdom, insight and merit. He is closely associated with Avalokiteshvara and Vajrapani as they are part of the trinity known as Rigsum Gonpo (Three Protectors). Manjushri also belongs to a group of deities that are known as the Eight Bodhisattva Disciples of Lord Buddha, alongside Avalokiteshvara, Vajrapani, Maitreya and others. Manjushri is frequently featured in Sutras because he is known to have asked important spiritual questions, which Lord Buddha answered by giving extremely beneficial teachings.

Orange Manjushri is widely regarded as the main form of Manjushri and therefore, the most common depiction of the deity. The orange colour of his skin represents the growth and proliferation of wisdom, clarity, merits, memory, eloquence, knowledge and the arts in practitioners. He is also called the Lord of Awakened Speech, which reveals his special ability to purify the negative karma of one’s speech and the development of a powerful ability to influence others positively into the Dharma.

Deity: Saraswati (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Yangchenma / Yangchen Drolma (Tibetan); Goddess Tara of Song and Music (English)
Saraswati is the well-known Buddha of music, wisdom and learning. She is widely regarded as both the emanation of Tara as well as the consort of Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom. Saraswati is the enlightened embodiment and bestower of awakened eloquence and special insight into the Buddha’s teachings. Due to her wisdom-bestowing nature, Saraswati is deeply interconnected with Manjushri. She is considered by many great masters to be the goddess and patron of the arts, music, language, literature, poetry, philosophy, and for all those engaged in creative endeavours.

Saraswati also emanated as Vajravetali or Dorje Rolangma, the consort of Vajrabhairava (Yamantaka), a wrathful form of Manjushri whose practice belongs to the Highest Yoga Tantra classification. In this form she is said to have revealed the Vajrabhairava Tantras to the great Indian master Lalitavajra who consequently spread the practice.

Furthermore, Saraswati was the yidam or personal meditational deity of the 14th Century Tibetan master Je Tsongkhapa who founded the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. He composed a beautiful devotional poem titled “Prayer to Saraswati” based on the pure visions that he had of her. Saraswati is believed to have frequently appeared to Je Tsongkhapa on his travels, offering counsel and inspiration throughout his years of study and contemplation.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way view. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish.

63. Chenrezig (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Four-Armed Chenrezig and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Chenrezig Chagzhipa (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Chaturbhuja Avalokiteshvara (Sanskrit); Four-Armed Chenrezig (English)
Chenrezig’s sacred name literally means the ‘All-Seeing Lord’. He is one of the Eight Great Bodhisattva Disciples of Buddha Shakyamuni and one of the most popular bodhisattvas in the Mahayana Buddhist world.

He is regarded as the embodiment of enlightened compassion and his divine presence is invoked through his well-known six syllable mantra, OM MANI PEME HUNG. In this form, his four arms represent the Four Immeasurables of loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and perfect equanimity. His two main hands, folded at his heart, hold a blue wish-fulfilling jewel, symbolising the great compassion of all the Buddhas.

With his other right hand he holds aloft a mala (rosary) comprising of 108 beads, representing his ability to guide all beings on the path of liberation from suffering. His remaining left hand grasps the stem of an immaculate lotus, indicating that he is unstained by the delusions of samsara. Chenrezig’s practice is excellent for those who suffer from depression and for those who need to lessen their anger.

Here Chenrezig is surrounded with celestial dakinis who are dancing and making offerings, as well as nagas who are also making offerings. Nagas are serpentine-like beings of great power and control over the weather. They are naturally drawn to Chenrezig due to his great compassion.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way view. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources. He has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish.

64. Four-Armed White Ganapati (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Four-Armed White Ganapati and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Four-Armed White Ganapati (English)
Alternative name: Chaturbhuja Sita Ganapati (Sanskrit); Tsodag Karpo Chagzhipa (Tibetan)
In the Tibetan tradition, Ganapati is the Sanskrit name normally used to describe this elephant-headed deity. However, his Indian epithet ‘Ganesha’ carries the same meaning ‘Lord of the Followers of the God Shiva’. Amongst Buddhists, there is tendency to use the name Ganapati to differentiate the enlightened Ganapati deity versus the god called Ganesha.

This particular Four-Armed White Ganapati is in accordance with the tradition of 11th Century Indian master Jowo Atisha. Another master named Pandit Gayadhara introduced a number of other forms of Ganapati to Tibet, which are very much practised within the Sakya tradition. During a later period, the Nyingma tradition also proliferated lineages of Ganapati practice stemming from terma or Hidden Treasure teachings.

In this form however, Ganapati is considered to be an emanation of Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of Compassion, meaning he is a deity that one can take refuge in and rely upon. Ganapati’s primary function is that of a wealth-bestowing deity, referring to both the generation of outer and inner wealth. Inner wealth is that of wisdom and merit based primarily on the realisation of generosity, the direct counter to miserliness which leads one to poverty-stricken states. Outer wealth refers to material resources that one requires to sustain one’s livelihood and Dharma practice. Most forms of Ganapati belong to the Kriya or Action classification of Buddhist Tantra.

His sacred mantra is: OM BHRUM GANAPATI SOHA

Ganapati in the Hindu tradition is considered the son of the god Shiva and his divine consort Parvati. This sacred family’s abode is said to be Mount Kailash (Tibetan: Gang Rinpoche), near the famed Lake Manasarovar (Tibetan: Mapham Gyutso) depicted in this image. Ganapati is known to be the remover of obstacles, patron of artistic endeavours and a god of divine intellect and wisdom. He is worshipped throughout all branches of modern Hinduism and due to a boon granted to him by his father Shiva, he is worshipped first among all the gods and goddesses in ritual. He is known to be a loving deity, ever-ready to help sincere and good-hearted disciples.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way view. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources. He has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish.

65. Five Dhyani Buddhas (Main figures)

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(Top to bottom): Buddha Shakyamuni, Buddha Ratnasambhava, Buddha Amoghasiddhi, Buddha Akshobhya, Buddha Amitabha, Buddha Vairocana, Dorje Shugden and Kache Marpo.

Deity: Five Dhyani Buddhas (English)
Alternate names: Pancha Tathagata (Sanskrit)
The term ‘Five Dhyani Buddhas’ was first coined in the early 19th Century by Brian Hodgson, a British resident in Nepal. However, the original Sanskrit term for the group of enlightened beings is ‘Pancha Tathagata’, which literally means ‘Five Buddhas’.

It is believed that the Five Dhyani Buddhas arose due to the development of Tantric Buddhist teachings and are associated with the doctrine of Trikaya or the Three Bodies of a fully enlightened Buddha. Earliest mentions of the Five Dhyani Buddhas occur in the Vajrasamgraha Tantra and Vajrasekhara Sutra. They are considered to be the embodiment of the five aggregates (form, feeling, discrimination, mental formation and consciousness) in their purified form.

Thus, all other Buddhas fall under one of the Five Dhyani Buddha archetypes known collectively as the Five Families. Each Dhyani Buddha represents an aggregate, an associated colour, a cardinal direction and a direct counter to one five major delusions, along with a host of other attributes. These are explained below:

  • Buddha Ratnasambhava (Tibetan: Rinchen Jungne): yellow in colour, represents feeling, resides in the southern region and counters both pride and miserliness.
  • Buddha Akshobhya (Tibetan: Mitrugpa): blue in colour, represents consciousness, resides in the eastern region and counters hatred.
  • Buddha Vairocana (Tibetan: Berotsana): white in colour, represents form, resides in the central region and counters ignorance.
  • Buddha Amitabha (Tibetan: Opagme): red in colour, represents discrimination, resides in the western region and counters desire and lust.
  • Buddha Amoghasiddhi (Tibetan: Donyo Drubpa): green in colour, represents mental formation, resides in the northern region and counters jealousy and fear.

Deity: Buddha Shakyamuni (Sanskrit)
Alternate Names: Sangye Shakya Tubpa (Tibetan)
Buddha Shakyamuni is the historical Buddha who founded Buddhism in ancient India about 2,500 years ago. After an exhaustive search, he finally attained perfect and complete enlightenment under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya. His teachings became the basis for the Buddhist faith and he proclaimed that he is not the only one who achieved his state and revealed that there are other fully awakened beings that we can rely on.

All of the Buddha’s teachings are based on the four Noble Truths, which he established in his first sermon to explain the basis of our existence in his first teaching after gaining enlightenment. He is depicted sitting in the Vajra position with his legs in the pose of full meditation. His body is said to bear all the 112 marks of a fully enlightened Buddha according to the ancient Indian belief of a Chakravartin or Universal Monarch. Buddha Shakyamuni is normally depicted with the Bhumisparsa mudra or the earth touching mudra with his right hand and the other hand cradling a begging bowl.

Deity: Kache Marpo (Tibetan)
Kache Marpo is the special attendant within the entourage of Dorje Shugden. He is believed to be the emanation of the Buddha Hayagriva (Tibetan: Tamdrin) and thus an enlightened Protector in his own right. In fact, he is widely regarded to be originally part of the Seven Blazing Brothers of Tsui Marpo. He is known also by the name ‘Chokyong Tsengo’ or the ‘Dharma Protector Wild Tsen’, which refers to a class of warrior-like beings called Tsen. Thus, he is depicted in the wrathful aspect of a Tsen, wearing all the warrior-like accoutrements while bearing the fearsome demeanour of his kind. He is also known to take possession of trained oracles in order to give oracular pronouncements. Usually, the peaceful aspect by the name of Yumar Gyalchen takes possession of the oracle and an example of such an oracle would be the Panglung oracle.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternate name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way view. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources. He has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish.

66. Achi Chokyi Drolma (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Achi Chokyi Drolma, Vajradhara, Vajravarahi and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Achi Chokyi Drolma (Tibetan)
Achi Chokyi Drolma is the special protectress who arose to protect the Drikung Kagyu order. The Drikung Kagyu was founded by the great lama Jigten Sumgon and Achi Chokyi Drolma is considered to be the reincarnation of his great-grandmother, who was an emanation of Vajravarahi. It is also stated that her arising as a protector was prophesied in the Heruka Chakrasamvara Tantra. Though Achi Chokyi Drolma first arose in the Drikung Kagyu order, she has since come to be relied on by practitioners from other traditions as well, such as those belonging to the Gelug tradition. She is also relied on in the Karma Kagyu order in which she is known as Achi Chodron and also appears in the life story of Terton Tsasum Lingpa of the Nyingma lineage as both a protector and a dakini.

Achi Chokyi Drolma was born to a childless couple who had travelled to Swayambhunath Stupa in Nepal for pilgrimage. At the age of three she began reciting the mantra of Tara and taught it to others. Later in life, she gave birth to four sons and two generations later, Jigten Sumgon was born into her family.

When the time came for Achi Chokyi Drolma’s life to end, after teaching the precious Buddha’s teachings to countless beings, she took shelter in a cave. Together with her students she partook of a great tsok (Sanskrit: ganachakra) offering. At this time her students gained both ordinary and supreme spiritual attainments. It was here that Achi Chokyi Drolma composed a sadhana or daily prayer manual with herself as the central deity and promised to look after the teachings of the Buddha, especially those that her great-grandson Jigten Sumgon would propagate. She then flew to Kechara Paradise (the pureland of Heruka Chakrasamvara and Vajravarahi) on a blue horse without leaving her physical body, reminiscent of 75 of the famous 84 great Mahasiddhas of ancient India.

In this depiction she is portrayed in her protector aspect, but she can also be portrayed in the aspect of a guru, a long-life dakini and a wealth-bestowing dakini.

Deity: Vajradhara (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Dorje Chang (Tibetan)
Buddha Vajradhara is none other than Buddha Shakyamuni, who took this form in order to teach the tantras, which are known to expedite ones spiritual practice to achieve enlightenment. It is said that while following the sutra methods of practice takes practitioners three great aeons to achieve enlightenment, through the practice of tantra on the other hand, enlightenment can be achieved in this very lifetime. It is from Buddha Vajradhara that tantric systems such as Guhyasamaja and Heruka Chakrasamvara arise, among countless others. In fact, within these systems, one’s guru is visualised as Vajradhara during certain meditations, indicative of the guru’s importance within tantric practice.

In English, Vajradhara’s name means ‘Holder of the Vajra’. He is dark blue in colour with one face and two arms, which are crossed at the level of his heart. His right hand holds a vajra symbolising the compassionate activities of the enlightened beings, while he holds a bell in his left symbolising the non-duality of ultimate reality.

Deity: Vajravarahi (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Dorje Phagmo (Tibetan); Indra Kacho (Sanskrit)
Vajravarahi is a female tantric Buddha who appears in many different forms throughout the various lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. She embodies the fully enlightened female aspect of a Buddha and her path of practice is considered a Mother Tantra, meaning her practitioners concentrate on the wisdom aspect leading to Buddhahood. She is also a principal dakini, a compassionate female guide and nurturer of tantric meditation who leads practitioners to enlightenment. Her practice arose from a pure vision beheld by the Mahasiddha Indrabodhi, which is why she is sometimes called Indra Kacho, meaning Indra’s Dakini. ‘Indra’ here refers to Indrabodhi and ‘kacho’ is a Tibetan word referring to the dakini from Kechara. Kechara is Vajravarahi’s pureland where she resides.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is the emanation of Manjushri, the Buddha of Wisdom and he has taken the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard Buddha’s teachings, especially the special teachings on the Middle Way view. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind and to create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish.

67. Dukkar (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Dukkar and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Dukkar (Tibetan)
Alternative names: Sitatapatra (Sanskrit); White Parasol (English)
The awe-inspiring Dukkar is an extremely efficacious female deity. According to scriptural sources, her all-powerful form emerged from the ushnisha or sacred crown protuberance of Buddha Shakyamuni, while he was in deep meditative absorption amidst the assembly of the gods in the Heaven of the Thirty-Three. Her supreme practice was popular in ancient India and has managed to retain its popularity to this day because it is extremely potent in averting obstacles for Buddhist practitioners.

In fact, Dukkar is invoked to protect practitioners from a wide range of problems and calamities ranging from attacks from malevolent spirits to unjustified legal suits. Her mantra is also said to repel negative interferences and purify negative defilements. Furthermore, her long mantra or dharani is traditionally worn in an amulet for protection, even in extremely dangerous circumstances, and it also has the power to alter adverse weather conditions. The protective blessings of Dukkar are invoked in a number of rituals such as her torma offering, fire puja, the creation of a protective circle, drawing of her mandala and her dharanis, which are often inserted into stupas and statues as highly sacred items.

The most commonly depicted form of Dukkar has 1,000 heads, 1,000 arms, 1,000 legs and thousands of eyes that oversee sentient beings. With her two central hands, she holds a Dharma wheel and a white parasol from which she takes her name. In her other hands she holds a multitude of various weapons. Her skin is radiant white in colour and her body is adorned with the various accoutrements of a bodhisattva.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is a Dharma Protector that has been propitiated by all four major Tibetan Buddhist schools. Dorje Shugden is recognised to be an emanation of Manjushri, the Buddha of Wisdom. In fact, Dorje Shugden arose from a long line of incarnated lamas who strove to proliferate and protect the teachings. He is a protector of recent origins, arising 350 years ago, and due to his strong affinity with beings of this time, he is widely renowned to be efficacious and powerful in overcoming our obstacles and creating favourable conditions for our practice.

68. Avalokiteshvara Simhananda (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Chenrezig Ngesung Kundrol, Migchey Chenrezig, Avalokiteshvara Simhananda and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Avalokiteshvara Simhananda (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Chenrezig Sengetra (Tibetan)
Avalokiteshvara is a popular archetypal bodhisattva in the Sutras, in which he strives towards enlightenment. Within the teachings of Vajrayana Buddhism, Avalokiteshvara is said to be a Buddha who attained full enlightenment during a previous aeon, only to manifest as a bodhisattva on the spiritual path to inspire and bless many in our current aeon. Within the Sutras and Tantras, Avalokiteshvara is known by many names including Lokeshvara, Avalokita, Lokanatha and Mahakarunika. He is famously considered one of the Eight Great Bodhisattva Disciples of Buddha Shakyamuni and for his landmark sermon at the behest of Buddha Shakyamuni, as narrated in the Heart Sutra.

The Sanskrit honorific ‘arya’ meaning ‘noble’ or ‘noble one’ is often used at the beginning of the name for each of the Eight Great Bodhisattvas as well as notable enlightened beings such as Tara. Arya Avalokiteshvara, known as Chenrezig in Tibet, is the patron Bodhisattva of Tibet and is still widely revered and worshipped throughout the Mahayana Buddhist world. Within Tibetan Buddhism, there are many lineages of various forms of Avalokiteshvara that span all four classes of Tantra alongside numerous other oral traditions and terma (treasure teaching) traditions that have arisen within the Nyingma order.

Amongst the great Indian and Tibetan masters who proliferated the practice of Avalokiteshvara are Jowo Atisha, Bari Lotsawa, Mitra Yogin, Machig Labdron, Kyergangpa, Tsembupa, and so forth. It is said that the Indian master Jowo Atisha promoted the practice of Avalokiteshvara as one of the most important and thus, the deity is widely practised as one of the Four Deities of the Kadampa order which arose from Jowo Atisha’s teachings. In fact, Avalokiteshvara is also linked to the creation myth of the Tibetan people. He is said to have emanated as a monkey and mated with a demoness who is said to have been an emanation of Tara. Their offspring became the Tibetan race.

There are four popular forms of Avalokiteshvara that are more commonly practised than others and they are Sahasrabhuja, Amoghapasha, Chaturbhuja and Simhananda. The practice of Avalokiteshvara Simhananda is one of Thirteen Golden Dharmas of the Sakya tradition. It is regarded as an important practice within the order and descends down through great masters such as Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (1092-1158 CE). The practice originated in India, from ancient masters such as Chandragomin and Suvarnadvipa. It then entered Tibet in the 11th Century through the efforts of Rinchen Zangpo, Jowo Atisha, Bari Lotsawa Rinchen Drag and others. This practice is now found in all traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.

Historically, Avalokiteshvara Simhananda was also proliferated in Mongolia and China by Sakya Pandita Kunga Gyaltsen (1182-1251 CE) after he healed Goden Khan of leprosy using the special healing rituals of the deity. Avalokiteshvara Simhananda is propitiated particularly in rituals to appease nagas, serpentine-like beings who are depicted in the image as making offerings to Avalokiteshvara. Therefore rituals and pujas associated with Avalokiteshvara Simhananda have a healing effect on those with skin conditions like leprosy, cancer and other related illnesses which are commonly believed to be caused by nagas. Furthermore, these rituals are also used in the offering of torma (ritual cakes) and incense to appease nagas as they are partial towards the great compassion of Avalokiteshvara.

Deity: Chenrezig Ngesung Kundrol (Tibetan)
The name ‘Chenrezig Ngesung Kundrol’ literally means ‘Avalokiteshvara Who Liberates From the Three Lower Realms’. This practice derives from a lineage that stems from the Mahasiddha Mitrayogin and comprises of a trinity of deities with Avalokiteshvara in the central position, sitting in a posture of royal ease with his left hand pressed down behind him on his moon disc. Green Tara sits to his left and the wrathful black Ekajati on his right. His practice is one that protects practitioners from taking rebirth in the lower realms for one lifetime as long as they maintain their commitments. Usually, the commitments involve a daily recitation of one mala (rosary) of OM MANI PEME HUNG. Alternatively, it involves whatever sadhana or mantra commitment is stipulated by the lama at the time of initiation into the practice.

Deity: Chenrezig Migchey (Tibetan)
‘Chenrezig Migchey’ literally means ‘Eye-Clearing Avalokiteshvara’ and this lineage arose from a Hidden Treasure (terma) teaching of the Nyingma order. It was originally revealed by Nyangral Nyima Ozer in the 12th Century. However, many masters from the Kagyu, Sakya and Gelug orders have since composed their own ritual and sadhana liturgies dedicated to this form of Chenrezig. Within Tibet, this practice was widely disseminated throughout Southern Tibet and from there it spread to Mongolia. In fact, one of the largest statues of this deity lies in Ganden Monastery of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. It is said that the popularity of this practice in 20th Century Mongolia was due to the teachings of His Holiness the 8th Jebtsundamba Khutughtu, who was the third most important personage in Tibetan Buddhism below only the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama. This form of Chenrezig is said to remove ignorance and bestow the direct perception of emptiness (shunyata). On an ordinary level, this deity is very beneficial in relieving ailments of the eye.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is a Dharma Protector that has been propitiated by all four major Tibetan Buddhist schools. Dorje Shugden is recognised to be an emanation of Manjushri, the Buddha of Wisdom. In fact, Dorje Shugden arose from a long line of incarnated lamas who strove to proliferate and protect the teachings. He is a protector of recent origins, arising 350 years ago, and due to his strong affinity with beings of this time, he is widely renowned to be efficacious and powerful in overcoming our obstacles and creating favourable conditions for our practice.

69. Atisha Dipamkara Srijnana (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Green Tara, Atisha Dipamkara Srijnana and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Atisha Dipamkara Srijnana (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Jowo Je Atisha (Tibetan)
Atisha Dipamkara Srijnana was a great Bengali (Indian) master, who travelled to Tibet in order to translate and propagate Buddhism at a time when the teachings had declined there. He is now known as a reviver of the Buddhist faith in Tibet.

Having spent the majority of his life learning and studying the scriptures, especially during his 12-year stay in the Srivijaya Kingdom of Sumatra (Indonesia) where he focused intensely on teachings on compassion, he was perfectly able to bring about a renaissance of Buddhist practice in Tibet. His heart disciple, Dromtonpa, went on to establish the Kadam School in Tibet.

Atisha’s main yidam or meditational deity was Tara and he had many visions of her. According to his biography, it was Tara who urged him to accept the invitation to travel to Tibet. While he was in Tibet, Atisha became famous for giving many extraordinary teachings. Amongst the many teachings he imparted, he is celebrated for starting the lineage of making wealth vases, for his mind training teachings and for starting the genre of teachings known as the Lamrim, which combine all of the Buddha’s teachings in a graduated path to enlightenment.

Deity: Green Tara (English)
Alternative names: Shyama Tara (Sanskrit); Arya Tara (Sanskrit); Drolma (Tibetan); Droljang (Tibetan)
Tara is known as Jetsun Drolma in Tibetan and she is a very important figure in Tibetan Buddhism. She is known as the ‘saviouress’ and is also considered the embodiment of the activity of all the Buddhas. In the Tara Tantras, it is said that she was a Bodhisattva disciple of the Buddha of another world system. Her name was Yeshe Dawa and she had deep faith in the Buddha of that world system and made tremendous offerings to him. She also went to receive teachings and engaged in deep meditations as well, and pledged to become enlightened and assist others in a female form. At one time, she received a special teaching on the development of Bodhicitta – the infinitely compassionate mental state of a Bodhisattva.

She is the Buddha that was relied upon by many great Indian and Tibetan masters. The Praise to the 21 Taras is an ancient Indian text that praises her 21 main emanations. Aside from that, she is believed to protect practitioners from the Eight Fears, which represent both internal delusions and also external obstacles.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way view. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

70. Dorje Shugden on throne (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Lama Tsongkhapa and Dorje Shugden on throne

Deity: Dorje Shugden on throne (English)
In the 15th Century, there was a high lama named Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen. He was a contemporary of the Great 5th Dalai Lama and a heart disciple of His Holiness the 4th Panchen Lobsang Chokyi Gyeltsen. He was a pure monk in the monastic tradition established by Buddha Shakyamuni and was recognised by the Panchen Lama to be the reincarnation of Panchen Sonam Drakpa, part of a long line of successive incarnations stemming all the way back to the time of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni. His Holiness the 4th Panchen Lama was the highest spiritual authority of his time and when he recognised Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen as the undisputed reincarnation of Panchen Sonam Drakpa and many other high incarnations, no one doubted him.

Due to an aspiration generated in a previous life, after Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen met with untimely demise, he arose as the Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden as requested by the Dharma Protector Nechung.

During his lifetime Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen propitiated both the protective deities Mahakala Brahmarupa and Setrap Chen strongly and it is said that upon his arising as Dorje Shugden, they were the first to enthrone him as a Dharma Protector. Together, these three deities have a special and close relationship.

Dorje Shugden eliminates our worldly obstacles if you sincerely rely upon him. When worldly obstacles are removed, one can focus on spiritual practice without interruption. Thus, Dorje Shugden has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and to create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish.

In this representation, Dorje Shugden carries a wooden club and sits on a lion throne. This is in accordance with a vision beheld by the 5th Dalai Lama Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso and is perhaps one of the earliest depictions of Dorje Shugden. This image of Dorje Shugden was immortalised by the 5th Dalai Lama when he created statues for the Protector chapel of Trode Khangsar in Lhasa, Tibet. The 5th Dalai Lama also composed a praise describing Dorje Shugden as holding a wooden club in his right hand. The noose that Dorje Shugden holds in his left hand is a variant form that originated within the Sakya school.

Deity: Sumati Kirti (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Lama Tsongkhapa Lobsang Drakpa (Tibetan)
Lama Tsongkhapa was a 15th Century scholar-yogi who established the Gelug school, which went on to become the dominant and most widespread of all Tibetan Buddhist schools. After spending years studying and meditating, he established monastic institutions of learning and practice, producing limitless masters, tantrikas, yogis, scholars and teachers of the Buddhist path.

 

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71. Eye-Opening Chenrezig (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Migchey Chenrezig and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Migchey Chenrezig (Tibetan)
Avalokiteshvara is a popular archetypal Bodhisattva in the Sutras, in which he strives towards enlightenment. Within the teachings of Vajrayana Buddhism, he is said to be a Buddha who attained full enlightenment during a past aeon, only to manifest as a Bodhisattva on the path to inspire and bless many in our current aeon.

Within the sutras and tantras, Avalokiteshvara is known by many names including Lokeshvara, Avalokita, Avalokiteshvara, Lokanatha and Mahakarunika. He is famously considered one of the Eight Great Bodhisattva Disciples of Buddha Shakyamuni, and renowned for his landmark sermon at the behest of Buddha Shakyamuni, as narrated in the Heart Sutra.

The Sanskrit honorific ‘arya’, meaning ‘noble’ or ‘noble one’, is often used at the beginning of the name for each of the Eight Great Bodhisattvas as well as notable enlightened beings such as Tara. Arya Avalokiteshvara, known as Chenrezig in Tibetan, is the patron Bodhisattva of Tibet and is still widely revered and worshipped throughout the Mahayana Buddhist world. Within Tibetan Buddhism, there are many lineages of various forms of Avalokiteshvara that span all four classes of tantra alongside numerous other oral traditions and terma (treasure teachings) traditions that have arisen within the Nyingma order.

‘Migchey Chenrezig’ literally means ‘Eye-Clearing Avalokiteshvara’ and this lineage arose from a Hidden Treasure (terma) teaching of the Nyingma order. It was originally revealed by Nyangral Nyima Ozer in the 12th Century. However, many masters from the Kagyu, Sakya and Gelug orders have since composed their own ritual and sadhana liturgies dedicated to this form of Chenrezig. Within Tibet, this practice was widely disseminated throughout Southern Tibet and from there it spread to Mongolia. In fact, one of the largest statues of this deity lies in Ganden Monastery in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. It is said that the popularity of this practice in 20th Century Mongolia was due to the teachings of His Holiness the 8th Jebtsundamba Khutughtu, who was the third most important personage in Tibetan Buddhism below only to the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama. This form of Chenrezig is said to remove ignorance and bestow the direct perception of emptiness (sunyata). On an ordinary level, this deity is very beneficial in relieving ailments of the eye.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way view. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

72. Green Tara (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Green Tara and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Arya Tara (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Green Tara (English); Shyama Tara (Sanskrit); Drolma (Tibetan); Droljang (Tibetan)
Tara is known as Jetsun Drolma in Tibetan and she is a very important figure in Tibetan Buddhism. She is known as the ‘saviouress’ and is also considered the embodiment of the activity of all the Buddhas. In the Tara Tantras, it is said that she was a Bodhisattva disciple of the Buddha of another world system. Her name was Yeshe Dawa and she had deep faith in the Buddha of that world system and made tremendous offerings to him. She also went to receive teachings and engaged in deep meditations as well. At one time, she received a special teaching on the development of Bodhicitta – the infinitely compassionate mental state of a Bodhisattva.

After the teachings, some monks approached her and suggested that because of her level of attainments, she should pray to be reborn as a male to progress further in her next life. She contemplated their words and told the monks that it is only the “weak-minded” who see gender as a barrier to attaining enlightenment. Nevertheless, she realised that there have been few who have developed the aspiration to work for the welfare of sentient beings in a female form. Therefore, she made the aspiration to be reborn in a female form again and again, to work tirelessly to liberate all beings until samsara is emptied. She then remained in a state of meditation and perceiving her supreme aspiration, the Buddha prophesied that she would manifest enlightenment and be known as the Goddess Tara.

In the ancient text known as the Praise to the 21 Taras, Tara is said to have emanated in 21 main forms. The most popular of these forms are the Green and White Taras. Green Tara is considered the main emanation and associated mainly with enlightened activity and protection, and White Tara is associated with pacification of inner and outer illnesses. She is known to have been particularly close to a large number of great Indian and Tibetan masters like Atisha, Shakya Shri Bhadra and so forth. With her right leg extended in her ever-readiness to assist, Tara is known for swift action and manifests many miracles through her sacred images in both India and Tibet.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternate name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way view. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

73. Guhyasamaja (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Six-Armed Mahakala, Guhyasamaja and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Guhyasamaja (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Sangwa Dupa (Tibetan); Guhyasamaja Akshobhyavajra (Sanskrit)
Guhyasamaja is one of the three Kingly Tantras (Tibetan: sang de jig sum) of the Gelug order as proliferated by Lama Tsongkhapa. The other two tantras are Vajrabhairava (Yamantaka) and Heruka Chakrasamvara. ‘Guhyasamaja’ literally means ‘secret assembly’. This refers to the practice of the gathering and manipulation of the psychic winds in the body in order to accomplish the awakening of the mind. Guhyasamaja is called the King of Tantras as comprehension of this tantric system allows one to understand the inner workings of all other tantric systems. It is said that the survival of the tantras depends on the continued proliferation and practice of this tantric system.

The complete tantric text consists of 17 chapters, though a separate “explanatory tantra”, also known as the Guhyasamaja Uttaratantra, is sometimes considered to be the former’s 18th chapter. Many scholars believe that the original work consisted of the first 12 chapters, and Chapters 13 to 17 were later added as explanatory material. There are five principal lineages for this form of the meditational deity Akshobhyavajra Guhyasamaja. They are the Atisha, Marpa, Go Lotsawa, Khache and Chag traditions.

Deity: Six-Armed Mahakala (English)
Alternative names: Shadbhuja Mahakala (Sanskrit); Gonpo Chagdrugpa (Tibetan)
Six-Armed Mahakala is an emanation of Avalokiteshvara and propitiated as the protector of the highest scope of the Lamrim. He is propitiated in a manner similar to Kalarupa but mainly towards the study, contemplation and realisation of the highest scope of the teachings. He is also one of the three main protectors of the great Lama Tsongkhapa.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternate name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way view. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

74. Kalarupa (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Kalarupa, Six-Armed Mahakala, Vaishravana and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Kalarupa (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Damchen Chogyal (Tibetan)
Kalarupa arose as the main Dharma Protector of the Yamantaka Tantras. Just like Yamantaka, he is an emanation of Manjushri, the patron Buddha of Wisdom. The practice of propitiating Kalarupa is commonly found in the Sakya, Kagyu and Gelug schools, in which it is particularly emphasised. Furthermore, Kalarupa is the protector of the lowest scope and one of the three protectors of the Lamrim tradition, along with Six-Armed Mahakala for the highest scope and Vaishravana for the middle scope. He is propitiated to aid in the study, contemplation and realisation of the lowest scope of the teachings. These three protectors were also the special protectors of Lama Tsongkhapa. It is believed that Kalarupa manifested in human form to assist Lama Tsongkhapa during the long months of his arduous retreats.

According to a scriptural account, when Buddha Shakyamuni was generating the mind of Great Compassion or Bodhicitta under the sacred Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya, an army of 360 million devils appeared and were poised to attack in an attempt to stop the Buddha from attaining enlightenment. The Buddha knew this so he meditated on Yamantaka’s mandala and the whole horde of devils were subdued immediately and seeds of Bodhicitta were planted in their mindstreams. Buddha Shakyamuni then manifested himself as the wrathful Yamantaka amidst an entire entourage within his mandala and bestowed the instructions on the Yamantaka Tantra. The Buddha implored the actual Yamantaka to perform various enlightened deeds to suit the diverse mental dispositions of future practitioners.

Kalarupa is part of Yamantaka’s retinue and he manifests in three main forms – Outer, Inner, and Secret. Inner and Outer Kalarupa are blue-black in colour while Secret Kalarupa is red in colour. The main form of Kalarupa is the outer Kalarupa and he appears with the face of a buffalo, alongside his consort Chamundi. Kalarupa pledged to eliminate obstacles that obstruct the divine activities of the great Yamantaka.

Deity: Six-Armed Mahakala (English)
Alternative names: Shadbhuja Mahakala (Sanskrit); Gonpo Chagdrugpa (Tibetan)
Six-Armed Mahakala is an emanation of Avalokiteshvara and propitiated as the protector of the highest scope of the Lamrim. He is propitiated in a manner similar to Kalarupa but mainly towards the study, contemplation and realisation of the highest scope of the teachings. He is also one of the three main protectors of the great Lama Tsongkhapa.

Deity: Vaishravana (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Namtose (Tibetan)
Vaishravana is an enlightened protector and believed to be a great wealth-bestowing deity in the Tibetan tradition. He is not to be confused with the unenlightened Vaishravana, who is one of the four Heavenly Guardian Kings. He is typically depicted riding on a lion. Vaishravana is propitiated as the protector of the middle scope of the Lamrim. He is propitiated in a manner similar to Kalarupa but mainly towards the study, contemplation and realisation of the middle scope of the teachings.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way view. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

75. Lama Tsongkhapa (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Guru Rinpoche, Lama Tsongkhapa and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Lama Tsongkhapa (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Lobsang Drakpa (Tibetan); Sumati Kirti (Sanskrit)
Lama Tsongkhapa was a 15th Century scholar-yogi who established the Gelug school, which went on to become the dominant and most widespread of all Tibetan Buddhist schools. After spending years studying and meditating, he established monastic institutions of learning and practice, producing limitless masters, tantrikas, yogis, scholars and teachers of the Buddhist path.

Lama Tsongkhapa was known for his incredible memory of the broad range of Buddhist treatises, sharp debate skills and incredibly penetrative writing. He saw the benefit in the comprehensive nature of Lama Atisha’s Lamrim text known as Bodhipathapradipa, and composed an expanded version known as the Lamrim Chenmo. Naturally, it contained the entire graduated path to enlightenment, from chapters on death and impermanence to higher topics such as concentration meditation and wisdom. He also composed the Ngarim Chenmo, which is the graduated path for the teachings on tantra.

Contrary to popular belief that Lama Tsongkhapa was merely a scholar, he actually wrote more on tantra practice than on sutra. He is also known for his many pure visions of Manjushri and various other Buddhas. It was through his sacred communion with Manjushri that a special lineage of teachings arose, known as the Gaden Emanation Scripture. These teachings contain special instructions for the Gaden Mahamudra practice, Lama Chopa (or Offerings to the Spiritual Guide), the Gaden Lhagyama (or Hundreds of Deities of the Joyful Land), the Migtsema mantra, and six sadhanas focusing on the practice of Manjushri.

The special instructions contained within this scripture were passed down only by word of mouth from teacher to disciple, and so the lineage became known as the ‘Uncommon Whispered Lineage of the Virtuous Tradition’ or the ‘Ensa Whispered Lineage’. Later, His Holiness the 4th Panchen Lobsang Chokyi Gyeltsen (1569-1662) was the first to pen down the Lama Chopa and so forth.

Deity: Guru Padmasambhava (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Guru Rinpoche (Tibetan)
Guru Rinpoche, also known as Guru Padmasambhava, was an 8th Century Indian Buddhist master who travelled to Tibet in order to spread the Buddha’s teachings. Guru Rinpoche is highly revered within all schools of Tibetan Buddhism. He was invited to Tibet to subdue powerful obstructive beings who opposed the spread of Buddha’s teachings. He waged supernatural war with these deities and won due to his high spiritual attainments.

Instead of vanquishing these obstructive beings, he chose to follow the Buddha’s teachings on compassion and bound them to oath never to harm sentient beings again. They promised to protect and provide for practitioners on the Buddhist path. One such being was Nechung, also known as Pehar Gyalpo. Once a powerful spirit from Persia, Nechung came to reside in Tibet and after battling with Guru Rinpoche, he was subdued. Guru Rinpoche also had him promise to aid the “Holder of the White Lotus”, meaning an emanation of Chenrezig. When the powerful line of the Dalai Lamas arose, Nechung came to their aid for temporal matters, as the Dalai Lamas are considered to be the emanations of Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion. Since that time, Nechung has come to be regarded as one of the State Dharma Protectors of Tibet.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way view. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

76. Maitreya (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Maitreya and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Maitreya (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Jampa (Tibetan); Ajita (Sanskrit)
Maitreya’s name literally means ‘Great Love’ in the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit. He is currently a crowned bodhisattva residing in Tushita pure realm, awaiting his time to take rebirth on earth to become the future Buddha. Once reborn, he will sit under a sacred tree and achieve complete and perfect Enlightenment like his predecessor, Buddha Shakyamuni. By that time, Buddha Shakyamuni’s teachings will have disappeared and the world will be engulfed in a dark age, as it will be devoid of true Dharma.

Thereafter, Maitreya will go on to perform the 12 great deeds of a fully enlightened Buddha. One of the major deeds he is to perform is the turning of the Wheel of Dharma, which means that he will give teachings and re-establish the fortunate era of Buddhadharma. It is said in the scriptures that Maitreya will be the fifth Buddha to do this during this great eon, while Buddha Shakyamuni was the fourth Buddha. According to prophecy, Maitreya will become Shakyamuni’s successor but unlike his predecessor, Buddha Maitreya will only teach the path of sutra. This means that he will not give teachings on tantra.

It is said that Maitreya also manifested as one of the Eight Great Bodhisattva Disciples of Buddha Shakyamuni. The great Indian master Asanga is said to have received visions of the Bodhisattva Maitreya and was transported to Tushita in order to receive teachings directly from him. The Indian master went on to pen down these incredible teachings into what is known as the “Five Treatises” by Maitreya. From these texts arose the Method lineage of the Lamrim (or the Stages on the Path to Enlightenment).

It is said that Lama Tsongkhapa and Atisha are currently residing in Tushita as part of the retinue of Maitreya. Hence, those who engage in Lama Tsongkhapa’s Guru Yoga (Gaden Lhagyama) create the causes to be reborn in Tushita amongst the retinue of Maitreya. Some lamas like Domo Geshe Rinpoche purposely install large icons of Maitreya in monasteries and temples to create the causes for sentient beings to be reborn amongst the retinue of Maitreya.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way view. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

77. Manjushri Lion’s Roar (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Manjushri Lion’s Roar and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Manjushri Lion’s Roar (English)
Alternative names: Jampel Sengetra (Tibetan); Vadisimha Manjushri (Sanskrit)
Manjushri is the patron Buddha of Wisdom. In his right hand, he holds a flaming wisdom sword which cuts away the roots of ignorance from our lives and in his left hand, he holds the stem of a lotus on top of which rests a Perfection of Wisdom text. This text is symbolic of his practice granting wisdom, insight and merit. He is closely associated with Avalokiteshvara and Vajrapani as they are part of the trinity known as Rigsum Gonpo (Three Protectors). Manjushri also belongs to a group of deities that are known as the Eight Bodhisattva Disciples of Lord Buddha, alongside Avalokiteshvara, Vajrapani, Maitreya and others. Manjushri is frequently featured in sutras because he is known to have asked important spiritual questions, which Lord Buddha answered by giving extremely beneficial teachings.

This form of Manjushri is known as Vadisimha Manjushri, literally meaning ‘Manjushri Lion’s Roar’, as he rides on a lion. This name actually refers to a variety of Manjushri’s classical forms. In some forms Manjushri holds a sword like in this depiction; in others, he forms the Dharmachakra (Wheel of Dharma) mudra at his heart. The most famous depiction of Manjushri Lion’s Roar can be found prominently featured in temples on Mount Wu Tai (Wu Tai Shan), also known as the Five Peaks of Manjushri.

The great scholar and Tibetan Buddhist master Je Tsongkhapa is said to have appeared in the form of Manjushri Lion’s Roar in one of five pure visions to his heart disciple, Khedrub Je. There are also a number of depictions of Manjushri Lion’s Roar at the Manjushri Chapel in Sakya, Tibet which has contributed to the prevalence of Manjushri’s worship in this form.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way view. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

78. Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Pabongka Rinpoche and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Dechen Nyingpo (Tibetan)
Kyabje Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo is one of the most important Gelug lineage lamas of the first half of the 20th Century. He was known as ‘Dechen Nyingpo’, or ‘Essence of Great Bliss’ or ‘The King of Bliss from the Palace of Bliss’, meaning that he was one with Heruka. As such, he was widely believed to be the emanation of Heruka Chakrasamvara and was also the reincarnation of Changkya Rolpai Dorje, who was the spiritual teacher of the Chinese Emperor Qianlong. However, due to the political climate at the time which did not favour connections with China, he was recognised and enthroned as the reincarnation of a tulku from the obscure Pabongka Monastery instead.

Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche was most famous for his charismatic teachings on the Lamrim (Stages of the Path to Enlightenment). He received experiential Lamrim teachings from his root teacher, Dagpo Lama Lobsang Jamphel Lhundrub Gyatso. Pabongka Rinpoche was given Lamrim teachings a topic at a time and was then sent to meditate on each topic until he gained signs of realisation. Ever since these retreats, Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche became famous for his Lamrim teachings. During an especially historic Lamrim teaching given over 24 days, his heart disciple Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche compiled his notes which eventually became the profound Lamrim treatise now known as ‘Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand’.

During a pure vision, Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche was asked by Heruka and Vajrayogini to combine the Sakya Vajrayogini teachings with the techniques that Lama Tsongkhapa taught for the Heruka practice. Later, Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche composed the long Vajrayogini sadhana and called it ‘Dechen Nyur Lam’ (Short Path to Great Bliss). It encompasses all of Vajrayogini’s practices and has become one of the most popular Vajrayogini sadhanas within the Gelug tradition.

According to traditional accounts, the protector Dorje Shugden via an oracle requested Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche to compose a Dorje Shugden fulfillment ritual text. Therefore, he requested another of his teachers, Takpu Pemavajra, who was famous for his psychic ability, to astral travel to Maitreya’s pure land, Tushita (Gaden) and receive teachings on the Dharma Protector. Takpu Pemavajra received the teachings from the great master Dulzin Drakpa Gyaltsen, who is actually the previous incarnation of Dorje Shugden and who currently resides next to Lama Tsongkhapa in Tushita.

While in Tushita, Takpu Pemavajra is said to have received the complete cycle of instructions on Dorje Shugden and his Five Families, including the life-entrustment initiation (sogtae) from Lama Tsongkhapa himself by way of Dulzin Drakpa Gyaltsen. Takpu Pemavajra transmitted these extensive teachings to Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche and from him these teachings spread throughout the Gelug tradition. Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche later completed the fulfillment ritual text to Dorje Shugden and named it ‘Melodious Drum Victorious in All Directions’.

The legacy of Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche was to popularise the tantric practice of Vajrayogini and the protector deity Dorje Shugden amongst his followers. He felt that these practices would become more effective and necessary in the future because they are suitable for modern practitioners who are busy and plagued with many distractions and obstacles.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way view. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

79. Setrap (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Setrap and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Setrap Chen (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Dorje Setrab (Tibetan)
Setrap Chen is believed to be an emanation of Buddha Amitabha and therefore an enlightened protector deity. He is originally from Bodhgaya, India. According to his fulfillment ritual text, Setrap was brought to Tibet by the great translator Ngok Lotsawa Loden Sherab. He was first installed as the protector deity of the great monastery of Sangphu Neutog.

From Sangphu Neutog Monastery, Setrap Chen’s practice eventually entered the Sakya tradition, where he has since been propitiated together with Dorje Shugden and Tsiu Marpo in a trinity of protectors known as the Gyalpo Sum. After the time of Lama Tsongkhapa, a formal connection was established between Sangphu Neutog Monastery and Gaden Monastery. When a fire broke out at Sangphu Neutog Monastery which destroyed a large part of the monastery, many monks transferred to Gaden Monastery. They took with them the tradition of propitiating Setrap Chen. Eventually, Setrap Chen was adopted by Gaden Shartse College as their main protector deity.

Setrap Chen was also propitiated by Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen. This connection continued after Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen’s assassination, when he arose as Dorje Shugden. It is said that Setrap Chen came to Dorje Shugden’s assistance when lamas tried to perform wrathful rituals to eliminate Dorje Shugden as they thought him to be a malicious spirit. Setrap conjured illusions to distract them. It is also believed that Setrap Chen enthroned Dorje Shugden as a Dharma Protector amongst the many old protective deities within their celestial realm.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way view. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

In addition, the great Setrap Chen has a permanent place within Dorje Shugden’s mandala, directly above him on the first floor and the Buddha Amitabha in turn has a place on the highest floor. Therefore, it is said that when one propitiates Dorje Shugden, the great protector Setrap is also called forth to lend you his assistance. This is seen within Dorje Shugden’s serkyem (golden drink) offering liturgy where Setrap is offered a libation of tea in honour of his connection with Dorje Shugden.

80. Vajradharma (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Buddha Shakyamuni, Vajradharma, Vajra Yogini, Hero Vajradharma and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Vajradharma (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Dorje Cho (Tibetan)
Within the extremely potent Vajra Yogini Tantras of Tibetan Buddhism, there are 11 Yogas or meditative exercises described for practitioners to further their spiritual practice. These meditative practices are meant to transform one’s ordinary conceptions of the self-cherishing ‘I’ into the divine pride of Vajra Yogini, an enlightened being. This is coupled with the transformation of the practitioner’s environment, which is generated as the mandala or divine abode of Vajra Yogini. Various people that practitioners encounter are likewise generated as the dakas and dakinis of Vajra Yogini’s entourage.

Of the 11 Yogas, there are three that are meant to be practised during ordinary daily activity. Normally, ordinary daily activities only create karma, either good or bad. Through the practice of these three yogas, it means that those activities, rather than being ordinary, are transformed into activities that generate spiritual merit. These three yogas are (i) the Yoga of Daily Activity, (ii) the Yoga of Sleeping, and (iii) the Yoga of Waking Up. With regards to sleeping and waking up, through their associated yogas we transform the hours we spend sleeping into spiritual practices.

However, the most important of these practices is that of Guru Yoga. This is a special practice which solicits the blessings of one’s spiritual teacher in order to successfully accomplish the aims of Vajra Yogini’s meditational practice. In Vajra Yogini’s Guru Yoga, the spiritual teacher is visualised as Vajradharma. In essence, Vajradharma looks similar to Vajradhara, the tantric form of Buddha Shakyamuni, holding a vajra and bell crossed at his chest, but he has a coral red hue instead of being blue in colour. Therefore, the spiritual teacher is visualised as a fully enlightened being, not in his ordinary aspect, in order to receive the highest blessings of an enlightened being.

Deity: Buddha Shakyamuni (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Sangye Shakya Tupa (Tibetan)
The historic Buddha Shakyamuni was the first to turn the Wheel of Dharma during our current aeon. We are fortunate because the Buddha taught the paths of both sutra and tantra. Using tantric teachings, we are able to accomplish enlightenment within a single lifetime, rather than the three countless aeons required to achieve enlightenment using sutric teachings.

Furthermore, it was Buddha Shakyamuni who manifested as Heruka Chakrasamvara and Vajra Yogini in order to subdue the god Bhairava and his consort Kalaratri, as their energies were having a detrimental effect on beings within samsara. In doing so, he gave countless sentient beings the hope to overcome their suffering through the practice of tantra.

Deity: Naro Kechari Vajra Yogini (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Dorje Neljorma (Tibetan)
This form of Vajra Yogini arose from a pure vision beheld by the Indian Mahasiddha Naropa, hence her name Naro Kechari (or Naropa’s Dakini). This form of Vajra Yogini and her practice has since become the main form transmitted due to the efficacy of her practice and blessings of her lineage. Her tantra promises rebirth in her pure land known as Kechara Paradise, in order that practitioners can continue their spiritual journey without worldly distractions until they become a fully enlightened Buddha.

Deity: Hero Vajradharma (English)
Alternative names: Vira Vajradharma (Sanskrit); Pawo Dorje Cho (Tibetan)
At the beginning of the long Vajra Yogini sadhana (daily practice), the practitioner solicits the blessings of the lineage masters beginning from Vajradharma to Vajra Yogini, to Mahasiddha Naropa all the way to one’s own root guru in order to empower the sadhana to be successful and to receive their blessings. During the various visualisations, one’s root guru is visualised as Vajradharma as mentioned above. The remaining lineage masters are all visualised as Hero Vajradharma, holding damarus, skullcups and cradling khatvanga tantric staffs.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden has a special regard for the Vajrayogini Tantras. Before he arose as a Dharma Protector, he had for several lifetimes been great Mahasiddhas, scholars and Tantric practitioners. During his incarnations as the Mahasiddha Naropa and the master Tsarchen Losel Gyatso, he was pivotal in the revelation and proliferation of the Vajra Yogini Tantra. In his Dharma Protector form, Dorje Shugden clears obstacles and provides conducive conditions for spiritual practice to flourish, especially for those who practise compassion and work for the benefit of others.

 

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81. Vajrasattva (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Vajrasattva and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Vajrasattva (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Dorje Sempa (Tibetan)
The Buddha Vajrasattva first appeared in ancient India and his tantric practice centres primarily upon the purification of delusions and negative karma. Like many other Buddhas within Vajrayana Buddhism, Vajrasattva has a number of popular forms and is relied on as a meditational deity (‘yidam’ in Tibetan or ‘ishtadevata’ in Sanskrit).

The most common and popular form of Vajrasattva is known as ‘Solitary Universal Monarch’. Vajrasattva as a figure is mentioned in the Mahavairocana Tantra and the Vajrasekhara Sutra. However, the Vajrasattva Root Tantra is known as Dorje Gyan or ‘Vajra Ornament’. Vajrasattva is regarded as the inner form of Buddha Vajradhara, who is the tantric form of Buddha Shakyamuni, and represents all the Buddha Families. In another form, Vajrasattva appears embracing a consort. This form arises from the class of Anuttarayoga Tantra, specifically from the 25th chapter of the Abhidhanottara Tantra and is known as the practice of Heruka Vajrasattva. In the Nyingma order, Vajrasattva is an important meditational deity and the most famous lineage of Vajrasattva originates from the Mindroling Monastery Tradition, commonly known as the Min-ling Dor-sem.

Vajrasattva is a popular purification practice and thus heavily relied on by all schools of Tibetan Buddhism, especially in relations to ngöndro or the preparatory practices to receiving advanced teachings on tantra. Each practice, for example Vajrasattva, requires practitioners to engage in a retreat of 100,000 repetitions. In this case, it is Vajrasattva’s mantra that is recited, complete with the necessary prayers, liturgies and offerings. Higher tantric practice requires a tremendous amount of merit in order to engage in it, because it is a fast-paced method towards enlightenment. Hence, the path is often fraught with obstacles due to our negative habituation and karma. Purification practices like Vajrasattva are essential in preparing the mind for practice so it has less obstacles.

In Buddhism, complete purification requires what is known as the Four Opponent Powers, which are (i) regret, (ii) refuge, (iii) remedy and (iv) the promise not to repeat the negative action again. Vajrasattva as a deity can be relied upon as a worthy object of refuge as he is fully enlightened being and his practice is remedial in purifying our negative karma. The practitioner begins the purification practice by developing deep regret for negative actions by having a sound understanding of karma and its effects. After realising the root cause of suffering lies in our actions, we make a heartfelt promise not to repeat the same negative actions. In adhering to the Four Opponent Powers, we purify karma right to the root and thereby remove all imprints and traces of our negative actions. When we have sufficiently purified our karma, we find that our minds are lighter, clearer and able to understand the teachings at a deeper level and we are also able to gain a lasting spiritual realisation of the teachings.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way view. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

82. Buddhas of the Three Aeons (Main figures)

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(Top to bottom): Buddha Kashyapa, Buddha Shakyamuni, Maitreya and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Buddha Shakyamuni (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Sangye Shakya Tupa (Tibetan)
Buddha Shakyamuni is the current and historical Buddha who was born a prince in the region of Lumbini (in what is now Nepal). He left the palace, became a wandering mendicant and met several teachers who taught him meditation but still he was not able to gain freedom from samsara or cyclic existence which is marked by suffering. As he persevered with his ascetic practices, he realised the ‘Middle Way’. Inspired by this, he sat under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya and eventually attained enlightenment.

The Buddha gave his first teaching at Sarnath Park on the Four Noble Truths. From then on, the Buddha continued to teach 84,000 Dharmas compassionately until his Parinirvana at age 81. Due to his great kindness in turning the Wheel of Dharma, the Buddha’s great teachings fill 108 volumes that have become the basis of the collection known as the Kangyur (or the Spoken Words of the Buddha). The Buddha had numerous disciples, of which Shariputra and Mahamaudgalyayana were his chief disciples.

It is said Shakyamuni’s teachings will pervade our world system for 5,000 years after which only signs of Dharma will be seen but actual Dharma will not be practised. Shakyamuni established the order of the monks and nuns in which pure discipline (Vinaya) can be practised with the aim of bringing beings to higher states of rebirth and ultimately enlightenment. This tradition has spread all over Asia and now the West. This order, known as the Sangha community, embodies the teachings, practice and discipline as taught by Buddha Shakyamuni.

Deity: Buddha Kashyapa (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Sangye Osung (Tibetan)
Kashyapa is the third of the five Buddhas of this kalpa or ‘Fortunate Aeon’. For this reason, he is also known as the Buddha of the past because he was the Buddha prior to Buddha Shakyamuni, who is known as the fourth. According to scriptural sources, he was born in India and his parents were the Brahmins Brahmadatta and Dhanavati, of the Kashyap Gotra.

He is known to have had a wife, Sunanda, who bore him a son named Vijitasena. Just like Buddha Shakyamuni, he renounced worldly life and became a mendicant in search of the truth. He practised austerities for only seven days. Just before attaining enlightenment, he accepted a meal of milk-rice from his wife and grass for his seat from a yavapalaka (grain-watcher) named Soma. The tree he sat under to meditate was a banyan tree and he gave teachings first at Isipatana to an assembly of monks who had renounced worldly life.

Kashyapa held an assembly of his disciples and among his most famous conversions was that of Naradeva, a Yaksha being. His heart disciples were the great monks Tissa and Bharadvaja and amongst the order of nuns, Anula and Uruvela. Buddha Kashyapa was constantly attended to by his disciple Sabbamitta. Furthermore, his most eminent patrons were Sumangala, Ghattikara, Vijitasena and Bhadda. According to the scriptures, Buddha Kashyapa entered Parinirvana in the city of Kashi in the Kasi Kingdom, which is today’s Varanasi of Uttar Pradesh, India.

Deity: Maitreya (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Jampa (Tibetan); Ajita (Sanskrit)
Maitreya’s name literally means ‘Great Love’ in the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit. He is currently a crowned Bodhisattva residing in Tushita pure realm, awaiting his time to take rebirth on earth to become the future Buddha. Once reborn, he will sit under a sacred tree and achieve complete and perfect Enlightenment like his predecessor, Buddha Shakyamuni. By that time, Buddha Shakyamuni’s teachings will have disappeared and the world will be engulfed in a dark age, as it will be devoid of true Dharma.

Thereafter, Maitreya will go on to perform the 12 great deeds of a fully enlightened Buddha. One of the major deeds he is to perform is the turning of the Wheel of Dharma, which means that he will give teachings and re-establish the fortunate era of Buddhadharma. It is said in the scriptures that Maitreya will be the fifth Buddha to do this during this great aeon, while Buddha Shakyamuni was the fourth Buddha. According to prophecy, Maitreya will become Shakyamuni’s successor but unlike his predecessor, Buddha Maitreya will only teach the path of Sutra. This means that he will not give teachings on Tantra.

It is said that Maitreya also manifested as one of the Eight Great Bodhisattva Disciples of Buddha Shakyamuni. The great Indian master Asanga is said to have received visions of the Bodhisattva Maitreya and was transported to Tushita in order to receive teachings directly from him. The Indian master went on to pen down these incredible teachings into what is known as the “Five Treatises” by Maitreya. From these texts arose the Method lineage of the Lamrim (or the Stages on the Path to Enlightenment).

It is said that Lama Tsongkhapa and Atisha are currently residing in Tushita as part of the retinue of Maitreya. Hence, those who engage in Lama Tsongkhapa’s Guru Yoga (Gaden Lhagyama) create the causes to be reborn in Tushita amongst the retinue of Maitreya. Some lamas like Domo Geshe Rinpoche purposely install large icons of Maitreya in monasteries and temples to create the causes for sentient beings to be reborn amongst the retinue of Maitreya.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

83. Green Tara (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Four-Armed Chenrezig, Green Tara and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Arya Tara (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Green Tara (English); Shyama Tara (Sanskrit); Drolma (Tibetan); Droljang (Tibetan)
Tara is known as Jetsun Drolma in Tibetan and she is a very important figure in Tibetan Buddhism. She is known as the ‘saviouress’ and is also considered the embodiment of the activity of all the Buddhas. In the Tara Tantras, it is said that she was a Bodhisattva disciple of the Buddha of another world system. Her name was Yeshe Dawa and she had deep faith in the Buddha of that world system and made tremendous offerings to him. She also went to receive teachings and engaged in deep meditations as well. At one time, she received a special teaching on the development of Bodhicitta – the infinitely compassionate mental state of a Bodhisattva.

After the teachings, some monks approached her and suggested that because of her level of attainments, she should pray to be reborn as a male to progress further in her next life. She contemplated their words and told the monks that it is only the “ignorant minded” who see gender as a barrier to attaining enlightenment. Nevertheless, she realised that there have been few who have developed the aspiration to work for the welfare of sentient beings in a female form. Therefore, she made the aspiration to be reborn in a female form, again and again, to work tirelessly to liberate all beings until samsara is emptied. She then remained in a state of meditation and perceiving her supreme aspiration, the Buddha prophesied that she would manifest enlightenment and be known as the Goddess Tara.

In the ancient text known as the Praise to the 21 Taras, Tara is said to have emanated in 21 main forms. The most popular of these forms are the Green and White Taras. Green Tara is considered the main emanation and associated mainly with enlightened activity and protection, and White Tara is associated with the pacification of inner and outer illnesses. She is known to have been particularly close to a large number of great Indian and Tibetan masters like Atisha, Shakya Shri Bhadra and so forth. With her right leg extended in her ever-readiness to assist, Tara is known for swift action and manifests many miracles through her sacred images in both India and Tibet.

Deity: Four-Armed Chenrezig (English)
Alternative names: Chenrezig Chagzhipa (Tibetan); Chaturbhuja Avalokiteshvara (Sanskrit)
Chenrezig’s sacred name literally means the “All-Seeing Lord”. He is regarded as the embodiment of compassion and his divine presence is invoked through his well-known six syllable mantra, OM MANI PADME HUM. His most commonly depicted form has four arms that represent the “Four Immeasurables” of loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and perfect equanimity.

With two of his hands folded at his heart, he holds a blue wish-granting gem, symbolising the great compassion of all Buddhas. With his other right hand, he holds aloft a mala of 108 beads, representing his ability to guide all beings on the path to liberation. With his other left hand he holds aloft the stem of an immaculate lotus, indicating that he is unstained by samsara and he has great compassion. Chenrezig’s practice is excellent for those who are angersome as his practice lessens anger and also for those who suffer from depression.

Furthermore, Chenrezig is deeply connected with Tara as according to legend, Tara was born from the tears of Chenrezig, who cried as he tried to liberate sentient beings but the karma of sentient beings was too overwhelming. Thus, Tara is said to have arisen from Chenrezig’s tears in order to assist him in his compassionate actions.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

84. Green Tara and the Eight Taras (Main figures)

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(Top to bottom): Green Tara, Eight Taras and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Arya Tara (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Green Tara (English); Shyama Tara (Sanskrit); Drolma (Tibetan); Droljang (Tibetan)
Tara is known as Jetsun Drolma in Tibetan and she is a very important figure in Tibetan Buddhism. She is known as the ‘saviouress’ and is also considered the embodiment of the activity of all the Buddhas. In the Tara Tantras, it is said that she was a Bodhisattva disciple of the Buddha of another world system. Her name was Yeshe Dawa and she had deep faith in the Buddha of that world system and made tremendous offerings to him. She also went to receive teachings and engaged in deep meditations as well. At one time, she received a special teaching on the development of Bodhicitta – the infinitely compassionate mental state of a Bodhisattva.

After the teachings, some monks approached her and suggested that because of her level of attainments, she should pray to be reborn as a male to progress further in her next life. She contemplated their words and told the monks that it is only the “ignorant minded” who see gender as a barrier to attaining enlightenment. Nevertheless, she realised that there have been few who have developed the aspiration to work for the welfare of sentient beings in a female form. Therefore, she made the aspiration to be reborn in a female form, again and again, to work tirelessly to liberate all beings until samsara is emptied. She then remained in a state of meditation and perceiving her supreme aspiration, the Buddha prophesied that she would manifest enlightenment and be known as the Goddess Tara.

In the ancient text known as the Praise to the 21 Taras, Tara is said to have emanated in 21 main forms. The most popular of these forms are the Green and White Taras. Green Tara is considered the main emanation and associated mainly with enlightened activity and protection, and White Tara is associated with the pacification of inner and outer illnesses. She is known to have been particularly close to a large number of great Indian and Tibetan masters like Atisha, Shakya Shri Bhadra and so forth. With her right leg extended in her ever-readiness to assist, Tara is known for swift action and manifests many miracles through her sacred images in both India and Tibet.

Deities: Taras Who Protect From the Eight Fears (English)
The Eight Taras to the sides of the main Tara image depict the eight types of fears or dangers that may potentially endanger or derail the spiritual path of a practitioner. The basis of these fears come from a particular Sutra called “The Sutra of Tara Who Protects from the Eight Fears” which, in Sanskrit, is known as the “Tara Sṭaghoratarani Sutra”.

The Eight Fears contain both an inner and outer meaning:

  1. Tara who saves from water or drowning represents desirous attachment.
  2. Tara who saves from thieves represents false views.
  3. Tara who saves from hungry lions represents pride.
  4. Tara who saves from venomous snakes or serpents represents jealousy.
  5. Tara who saves from fire represents anger.
  6. Tara who saves from spirits or flesh-eating demons represents doubt.
  7. Tara who saves from captivity or imprisonment represents greed.
  8. Tara who saves from elephants represents ignorance.

Through the practice of worshipping Tara, we are able to purify the karma of receiving harm from these eight fears and their associated inner delusions. Thus, Tara is able to liberate us from all fear.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

85. Lama Tsongkhapa (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Lama Tsongkhapa, Gyaltsab Je, Khedrub Je and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Lama Tsongkhapa (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Lobsang Drakpa (Tibetan); Sumati Kirti (Sanskrit)
Lama Tsongkhapa was a 15th Century scholar-yogi who established the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. After spending years studying and meditating, he established monastic institutions of learning and practice, producing limitless masters, tantrikas, yogis, scholars and teachers of the Buddhist path.

Lama Tsongkhapa was known for his incredible memory of the broad range of Buddhist treatises, sharp debate skills and incredibly penetrative writing. He saw the benefit in the comprehensive nature of Lama Atisha’s Lamrim text known as Bodhipathapradipa, and composed an expanded version known as the Lamrim Chenmo. Naturally, it contained the entire graduated path to enlightenment, from chapters on death and impermanence to higher topics such as concentration meditation and wisdom. He also composed the Ngarim Chenmo, which is the graduated path for the teachings on tantra.

Contrary to popular belief that Lama Tsongkhapa was merely a scholar, he actually wrote more on Tantra practice than on Sutra. He is also known for his many pure visions of Manjushri and various other Buddhas. It was through his sacred communion with Manjushri that a special lineage of teachings arose, known as the Gaden Emanation Scripture. These teachings contain special instructions for the Gaden Mahamudra practice, Lama Chopa (or Offerings to the Spiritual Guide), the Gaden Lhagyama (or Hundreds of Deities of the Joyful Land), the Migtsema mantra, and six sadhanas focusing on the practice of Manjushri.

The special instructions contained within this scripture were passed down only by word of mouth from teacher to disciple, and so the lineage became known as the ‘Uncommon Whispered Lineage of the Virtuous Tradition’ or the ‘Ensa Whispered Lineage’. Later, His Holiness the 4th Panchen Lobsang Chokyi Gyeltsen (1569-1662) was the first to pen down the Lama Chopa and so forth.

Deities: Gyaltsab Je (left), Khedrub Je (right)
Lama Tsongkhapa and his two disciples are collectively referred to as Je Yab Se Sum or ‘Arya Father and Sons Trinity’. The two disciples refer to Gyaltsab Je and Khedrub Je, who were not only heart disciples but eventually became his successors after Lama Tsongkhapa entered Parinirvana. The first Gaden Throneholder was Gyaltsab Je and when he completed his tenure, Khedrub Je ascended to become the next Gaden Throneholder, otherwise known as Gaden Tripa.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

86. Marici (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Green Tara, Marici and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Marici (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Ozer Chenma (Tibetan)
Marici is known as the Goddess of the Dawn and she takes on a number of forms. In one of her forms, she rides a white horse mount through the sky in order to dispel darkness and the night with the sun, which she holds in her right hand.

In her main form, she is usually yellow in colour, possesses three faces, has eight arms and is seated on a chariot that is drawn by seven pigs. She is propitiated to remove obstacles to our well-being and our spiritual aspirations. She is usually depicted either in a peaceful or wrathful mood. The metaphor for light is wisdom and being the Goddess of the Dawn, her light of wisdom overcomes the darkness of ignorance, delusions and obstacles. Due to her nature, her sadhana or practice is most effective when it is done at dawn when the first rays of light emerge over the horizon.

Her practice is preserved in various Indian and Tibetan sadhana collections. Within the ancient Indian Vajravali and Mitra Gyatsa collections are practices associated with Marici’s mandala along with the 25 deities in her retinue. Within the Bari Gyatsa collection, there are five different sadhanas to Marici. Within the Drub Tab Gyatsa collection, there are six sadhanas of Marici. Both the Narthang and the Rinjung Gyatsa of Taranatha contain a single sadhana of Marici.

Deity: Arya Tara (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Green Tara (English); Shyama Tara (Sanskrit); Drolma (Tibetan); Droljang (Tibetan)
Tara is known as Jetsun Drolma in Tibetan and she is a very important figure in Tibetan Buddhism. She is known as the ‘saviouress’ and is also considered the embodiment of the activity of all the Buddhas. In the Tara Tantras, it is said that she was a Bodhisattva disciple of the Buddha of another world system. Her name was Yeshe Dawa and she had deep faith in the Buddha of that world system and made tremendous offerings to him. She also went to receive teachings and engaged in deep meditations as well. At one time, she received a special teaching on the development of Bodhicitta – the infinitely compassionate mental state of a Bodhisattva.

After the teachings, some monks approached her and suggested that because of her level of attainments, she should pray to be reborn as a male to progress further in her next life. She contemplated their words and told the monks that it is only the “ignorant minded” who see gender as a barrier to attaining enlightenment. Nevertheless, she realised that there have been few who have developed the aspiration to work for the welfare of sentient beings in a female form. Therefore, she made the aspiration to be reborn in a female form, again and again, to work tirelessly to liberate all beings until samsara is emptied. She then remained in a state of meditation and perceiving her supreme aspiration, the Buddha prophesied that she would manifest enlightenment and be known as the Goddess Tara.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

87. Flying Vajrayogini (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Flying Vajrayogini, Cittipati and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Vidyadhari Vajra Yogini (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Flying Vajra Yogini (English)
Vajra Yogini in mid-flight is known as Vidyadhari, which literally means ‘Knowledge Holder’. This name in the Nepali language is ‘Bidjeswori’. Hence, her main shrine in Nepal which is located by the banks of the Bisnumati River is also called Bidjeswori. There is also another very sacred shrine dedicated to her at the Mahaboudha Stupa in Patan, Nepal.

Because Vidyadhari Vajra Yogini appears to be flying with her legs pulled apart in mid-stride towards the sky, she is also known as Akash Vajra Yogini, literally ‘Sky-Going’ or ‘Flying Vajra Yogini’. This form of Vajra Yogini is known to be a variant of the vision beheld by the Mahasiddha Maitripa and is sometimes known in Tibetan as Maitri Kacho as well.

Her right arm is stretched behind her, holding a curved cemetery knife (drigug). She cradles a khatvanga staff in the crook of her left arm, resting it on her left shoulder while holding a skullcup with the same hand. In some depictions, her left leg is placed on her left arm as well.

In Tibetan Buddhism, Vajra Yogini is associated with the Chakrasamvara Tantra. She is the female counterpart of Heruka Chakrasamvara and is widely practised in many Tibetan Buddhist traditions. Her practice is said to confer very high attainments just by relying on her mantra combined with keeping pure samaya (spiritual bond) with the guru, performing ganachakra (tsog) offerings twice a month and reciting a short prayer to ascend to her Kechara Paradise daily. Vajra Yogini in any form is extremely efficacious during our degenerate age of Kaliyuga where the five signs are clear. The five signs being degeneration in (1) lifespan, (2) time, (3) sentient beings, (4) actions and views, and finally (5) afflictions.

Abode: Kechara Paradise
A pure land is emanated from the mind of a Buddha so that sincere practitioners can reincarnate there and continue their practice uninterruptedly. In this case, Kechara Paradise is emanated by Vajra Yogini to fulfil this purpose. It is said that a pure land has the special qualities of providing everything we need so there are no distractions that can derail us from our spiritual practice.

According to the Vajra Yogini Tantra, there are three ways to achieve Kechara Paradise. The first, for the highest practitioner who is diligent in their practice, is to ascend bodily to Kechara Paradise. The second, for the middling practitioner, is to ascend to Kechara Paradise after passing away. The third, for the lowest level practitioner, is to ascend to Kechara Paradise within 14 lifetimes. In any of the three cases, ascending to Kechara Paradise is guaranteed once you have received her initiation.

Deity: Cittipati (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Durdag Yab Yum (Tibetan)
The skeletal protector couple is known as the Lord and Lady of the Charnel Grounds. They are special emanations of Heruka Chakrasamvara and Vajra Yogini especially potent in protecting and creating conducive conditions for sincere practitioners of the Vajra Yogini Tantra.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

88. Dorje Dragden (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Guru Rinpoche, Lama Tsongkhapa, Dorje Dragden and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Dorje Dragden (Tibetan)
Dorje Dragden is the main emanation and minister of Nechung Pehar Gyalpo, a worldly deity (unenlightened spirit) sworn to protect Buddhism. According to legend, Nechung was originally from Persia and was subjugated by Guru Rinpoche and sworn to protect Buddhism in the 8th Century.

The official Nechung Monastery is located not far from Drepung Monastery, west of Lhasa in Tibet. Nechung’s name literally means ‘small space’ and its origins can be traced to an old story from a long time ago. At that time, Nechung was bound into a small casket by a high lama for causing a fire to a monastery and was subsequently thrown into a river. The casket eventually washed ashore by a riverbank. It is said that the abbot of Drepung Monastery sent his attendants to retrieve the casket as he clairvoyantly knew that the contents would be significant. Out of curiosity, the attendant opened the casket and thus released Nechung, who flew away in the form of a raven. The raven flew to a nearby tree and disappeared. A monastery was built around the tree and the site where the casket was discovered and became known as Nechung.

At Nechung Monastery, a tradition of consulting oracles arose. During the time of the Great Fifth Dalai Lama Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso (1617-1682), the Nechung Oracle was appointed the State Oracle of Tibet. Since that time, Nechung regularly gives prophetic pronouncements for the Gaden Phodrang (Tibetan) government and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Nechung has five emanations known as Pehar Gyalpo Ku Nga and Dorje Dragden is the main minister that takes possession of the oracle to give pronouncements.

Deity: Guru Padmasambhava (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Guru Rinpoche (Tibetan)
Guru Rinpoche, also known as Guru Padmasambhava, was an 8th Century Indian Buddhist master who travelled to Tibet in order to spread the Buddha’s teachings. Guru Rinpoche is highly revered within all schools of Tibetan Buddhism. He was invited to Tibet to subdue powerful obstructive beings who opposed the spread of Buddha’s teachings. He waged supernatural war with these deities and won due to his high spiritual attainments.

Instead of vanquishing these obstructive beings, he chose to follow the Buddha’s teachings on compassion and bound them to oath never to harm sentient beings again. They promised to protect and provide for practitioners on the Buddhist path. One such being was Nechung, also known as Pehar Gyalpo. Once a powerful spirit from Persia, Nechung came to reside in Tibet and after battling with Guru Rinpoche, he was subdued. Guru Rinpoche also had him promise to aid the “Holder of the White Lotus”, meaning an emanation of Chenrezig. When the powerful line of the Dalai Lamas arose, Nechung came to their aid for temporal matters, as the Dalai Lamas are considered to be the emanations of Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion. Since that time, Nechung has come to be regarded as one of the State Dharma Protectors of Tibet.

Deity: Lama Tsongkhapa (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Lobsang Drakpa (Tibetan); Sumati Kirti (Sanskrit)
Lama Tsongkhapa was a 15th Century scholar-yogi who established the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. After spending years studying and meditating, he established monastic institutions of learning and practice, producing limitless masters, tantrikas, yogis, scholars and teachers of the Buddhist path.

Lama Tsongkhapa was known for his incredible memory of the broad range of Buddhist treatises, sharp debate skills and incredibly penetrative writing. He saw the benefit in the comprehensive nature of Lama Atisha’s Lamrim text known as Bodhipathapradipa, and composed an expanded version known as the Lamrim Chenmo. Naturally, it contained the entire graduated path to enlightenment, from chapters on death and impermanence to higher topics such as concentration meditation and wisdom. He also composed the Ngarim Chenmo, which is the graduated path for the teachings on Tantra.

Contrary to popular belief that Lama Tsongkhapa was merely a scholar, he actually wrote more on Tantra practice than on Sutra. He is also known for his many pure visions of Manjushri and various other Buddhas. It was through his sacred communion with Manjushri that a special lineage of teachings arose, known as the Gaden Emanation Scripture. These teachings contain special instructions for the Gaden Mahamudra practice, Lama Chopa (or Offerings to the Spiritual Guide), the Gaden Lhagyama (or Hundreds of Deities of the Joyful Land), the Migtsema mantra, and six sadhanas focusing on the practice of Manjushri.

The special instructions contained within this scripture were passed down only by word of mouth from teacher to disciple, and so the lineage became known as the ‘Uncommon Whispered Lineage of the Virtuous Tradition’ or the ‘Ensa Whispered Lineage’. Later, His Holiness the 4th Panchen Lobsang Chokyi Gyeltsen (1569-1662) was the first to pen down the Lama Chopa and so forth.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

89. Dukkar Se Sum (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Sengdongma, Dukkar, Prajnaparamita and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Dukkar (Tibetan)
Alternative names: Sitatapatra (Sanskrit); White Parasol (English)
The awe-inspiring Dukkar is an extremely efficacious female deity. According to scriptural sources, her all-powerful form emerged from the ushnisha or sacred crown protuberance of Buddha Shakyamuni, while he was in deep meditative absorption amidst the assembly of the gods in the Heaven of the Thirty-Three. Her supreme practice was popular in ancient India and has managed to retain its popularity to this day because it is extremely potent in averting obstacles for Buddhist practitioners.

In fact, Dukkar is invoked to protect practitioners from a wide range of problems and calamities ranging from attacks from malevolent spirits to unjustified legal suits. Her mantra is also said to repel negative interferences and purify negative defilements. Furthermore, her long mantra or dharani is traditionally worn in an amulet for protection, even in extremely dangerous circumstances, and it also has the power to alter adverse weather conditions. The protective blessings of Dukkar are invoked in a number of rituals such as her torma offering, fire puja, the creation of a protective circle, drawing of her mandala and her dharanis, which are often inserted into stupas and statues as highly sacred items.

Dukkar is commonly depicted with a form that has 1,000 heads, 1,000 arms, 1,000 legs and thousands of eyes that oversee sentient beings. With her main left hand, she holds a white parasol from which she takes her name. Her skin is radiant white in colour and her body is adorned with the various accoutrements of a Bodhisattva. In Gelug monasteries, prayers to Dukkar, Sengdongma and the Prajnaparamita are recited before a formal debate session in order to eliminate obstacles. This recitation has since become a popular puja employed by the monks to effectively remove obstacles and is colloquially known as Dukkar Se Sum.

Deity: Sengdongma (Tibetan)
Alternative names: Simhamukha (Sanskrit); Lion-Faced Dakini (English)
The great ferocious dakini Sengdongma is an impressive female meditational deity. Within the Kagyu, Sakya and Gelug traditions, Sengdongma arises from the Chakrasamvara cycle of Tantras and is considered to be one of the attendant dakinis within the mandala of Vajra Yogini. Sengdongma’s practice belongs to the Lower Tantra classification. The form of Sengdongma prevalent in the Nyingma tradition is a unique one. In this tradition, she is considered the ‘secret’ form of Guru Padmasambhava, according to the inner, outer and secret manifestations of his form.

During the time of Buddha Amitabha which was aeons before Buddha Shakyamuni, there lived a demon by the name of Garab Wangchuk whose daughter was a lion-faced demoness named Tramen Sengdongma. She thrived on killing many innocent beings and her trail of destruction became widespread. She threatened sincere practitioners and undermined Buddha Amitabha’s teachings. It was then that the enlightened beings gathered to manifest an identical-looking being in order to tame the demoness. Through the collective blessings of all the enlightened beings, a wisdom being appeared in the form of a lion-faced dakini, who was empowered by all the Buddhas to subjugate the demoness. The dakini, Sengdongma, was far more powerful than the demoness and when they fought, the demoness began to lose her strength. Furthermore, Sengdongma entered a deep state of concentration called Taming the Maras and thus emanated countless dakinis who continued her work of subduing demons. In this manner, Tramen Sengdongma was subdued and took an oath to serve the Dharma and became a protector.

Deity: Prajnaparamita (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Yum Chenmo (Tibetan)
Prajnaparamita literally means ’Perfection of Wisdom’ in Sanskrit and this refers to perfect non-conceptual wisdom, the last of the Six Perfections; the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra, with its central theme on emptiness, was recovered by Nagarjuna from Nagaraja, the King of the Nagas who had been guarding them at the bottom of the sea.

Prajnaparamita also refers to the female deity who is the embodiment of transcendent wisdom and Prajnaparamita is therefore known as the Mother of the Buddhas. It is said that Buddha Shakyamuni himself meditated on Prajnaparamita. In Tibet, Prajnaparamita is known as Yum Chenmo or the ‘Great Mother’ and features prominently in the Chod tantric system created by the Tibetan female master, Machig Labdron.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

90. Six Ornaments and Two Crowns (Main figures)

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(Top to bottom): Dignaga, Vasubandhu, Aryadeva, Dharmakirti, Gunaprabha, Sakyaprabha, Dorje Shugden, Nagarjuna and Asanga.

Deity: Nagarjuna (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Ludrub (Tibetan)
Nagarjuna along with Asanga were two great pioneers of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition. Hence, they are known as the Two Crowns of the Buddhist sages and hailed from the great Nalanda Monastery in India, where they studied and lived. They both composed great commentaries to Buddha Shakyamuni’s teachings.

Nagarjuna was known to be a great scholar and abbot of Nalanda Monastery. He even became known as an accomplished alchemist who provided for the monastery with his extraordinary abilities. Once while he was giving teachings, two strangers anointed with Sandalwood appeared. After the teachings, the strangers revealed themselves to be nagas in disguise and extended a formal request to the master Nagarjuna to descend into their realm in order to give teachings. After some thought, he agreed.

While in the realm of the nagas, he was presented with the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras (Prajnaparamita), which contain teachings on emptiness (shunyata). Apparently, after they were taught, the teachings were hidden away in the realm of the nagas awaiting a great master who would transmit the teachings to human practitioners. Nagarjuna returned to the human world and brought with him the sacred texts along with a sandalwood Tara statue that spoke and some clay endowed with special qualities. Nagarjuna studied the texts, meditated on them and gained high realisations.

Nagarjuna proliferated the teachings and wrote various commentaries to the texts he brought back with him. The doctrine he expounded was called the Madhyamaka or the Middle Way philosophy, which became the main pillar of the Mahayana tradition. He also wrote several important commentaries on the Guhyasamaja Tantra along with various writings and is famous for a text called a Letter to A Friend, which was a special personal teaching to a disciple who was the king of a medieval kingdom, whom he met when he was just a child. His heart disciple, Aryadeva carried on the legacy of his teachings.

Deity: Asanga (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Thogme (Tibetan)
Asanga is one of the most famous Indian Buddhist masters and saints. In Tibet, he is known as one of the Two Crowns, referring to two important Buddhist masters. The other of the Two Crowns is the great master Nagarjuna. Asanga lived in the 4th Century and was the elder brother of Vasubandhu. He was born in Purusapura within the ancient Kingdom of Gandhara (which was located in what is now known as Pakistan).

He studied the treatises of the Three Baskets along with those on the Mahayana tradition and the Perfection of Wisdom. Upon receiving initiation, he entered into a long retreat at Birdsfoot Mountain. During three years of intensive practice, he did not receive a single sign of accomplishment. He became despondent and wanted to break his retreat a few times but was inspired to continue. Finally, he became despondent again and as he emerged from his cave, he chanced upon a dying female dog covered in maggots. He was immediately filled with compassion and he decided to cut a piece of his own flesh so he could transfer the maggots over to it. When he was about to use his tongue to lick the maggots off the wound, the dog suddenly disappeared and Arya Maitreya appeared before him in all his splendour.

Asanga was overjoyed and asked Maitreya why it took so long for him to appear. Maitreya said he was in the cave with Asanga all along but due to Asanga’s obscurations, Asanga was unable to perceive him. In order to prove his point, he instructed Asanga to carry him on his shoulders to the nearest town. While in town, nobody could see Maitreya and only two people saw anything at all. One saw a dead dog and the other Maitreya’s feet and as a result, they gained certain levels of worldly attainments.

Later, Maitreya brought Asanga up to Tushita pure land and there Asanga received teachings from Maitreya. These teachings were transcribed and became known as the ‘Five Treatises of Maitreya’. Together with Asanga’s own commentaries, these texts became the basis for the philosophical schools known as Yogachara or Chittamatra.

Deity: Aryadeva (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Phakpa Lha (Tibetan)
Aryadeva was the heart disciple of Nagarjuna and is also known as the 15th Patriarch of Chan Buddhism, and as “Bodhisattva Deva” in Sri Lanka. He was the author of several important texts of the Mahayana tradition. He was born miraculously from a lotus and was cared for by a Sinhalese king and is considered one of the founding fathers of the Mahayana philosophy. He was said to have defeated Matreceta, a non-Buddhist logician in a debate, who eventually converted to Buddhism and became known as the great pandit Ashvagosha.

Deity: Vasubandhu
Alternative name: Yiknyen (Tibetan)
The great master Vasubandhu lived the 4th Century in ancient India. He was born in Kashmir and was the younger brother of Asanga. He composed the Treasury of Abhidharma, a complete and systematic account of the Abhidharma along with many other important treatises. Following his master, he adhered to the Hinayana tradition but later followed the Mahayana Yogachara view due to his brother’s influence. Thus, he composed many Mahayana works including the Thirty Stanzas on the Mind. He had four great disciples that would eventually surpass their master in their respective fields, Sthirmati in Abhidharma, Dignaga in Pramana, Gunaprabha in the Vinaya and Vimuktisena in Paramita.

Deity: Dignaga
Alternative name: Chokyi Langpo (Tibetan)
Dignaga was one of the four great disciples of Vasubandhu. In his lifetime, he surpassed his teacher in Pramana, the teachings on ‘Valid Cognition’ or the correct source of knowledge, which is a field of Buddhist studies sometimes known as Buddhist logic. He was an excellent debater and his reputation grew when he defeated the non-Buddhist logician Sudurjaya in a debate at Nalanda Monastery. Ishvarasena was one of his disciples who later became the teacher of Dharmakirti.

Deity: Dharmakirti
Alternative name: Chokyi Drakpa (Tibetan)
Dharmakirti was born into a Brahmin family in South India. He was brought up following classical education in the Hindu Vedas, but he shifted his interest towards the Buddhist teachings. In order to receive teachings, he travelled to Nalanda Monastery and came under the tutelage of the great Vasubandhu. At that time, the old master Dharmapala was still alive and so, Dharmakirti received ordination from him. However, the great master Dignaga had passed away and so, he received teachings from Ishvarasena, a direct disciple of Dignaga. He was able to master the subtle teachings easily and surpassed his teacher. Therefore, he was a great master of Pramana and was urged by his master to compose the ‘Seven Treatises on Valid Cognition’.

Deity: Gunaprabha (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Yonten Oed (Tibetan)
Gunaprabha was a great Indian master of the Vinaya tradition who was the disciple of the great Vasubandhu. He was born into a Brahmin family that lived in Mathura and later entered Nalanda Monastery. Needless to say, he composed the seminal text, the Vinaya Sutra, which became a widely studied treatise on monastic discipline.

Deity: Shakyaprabha (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Shakya Oed (Tibetan)
Shakyaprabha was a disciple of Shantarakshita, who was born in Kashmir and was ordained there. He became an important lineage master of the Vinaya and his tradition lives on in Tibet.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

 

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91. Atisha Dipamkara Srijnana (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Serlingpa, Green Tara, Jowo Je Atisha and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Atisha Dipamkara Srijnana (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Jowo Je Atisha (Tibetan)
Atisha Dipamkara Srijnana was a great Bengali (Indian) master, who travelled to Tibet in order to translate and propagate Buddhism at a time when the teachings had declined there. He is now known as a reviver of the Buddhist faith in Tibet.

Having spent the majority of his life learning and studying the scriptures, especially during his 12-year stay in the Srivijaya Kingdom of Sumatra (Indonesia) where he focused intensely on teachings on compassion, he was perfectly able to bring about a renaissance of Buddhist practice in Tibet. His heart disciple, Dromtonpa, went on to establish the Kadam School in Tibet.

Atisha’s main yidam or meditational deity was Tara and he had many visions of her. According to his biography, it was Tara who urged him to accept the invitation to travel to Tibet. While he was in Tibet, Atisha became famous for giving many extraordinary teachings. Amongst the many teachings he imparted, he is celebrated for starting the lineage of making wealth vases, for his mind training teachings and for starting the genre of teachings known as the Lamrim, which combine all of the Buddha’s teachings in a graduated path to enlightenment.

Deity: Serlingpa (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Suvarnadvipa Dharmakirti (Sanskrit)
Serlingpa literally means ‘the master from Suvarnadvipa’, which was the ancient Indian name for Sumatra. He had many names including Dharmakirti or Dharmapala. He was regarded as one of the most important of Atisha’s teachers. It is said that Atisha went on a voyage across the vast expense of the Indian Ocean to Sumatra and remained there for 12 years, studying under Serlingpa. He received teachings on Lojong and the generation of Bodhichitta.

Deity: Green Tara (English)
Alternative names: Shyama Tara (Sanskrit); Arya Tara (Sanskrit); Drolma (Tibetan); Droljang (Tibetan)
Tara is known as Jetsun Drolma in Tibetan and she is a very important figure in Tibetan Buddhism. She is known as the ‘saviouress’ and is also considered the embodiment of the activity of all the Buddhas. In the Tara Tantras, it is said that she was a Bodhisattva disciple of the Buddha of another world system. Her name was Yeshe Dawa and she had deep faith in the Buddha of that world system and made tremendous offerings to him. She also went to receive teachings and engaged in deep meditations as well, and pledged to become enlightened and assist others in a female form. At one time, she received a special teaching on the development of Bodhicitta – the infinitely compassionate mental state of a Bodhisattva. She is the Buddha that was relied upon by many great Indian and Tibetan masters.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

92. Standing Shakyamuni (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Buddha Shakyamuni, Eight Bodhisattva Disciples and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Buddha Shakyamuni (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Sangye Shakya Tupa (Tibetan)
Buddha Shakyamuni is the current and historical Buddha who was born a prince in the region of Lumbini (in what is now Nepal). He left the palace, became a wandering mendicant and met several teachers who taught him meditation but still he was not able to gain freedom from samsara or cyclic existence which is marked by suffering. As he persevered with his ascetic practices, he realised the ‘Middle Way’. Inspired by this, he sat under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya and eventually attained enlightenment.

The Buddha gave his first teaching at Sarnath Park on the Four Noble Truths. From then on, the Buddha continued to teach 84,000 Dharmas compassionately until his Parinirvana at age 81. Due to his great kindness in turning the Wheel of Dharma, the Buddha’s great teachings fill 108 volumes that have become the basis of the collection known as the Kangyur (or the Spoken Words of the Buddha). The Buddha had numerous disciples, of which Shariputra and Mahamaudgalyayana were his chief disciples.

It is said Shakyamuni’s teachings will pervade our world system for 5,000 years after which only signs of Dharma will be seen but actual Dharma will not be practised. Shakyamuni established the order of the monks and nuns in which pure discipline (Vinaya) can be practised with the aim of bringing beings to higher states of rebirth and ultimately enlightenment. This tradition has spread all over Asia and now the West. This order, known as the Sangha community, embodies the teachings, practice and discipline as taught by Buddha Shakyamuni.

Deities: Eight Bodhisattva Disciples (English)
Alternative name: Nyewe Se Gye (Tibetan)

  1. Manjushri is the embodiment of the Buddha’s wisdom
  2. Avalokiteshvara is the embodiment of the Buddha’s great compassion
  3. Vajrapani is the embodiment of the Buddha’s power or skilful means.
  4. Kshitigarbha increases the richness and fertility of the land and is therefore the embodiment of the Buddha’s great merit.
  5. Sarvanivaranavishkambhin purifies wrong-doing and obstructions and is therefore the embodiment of Buddha’s special qualities.
  6. Maitreya embodies love and therefore the embodiment of Buddha’s activity.
  7. Samantabhadra is known for making excellent and sublime offerings and prayers of aspiration and is the embodiment of the Buddha’s aspirations.
  8. Akashagarbha has the perfect ability to purify transgressions and is the embodiment of the Buddha’s blessings.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

93. Medicine Buddha (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Medicine Buddha and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Medicine Buddha (English)
Alternative names: Bhaisajyaguru (Sanskrit), Menlha (Tibetan)
The Medicine Buddha made a vow during a previous aeon that if any being who suffers from sickness calls upon on him, he will heal them. Illnesses can be both mental and physical, but the root causes for any illness are ignorance, hatred and desire. From the three root causes arises the 84,000 mental afflictions which manifest as various diseases of the body and mind. The practice of Medicine Buddha is said to purify, counter and heal these afflictions.

According to scriptural sources, the Medicine Buddha is believed to reside in the eastern pure land of “Vaiduryanirbhasa” or the “Pure Lapis Lazuli”. There, he is attended by two Bodhisattvas symbolising the light of the sun and the light of the moon respectively, Suryaprabha (Radiance of the Sun) and Candraprabha (Radiance of the Moon).

Images of the Medicine Buddha and his actual practice are also powerful for purifying the environment in order to avoid natural disasters. The practice of Medicine Buddha is said to be the most powerful healer of all our inner and outer diseases and can eventually bring us to full enlightenment. Reciting the Medicine Buddha mantra and blowing onto both people and animals is said to purify the immediate negative karma afflicting them and can also help them to take a good rebirth.

It is good practice to recite the mantra of Medicine Buddha and blow on animals to help them take positive rebirths where they can practise the Dharma. It is also beneficial to blow the mantra onto animal bones or remains, even though they are long dead to help them take good rebirth in the future. Medicine Buddha practice has many and varied benefits and therefore very prevalent within all schools of Tibetan and Chinese Buddhism.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

94. Buddha Amitabha (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Buddha Amitabha and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Buddha Amitabha (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Opagme (Tibetan)
Buddha Amitabha benefits beings on many levels, especially by transforming the energy of desire into that of enlightenment. The highest level practitioner of Amitabha will gain enlightenment during the era of Shakyamuni’s teachings. The lower scope practitioner will be able to take rebirth in places where Amitabha’s or Avalokiteshvara’s practice is prevalent, in order to continue their spiritual journey. The medium scope practitioner will have the fortune to take rebirth from a lotus in Sukhavati Paradise in the presence of Amitabha, receiving a prophecy of their impending enlightenment from Amitabha himself.

Amitabha practice is very strong both in Tibet and China. In China there are many schools of Amitabha practice and his practice is highly revered as it is known to be efficacious. Chinese Buddhists, when meeting or parting with another person, salute each other by saying ‘Namo Omitofuh’ which means ‘Praise to Amitabha’. This is to constantly recognise the inherent nature of Amitabha in all beings they encounter. Buddha mentioned clearly that all of us have the seed of enlightenment, we just need to recognise this. Reciting the sutra and mantra of Amitabha diligently with great faith combined with certain layman’s vows creates the causes of taking birth in what is known as the ‘Western Paradise’ of Amitabha. Practitioners of this path are said to have no fear at the time of death as Amitabha will with an entourage escort the practitioner there personally.

He represents the awakened aggregate of mental discernment and purifies desire, hence he is red in colour. He is also deeply connected with the Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden as he resides on the highest floor of Dorje Shugden’s mandala. Therefore, all who rely on Dorje Shugden for assistance against their obstacles and negative karma are also spiritually connected with Buddha Amitabha.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

95. Eye-Opening Chenrezig (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Buddha Shakyamuni, Buddha Amitabha, Eye-Opening Chenrezig, Dorje Shugden and the Nine Mothers.

Deity: Eye-Opening Chenrezig (English)
Alternative name: Chenrezig Migchey (Tibetan)
Chenrezig is a popular archetypal Bodhisattva in the Sutras, in which he strives towards complete enlightenment. Within the teachings of Vajrayana Buddhism, Chenrezig is said to be a Buddha who attained full enlightenment during a previous aeon, only to manifest as a Bodhisattva on the spiritual path to inspire and bless many in our current aeon. Within the Sutras and Tantras, Chenrezig is known by many names including Avalokiteshvara, Lokeshvara, Avalokita, Lokanatha and Mahakarunika. He is famously considered one of the Eight Great Bodhisattva Disciples of Buddha Shakyamuni and for his landmark sermon at the behest of Buddha Shakyamuni, as narrated in the Heart Sutra.

The Sanskrit honorific ‘arya’ meaning ‘noble’ or ‘noble one’ is often used at the beginning of the name for each of the Eight Great Bodhisattvas as well as notable enlightened beings such as Tara. Arya Avalokiteshvara is the patron Bodhisattva of Tibet and is still widely revered and worshipped throughout the Mahayana Buddhist world. Within Tibetan Buddhism, there are many lineages of various forms of Avalokiteshvara that span all four classes of Tantra alongside numerous other oral traditions and terma (treasure teaching) traditions that have arisen within the Nyingma order.

‘Chenrezig Migchey’ literally means ‘Eye-Clearing Avalokiteshvara’ and this lineage arose from a Hidden Treasure (terma) teaching of the Nyingma order. It was originally revealed by Nyangral Nyima Ozer in the 12th Century. However, many masters from the Kagyu, Sakya and Gelug orders have since composed their own ritual and sadhana liturgies dedicated to this form of Chenrezig. This practice was widely disseminated throughout Southern Tibet and from there it spread to Mongolia.

In fact, one of the largest statues of this deity lies in Ganden Monastery of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. It is said that the popularity of this practice in 20th Century Mongolia was due to the teachings of His Holiness the 8th Jebtsundamba Khutughtu, who was the third most important personage in Tibetan Buddhism below only the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama. This form of Chenrezig is said to remove ignorance and bestow the direct perception of emptiness (shunyata). On an ordinary level, this deity is very beneficial in relieving ailments of the eye.

Deity: Buddha Shakyamuni (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Sangye Shakya Tupa (Tibetan)
Buddha Shakyamuni is the current and historical Buddha who was born a prince in the region of Lumbini (in what is now Nepal). He left the palace, became a wandering mendicant and met several teachers who taught him meditation but still he was not able to gain freedom from samsara or cyclic existence which is marked by suffering. As he persevered with his ascetic practices, he realised the ‘Middle Way’. Inspired by this, he sat under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya and eventually attained enlightenment.

The Buddha gave his first teaching at Sarnath Park on the Four Noble Truths. From then on, the Buddha continued to teach 84,000 Dharmas compassionately until his Parinirvana at age 81. Due to his great kindness in turning the Wheel of Dharma, the Buddha’s great teachings fill 108 volumes that have become the basis of the collection known as the Kangyur (or the Spoken Words of the Buddha). The Buddha had numerous disciples, of which Shariputra and Mahamaudgalyayana were his chief disciples.

It is said Shakyamuni’s teachings will pervade our world system for 5,000 years after which only signs of Dharma will be seen but actual Dharma will not be practised. Shakyamuni established the order of the monks and nuns in which pure discipline (Vinaya) can be practised with the aim of bringing beings to higher states of rebirth and ultimately enlightenment. This tradition has spread all over Asia and now the West. This order, known as the Sangha community, embodies the teachings, practice and discipline as taught by Buddha Shakyamuni.

Deity: Buddha Amitabha (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Opagme (Tibetan)
Buddha Amitabha benefits beings on many levels, especially by transforming the energy of desire into that of enlightenment. The highest level practitioner of Amitabha will gain enlightenment during the era of Shakyamuni’s teachings. The lower scope practitioner will be able to take rebirth in places where Amitabha’s or Avalokiteshvara’s practice is prevalent, in order to continue their spiritual journey. The medium scope practitioner will have the fortune to take rebirth from a lotus in Sukhavati Paradise in the presence of Amitabha, receiving a prophecy of their impending enlightenment from Amitabha himself.

Amitabha practice is very strong both in Tibet and China. In China there are many schools of Amitabha practice and his practice is highly revered as it is known to be efficacious. Chinese Buddhists, when meeting or parting with another person, salute each other by saying ‘Namo Omitofuh’ which means ‘Praise to Amitabha’. This is to constantly recognise the inherent nature of Amitabha in all beings they encounter. Buddha mentioned clearly that all of us have the seed of enlightenment, we just need to recognise this. Reciting the sutra and mantra of Amitabha diligently with great faith combined with certain layman’s vows creates the causes of taking birth in what is known as the ‘Western Paradise’ of Amitabha. Practitioners of this path are said to have no fear at the time of death as Amitabha will with an entourage escort the practitioner there personally.

He represents the awakened aggregate of mental discernment and purifies desire, hence he is red in colour. He is also deeply connected with the Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden as he resides on the highest floor of Dorje Shugden’s mandala. Therefore, all who rely on Dorje Shugden for assistance against their obstacles and negative karma are also spiritually connected with Buddha Amitabha.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

The Nine Mothers are emanations of Dorje Shugden’s four elements and five senses. They take on the appearance of beautiful dakinis, dressed in celestial garments and hold various objects that represent the elements and objects of desire. The nine mothers bestow protection of the five senses and control over the four elements. These are all attributes that signify their ability to assist tantric practitioners with their higher meditations.

96. Buddha Shakyamuni (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Buddha Shakyamuni and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Buddha Shakyamuni (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Sangye Shakya Tupa (Tibetan)
Buddha Shakyamuni is the current and historical Buddha who was born a prince in the region of Lumbini (in what is now Nepal). He left the palace, became a wandering mendicant and met several teachers who taught him meditation but still he was not able to gain freedom from samsara or cyclic existence which is marked by suffering. As he persevered with his ascetic practices, he realised the ‘Middle Way’. Inspired by this, he sat under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya and eventually attained enlightenment.

The Buddha gave his first teaching at Sarnath Park on the Four Noble Truths. From then on, the Buddha continued to teach 84,000 Dharmas compassionately until his Parinirvana at age 81. Due to his great kindness in turning the Wheel of Dharma, the Buddha’s great teachings fill 108 volumes that have become the basis of the collection known as the Kangyur (or the Spoken Words of the Buddha). The Buddha had numerous disciples, of which Shariputra and Mahamaudgalyayana were his chief disciples.

It is said Shakyamuni’s teachings will pervade our world system for 5,000 years after which only signs of Dharma will be seen but actual Dharma will not be practised. Shakyamuni established the order of the monks and nuns in which pure discipline (Vinaya) can be practised with the aim of bringing beings to higher states of rebirth and ultimately enlightenment. This tradition has spread all over Asia and now the West. This order, known as the Sangha community, embodies the teachings, practice and discipline as taught by Buddha Shakyamuni.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

97. Kalachakra (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Buddha Shakyamuni, King Suchandra, King Raudra Chakrin, Vajravega and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Kalachakra (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Dukyi Khorlo (Tibetan)
Kalachakra means Wheel of Time or ‘time-cycles’ and is also a Tantric deity or yidam of Vajrayana Buddhism. The name also represents complex meditation practices contained within the Kalachakra Tantra literature. The meditations contained in this Tantric system has the great ability to bring one to complete enlightenment.

Shambhala is a physical place associated with the Kalachakra Tantra that is ruled by great enlightened rulers. We are currently in the reign of the 21st King of Shambhala. Shambhala residents are said to live very long lives, peacefully abiding within ethics and the practice of Dharma. Their main practice is Kalachakra which is one of the Highest Yoga Tantras revealed in this world system by Buddha Shakyamuni. It is said by practising Kalachakra one is able to create the causes to take rebirth in Shambhala. It is the only Highest Yoga Tantra given publicly to mass audiences as these types of Tantra are very secret.

It is hoped by receiving this initiation, one will create the causes to take rebirth in Shambhala where one can practice the Dharma in peace and without wars or disturbances. It is well known that the sacred line of Panchen Lamas are the emanations of the Kings of Shambhala who bring Dharma to the lands outside of Shambhala. Many benefits arise from the practice of this profound tantric system.

Deity: Buddha Shakyamuni (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Sangye Shakya Tupa (Tibetan)
The historic Buddha Shakyamuni was the first to turn the Wheel of Dharma during our current aeon. We are fortunate because the Buddha taught the paths of both sutra and tantra. Using tantric teachings, we are able to accomplish enlightenment within a single lifetime, rather than the three countless aeons required to achieve enlightenment using sutric teachings.

Deity: King Suchandra (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Chogyal Dawa Sangpo (Tibetan)
According to the Kalachakra Tantra, Buddha Shakyamuni taught the Kalachakra Root Tantra in Dharanikota (near modern-day Amaravathi) in south-eastern India to the first King of Shambhala, Suchandra. This King brought the Tantra back to Shambhala where it became the main practice of the mythical land. All the Kings of Shambhala are the lineage holders of the Kalachakra Tantra and they bestow empowerments to their subjects to engage in this practice.

Deity: King Raudra Chakrin (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Rigden Dragpo (Tibetan)
Raudra Chakrin’s name literally means ‘Forceful Wheel Holder’. The final king prophesied in the Kalachakra Tantra, Raudra Chakrin is said to reign over the kingdom of Shambala in 2424 CE and emerge from his hidden kingdom to establish a planet-wide Golden Age subsequent to the defeat of degenerate world rulers. At that time, the outside world will be devoid of true Dharma and signs of spiritual degeneration will be very strong.

Abode: Shambhala
Shambhala is a physical place associated with the Kalachakra Tantra. One can enter the kingdom with one’s physical body but it exists on a slightly different plane. Many high beings are able to visit there using their astral bodies. Practitioners have physically entered the realm also. His Holiness the Panchen Lama and his line of incarnations are masters of this tantra and said to have travelled to this realm and recorded the sights and sounds in detail in ‘The Way to Shambhala’ or ‘Shambhala Lamyig’ in Tibetan. Shambhala is ruled by great enlightened rulers who practice the Kalachakra Tantra and proliferate the practice.

Deity: Vajravega (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Dorje Shug (Tibetan)
Iconographically, Vajravega is similar to the main Kalachakra deity except for the fact that he is without a consort. Vajravega’s practice is mentioned in the Kalachakra Tantra and its commentary, the Vimalaprabha, as one of the preliminaries to the main Kalachakra empowerment. It is said that a vajra-protective sphere containing Vajravega and the 60 protector entourage is generated to safeguard the area and the site where the Kalachakra empowerment is about to take place in order to remove obstacles and obstructing spirits. Vajravega is also invoked within the Kalachakra sadhana in order to protect the practitioner and the immediate surroundings.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

Furthermore, Dorje Shugden for many lifetimes as great translators and lineage holders was responsible for the dissemination and preservation of the Kalachakra Tantra in Tibet. According to the long fulfilment puja (kangsol) text, Dorje Shugden at the beginning of the puja is called forth from the mystical land of Shambhala, the last great stronghold of the Kalachakra lineage on earth. One of the places Dorje Shugden abides is Shambhala.

98. King Gesar of Ling (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Buddha Shakyamuni, Machen Pomra, King Gesar, Dorje Shugden and Tsangpa Karpo.

Deity: King Gesar of Ling (English)
King Gesar is both a historical figure and a folk hero from Eastern Tibet and his story is immortalised in Tibetan literature. Records indicate that he lived around the 12th Century period. Since then, much of Gesar’s life has lived on in epic tales dramatised in plays, songs and literary verses. Much of the literature is incredibly long and complex, perhaps some of the longest poem in the world. Despite the popularity of these literary works, little depictions of Gesar can be found. The only artwork mainly arose around the 19th to 20th Century period.

Though considered by many to be a historical figure, some consider him to be a Chinese war god or even just a literary figure. Some even claim that he is a terton, a great treasure revealer, blessed by Guru Padmasambhava. However, many high lamas actually consider him to be an emanation of Guru Padmasambhava himself, in the aspect of a Dralha, a warrior-like deity. The lineage of propitiating Gesar of Ling arose from the writings of the 2nd Karmapa Karma Pakshi (1204-1283).

Deity: Buddha Shakyamuni (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Sangye Shakya Tupa (Tibetan)
The historic Buddha Shakyamuni was the first to turn the Wheel of Dharma during our current aeon. We are fortunate because the Buddha taught the paths of both sutra and tantra. Using tantric teachings, we are able to accomplish enlightenment within a single lifetime, rather than the three countless aeons required to achieve enlightenment using sutric teachings.

Deity: Machen Pomra (Tibetan)
Machen Pomra is a regional deity of the Golok area of Eastern Tibet. This protector is said to reside on the mountain range of Amne Machen, literally ‘Grandfather Pomra’. Therefore, he is considered unenlightened and not widely worshipped except in his region.

Deity: Tsangpa Karpo (Tibetan)
Tsangpa Karpo which literally means ‘White Brahma’ reflects what some consider to be the Tibetan version of the Hindu god. The four-faced iconography that is familiar to the average Indian is rare while this warrior-like representation is more common.

According to traditional accounts, the practice surfaced after the arrival of the Indian master Dipamkara Srijnana Atisha. In addition to that, Tsangpa Karpo is also considered to be the peaceful emanation of Setrap Chen, and is also the special protector of the Panchen Lama line of incarnations. Tsangpa Karpo is known to speak through the Gadong oracle and this oracle is one of the official state oracles of Tibet. This means that the Tibetan government regularly consult Tsangpa Karpo regarding state matters, as long as there is an oracle of this deity.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

99. Cittipati (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Cittipati, Vajra Yogini, Dorje Shugden and Trakze.

Deity: Cittipati (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Durdak Yabyum (Tibetan); Shri Shmashana Adhipati (Sanskrit)
According to scriptural sources, Cittipati is also known as Shri Shmashana Adhipati, which literally means ‘Lord and Lady of the Charnel Ground’. The practice of propitiating Cittipati arises from the Secret Essence Wheel Tantra. This tantra is closely associated with the Chakrasamvara Tantra, the scriptural source of the Vajra Yogini practice. Cittipati is regarded as the emanations of Heruka and Vajra Yogini, therefore, they are in essence, enlightened wisdom protectors.

The Secret Essence Wheel Tantra contains various instructions and descriptions of this protector deity. From the description in the text, Cittipati is primarily propitiated as a wealth practice along with an added emphasis on protection from thieves. Nevertheless, they also serve as the special protector for the Vajra Yogini Naro Khechari practice. Therefore, Cittipati is widely practised amongst the practitioners of Vajra Yogini in order to remove the heavy obstacles that obstruct meditations that bestow swift attainments.

Deity: Naro Kechari Vajra Yogini (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Dorje Neljorma (Tibetan)
This form of Vajra Yogini arose from a pure vision beheld by the Mahasiddha Naropa, which is why she is sometimes called Naro Kechari, meaning Naropa’s Dakini. ‘Naro’ here refers to Naropa and ‘kacho’ is a Tibetan word referring to the dakini from Kechara. Kechara is Vajra Yogini’s pure land where she resides. Her mantra is commonly referred to as the King of All Mantras because mere recitation of the mantra alone, without any accompanying visualisation or meditation, has the most powerful ability to bless practitioners with spiritual attainments.

Ultimately, her practice offers salvation for ordinary practitioners at the time of death through her special promise of guiding practitioners towards Kechara or the Paradise of the Dakinis. There, we can continue deep practices on the journey to becoming a Buddha in an accelerated manner, without fear, obstacles and interruptions.

Deity: Trakze Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Karma Shugden or Trakze is the most wrathful emanation of Dorje Shugden. In fact, he emanated from Dorje Shugden’s aggregate of compositional factors. Thus, he is known to wrathfully destroy insurmountable obstacles and life-threatening situations.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

100. Kali (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Kali and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Kali (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Lhamo Tromo (Tibetan)
Kali is a Hindu goddess whose name means ‘she who is black’ or ‘she who is death’. However, she is also known by other epithets and has many forms. For Hindus, she embodies the very essence of time and hence, she is believed to devour all things. She is a goddess of time, death and destruction but also the goddess of rebirth and growth as all things new must have its causes in something old. She is widely worshipped by gods and men and in some traditions, she has also come to represent the benevolence of a mother goddess.

In Hindu Tantra, Kali embodies shakti, the feminine power, creativity and fertility, and she is widely considered to be the incarnation of Parvati, the goddess consort of Shiva. She is widely represented in art as a wrathful figure bearing a necklace of heads, a skirt of arms, a lolling tongue and brandishing a knife dripping with the blood of the slain demons.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

 

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101. Milarepa (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Marpa, Milarepa and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Milarepa (Tibetan)
The enduring story of Milarepa (1052-1135) is perhaps one of the most popular stories of a Tibetan yogin. He was born in Gungthang province of Western Tibet, bordering Nepal. When he was just seven, his father passed away and his family estate was taken over by greedy relatives, who mistreated the rest of the family. He was sent by his mother to learn the dark arts in order to exact revenge on the relatives that abused them. Milarepa turned out to be a great adept in the dark arts and unleashed destruction upon the entire household and killed many.

However, he regretted his wanton destruction and so, he went in search of a means to purify the huge store of negative karma he had accumulated. At first, he sought out the Nyingma Lama Rongton, who felt that he had karmic ties with Marpa and so he was sent to seek out this master. Upon their first meeting, Marpa was aware that he had to purify his disciple’s karma and thus, Milarepa was placed under tough apprenticeship. Amongst many trials, he was made to build towers and tear them down over and over again. In the end, Marpa bestowed Milarepa with the complete transmission of the Mahamudra teachings stemming from Naropa, Maitripa and other Indian masters.

Later, Milarepa practised these teachings for many years in isolated meditational retreats. As a result, he became enlightened. He also acquired the reputation for perseverance and for his great songs of realisation. From his numerous disciples, Gampopa became his successor and lineage holder.

Deity: Marpa (Tibetan)
Marpa was a great translator who made the perilous journey to India in order to receive teachings from the great Indian masters like Naropa, Maitripa and others. He was not a monk and in fact, had a consort and children. His lineage was transmitted to Milarepa and became the basis of the Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

102. Protector Thangka (Main figures)

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(Top to bottom): Buddha Shakyamuni, Lama Tsongkhapa, Guru Rinpoche, Tsangpa Karpo, Nechung Pehar Gyalpo and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

Dorje Shugden will eliminate our worldly obstacles if you sincerely call upon him. When worldly obstacles are removed, spiritual practice can be focused on without interruption. Dorje Shugden is said to help not only Buddhists but anyone who is in need of help or in dire situations. He is well known to help people in dire situations with clear and effective remedies. Reliance on Dorje Shugden requires no special ceremonies or rituals, but simply faith and transformation to become a better person.

Deity: Nechung Pehar Gyalpo (Tibetan)
Nechung Pehar Gyalpo is a worldly deity (unenlightened spirit) sworn to protect Buddhism. According to legend, he was originally from Persia and was subjugated by Padmasambhava and sworn to protect Buddhism in the 8th Century. The official Nechung Monastery is located not far from Drepung Monastery, west of Lhasa in Tibet. Nechung’s name literally means ‘small space’ and its origins can be traced to an old story from a long time ago. At that time, Nechung was bound into a small casket by a high lama for causing a fire to a monastery and was subsequently thrown into a river. The casket eventually washed ashore by a riverbank. It is said that the abbot of Drepung Monastery sent his attendants to retrieve the casket as he clairvoyantly knew that the contents would be significant. Out of curiosity, the attendant opened the casket and thus released Nechung, who flew away in the form of a raven. The raven flew to a nearby tree and disappeared. A monastery was built around the tree and the site where the casket was discovered and became known as Nechung.

At Nechung Monastery, a tradition of consulting oracles arose. During the time of the Great Fifth Dalai Lama Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso (1617-1682), the Nechung Oracle was appointed the State Oracle of Tibet. Since that time, Nechung regularly gives prophetic pronouncements for the Gaden Phodrang (Tibetan) government and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Nechung has five emanations known as Pehar Gyalpo Ku Nga and Dorje Dragden is the main minister that takes possession of the oracle to give pronouncements.

Deity: Tsangpa Karpo (Tibetan)
Tsangpa Karpo which literally means ‘White Brahma’ reflects what some consider to be the Tibetan version of the Hindu god. The four-faced iconography that is familiar to the average Indian is rare while this warrior-like representation is more common.

According to traditional accounts, the practice surfaced after the arrival of the Indian master Dipamkara Srijnana Atisha. In addition to that, Tsangpa Karpo is also considered to be the peaceful emanation of Setrap Chen and is also the special protector of the Panchen Lama line of incarnations. Tsangpa Karpo is known to speak through the Gadong oracle and this oracle is one of the official state oracles of Tibet. This means that the Tibetan government regularly consult Tsangpa Karpo regarding state matters, as long as there is an oracle of this deity.

Deity: Buddha Shakyamuni (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Sangye Shakya Tupa (Tibetan)
Buddha Shakyamuni is the current and historical Buddha who was born a prince in the region of Lumbini (in what is now Nepal). He left the palace, became a wandering mendicant and met several teachers who taught him meditation but still he was not able to gain freedom from samsara or cyclic existence which is marked by suffering. As he persevered with his ascetic practices, he realised the ‘Middle Way’. Inspired by this, he sat under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya and eventually attained enlightenment.

The Buddha gave his first teaching at Sarnath Park on the Four Noble Truths. From then on, the Buddha continued to teach 84,000 Dharmas compassionately until his Parinirvana at age 81. Due to his great kindness in turning the Wheel of Dharma, the Buddha’s great teachings fill 108 volumes that have become the basis of the collection known as the Kangyur (or the Spoken Words of the Buddha). The Buddha had numerous disciples, of which Shariputra and Mahamaudgalyayana were his chief disciples.

It is said Shakyamuni’s teachings will pervade our world system for 5,000 years after which only signs of Dharma will be seen but actual Dharma will not be practised. Shakyamuni established the order of the monks and nuns in which pure discipline (Vinaya) can be practised with the aim of bringing beings to higher states of rebirth and ultimately enlightenment. This tradition has spread all over Asia and now the West. This order, known as the Sangha community, embodies the teachings, practice and discipline as taught by Buddha Shakyamuni.

Deity: Guru Padmasambhava (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Guru Rinpoche (Tibetan)
Guru Rinpoche, also known as Guru Padmasambhava, was an 8th Century Indian Buddhist master who travelled to Tibet in order to spread the Buddha’s teachings. Guru Rinpoche is highly revered within all schools of Tibetan Buddhism. He was invited to Tibet to subdue powerful obstructive beings who opposed the spread of Buddha’s teachings. He waged supernatural war with these deities and won due to his high spiritual attainments.

Instead of vanquishing these obstructive beings, he chose to follow the Buddha’s teachings on compassion and bound them to oath never to harm sentient beings again. They promised to protect and provide for practitioners on the Buddhist path. One such being was Nechung, also known as Pehar Gyalpo. Once a powerful spirit from Persia, Nechung came to reside in Tibet and after battling with Guru Rinpoche, he was subdued. Guru Rinpoche also had him promise to aid the “Holder of the White Lotus”, meaning an emanation of Chenrezig. When the powerful line of the Dalai Lamas arose, Nechung came to their aid for temporal matters, as the Dalai Lamas are considered to be the emanations of Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion. Since that time, Nechung has come to be regarded as one of the State Dharma Protectors of Tibet.

Deity: Lama Tsongkhapa (Tibetan)
Alternative names: Lobsang Drakpa (Tibetan); Sumati Kirti (Sanskrit)
Lama Tsongkhapa was a 15th Century scholar-yogi who established the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. After spending years studying and meditating, he established monastic institutions of learning and practice, producing limitless masters, tantrikas, yogis, scholars and teachers of the Buddhist path.

Lama Tsongkhapa was known for his incredible memory of the broad range of Buddhist treatises, sharp debate skills and incredibly penetrative writing. He saw the benefit in the comprehensive nature of Lama Atisha’s Lamrim text known as Bodhipathapradipa, and composed an expanded version known as the Lamrim Chenmo. Naturally, it contained the entire graduated path to enlightenment, from chapters on death and impermanence to higher topics such as concentration meditation and wisdom. He also composed the Ngarim Chenmo, which is the graduated path for the teachings on Tantra.

Contrary to popular belief that Lama Tsongkhapa was merely a scholar, he actually wrote more on Tantra practice than on Sutra. He is also known for his many pure visions of Manjushri and various other Buddhas. It was through his sacred communion with Manjushri that a special lineage of teachings arose, known as the Gaden Emanation Scripture. These teachings contain special instructions for the Gaden Mahamudra practice, Lama Chopa (or Offerings to the Spiritual Guide), the Gaden Lhagyama (or Hundreds of Deities of the Joyful Land), the Migtsema mantra, and six sadhanas focusing on the practice of Manjushri.

The special instructions contained within this scripture were passed down only by word of mouth from teacher to disciple, and so the lineage became known as the ‘Uncommon Whispered Lineage of the Virtuous Tradition’ or the ‘Ensa Whispered Lineage’. Later, His Holiness the 4th Panchen Lobsang Chokyi Gyeltsen (1569-1662) was the first to pen down the Lama Chopa and so forth.

103. Arya Asanga (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Arya Asanga and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Asanga (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Thogme (Tibetan)
Asanga is one of the most famous Indian Buddhist masters and saints. In Tibet, he is known as one of the Two Crowns, referring to two important Buddhist masters. The other of the Two Crowns is the great master Nagarjuna. Asanga lived in the 4th Century and was the elder brother of Vasubandhu. He was born in Purusapura within the ancient Kingdom of Gandhara (which was located in what is now known as Pakistan).

He studied the treatises of the Three Baskets along with those on the Mahayana tradition and the Perfection of Wisdom. Upon receiving initiation, he entered into a long retreat at Birdsfoot Mountain. During three years of intensive practice, he did not receive a single sign of accomplishment. He became despondent and wanted to break his retreat a few times but was inspired to continue. Finally, he became despondent again and as he emerged from his cave, he chanced upon a dying female dog covered in maggots. He was immediately filled with compassion and he decided to cut a piece of his own flesh so he could transfer the maggots over to it. When he was about to use his tongue to lick the maggots off the wound, the dog suddenly disappeared and Arya Maitreya appeared before him in all his splendour.

Asanga was overjoyed and asked Maitreya why it took so long for him to appear. Maitreya said he was in the cave with Asanga all along but due to Asanga’s obscurations, Asanga was unable to perceive him. In order to prove his point, he instructed Asanga to carry him on his shoulders to the nearest town. While in town, nobody could see Maitreya and only two people saw anything at all. One saw a dead dog and the other Maitreya’s feet and as a result, they gained certain levels of worldly attainments.

Later, Maitreya brought Asanga up to Tushita pure land and there Asanga received teachings from Maitreya. These teachings were transcribed and became known as the ‘Five Treatises of Maitreya’. Together with Asanga’s own commentaries, these texts became the basis for the philosophical schools known as Yogachara or Chittamatra.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

104. King Manjushri Yashas (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Kalachakra, Dharma King Suresana, King Manjushri Yashas and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: King Manjushri Yashas (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Rigden Jampel Dragpa (Tibetan)
In 880 BCE, Buddha revealed himself as Sri Kalachakra in Dhanyakataka in South India in order to expound the Kalachakra teachings to King of Shambhala, Suchandra, and his entourage. King Suchandra brought the teachings back to his kingdom in the north, where this tantric system was proliferated and flourished.

Seven generations after Suchandra, King Manjushri Yashas gathered the religious leaders of Shambhala and amongst them the wise Brahmins, in order to reveal a prediction and a warning. He said that 800 years in the future, a non-Indic religion will arise. He said that due to a lack of unity amongst the Brahmins and people, along with laxity in taking the teachings to heart, many will convert to this new religion. In the future, leaders who adhere to this religion will threaten to invade Shambala. In order to prevent this danger, Manjushri Yashas united his subjects into a single ‘vajra-caste’ by conferring upon them the Kalachakra initiation. It was said that the king became the First Kalki King, which meant that he was the First Holder of the Caste. He is the eighth in the line of kings of Shambhala. He is said to have composed The Abridged Kalachakra Tantra, which was transmitted out from Shambala and it survived to this day.

Deity: Dharma King Suresana (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Chogyal Lhayi Wangden (Tibetan)
The King Suresana was the last of the seven Dharma Kings after Suchandra received the Kalachakra Tantra from Lord Buddha Shakyamuni. He was also the father of Manjushri Yashas and furthermore, was known as the Cutter of Delusion, and Uprooter of Karma and Klesha-obscurations. The 1st to the 7th kings of Shambhala are known as Dharma Kings, from the 8th king onwards they are known as Kalki Kings.

Deity: Kalachakra (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Dukyi Khorlo (Tibetan)
Kalachakra means Wheel of Time or ‘time-cycles’ and is also a Tantric deity or yidam of Vajrayana Buddhism. The name also represents complex meditation practices contained within the Kalachakra Tantra literature. The meditations contained in this Tantric system has the great ability to bring one to complete enlightenment.

Shambhala is a physical place associated with the Kalachakra Tantra that is ruled by great enlightened rulers. We are currently in the reign of the 21st King of Shambhala. Shambhala residents are said to live very long lives, peacefully abiding within ethics and the practice of Dharma. Their main practice is Kalachakra which is one of the Highest Yoga Tantras revealed in this world system by Buddha Shakyamuni. It is said by practising Kalachakra on the outside world one is able to create the causes to take rebirth in Shambhala. It is the only Highest Yoga Tantra given publicly to mass audiences as these types of Tantra are very secret.

It is hoped by receiving this initiation, one will create the causes to take rebirth in Shambhala where one can practice the Dharma in peace and without wars or disturbances. It is well known that the sacred line of Panchen Lamas are the emanations of the Kings of Shambhala who bring Dharma to the lands outside of Shambhala. Many benefits arise from the practice of this profound tantric system.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

105. Red Tara (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Green Tara, Red Tara and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Red Tara (English)
Alternative name: Rakta Tara (Sanskrit)
Tara is a very important figure in Tibetan Buddhism. She is known as the ‘saviouress’ and is also considered the embodiment of the activity of all the Buddhas. According to the Tara Tantras, she was a young Bodhisattva princess who inhabited a different world system in a distant past. Her name was Yeshe Dawa and she had deep faith in the Buddha of that world system and made tremendous amounts of offerings to him. She also went to receive teachings and engaged in deep meditations as well. At one time, she received a special teaching on the development of Bodhicitta – the infinitely compassionate mental state of a Bodhisattva.

After the teachings, some monks approached her and suggested that because of her level of attainment she should next pray to be reborn as a male to progress further in her next life. She contemplated their words and told the monks that it is only the “ignorant minded” who would see gender as a barrier to attaining enlightenment. Nevertheless, she realised that there have been few who have developed the aspiration to work for the welfare of sentient beings in a female form. Therefore, she made the aspiration to be reborn in a female form, again and again, to work tirelessly to liberate all beings until samsara is emptied. She then remained in a state of meditation and perceiving her supreme aspiration, the Buddha prophesied that she would manifest enlightenment and be known as the Goddess Tara.

Red Tara is a particularly popular form of Tara, whose practice emphasises the activity of control and magnetism. Red Tara is also known as Kurukulle or Rigjema and she has the supreme ability to attract people, resources and circumstances for our Dharma practice to flourish. Her practice also allows one to have the special ability to influence others positively especially in relations to pacifying the mind and bringing them to the Dharma.

Deity: Arya Tara (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Green Tara (English); Shyama Tara (Sanskrit); Drolma (Tibetan); Droljang (Tibetan)
In the ancient text known as the Praise to the 21 Taras, Tara is said to have emanated in 21 main forms. The most popular of these forms are the Green and White Taras. Green Tara is considered the main emanation and associated mainly with enlightened activity and protection, and White Tara is associated with the pacification of inner and outer illnesses. She is known to have been particularly close to a large number of great Indian and Tibetan masters like Atisha, Shakya Shri Bhadra and so forth. With her right leg extended in her ever-readiness to assist, Tara is known for swift action and manifests many miracles through her sacred images in both India and Tibet.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

106. Four-Armed Saraswati (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Four-Armed Saraswati and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Saraswati (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Yangchenma / Yangchen Drolma (Tibetan); Goddess Tara of Song and Music (English)
Saraswati is a well-known Indian goddess of music, wisdom and learning. She is widely regarded as both the emanation of Tara as well as the consort of Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom. Saraswati is the enlightened embodiment and bestower of awakened eloquence and special insight into the Buddha’s teachings. Due to her wisdom-bestowing nature, Saraswati is deeply interconnected with Manjushri. She is considered by many great masters to be the goddess and patron of the arts, music, language, literature, poetry, philosophy, and for all those engaged in creative endeavours.

Furthermore, Saraswati was a yidam or personal meditational deity of the 14th Century Tibetan master Je Tsongkhapa who founded the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. He composed a beautiful devotional poem entitled Prayer to Saraswati, based on the pure visions that he had of her. Saraswati is believed to have frequently appeared to Je Tsongkhapa on his travels, offering counsel and inspiration throughout his years of study and contemplation.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

107. Virupa (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Virupa and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Virupa (Sanskrit)
Tibetan: Drubchen Birwapa (Tibetan)
The Mahasiddha Virupa was born to a royal family of India around the 7th Century CE. His name was Dharmapala but he later became known by various other names including Biwawa, Virupa or Birwapa.

He entered Nalanda Monastery and was eventually appointed its abbot. He was also a great practitioner of the Chakrasamvara Tantras. However, he almost gave up the practice because he received many negative dreams. He threw his mala in the latrine but recovered it because of a vision of the goddess Nairatmya who explained that he was about to attain realisation soon. He became enlightened soon afterwards.

When he engaged in tantric rituals like tsog offerings, dakinis entered his chambers to partake of the offerings. The other monks saw them as ordinary women and so he was expelled from Nalanda because they thought that he had consorted with women. After that, Virupa roamed India as a dishevelled yogin and performed many miracles to subdue people’s minds. He met many people who became his disciples and amongst them was a boatman who later became known as the Mahasiddha Drombi Heruka.

Of all the miracles he performed, the most famous was when he created the illusion of stopping the sun with a simple hand gesture. He did that seemingly because he promised to pay the amount of beer he drank at a tavern at sundown. Since the sun never set, he didn’t need to settle the bill and the sun remained in the sky for days. Finally, the king along with his ministers begged Virupa to release the sun and eventually became his most ardent disciples. Virupa’s Vajra Verses became the basis for the Lamdre teachings of the Sakya School of Tibetan Buddhism. He is considered one of the earliest lineage masters of the Sakya School and an earlier incarnation of Dorje Shugden as well.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

108. Machig Labdron (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Heruka Chakrasamvara, Green Tara, Prajnaparamita, Vajravarahi, Machig Labdron, Padampa Sangye, Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, Troma Nagmo, Chang Shon, Tsiu Marpo and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Machig Labdron (Tibetan)
Machig Labdron’s name means ‘Sole Mother from Lab’ and she is widely considered to be a dakini and an emanation of the Buddha Prajnaparamita or Yum Chenmo in Tibetan. Machig Labdron was a historical figure and great female master who was a contemporary of Milarepa and the founder of the Mahamudra of Chod, which literally means ‘Great Seal of Severance’.

Machig Labdron derived her tantric lineage from the Shije or ‘Pacification of Suffering’ teachings that were transmitted to her from her Indian master, Padampa Sangye. According to traditional sources, Machig Labdron and Padampa Sangye stayed for some time in Bhutan near Taktsang Monastery. Their meditation caves can still be seen today and a temple has since been built within Machig Labdron’s cave.

Chod refers to the severance or the cutting through the grasping of the self along with its accompanying emotional afflictions. The tantric practice involves a famous meditation of transforming one’s imagined physical body into a food offering for ghosts, demons and other unseen beings as a means to eliminate the self-grasping mind and replace it with the mind of great compassion. Simultaneously, the practice of Chod aims to help us realise the true nature of our mind.

Deity: Heruka Chakrasamvara (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Khorlo Demchok (Tibetan)
Heruka is the principle deity of the Chakrasamvara Tantras. He is a meditational Buddha of the Highest Yoga Tantra classification, which means that his practice has the potential to bring us directly towards enlightenment within one lifetime. Heruka’s practice uniquely utilises desire as a means towards achieving liberation from samsara or suffering. Heruka is also one of the main Tantras that most of the 84 Mahasiddhas of ancient India relied upon in order to gain their great attainments.

Deity: Arya Tara (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Green Tara (English); Shyama Tara (Sanskrit); Drolma (Tibetan); Droljang (Tibetan)
Tara is known as Jetsun Drolma in Tibetan and she is a very important figure in Tibetan Buddhism. She is known as the ‘saviouress’ and is also considered the embodiment of the activity of all the Buddhas. In the ancient text known as the Praise to the 21 Taras, Tara is said to have emanated in 21 main forms. The most popular of these forms are the Green and White Taras. Green Tara is considered the main emanation and associated primarily with enlightened activity and protection, and White Tara is associated with the pacification of inner and outer illnesses. She is known to have been particularly close to a large number of great Indian and Tibetan masters like Atisha, Shakya Shri Bhadra and so forth. With her right leg extended in her ever-readiness to assist, Tara is known for swift action and manifests many miracles through her sacred images in both India and Tibet.

Deity: Prajnaparamita (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Yum Chenmo (Tibetan)
Prajnaparamita literally means ’Perfection of Wisdom’ in Sanskrit and this refers to perfect non-conceptual wisdom, the last of the Six Perfections. The Perfection of Wisdom Sutra, with its central theme of emptiness, was recovered by Nagarjuna from Nagaraja, the King of the Nagas who had been guarding them at the bottom of the sea.

Prajnaparamita also refers to the female deity who is the embodiment of transcendent wisdom and is therefore known as the Mother of the Buddhas. It is said that Buddha Shakyamuni himself meditated on Prajnaparamita. In Tibet, Prajnaparamita is known as Yum Chenmo or the ‘Great Mother’ and features prominently in the Chod tantric system created by the Tibetan female master, Machig Labdron.

Deity: Vajravarahi (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Dorje Phagmo (Tibetan)
In Tibetan Buddhism, Vajravarahi is a semi-wrathful form of Vajra Yogini, who in turn is associated with the Chakrasamvara Tantra. In terms of iconography, she is the female counterpart of Heruka Chakrasamvara and is widely practised in many Tibetan Buddhist traditions but principally relied on within the Kagyu tradition. Her practice is said to confer very high attainments.

Deity: Padampa Sangye (Tibetan)
Alternative names: Buddha Paramapita (Sanskrit); Buddha Excellent Father (English)
Padampa Sangye’s Tibetan name translates into Sanskrit as Buddha Paramapita or “Buddha Excellent Father.” He is often identified by the descriptive name Nakpopa or “Black One”. He was a famous Indian mahasiddha and travelled to Tibet in order to transmit many Sutra and Tantra teachings in the late 11th Century. In total, he travelled to Tibet more than five times. However, he met Machig Labdron only on his third trip to Tibet. Padampa Sangye is included in many lineages of Chod and therefore, he is known as the Father of Chod and he is also known for his teachings on “the Pacification of Suffering” or Shije. This teaching is the central teaching of the Mahamudra Chod lineages founded by Machig Labdron.

Deity: Kyabje Zong Rinpoche (Tibetan)
Kyabje Zong Rinpoche (1905-84) was born in Kham, Tibet and entered Gaden Monastery at a young age. He was awarded the Lharampa Geshe degree when he was 25 and then he entered the Tantric College of Gyuto. In the monastery, he became renowned as a learned Geshe and an erudite debater. In 1937 he was appointed Abbot of Shartse, a position he held for nine years. Then in 1959, Rinpoche went into exile in India and was appointed the Principal of the Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies in Sarnath. Upon completion of his tenure, he returned to his home monastery, Gaden Shartse, which was relocated to South India. Rinpoche first travelled to the West in 1978 on the request of Lama Thubten Yeshe. He travelled to the West on three occasions and remained for extended periods of time in order to teach in the US and Europe. He ended up teaching and guiding thousands of Westerners who received teachings from him in the West and in India as well. All thangkas as part of this series that include Dorje Shugden were commissioned and produced by Tsem Rinpoche and his students. As Kyabje Zong Rinpoche is Tsem Rinpoche’s Root Guru, Zong Rinpoche was included in this thangka because he was an extraordinary master of the Chod teachings.

Deity: Troma Nagmo (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Krodha Kali (Sanskrit)
The black dakini Troma Nagmo’s name means ’The Black Wrathful Mother’. She is the embodiment of wisdom. Her practice is intimately linked with certain Chod lineages. The practice of Troma Nagmo provides us with an extremely powerful means to cut through our delusions and obstacles, thus revealing our inherent wisdom nature.

Deity: Chang Shon (Tibetan)
The protector Chang Shon is a special protector of the Chod lineage. She has the unique physical attributes of being black in colour, naked and with one face and two arms while riding a blue wolf with nine heads.

Deity: Tsiu Marpo (Tibetan)
Tsiu Marpo is known as a red ‘tsen’ demon and he is the principal worldly protector of Samye, the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet. He is worshipped in a trinity of protectors known as Gyalpo Sum within the Sakya School, together with Dorje Setrap and Dorje Shugden. Within his mandala, he is part of the emanations known as the Seven Blazing Brothers. Dorje Shugden’s main minister, Kache Marpo is believed to be one with Tsi’u Marpo.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

109. Naro Kechari (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Phagmo Namzhabma, Maitri Kechari, Indra Kechari, Vajraghona Vajravarahi, Vajra Yogini, Cittipati, Four-Faced Mahakala and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Vajra Yogini (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Naro Kechari (Sanskrit); Dorje Neljorma (Tibetan)
Vajra Yogini is a female tantric Buddha who has many forms and is practised in many lineages within Tibetan Buddhism. She embodies the fully enlightened female aspect of a Buddha and her path of practice is considered a Mother Tantra, meaning her practitioners concentrate on the wisdom aspect leading to Buddhahood. She is also a principal dakini, the compassionate female guide and nurturer of tantric meditation who leads practitioners to enlightenment. Her practice arose from a pure vision beheld by the Mahasiddha Naropa, which is why she is sometimes called Naro Kechari, meaning Naropa’s Dakini. ‘Naro’ here refers to Naropa and ‘kacho’ is a Tibetan word referring to the dakini from Kechara. Kechara is Vajra Yogini’s pure land where she resides. Vajra Yogini is the principal female Buddha of the Chakrasamvara Tantra and therefore, she is normally depicted in union with Heruka Chakrasamvara.

Vajra Yogini is also considered a Vajradakini, who are yidams or meditational deities in their own right. Their practices evolved from the main practices of their male consorts, but in a form that simplifies an otherwise complicated original practice by reducing it to a single-deity meditation without sacrificing the main benefits and features of the original. Vajra Yogini is a supreme deity that is equal to all the other higher tantric deities that confer enlightenment to within one lifetime, even though she appears as a single deity.

Vajra Yogini is also known as ‘Sarvabuddha-dakini’ or the Dakini Who is the Essence of all Buddhas. Her mantra is commonly referred to as the King of All Mantras because mere recitation of the mantra alone, without any accompanying visualisation or meditation, has the most powerful ability to bless practitioners with spiritual attainments. Within the generation stage of her practice, there are 11 Yogas which have the power of transforming ordinary actions like sleeping, waking and daily tasks into activities that generate spiritual merit. Ultimately, her practice offers salvation for ordinary practitioners at the time of death through her special promise of guiding practitioners towards Kechara, or the Paradise of the Dakinis. There, we can continue deep practices on the journey to become a Buddha in an accelerated manner, without fear, obstacles and interruptions.

Deity: Phagmo Namzhabma (Tibetan)
A derivative form of Vajra Yogini as witnessed by the great mahasiddha Maitripa in a pure vision. An entire sadhana and meditation arose from this form which is different from the Naro Kechari. Nevertheless, the Buddha deity is essentially the same. This form holds one leg in the air.

Deity: Maitri Kechari (Sanskrit)
A derivative form of Vajra Yogini as witnessed by the great mahasiddha Maitripa in a pure vision. An entire sadhana and meditation arose from this form which is different from the Naro Kechari. Nevertheless, the Buddha deity is essentially the same. This form is also known as the Flying Vajra Yogini as she is depicted in mid-flight.

Deity: Indra Kechari (Sanskrit)
A derivative form of Vajra Yogini as witnessed by the great mahasiddha Indrabodhi in a pure vision. An entire sadhana and meditation arose from this form which is different from the Naro Kechari. Nevertheless, the Buddha deity is essentially the same. This form looks straight towards us, and her right leg is bent in a dancing pose. She has the head of sow on top of her own head.

Deity: Vajraghona Vajravarahi (Sanskrit)
A derivative form of Vajra Yogini in the warrior-stance and included within the Rinjung Gyatsa collection of Sadhanas and part of the Yamari mandala. An entire sadhana and meditation arose from this form which is different from the Naro Kechari. Nevertheless, the Buddha deity is essentially the same. This form has a pig’s face and has four arms instead of the usual two. Her additional implements include a vajra-hook and a noose.

Deity: Cittipati (Sanskrit)
The skeletal protector couple is also known as the Lord and Lady of the Charnel Grounds. They are special emanations of Heruka and Vajra Yogini especially potent in protecting since practitioners of the Vajra Yogini Tantras.

Deity: Four-Faced Mahakala (English)
Alternative names: Chaturmukha Mahakala (Sanskrit); Gonpo Shel Shi (Tibetan)
Four-Faced Mahakala is a Dharma protector associated explicitly with the Vajra Yogini Tantras and is propitiated by Vajra Yogini practitioners for spiritual protection and for the granting of material necessities so that they can concentrate on their spiritual practice. Four-Faced Mahakala has a very close connection with Dorje Shugden. In his previous lives as great lamas, Dorje Shugden as a lama relied on Four-Faced Mahakala as one of his primary protectors.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

110. Standing Chenrezig (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Buddha Amitabha, Chenrezig, Manjushri, Vajrapani and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Avalokiteshvara (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Chenrezig (Tibetan)
This thangka depicts the “Three Protectors”, known in Tibetan as the Rigsum Gonpo. This enlightened trinity refers to Manjushri, Chenrezig, and Vajrapani. They symbolically represent the wisdom, compassion and skilful means of all the Buddhas of the past, present and future respectively. They also represent the body, speech and mind of all the Buddhas. In Tibet, the great Buddhist King Songtsen Gampo is said to have constructed four temples dedicated to this sacred trinity around the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa. This bears testament to the importance of these three great enlightened beings who have emanated as Bodhisattvas since ancient times.

Chenrezig is a popular archetypal Bodhisattva in the Sutras, in which he strives towards complete enlightenment. Within the teachings of Vajrayana Buddhism, Chenrezig is said to be a Buddha who attained full enlightenment during a previous aeon, only to manifest as a Bodhisattva on the spiritual path to inspire and bless many in our current aeon. Within the Sutras and Tantras, Chenrezig is known by many names including Avalokiteshvara, Lokeshvara, Avalokita, Lokanatha and Mahakarunika. He is famously considered one of the Eight Great Bodhisattva Disciples of Buddha Shakyamuni and for his landmark sermon at the behest of Buddha Shakyamuni, as narrated in the Heart Sutra.

Chenrezig’s sacred name literally means the “All-Seeing Lord”. He is regarded as the embodiment of compassion and his divine presence is invoked through his well-known six syllable mantra, OM MANI PADME HUM. In this thangka, he appears in his two-armed form called Padmapani. His left hand holds aloft the stem of an immaculate lotus, indicating that he is unstained by samsara and he has great compassion. Chenrezig’s practice is excellent for those who are angersome as his practice lessens anger and also for those who suffer from depression.

Deity: Manjushri (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Jampel Yang (Tibetan)
Manjushri, or Jampal Yang in Tibetan, literally means “Gentle-voiced” and he has the appearance of a youthful 16-year-old prince. He is one of the most popular Bodhisattvas in the Buddhist pantheon and his earthly abode is in the Wu Tai Shan Mountains of China. He is widely known to be the patron Bodhisattva of Wisdom.

He holds the stem of an immaculate lotus that supports a text on the “Perfection of Wisdom” in one hundred thousand stanzas which are symbolic of the highest form of wisdom – the correct view of emptiness. On top of the text is the fiery wisdom sword that cuts asunder delusions and obscurations. Hence, by relying on Manjushri we are able to develop powerful memory, a flair for the arts, clairvoyance and deep insight into the Buddha’s teachings.

Deity: Vajrapani (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Chagna Dorje (Tibetan)
Vajrapani, literally means ‘Holder of the Vajra’ and he represents the Buddha’s power or skilful means. He is blue in colour and in a peaceful aspect, with his right hand holding a five-pointed vajra at his heart. He wears the six ornaments of a Bodhisattva representing the Six Perfections. Vajrapani is also known as the Lord of Secrets and he bestows practitioners with a special aptitude to practise Tantra. He is well-known to pacify inner and outer maras. Inner maras are delusions and the self-grasping mind while outer maras refer to malevolent spirits and obstructing beings.

Deity: Buddha Amitabha (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Opagme (Tibetan)
Buddha Amitabha is one of the Five Dhyani Buddhas and resides in his Western Paradise called Sukhavati where practitioners with deep faith and those endowed with merit can take rebirth, in order to continue practising the path to become a fully enlightened being. He represents the awakened aggregate of mental discernment and purifies desire, hence he is red in colour. He is also deeply connected with the Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden as he resides on the highest floor of Dorje Shugden’s mandala. Therefore, all who rely on Dorje Shugden for assistance against their obstacles and negative karma are also spiritually connected with Buddha Amitabha.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

 

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111. Dorje Shugden on Throne (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Lama Tsongkhapa, Vajra Yogini, Dorje Shugden on Throne, Gyenze, Wangze, Shize, Trakze and Kache Marpo.

Deity: Dorje Shugden on throne (English)
Dorje Shugden is the emanation of the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, Manjushri and he has taken the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard Buddha’s teachings, specifically the special teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden usually carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind and thus, create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish.

In this representation, however, Dorje Shugden carries a wooden club and sits on a lion throne. This is in accordance with a vision beheld by His Holiness the 5th Dalai Lama Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso and is perhaps one of the earliest depictions of Dorje Shugden. This image of Dorje Shugden was immortalised by the 5th Dalai Lama when he created statues for the Protector Chapel of Trode Khangsar in Lhasa, Tibet. The 5th Dalai Lama also composed a praise describing Dorje Shugden as holding a wooden club in his right hand. The noose that Dorje Shugden holds in his left hand is a variant form which originated within the Sakya tradition.

Deity: Shize Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vairochana Shugden (Tibetan)
Shize is the Peaceful emanation of Dorje Shugden and the aggregate of Dorje Shugden’s form. He rides upon an elephant and this emanation’s main function is to pacify illnesses and natural disasters, and bestow clairvoyance and other psychic abilities.

Deity: Gyenze Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Ratna Shugden (Tibetan)
Gyenze is the Increase emanation of Dorje Shugden and the aggregate of Dorje Shugden’s feeling. He rides upon a golden palomino horse and this emanation’s main function is to increase lifespan, merits, wisdom and inner and outer wealth.

Deity: Wangze Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Padma Shugden (Tibetan)
Wangze is the Control emanation of Dorje Shugden and the aggregate of Dorje Shugden’s discrimination. He rides upon a turquoise dragon and this emanation’s main function is to exert positive influence on the minds of difficult people in order to benefit them and further the Buddhist teachings.

Deity: Trakze Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Karma Shugden (Tibetan)
Trakze is the Wrathful emanation of Dorje Shugden and the aggregate of Dorje Shugden’s compositional factors. He rides upon a Garuda and this emanation’s main function is to wrathfully avert disasters and life-threatening situations.

Deity: Naro Kechari Vajra Yogini (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Dorje Neljorma (Tibetan)
This form of Vajra Yogini arose from a pure vision beheld by the Indian Mahasiddha Naropa, hence her name Naro Kechari (or Naropa’s Dakini). This form of Vajra Yogini and her practice has since become the main form of Vajra Yogini transmitted due to the efficacy of her practice and blessings of her lineage. Her Tantra promises rebirth in her pure land known as Kechara Paradise, in order that practitioners can continue their spiritual journey without worldly distractions until they become a fully enlightened Buddha.

Deity: Lama Tsongkhapa (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Sumati Kirti (Sanskrit); Lobsang Drakpa (Tibetan)
Lama Tsongkhapa was a 15th Century scholar-yogi who established the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. After spending years studying and meditating, he established monastic institutions of learning and practice, producing limitless masters, tantrikas, yogis, scholars and teachers of the Buddhist path.

Deity: Kache Marpo (Tibetan)
Kache Marpo is a Dharma Protector and the emanation of Hayagriva. It is believed that he offered himself to assist Dorje Shugden and that is why he is depicted standing guard at the door of Dorje Shugden’s mandala. He often takes trance of Dorje Shugden oracles in order to give pronouncements and predictions on Dorje Shugden’s behalf.

112. His Holiness the 4th Panchen Lama (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): The 5th Dalai Lama, The 4th Panchen Lama, Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen, Brahmarupa Mahakala and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: His Holiness 4th Panchen Lama Lobsang Chokyi Gyeltsen (Tibetan)
The Panchen Lama line of incarnations are believed to be emanations of Amitabha, the Buddha of Boundless Light. Amitabha is relied on strongly within Pure Land Buddhism which is popularly practised in East Asia. He currently resides in Sukhavati, the Western Pure Land, which practitioners aspire to take rebirth in to continue their spiritual practice. Panchen Lama is not just a name but a title bestowed by the Great Fifth Dalai Lama upon his illustrious teacher, Lobsang Chokyi Gyeltsen and it literally means ‘Great Scholar’ in recognition of his teacher’s scholarly prowess. Since then, the Panchen Lamas have been regarded as the second highest incarnation lineage after the Dalai Lamas in Tibet.

Lobsang Chokyi Gyeltsen, who later became known as the 4th Panchen Lama, was born in a village called Drukgya in the Lhan valley, in Tsang, in 1570. Later, he searched for and enthroned Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso as the 5th Dalai Lama and Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen as the 4th Zimkhang Gongma (the incarnation of Panchen Sonam Drakpa). These two lamas became the heart disciples of Lobsang Chokyi Gyeltsen.

Deity: The Great 5th Dalai Lama (English)
Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso was recognised as the Great Fifth Dalai Lama by His Holiness the 4th Panchen Lobsang Chokyi Gyeltsen and was a contemporary of Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen. He was successful in unifying all of Tibet after a long period of civil war and from then on wielded temporal and spiritual power over the country. During his reign, he established diplomatic relations with China, other regional states and also met with several European explorers. As a writer, he composed 24 volumes of written works covering a broad range of scholarly and literary subjects. He built the Potala Palace as his seat of power but did not live to see its completion.

Deity: Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen (Tibetan)
Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen was a contemporary of the Great 5th Dalai Lama and a heart disciple of His Holiness the 4th Panchen Lobsang Chokyi Gyeltsen. He was a pure monk in the Buddhist monastic tradition and was recognised by the Panchen Lama to be the reincarnation of Panchen Sonam Drakpa, part of a long line of successive incarnations going all the way back to the time of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni. Due to an aspiration generated in a previous life, after Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen met with an untimely demise, he arose as the Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden as requested by the Dharma Protector Nechung.

Deity: Brahmarupa Mahakala (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Gonpo Tramsuk (Tibetan)
Brahmarupa literally means the “One in the Brahmin Form”. Portrayed as a dark-skinned Indian yogi, Brahmarupa is a form of Four-Faced Mahakala, an emanation of Manjushri, the Buddha of Wisdom. He is considered to be a protector of both the Guhyasamaja and Chakrasamvara Tantras. He is therefore widely propitiated by many great lamas, yogis and practitioners in order to clear their path of inner obstacles while they engage in spiritual practice and retreats on these two tantric systems. During his lifetime Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen propitiated Brahmarupa Mahakala as his main Dharma Protector.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

113. Peaceful Dorje Shugden (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Namgyalma, Amitayus, White Tara and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

In his previous life, he was the incomparable Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen, a great and compassionate Buddhist master who arose as Dorje Shugden to protect the Buddhist teachings and its practitioners. As a Dharma Protector, Dorje Shugden helps to alleviate our worldly obstacles if you sincerely call upon him. When worldly obstacles are removed, spiritual practice can be focused on without interruption. Dorje Shugden is said to help not only Buddhists, but anyone who needs assistance. He is well known to provide swift help in dire situations, with clear and effective remedies. Reliance on Dorje Shugden requires no special ceremonies, rituals nor commitments as long as one practises being a good person.

Deity: Namgyalma (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Ushnishavijaya (Sanskrit)
Namgyalma’s Sanskrit name, Ushnishavijaya, literally means “Victorious Crown Ornament”. She bestows long life and is a part of Tse Lha Nam Sum, a special trinity of long life deities that also includes the Buddha Amitayus and White Tara. She bestows purification of negative karma, and an increase in merits, wisdom, healing and long life. There are other Buddha deities that bestow long life and healing but these three are the main ones that are the most popular within Tibetan Buddhism.

Deity: Tsepakme (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Amitayus (Sanskrit)
Tsepakme is known as ‘Amitayus’ in Sanskrit and his name literally means “Boundless Life”. He considered to be an emanation of the Buddha Amitabha. He bestows long life and is a part of Tse Lha Nam Sum, a special trinity of long life deities that also includes Namgyalma and White Tara. Like Namgyalma, Amitayus bestows purification of negative karma, and an increase in merits, wisdom, healing and long life. There are other Buddha deities that bestow long life and healing but these three are the main ones that are the most popular within Tibetan Buddhism.

Deity: Drolkar (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Sita Tara (Sanskrit); White Tara (English)
Drolkar, known as ‘Sita Tara’ in Sanskrit, bestows long life and is a part of Tse Lha Nam Sum, a special trinity of long life deities that also includes Buddha Amitayus and White Tara. White Tara bestows purification of negative karma, and an increase in merits, wisdom, healing and long life. There are other Buddha deities that bestow long life and healing but these three are the main ones that are the most popular within Tibetan Buddhism.

114. Five Forms of Dzambala

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(Top to bottom): Red Dzambala, Green Dzambala, Yellow Dzambala, White Dzambala, Black Dzambala and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Yellow Dzambala (English)
Alternative name: Dzambala Serpo (Tibetan)
According to tradition, Dzambala was Buddha Shakyamuni’s disciple and was a yaksha being. He protected the Buddha and on one occasion, he was badly injured. The Buddha healed him with nectar that issued forth from his sacred hand. Dzambala became enlightened and was henceforth known as a wealth-bestowing deity. This means that he bestows inner and outer wealth by means of purification of miserliness and selfishness, which are the causes of poverty. In celebration of the Buddha healing Dzambala, his ritual involves the pouring of water onto his sacred image.

Deity: Red Dzambala (English)
Alternative name: Dzambala Marpo (Tibetan)
Red Dzambala is the emanation of Dzambala that emphasises the activity of control and attraction while bestowing inner and outer wealth. He is usually depicted in union with an emanation of Vasundhara, a wealth-bestowing emanation of Tara.

Deity: Green Dzambala (English)
Alternative name: Dzambala Janggu (Tibetan)
Green Dzambala is the emanation of Dzambala that counters the negative attribute of jealousy, one of the downfalls that leads to poverty. He is usually depicted in union with an emanation of Vasundhara, a wealth-bestowing emanation of Tara.

Diety: White Dzambala (English)
Alternative name: Dzambala Karpo (Tibetan)
White Dzambala is the emanation of Dzambala that emphasises the activity of pacification of miserliness in order to bestow inner and outer wealth. He is usually depicted riding upon a dragon that symbolises the pacification of our immense ego that leads us to suffer in poverty.

Deity: Black Dzambala (English)
Alternative name: Dzambala Nagpo (Tibetan)
Black Dzambala is the emanation of Dzambala that emphasises the activity of wrath in destroying the causes that lead us to poverty, negative states and conditions. He is usually depicted solitary with his secret organ revealed in order to pacify our great desire.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

115. Twelve-Armed Kagyu Heruka (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Prajnaparamita, Vajradharma, Heruka Chakrasamvara, Vajravarahi, Four-Faced Mahakala and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Heruka Chakrasamvara (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Khorlo Demchog (Tibetan)
Heruka is the principal deity of the Chakrasmavara Tantras. He is a meditational Buddha of the Highest Yoga Tantra classification, which means that his practice has the potential to bring us directly towards enlightenment within one lifetime. Heruka’s practice uniquely utilises desire as a means towards achieving liberation from samsara or suffering. The form of Heruka Chakrasamvara depicted here is one of the main practices of the Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism. All schools of Buddhism treasure Heruka’s practice, including the Gelug School in which it is also a main practice. The distinguishing iconographic feature of this Kagyu lineage of Heruka is that the single left leg of Vajravarahi (Heruka’s consort) descends down to the ground.

Deity: Prajnaparamita (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Yum Chenmo (Tibetan); Sherab Kyi Parol Tu Chinpa (Tibetan)
Prajnaparamita literally means “Perfection of Wisdom” in Sanskrit and this refers to perfect non-conceptual wisdom, the last of the Six Perfections; the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra, with its central theme on emptiness, was recovered by Nagarjuna from Nagaraja, the King of the Nagas who had been guarding them at the bottom of the sea. Prajnaparamita also refers to the female deity who is the embodiment of transcendent wisdom and Prajnaparamita is therefore known as the Mother of the Buddhas. It is said that Buddha Shakyamuni himself meditated on Prajnaparamita. In Tibet, Prajnaparamita is known as Yum Chenmo or “Great Mother” and features prominently in the Chöd tantric system created by the Tibetan female master, Machig Labdron.

Deity: Vajradharma (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Dorje Cho (Tibetan)
Within Vajra Yogini’s (a form of Vajravarahi) practice, there are 11 yogas or special practices and the most important of them is Guru Yoga. This is when the practitioner solicits the blessings of one’s spiritual teacher in order to successfully accomplish the aims of meditational practice. In Vajra Yogini’s Guru Yoga, the spiritual teacher is visualised as Vajradharma. Therefore, the spiritual teacher is visualised as a fully enlightened being, not in his ordinary aspect, in order to receive the highest blessings of an enlightened being.

Deity: Vajravarahi (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Dorje Phagmo (Tibetan)
In Tibetan Buddhism, Vajravarahi or Dorje Phagmo in Tibetan is a semi-wrathful form of Vajra Yogini, who in turn is associated with the Chakrasamvara Tantra. In terms of iconography, she is the female counterpart of Heruka Chakrasamvara and is widely practised in many Tibetan Buddhist traditions. Her practice is said to confer very high attainments just by relying on her mantra combined with keeping pure samaya with the guru, performing ganacakra (tsog) offerings twice a month and the daily recitation of a short prayer to ascend to her Kechara Paradise.

Deity: Four-Faced Mahakala (English)
Alternative names: Chaturmukha Mahakala (Sanskrit); Gonpo Shel Shi (Tibetan)
Four-Faced Mahakala is a Dharma Protector associated explicitly with the Heruka Tantras and is propitiated by Heruka practitioners for spiritual protection and for the granting of material necessities so that they can concentrate on their spiritual practice. Four-Faced Mahakala has a very close connection with Dorje Shugden. In his previous lives as great lamas and teachers, Dorje Shugden as a lama relied on Four-Faced Mahakala as one of his primary protectors.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

116. Twelve-Armed Gelug Heruka (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Heruka Chakrasamvara, Dorje Shugden and Four-Faced Mahakala.

Deity: Heruka Chakrasamvara (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Khorlo Demchog (Tibetan)
Heruka is the principal deity of the Chakrasmavara Tantras. He is a meditational Buddha of the Highest Yoga Tantra classification, which means that his practice has the potential to bring us directly towards enlightenment within one lifetime. Heruka’s practice uniquely utilises desire as a means towards achieving liberation from samsara or suffering. Heruka is also one of the main Tantras that most of the 84 Mahasiddhas of ancient India relied upon in order to gain their great attainments. All schools of Buddhism treasure Heruka’s practice, including the Gelug School in which it is one of the main practices. The distinguishing iconographic feature of the form favoured by the Gelug School has both of Vajra Yogini’s legs wrapped around Heruka’s waist in an embrace of union.

Deity: Four-Faced Mahakala (English)
Alternative names: Chaturmukha Mahakala (Sanskrit); Gonpo Shel Shi (Tibetan)
Four-Faced Mahakala is a Dharma Protector associated explicitly with the Heruka Tantras and is propitiated by Heruka practitioners for spiritual protection and for the granting of material necessities so that they can concentrate on their spiritual practice. Four-Faced Mahakala has a very close connection with Dorje Shugden. In his previous lives as great lamas and teachers, Dorje Shugden as a lama relied on Four-Faced Mahakala as one of his primary protectors.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

117. Vajrapani (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Vajrapani and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Vajrapani (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Chagna Dorje (Tibetan)
Known as Chagna Dorje in Tibetan, Vajrapani’s name literally means “Holder of the Vajra”. He is wrathful, appearing in the form of a yaksha being. With his right leg bent and left outstretched, he stands in pratyalidha posture. He holds a golden five-pointed vajra in his right hand and with his left hand held in front of his heart, he makes a threatening gesture at our delusions and negative karma. Vajrapani is also known as the Lord of Secrets and he bestows practitioners with a special aptitude to practise Tantra. He is well-known to pacify inner and outer maras. Inner maras are delusions and the self-grasping mind while outer maras refer to malevolent spirits and obstructing beings.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

118. 1000-Armed Chenrezig

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(Top to bottom): 1000-Armed Chenrezig and Dorje Shugden

Deity: 1000-Armed Chenrezig (English)
Alternative names: Arya Sahasrabhuja Ekadasamukha (Sanskrit); Chenrezig Chag Tong (Tibetan)
Chenrezig is known as the Buddha of Compassion and his 1000-armed form is testament to his unceasing mission to help sentient beings overcome their suffering. Each of his 1,000 arms have eyes in the centre of their palms, representing not only Chenrezig’s ability to see the torment all sentient beings go through, but also the 1,000 Buddhas of our aeon. In essence, he represents the great compassion of all 1,000 Buddhas combined into one figure. 1000-Armed Chenrezig is the main object of refuge in the profound fasting retreat practice known as Nyungne. The practice includes the keeping of strict vows, maintaining complete silence and fasting. It centres on the recitation of prayers and mantras while visualising 1000-Armed Chenrezig. ‘Nyungne’ in Tibetan literally means “abiding in the fast” and the practice is believed to heal diseases, help one to develop compassion and purify negative karma. The origins of the Nyungne practice stem from a figure known as Gelongma Palmo from the region of Afghanistan.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

119. Cittipati (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Cittipati and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Cittipati (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Durdak Yabyum (Tibetan); Shri Shmashana Adhipati (Sanskrit)
According to scriptural sources, Cittipati is also known as Shri Shmashana Adhipati, which literally means “Lord and Lady of the Charnel Ground”. The practice of Cittipati arises from the Secret Essence Wheel Tantra. This tantra is closely associated with the Chakrasamvara Tantra, the scriptural source of the Vajra Yogini practice. Cittipati is regarded as the emanation of Heruka and Vajra Yogini. They are, therefore, in essence, enlightened wisdom protectors.

The Secret Essence Wheel Tantra contains various instructions and descriptions of this protector deity. From the description in the text, Cittipati is primarily propitiated as a wealth practice along with added emphasis on protection from thieves. They also serve as the special protector for the Vajra Yogini Naro Kechari practice. Therefore, Cittipati is widely practised amongst the practitioners of Vajra Yogini in order to remove the heavy obstacles that obstruct meditations that bestow swift attainments.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

120. Naropa (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Vajra Yogini, Naropa and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Mahasiddha Naropa (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Panchen Naropa (Tibetan)
The Mahasiddha Naropa was, in his time, one of the highest Buddhist scholars in the land of India and was made one of the Gatekeepers of Nalanda Monastery, a prestigious position granted only to those who mastered study of the scriptures and the art of debate. At the behest of a dakini appearing as an old lady, Naropa went in search of his teacher, the Mahasiddha Tilopa. The devotion Naropa had for his teacher is now legendary, especially the account of the 12 major and 12 minor trials and tribulations he underwent in order to liberate his mind. After these trials were over, his teacher initiated him into the practice of Vajravarahi and instructed him to enter meditative retreat on the deity. Within six months, Naropa is said to have gained a vision of Vajravarahi in the form of Vajra Yogini Naro Kechari who initiated him into her practice. He is therefore known as the progenitor of the Vajra Yogini practice in the Naro Kechari form.

Deity: Naro Kechari Vajra Yogini (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Dorje Neljorma (Tibetan)
This form of Vajra Yogini arose from a pure vision beheld by the Indian Mahasiddha Naropa, hence her name Naro Kechari (or Naropa’s Dakini). This form of Vajra Yogini and her practice has since become the main form transmitted due to the efficacy of her practice and blessings of her lineage. Her Tantra promises rebirth in her pure land known as Kechara Paradise, in order that practitioners can continue their spiritual journey without worldly distractions until they become a fully enlightened Buddha.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

 

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121. Ghantapa (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Mahasiddha Darikapa, Mahasiddha Ghantapa, Chenrezig and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Mahasiddha Darikapa (Sanskrit)
Darikapa was once the King of Pataliputra and was known as Indrapala. One afternoon, the king chanced upon the Mahasiddha Luipa and had instant faith in the master. He offered all his riches to his newfound guru but Luipa refused the offerings. This inspired the king to develop deep renunciation. He abdicated his throne and was initiated into the mandala of Chakrasamvara. Since he had renounced everything, he had nothing to offer his guru in return for the initiation, so offered himself as a slave. He was sold to the famous courtesan, Darima, and practised when he had the time, until he achieved enlightenment.

Deity: Mahasiddha Ghantapa (Sanskrit)
Ghantapa was a prince but renounced the throne to be a monk and, later, a wandering yogin-ascetic. During his travels, he met his guru Darikapa and was initiated into Chakrasamvara practice. He then travelled to Pataliputra, where King Devapala, an outwardly pious king welcomed him and requested teachings. However, Ghantapa repeatedly refused all requests and this eventually offended the king. With the king’s pride wounded, he developed a deep hatred for the yogin and declared that half of his kingdom was to be given to anyone who could prove the yogin Ghantapa’s celibacy was a sham. Darima, a courtesan, accepted the challenge and sent her daughter, herself a young courtesan to seduce Ghantapa. Initially, Ghantapa refused her advances but she persisted and in the end, she became his consort and bore him a son. The king eventually heard what happened and he set out to confront Ghantapa, planning for a showdown to humiliate the yogin. Ghantapa, with his son, a jug of beer and his consort decided to flee but the king with his entourage caught up and hurled accusations at Ghantapa. Ghantapa declared that he had not done anything wrong. As the king and entourage continued their insults, Ghantapa hurled his son and the jug of beer to the ground.

This frightened the Goddess of the Earth and she trembled. The ground opened up, out of which poured water that flooded the entire area. Ghantapa’s son and jug of beer transformed into a vajra and bell respectively. Wielding these ritual implements, Ghantapa flew into the sky with his consort, and appeared as Chakrasamvara and Vajravarahi in sacred union.

As the locals began drowning, they cried out to him for help. But he was unperturbed. Suddenly, Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion appeared and stepped on water, which slowly began to go back into the crack in the earth from whence it came. Everyone was saved and they begged Ghantapa for forgiveness. He gave them all a teaching, which led the king and his entourage to realise how their pride was damaging. The events of that day and the subsequent teaching planted the seeds of faith in their hearts. Ghantapa and his consort then ascended to the Paradise of the Dakinis.

Deity: Chenrezig (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Avalokiteshvara (Sanskrit)
Chenrezig is a popular archetypal Bodhisattva in the Sutras, in which he strives towards complete enlightenment. Within the teachings of Vajrayana Buddhism, Chenrezig is said to be a Buddha who attained full enlightenment during a previous aeon, only to manifest as a Bodhisattva on the spiritual path to inspire and bless many in our current aeon. Within the Sutras and Tantras, Chenrezig is known by many names including Avalokiteshvara, Lokeshvara, Avalokita, Lokanatha and Mahakarunika. He is famously considered one of the Eight Great Bodhisattva Disciples of Buddha Shakyamuni and for his landmark sermon at the behest of Buddha Shakyamuni, as narrated in the Heart Sutra.

Chenrezig’s sacred name literally means the “All-Seeing Lord”. He is regarded as the embodiment of compassion and his divine presence is invoked through his well-known six syllable mantra, OM MANI PADME HUM. In this thangka, he is appears in his two-armed form called Padmapani. His left hand holds aloft the stem of an immaculate lotus, indicating that he is unstained by samsara and he has great compassion. Chenrezig’s practice is excellent for those who are angersome as his practice lessens anger and also for those who suffer from depression.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

122. Four-Armed Chenrezig (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Four-Armed Chenrezig and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Four-Armed Chenrezig (English)
Alternative names: Chaturbhuja Avalokiteshvara (Sanskrit); Chenrezig Chag Shipa (Tibetan)
Chenrezig is a popular archetypal Bodhisattva in the Sutras, in which he strives towards complete enlightenment. Within the teachings of Vajrayana Buddhism, Chenrezig is said to be a Buddha who attained full enlightenment during a previous aeon, only to manifest as a Bodhisattva on the spiritual path to inspire and bless many in our current aeon. Within the Sutras and Tantras, Chenrezig is known by many names including Avalokiteshvara, Lokeshvara, Avalokita, Lokanatha and Mahakarunika. He is famously considered one of the Eight Great Bodhisattva Disciples of Buddha Shakyamuni and for his landmark sermon at the behest of Buddha Shakyamuni, as narrated in the Heart Sutra.

Chenrezig’s sacred name literally means the “All-Seeing Lord”. He is regarded as the embodiment of compassion and his divine presence is invoked through his well-known six syllable mantra, OM MANI PADME HUM. In this thangka, he appears in his two-armed form called Padmapani. His left hand holds aloft the stem of an immaculate lotus, indicating that he is unstained by samsara and he has great compassion. Chenrezig’s practice is excellent for those who are angersome as his practice lessens anger and also for those who suffer from depression. In this image, Manjushri who is the Bodhisattva of wisdom stands to the left, and Vajrapani who is the Bodhisattva of spiritual power stands to the right.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

123. Vajrapani (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Vajrapani and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Vajrapani (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Chagna Dorje (Tibetan)
Known as Chagna Dorje in Tibetan, Vajrapani’s name literally means “Holder of the Vajra”. He is wrathful, appearing in the form of a yaksha being. With his right leg bent and left outstretched, he stands in pratyalidha posture. He holds a golden five-pointed vajra in his right hand and with his left hand held in front of his heart, he makes a threatening gesture at our delusions and negative karma. Vajrapani is also known as the Lord of Secrets and he bestows practitioners with a special aptitude to practise Tantra. He is well-known to pacify inner and outer maras. Inner maras are delusions and the self-grasping mind while outer maras refer to malevolent spirits and obstructing beings.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

124. Yellow Dzambala (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Yellow Dzambala and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Yellow Dzambala (English)
Alternative name: Dzambala Serpo (Tibetan)
According to tradition, Dzambala was Buddha Shakyamuni’s disciple and was a yaksha being. He protected the Buddha and on one occasion, he was badly injured. The Buddha healed him with nectar that issued forth from his sacred hand. Dzambala became enlightened and was henceforth known as a wealth-bestowing deity. This means that he bestows inner and outer wealth by means of purification of miserliness and selfishness, which are the causes of poverty. In celebration of the Buddha healing Dzambala, his ritual involves the pouring of water onto his sacred image.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

125. Zanabazar (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Zanabazar and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Zanabazar (Mongolian)
Alternative name: Losang Tenpei Gyeltsen (Tibetan)
Zanabazar was born in 1635 and passed away in 1723. In 1939, at just four years old, he was unanimously elected as the spiritual leader of the Khalkha Mongols by a convocation of nobles. Later, he was recognised as the 1st Jebtsundamba Khutuktu and a reincarnation of the great master Taranatha of the Jonang Tradition. As Jebtsundamba Khutuktu, he was installed as the supreme head of the Gelug tradition in Mongolia. For the rest of his life, he tirelessly taught the Buddhist Dharma. Zanabazar however, was not just a religious leader but was also a statesman, politician, sculptor, painter, poet, architect, scholar and linguist, who is credited with igniting Mongolia’s cultural renaissance during the 17th Century.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

126. Three Dharma Kings (Main figures)

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(Top to bottom): Songtsen Gampo, Trisong Detsen, Tri Ralpachen and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: King Songtsen Gampo (Tibetan)
King Songtsen Gampo is considered to be the first of the Three Dharma Kings of Tibet. He founded the Tibetan Empire and was the first king to introduce Buddhism to the country. He is said to have built the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, which houses the Jowo Rinpoche statue brought to Tibet by his Chinese consort, Princess Wencheng. He also built Ramoche Temple to house the statue of Jowo Mikyo Dorje, which was brought to Tibet by his Nepali consort, Princess Bhrikuti. These two statues are considered the most sacred statues in all of Tibet.

Deity: King Trisong Detsen (Tibetan)
King Trisong Detsen is known as one of the Three Dharma Kings of Tibet, together with Songtsen Gampo and Tri Ralpachen. He played a pivotal role in establishing Buddhism in Tibet, for example by inviting the great Indian master Shantarakshita to establish the country’s first community of ordained Buddhist monks. He also famously invited Guru Rinpoche to Tibet in order to subdue the supernatural beings hampering Shantarakshita’s sacred works. Through their combined efforts, Buddhism was established and spread throughout the entire region.

Deity: King Tri Ralpachen (Tibetan)
King Tri Ralpachen was a great patron of Buddhism in Tibet. Not only did he ensure many Buddhist texts were translated and preserved in the Tibetan language but he also invited many craftsmen, translators and masters from China, Nepal, Kashmir and the Buddhist kingdom of Khotan to further Tibetan culture and religion. He also decreed that all Buddhist translations should be translated directly from Sanskrit sources rather than any other language.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

127. Cittamani Tara (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Cittamani Tara and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Cittamani Tara (Sanskrit)
The Cittamani Tara practice was taught by Tara herself to Takpu Gargyi Chokyi Wangchuk, who was famed for having pure visions of Tara and regularly communicating with her. While the practice of most forms of Tara belong to the Lower Tantra classifications, Cittamani Tara’s practice belongs to the Highest Yoga Tantra classification. As such, the teachings consist of the generation and completion stages together with the accompanying empowerments. In simple terms, Cittamani Tara’s practice is able to bring a practitioner directly to enlightenment within this very lifetime if engaged in sincerely. Cittamani Tara is depicted here in the form she takes during the generation stage of her practice, with small and different coloured Taras sitting at her various energy chakra points. Her practice moves the winds within our psychic channels, which can lead us to higher states of consciousness if meditated upon correctly.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

128. His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche and Dorje Shugden

Deity: His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche (English)
His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche is most famously remembered for having served as the Junior Tutor to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, a testament to the scholarliness and high spiritual attainments of this great master. Trijang Rinpoche was a student of His Holiness Pabongka Rinpoche and followed in his teacher’s footsteps of propagating the Buddhist teachings. He is credited with taking notes during Pabongka Rinpoche’s landmark 24-day experiential exposition on the Lamrim or Graduated Stages on the Path to Enlightenment teachings. Trijang Rinpoche edited his notes and published them as the text “Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand”, which is highly revered and continues to be widely studied today. Trijang Rinpoche was also a stalwart practitioner of Dorje Shugden and even dedicated an entire volume to Dorje Shugden within his collected works (sungbum). This remains the main source of Dorje Shugden’s practice within the Gelug tradition today.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

129. King Trisong Detsen (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): King Trisong Detsen, Guru Rinpoche, Shantarakshita and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: King Trisong Detsen (Tibetan)
King Trisong Detsen is known as one of the Three Dharma Kings of Tibet, together with Songtsen Gampo and Tri Ralpachen. He played a pivotal role in establishing Buddhism in Tibet, for example by inviting the great Indian master Shantarakshita to establish the country’s first community of ordained Buddhist monks. He also famously invited Guru Rinpoche to Tibet in order to subdue the supernatural beings hampering Shantarakshita’s sacred works. Through their combined efforts, Buddhism was established and spread throughout the entire region.

Deity: Guru Rinpoche (Tibetan)
Alternative names: Guru Padmasambhava (Sanskrit); Pema Jungne (Tibetan)
Guru Rinpoche is highly revered within all schools of Tibetan Buddhism. He was invited to Tibet to subdue powerful obstructive beings who opposed the spread of Buddha’s teachings. He waged supernatural war with these deities and won due to his high spiritual attainments. Instead of vanquishing these obstructive beings, he chose to follow the Buddha’s teaching on compassion and bound them to oath never to harm sentient beings again. They promised to protect and provide for practitioners on the Buddhist path. One such being was Nechung, also known as Pehar Gyalpo. Once a powerful spirit from Persia, he came to reside in Tibet and after battling with Guru Rinpoche, he was subdued.

Deity: Shantarakshita (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Shiwa Tsho (Tibetan)
Shantarakshita was a great Indian pandit from Nalanda Monastery. The King of Tibet at that time, Trisong Detsen, invited him to Tibet in order to establish the country’s first monastic community at Samye Monastery. However, local supernatural beings hampered his efforts to spread the Dharma there. It was then that he advised King Trisong Detsen to invite the great Tantric practitioner Guru Rinpoche in order to subdue these negative forces. Once these forces were subdued, Shantarakshita was able to ordain the first seven monks in Tibet according to the Sarvastivadin tradition which descended through the incomparable master Nagarjuna. He spent the rest of his life tirelessly teaching and upholding Buddhist practice. He was one of the most influential masters whose efforts resulted in Buddhism’s introduction to Tibet.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

130. His Holiness the 10th Panchen Lama (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): His Holiness the 10th Panchen Lama and Dorje Shugden

Deity: His Holiness the 10th Panchen Lama Choekyi Gyaltsen (Tibetan)
The Panchen Lama line of incarnations are believed to be emanations of Amitabha, the Buddha of Boundless Light. In 1938, the 10th Panchen Lama was born in what is today’s Qinghai province. He was enthroned and given the name Choekyi Gyaltsen at Kumbum Monastery in 1949. The Panchen Lama grew up to be a veritable scholar, sharp debator and a very powerful lineage holder of the Tantric tradition. He was well known as a master of Tantra and specialised in the Kalachakra practice, which the Panchen Lama lineage are famed for. The Panchen Lamas are considered the emanations of the kings of Shambhala and therefore have a close connection with the Kalachakra Tantra. In Tibet, people would vie to receive the initiation of Kalachakra from the Panchen Lamas.

The Panchen Lama was also a very staunch propagator of Tibetan art and Tibetan monastic learning. He tirelessly travelled the breadth and length of Tibet to give discourses, teachings, initiations, and practices to thousands of scholars, geshes and monks across the country. He single-handedly revitalised Tibetan Buddhism and passed on many rare and secret lineages that could have been lost during the cultural revolution. In addition, the Panchen Lama manifested many miracles that are spoken about among the elders of Tibet who had the fortune to see him.

At the behest of the government at the time, he gave his monk’s robes back and took a consort. Their union produced a daughter, who is considered of extremely high rank in Tibet. Until today many people go to her for blessings and the naming of their babies and transmissions, because they believe that any person born of the Panchen Lama cannot be ordinary.

Prematurely, due to the lack of merits amongst the Tibetans, His Holiness the Panchen Lama manifested death at the age of 51 suddenly. The country and people were thrown into turmoil because it was a great and immeasurable loss. His line of incarnations are well known to teach the vast Dharma and to be the greatest scholars and pandits of the highest order.

Dorje Shugden is closely associated with the Panchen Lamas by virtue of his previous life as Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen, the heart disciple of His Holiness the 4th Panchen Lama. There is a large chapel dedicated to Dorje Shugden in Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, the seat of the Panchen Lama, and this chapel still stands today. It was consecrated by Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche at the request of His Holiness the 9th Panchen Lama. Within the collected works of the 10th Panchen Lama, there is an extensive liturgy propitiating Dorje Shugden. The 10th Panchen Lama’s writings, therefore, bear testament to the fact the Panchen Lama worshipped Dorje Shugden and found his practice to be beneficial and efficacious.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

 

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131. Green Tara (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Green Tara and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Arya Tara (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Green Tara (English); Shyama Tara (Sanskrit); Drolma (Tibetan); Droljang (Tibetan)
Tara is known as Jetsun Drolma in Tibetan and she is a very important figure in Tibetan Buddhism. She is known as the ‘saviouress’ and is also considered the embodiment of the activity of all the Buddhas. In the Tara Tantras, it is said that she was a Bodhisattva disciple of the Buddha of another world system. Her name was Yeshe Dawa and she had deep faith in the Buddha of that world system and made tremendous offerings to him. She also went to receive teachings and engaged in deep meditations as well. At one time, she received a special teaching on the development of Bodhicitta – the infinitely compassionate mental state of a Bodhisattva.

After the teachings, some monks approached her and suggested that because of her level of attainments, she should pray to be reborn as a male to progress further in her next life. She contemplated their words and told the monks that it is only the “ignorant minded” who see gender as a barrier to attaining enlightenment. Nevertheless, she realised that there have been few who have developed the aspiration to work for the welfare of sentient beings in a female form. Therefore, she made the aspiration to be reborn in a female form again and again, to work tirelessly to liberate all beings until samsara is emptied. She then remained in a state of meditation and perceiving her supreme aspiration, the Buddha prophesied that she would manifest enlightenment and be known as the Goddess Tara. She is associated mainly with enlightened activity and protection. With her right leg extended in her ever-readiness to assist, Tara is known for swift action and manifests many miracles through her sacred images in both India and Tibet.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

132. Shantarakshita (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Shantarakshita and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Shantarakshita (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Shiwa Tsho (Tibetan)
Shantarakshita was a great Indian pandit from Nalanda Monastery. The King of Tibet at that time, Trisong Detsen, invited him to Tibet in order to establish the country’s first monastic community at Samye Monastery. However, local supernatural beings hampered his efforts to spread the Dharma there. It was then that he advised King Trisong Detsen to invite the great Tantric practitioner Guru Rinpoche in order to subdue these negative forces. Once these forces were subdued, Shantarakshita was able to ordain the first seven monks in Tibet according to the Sarvastivadin tradition which descended through the incomparable master Nagarjuna. He spent the rest of his life tirelessly teaching and upholding Buddhist practice. He was one of the most influential masters whose efforts resulted in Buddhism’s introduction to Tibet.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

133. Hayagriva Extremely Secret (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Hayagriva Extremely Secret and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Hayagriva Extremely Secret (English)
Alternative name: Tamdrin Yangsang (Tibetan)
Tamdrin Yangsang, or Extremely Secret Hayagriva, is a tantric practice that originates from the Nyingma tradition. This special practice is both yidam and protector, and is famously said to be highly blessed in purifying karmas that lead to extreme diseases such as fits and paralysis. Tamdrin Yangsang has been one of the main practices of Sera Je Monastery since the time of Lama Tsongkhapa and in Sera, there is a phurba (dagger) of this deity which is said to have healing powers when touched to one’s head.

The great Sangha community at this monastery practised Tamdrin Yangsang together with Dorje Shugden for centuries without conflict. According to some who hold wrong views, Dorje Shugden is said to be against those who practise the Nyingma tradition. However, the fact Sera Je, a Gelug monastery, relied on both Tamdrin Yangsang and Dorje Shugden for centuries, without any incident, proves those naysayers to be wrong. Needless to say, Dorje Shugden has no conflict with any of the pantheon of enlightened deities and protectors.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

134. Seated Machig Labdron (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Buddha Shakyamuni, Padampa Sangye, Vajravarahi, Green Tara, Prajnaparamita, Machig Labdron, Chang Shon, Troma Nagmo and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Machig Labdron (Tibetan)
Machig Labdron’s name means ‘Sole Mother from Lab’ and she is widely considered to be a dakini and an emanation of the Buddha Prajnaparamita or Yum Chenmo in Tibetan. Machig Labdron was a historical figure, great female master and founder of the Mahamudra of Chod, which literally means ‘Great Seal of Severance’. She derived her tantric lineage from the Shije or ‘Pacification of Suffering’ teachings that were transmitted to her from her Indian master, Padampa Sangye. Chod refers to the severance or the cutting through the grasping of the self along with its accompanying emotional afflictions. The tantric practice involves a famous meditation of transforming one’s imagined physical body into a food offering for ghosts, demons and other unseen beings as a means to eliminate the self-grasping mind and replace it with the mind of great compassion. Simultaneously, the practice of Chod aims to help us realise the true nature of our mind.

Deity: Buddha Shakyamuni (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Sangye Shakya Tupa (Tibetan)
Buddha Shakyamuni is the current and historical Buddha who was born a prince in the region of Lumbini (in what is now Nepal). He left the palace, became a wandering mendicant and met several teachers who taught him meditation but still he was not able to gain freedom from samsara or cyclic existence which is marked by suffering. As he persevered with his ascetic practices, he realised the ‘Middle Way’. Inspired by this, he sat under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya and eventually attained enlightenment. The Buddha gave his first teaching at Sarnath Park on the Four Noble Truths. From then on, the Buddha continued to teach 84,000 Dharmas compassionately until his Parinirvana at age 81.

Deity: Padampa Sangye (Tibetan)
Alternative names: Buddha Paramapita (Sanskrit); Buddha Excellent Father (English)
Padampa Sangye’s Tibetan name translates into Sanskrit as Buddha Paramapita or “Buddha Excellent Father.” He is often identified by the descriptive name ‘Nakpopa’, meaning “Black One”. Padampa Sangye was a famous Indian Mahasiddha who travelled to Tibet in the late 11th Century to transmit many Sutra and Tantra teachings. In total, he travelled to Tibet more than five times. However, he met Machig Labdron only on his third trip to Tibet. Padampa Sangye is included in many lineages of Chod and for this reason, he is known as the Father of Chod. He is also known for his teachings on Shije, or ‘Pacification of Suffering’. This teaching is the central teaching of the Mahamudra Chod lineages founded by Machig Labdron.

Deity: Vajravarahi (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Dorje Phagmo (Tibetan)
In Tibetan Buddhism, Vajravarahi is a semi-wrathful form of Vajra Yogini, who in turn is associated with the Chakrasamvara Tantra. In terms of iconography, she is the female counterpart of Heruka Chakrasamvara and is widely practised in many Tibetan Buddhist traditions. Her practice is said to confer very high attainments.

Deity: Arya Tara (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Green Tara (English); Shyama Tara (Sanskrit); Drolma (Tibetan); Droljang (Tibetan)
Tara is known as Jetsun Drolma in Tibetan and she is a very important figure in Tibetan Buddhism. She is known as the ‘saviouress’ and is also considered the embodiment of the activity of all the Buddhas. Green Tara is associated primarily with enlightened activity and protection. She is known to have been particularly close to a large number of great Indian and Tibetan masters like Atisha, Shakya Shri Bhadra and so forth. With her right leg extended in her ever-readiness to assist, Tara is known for swift action and manifests many miracles through her sacred images.

Deity: Prajnaparamita (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Yum Chenmo (Tibetan); Sherab Kyi Parol Tu Chinpa (Tibetan)
Prajnaparamita literally means ‘Perfection of Wisdom’ in Sanskrit and she is a female deity who is the embodiment of transcendent wisdom. Therefore, she is known as the Mother of the Buddhas. It is said that Buddha Shakyamuni himself meditated on Prajnaparamita. In Tibet, Prajnaparamita is known as Yum Chenmo or the ‘Great Mother’ and features prominently in the Chod tantric system created by the Tibetan female master, Machig Labdron.

Deity: Troma Nagmo (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Krodha Kali (Sanskrit)
The black dakini Troma Nagmo’s name means “The Black Wrathful Mother”. She is the embodiment of wisdom and her practice is intimately linked with certain Chod lineages. Relying on Troma Nagmo provides us with an extremely powerful means to cut through our delusions and obstacles, thus revealing our inherent wisdom nature.

Deity: Chang Shon (Tibetan)
The protector Chang Shon is a special protector of the Chod lineage. She has the unique physical attributes of being black in colour, naked and with one face and two arms while riding a blue wolf with nine heads.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

135. Maitreya and Manjushri (Main figures)

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(Top to bottom): Maitreya, Manjushri and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Maitreya (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Jampa (Tibetan); Ajita (Sanskrit)
Maitreya’s name literally means ‘Great Love’ in the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit. He is said to currently be a crowned bodhisattva residing in Tushita pure realm, awaiting his time to take rebirth on earth to become the future Buddha. Once reborn, he will sit under a sacred tree and achieve complete and perfect Enlightenment like his predecessor, Buddha Shakyamuni. By that time, Buddha Shakyamuni’s teachings will have disappeared and the world will be engulfed in a dark age as it is devoid of true Dharma.

Maitreya is considered part of a group of Bodhisattvas known as the Eight Great Bodhisattva Disciples of Buddha Shakyamuni, who is portrayed in the palace above him. Maitreya’s iconography depicts him sitting with his feet on the floor, holding a Dharma Wheel and water flask. In this particular depiction, he sits in conversation with Manjushri, both of whom are known for propagating the teachings of their Guru, the Buddha Shakyamuni. Maitreya’s practice is said to develop high consciousness through the development of compassion and loving-kindness.

Deity: Manjushri (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Jampelyang (Tibetan)
Manjushri is the patron Buddha of Wisdom. In his right hand, he holds a flaming wisdom sword which cuts away the roots of ignorance from our lives and in his left hand, he holds the stem of a lotus on top of which rests a Perfection of Wisdom text. This text is symbolic of his practice granting wisdom, insight and merit. Manjushri is frequently featured in Sutras because he is known to have asked important spiritual questions, which Lord Buddha answered by giving extremely beneficial teachings. The orange colour of his skin represents the growth and proliferation of wisdom, clarity, merits, memory, eloquence, knowledge and the arts in practitioners. He is also called the Lord of Awakened Speech, which reveals his special ability to purify the negative karma of one’s speech and the development of a powerful ability to influence others positively into the Dharma.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

136. White Mahakala (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): White Mahakala and Dorje Shugden

Deity: White Mahakala (English)
Alternative names: Gonkar (Tibetan); Shadbhuja Sita Mahakala (Sanskrit)
White Mahakala is an emanation of Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion. He is the principal wealth deity practised within the Shangpa Kagyu tradition founded by Khedrup Khyungpo Naljor in the 11th Century. His practice exists within many other Tibetan Buddhist traditions, including the Gelug tradition. In this form, Mahakala is both a protector deity and a meditational deity, whose function is to increase wealth and material abundance for spiritual practitioners. When practitioners no longer need to worry about mundane needs, they can spend more time developing themselves spiritually.

He appears wrathful, holding a wish-fulfilling jewel, a skull cup containing a vase filled with jewels, a curved flaying knife, a trident, a damaru drum and a vajra hook. These implements symbolise his ability to increase material and spiritual wealth, to attract all things positive, and to purify our negative karma and cut away the delusions that stop us from attaining higher states of consciousness.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

137. Manjushri (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Manjushri and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Manjushri (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Jampelyang (Tibetan)
Manjushri is the patron Buddha of Wisdom. In his right hand, he holds a flaming wisdom sword which cuts away the roots of ignorance from our lives and in his left hand, he holds the stem of a lotus on top of which rests a Perfection of Wisdom text. This text is symbolic of his practice granting wisdom, insight and merit. He is closely associated with Avalokiteshvara and Vajrapani as they are part of the trinity known as Rigsum Gonpo (Three Protectors). Manjushri also belongs to a group of deities that are known as the Eight Bodhisattva Disciples of Lord Buddha, together with Avalokiteshvara, Vajrapani, Maitreya and others. Manjushri is frequently featured in Sutras because he is known to have asked important spiritual questions, which Lord Buddha answered by giving extremely beneficial teachings.

The orange colour of his skin represents the growth and proliferation of wisdom, clarity, merits, memory, eloquence, knowledge and the arts in practitioners. He is also called the Lord of Awakened Speech, which reveals his special ability to purify the negative karma of one’s speech and the development of a powerful ability to influence others positively into the Dharma.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

138. Vaishravana (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Vaishravana and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Vaishravana (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Namtose (Tibetan)
Vaishravana is an enlightened protector who, in the Tibetan tradition, is relied upon as a great wealth-bestowing deity. He is not to be confused with the unenlightened Vaishravana, who is one of the Four Heavenly Guardian Kings. He is typically depicted riding on a lion. Vaishravana is propitiated as the protector of the Middle Scope of the Lamrim or Graduated Stages on the Path to Enlightenment. He assists practitioners in removing obstacles for the study, contemplation and realisation of Buddhist teachings, and helps to provide conducive conditions for the practice of Buddhism, especially those connected to material needs.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

139. Hayagriva Secret Accomplishment (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Hayagriva Secret Accomplishment and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Hayagriva Secret Accomplishment (English)
Alternative name: Hayagriva Sangdrup (Tibetan)
Hayagriva Secret Accomplishment is a form of Hayagriva popularised by the Shangpa Kagyu master Kyergangpa, who received the practice from Guru Rinpoche in a dream. Masters of other schools of Tibetan Buddhism have encouraged the practice, including Lama Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelug tradition who found it to be highly efficacious.

The practice of Hayagriva Secret Accomplishment is included in the Sukha Gyatsa series of initiations compiled by His Holiness the 4th Panchen Lama Lobsang Chokyi Gyeltsen. In this form, he has three faces (red, green and white), six arms, and eight legs trampling on nagas. As such, his practice is considered effective protection against nagas and counters the after-effects of black magic and spells. He is especially beneficial for those suffering from terminal illnesses.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

140. White Tara (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): White Tara and Dorje Shugden

Deity: White Tara (English)
Alternative names: Sita Tara (Sanskrit); Drolkar (Tibetan)
In the ancient text known as Praise to the 21 Taras, Tara is said to have emanated in 21 main forms. The most popular of these forms are the Green and White Taras. Unlike her green counterpart, White Tara sits in full meditation and holds the stem of an utpala flower in her left hand. She has seven eyes – three on her sacred face, one on each hand and one on the soles of each foot. They represent her ability to look into each realm of samsara, along with her clairvoyant ability to look into the past, present and future simultaneously with great compassion.

As the healing emanation of Tara, White Tara’s white colour represents her ability to purify illnesses. This is achieved by the practitioner’s generation of merit by relying on her and the purification of previous negative karma accumulated from harming others. Hence, her practice is also considered to be a long life practice. White Tara is popularly placed together with Ushnishavijaya and Amitayus and together they are known as the Three Long Life Deities.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

 

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141. Yamantaka (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Yamantaka, Kalarupa and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Yamantaka (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Vajrabhairava (Sanskrit); Shinje She (Tibetan); Dorje Jigje (Tibetan)
Yamantaka or Vajrabhairava is the manifestation of Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Stainless Wisdom. From amongst the many lineages of practices to enter Tibet, two translators Ra Lotsawa and Mal Lotsawa were known to have disseminated the main transmissions of Yamantaka. This tantra utilises anger as a means to purify all delusions and it is the only tantra that has the potential to purify extreme negative karma associated with the most heinous crimes.

It was the Indian master Lalitavajra who was the first to reveal the Yamantaka Tantra. Lalitavajra was a 10th Century scholar-master from Nalanda Monastery in Bihar, India. His main yidam (meditational deity) was Manjushri. One day, he had a pure vision of Manjushri exhorting him to travel to the land of Oddiyana in order to retrieve the Yamantaka Tantra. This master made the long journey there and encountered a special dakini, Vajra Vetali, who is better known as Yamantaka’s consort along with other dakinis who eventually revealed the entire Yamantaka Tantra to him. Unfortunately, they refused to allow him to take the texts with him. He was only allowed to memorise as much of the texts as he could in the short time he was in their presence. Upon their departure, this master quickly put down in words whatever he had memorised and the practice lineage descended down in this manner.

Deity: Kalarupa (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Damchen Chogyal (Tibetan)
The Dharma Protector Kalarupa is a manifestation of Manjushri. One of the main protectors of the Gelug order, Kalarupa is the principal protector of the Vajrabhairava Tantras and was one of the main protectors of Lama Tsongkhapa himself. Kalarupa is also propitiated as a Lamrim protector of the Lower Scope, meaning he is relied upon during the study and contemplation of the lowest scope of the Lamrim in order to clear inner obstacles and gain insight into the Lamrim teachings.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

142. Four-Faced Mahakala (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Four-Faced Mahakala with consorts and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Four-Faced Mahakala (English)
Alternative names: Chaturmukha Mahakala (Sanskrit); Gonpo Shel Shi (Tibetan)
Four-Faced Mahakala is a Dharma Protector associated explicitly with the Heruka Tantras and is propitiated by Heruka practitioners for spiritual protection and for the granting of material necessities so that they can concentrate on their spiritual practice. Four-Faced Mahakala has a very close connection with Dorje Shugden. In his previous lives as great lamas and teachers, Dorje Shugden as a lama relied on Four-Faced Mahakala as one of his primary protectors. Here he is portrayed with his four consorts: the black-coloured Dombini; the yellow-coloured Singhali; the red-coloured Rakshasi; and the green-coloured Chandali.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

143. Vishnu (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Brahma, Vishnu, Lakshmi and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Vishnu (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Khyabjuk (Tibetan)
Vishnu is part of a Hindu trinity known as the ‘Trimurti’, together with Brahma and Shiva. They are said to govern the universal processes of Creation, Maintenance and Destruction respectively. Vishnu is known as the Preserver who maintains elemental order within existence. At times, when this balance is disturbed, usually through the machinations of malevolent beings, he takes on various incarnations known as ‘avatars’ to subdue these beings and restore peace. The most famous of Vishnu’s incarnations include the God Ram and the God Krishna, who taught the Bhagavad Gita, one of the most sacred scriptures for Hindus today. Here he is depicted laying on the coils of the Naga King Shesha, said to be one of the primordial beings from the beginning of creation. He is depicted together with his consort, the Goddess Lakshmi who bestows wealth and prosperity.

Deity: Brahma (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Tsangpa (Tibetan)
Brahma is known as the God of Creation, who manifested on a lotus from Vishnu’s navel. While both Vishnu and Shiva are capable of being destructive, Brahma is considered to be the essence of creativity, language and the arts. After Buddha Shakyamuni gained enlightenment under the bodhi tree, recognising the world needed the teachings to enlightenment, Brahma appeared to Buddha Shakyamuni and requested him to teach, presenting him with a thousand-spoked golden wheel as an offering.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

144. Dorje Shugden (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Dorje Shugden

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

In his previous life, he was the incomparable Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen, a great and compassionate Buddhist master who arose as Dorje Shugden to protect the Buddhist teachings and its practitioners. As a Dharma Protector, Dorje Shugden helps to alleviate our worldly obstacles if you sincerely call upon him. When worldly obstacles are removed, spiritual practice can be focused on without interruption. Dorje Shugden is said to help not only Buddhists, but anyone who needs assistance. He is well known to provide swift help in dire situations, with clear and effective remedies. Reliance on Dorje Shugden requires no special ceremonies, rituals nor commitments as long as one practises being a good person.

145. Shantideva (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Shantideva and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Shantideva (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Shiwa Lha (Tibetan)
Shantideva was a great scholar, monk and saint from Nalanda Monastery in ancient India who was the head of over 500 pandits. Having mastered the teachings, he practised them internally, without any outward display of high spiritual attainments because he was extremely humble. This, however, led others in the monastery to think that he only ate, slept and defecated rather than striving to live by the Buddha’s teachings. In their eyes, he was a disgrace because they saw him doing nothing while everyone else busied themselves studying, debating, engaging in pujas or teaching.

Although they wanted him expelled from the monastery, he had done nothing wrong so they made a new rule. Each student in the monastery had to give a teaching and due to his humility, Shantideva was apprehensive at the prospect. However, the other monks built him a grand throne in a field, thinking that he would not be able to teach and would be disgraced into leaving Nalanda.

To their great surprise, Shantideva gave a profound explanation on the Bodhisattvacharyavatara or Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, a text which he himself had composed. When he reached the fourth verse of the ninth chapter, he levitated off the throne as portrayed in this image and rose so high into the air that he could no longer be seen, though he could still be heard until he finished the teaching.

The monks of Nalanda realised their mistake in thinking so lowly of an attained master and set out all over India to find him, as he never returned to Nalanda Monastery. When they finally came across him at the Stupa of Sri Dakshina in South India, they invited him back but he refused. Instead, he answered their questions on the Dharma and gave them transmissions of his teachings. The Bodhisattvacharyavatara is a seminal text still used and revered by Tibetan Buddhists today.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

146. Six-Armed Mahakala (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Six-Armed Mahakala and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Six-Armed Mahakala (English)
Alternative names: Shadbhuja Mahakala (Sanskrit); Gonpo Chagdrugpa (Tibetan)
Six-Armed Mahakala is an emanation of Avalokiteshvara and propitiated as the protector of the Highest Scope of the Lamrim or the Graduated Stages on the Path to Enlightenment. He is propitiated to aid in the study, contemplation and realisation of the highest scope of the teachings and is also one of the three main protectors of the great Lama Tsongkhapa, together with Kalarupa and Vaishravana.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

147. Kurukulle (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Kurukulle and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Kurukulle (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Rigchema (Tibetan)
The sublime Kurukulle is a female deity who is red in colour. Her practice is one that invokes upon the activity of control and magnetisation. She is in dancing posture and has four arms holding a bow, an arrow made of flowers, a noose and a vajra hook of flowers. Kurukulle is considered a manifestation of Red Tara, one of the 21 Taras of the old Tara Tantras. Interestingly, her name is actually Kurukulla although it is popularly pronounced as ‘Kurukulle’, due to the Tibetan pronunciation of her mantra and Sanskrit grammar. Kurukulle is also very popular among the Newari Tantric Buddhists of Nepal.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

148. Ten-Armed Kali (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Kali and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Kali (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Lhamo Tromo (Tibetan)
Kali is a Hindu goddess whose name means ‘she who is black’ or ‘she who is death’. However, she is also known by other epithets and has many forms. For Hindus, she embodies the very essence of time and hence, she is believed to devour all things. Kali is a goddess of time, death and destruction, and is also the goddess of rebirth and growth as all things new must have its causes in something old. She is widely worshipped by gods and men and in some traditions, she has come to represent the benevolence of a mother goddess.

In Hindu Tantra, Kali embodies shakti (feminine power), creativity and fertility, and she is widely considered to be the incarnation of Parvati, the goddess consort of Shiva. She is widely represented in art as a wrathful figure bearing a necklace of heads, a skirt of arms, a lolling tongue and brandishing a knife dripping with the blood of the slain demons.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

149. Chandrakirti (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Green Tara, Chandrakirti and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Chandrakirti (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Dawa Drakpa (Tibetan)
Chandrakirti was born into a Brahmin family living in Samana, South India. At birth, he was presented to a soothsayer who prophesied that he would become a great Buddhist master when he grew up. Later, he was ordained as a monk at the great monastic institution of Nalanda and went on to study both Sutra and Tantra, along with non-Buddhist philosophical systems as well.

Later, Chandrakirti met the great master Nagarjuna and received numerous teachings on Sutra and Tantra from him, following which he was able to gain high states of realisation. When in the monastery, nobody saw him meditate, study or work, and this earned him the reputation of being a lazy monk, engaging in only the three lower actions of sleeping, eating and defecating. The abbot decided to fix the issue and assigned him as the caretaker of the monastery. He also assigned another monk named Suryakirti to assist him.

The monastery owned a number of cows which provided the monks with milk, their daily form of sustenance. However, Chandrakirti allowed them to roam free and over time, the monks realised that despite the fact the cows were allowed to roam free, he was still able to provide the monastery with enough milk. Eventually, it was revealed by Suryakirti that Chandrakirti was able to milk a painting of a cow through his spiritual abilities, rather than needing to milk the actual cows. Later, Chandrakirti was also able to save the monastery from a raging army by creating the illusion of a moving stone lion.

Chandrakirti was a prolific author and wrote various commentaries to Nagarjuna’s famous works. In fact, Lama Tsongkhapa was famous for asking Manjushri, the Buddha of Wisdom, whether he could rely on Chandrakirti’s writings in order to comprehend Nagarjuna’s view. Manjushri replied that one can have complete trust in Chandrakirti’s wisdom because he clearly understood Nagarjuna’s intent.

Deity: Arya Tara (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Green Tara (English); Shyama Tara (Sanskrit); Drolma (Tibetan); Droljang (Tibetan)
Tara is known as Jetsun Drolma in Tibetan and she is a very important figure in Tibetan Buddhism. She is known as the ‘saviouress’ and is also considered the embodiment of the activity of all the Buddhas. In the Tara Tantras, it is said that she was a Bodhisattva disciple of the Buddha of another world system. Her name was Yeshe Dawa and she had deep faith in the Buddha of that world system and made tremendous offerings to him. She also went to receive teachings and engaged in deep meditations as well. At one time, she received a special teaching on the development of Bodhicitta – the infinitely compassionate mental state of a Bodhisattva.

After the teachings, some monks approached her and suggested that because of her level of attainments, she should pray to be reborn as a male to progress further in her next life. She contemplated their words and told the monks that it is only the “ignorant minded” who see gender as a barrier to attaining enlightenment. Nevertheless, she realised that there have been few who have developed the aspiration to work for the welfare of sentient beings in a female form. Therefore, she made the aspiration to be reborn in a female form again and again, to work tirelessly to liberate all beings until samsara is emptied. She then remained in a state of meditation and perceiving her supreme aspiration, the Buddha prophesied that she would manifest enlightenment and be known as the Goddess Tara. She is associated mainly with enlightened activity and protection. With her right leg extended in her ever-readiness to assist, Tara is known for swift action and manifests many miracles through her sacred images in both India and Tibet.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

150. Buddha Shakyamuni (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Buddha Shakyamuni, Lama Tsongkhapa and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Buddha Shakyamuni (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Sangye Shakya Tupa (Tibetan)
Buddha Shakyamuni is the current and historical Buddha who was born a prince in the region of Lumbini (in what is now Nepal). He left the palace, became a wandering mendicant and met several teachers who taught him meditation but still he was not able to gain freedom from samsara or cyclic existence which is marked by suffering. As he persevered with his ascetic practices, he realised the ‘Middle Way’. Inspired by this, he sat under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya and eventually attained enlightenment. The Buddha gave his first teaching at Sarnath Park on the Four Noble Truths. From then on, the Buddha continued to teach 84,000 Dharmas compassionately until his Parinirvana at age 81.

Deity: Lama Tsongkhapa (Tibetan)
Alternative names: Sumati Kirti (Sanskrit); Lobsang Drakpa (Tibetan)
Lama Tsongkhapa was a 15th Century scholar-yogi who established the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. After spending years studying and meditating, he established monastic institutions of learning and practice, producing limitless masters, tantrikas, yogis, scholars and teachers of the Buddhist path. In his previous life, during the time of Buddha Shakyamuni, he was a young boy who, upon seeing the Buddha, offered him a crystal mala (rosary) as an offering. This is offering is depicted in this thangka. It was then that Buddha prophesied that the boy would be reborn in a land to the north (Tibet) to spread his teachings there. This boy later took rebirth as Lama Tsongkhapa, revived the Buddha’s teachings in Tibet and established the Gelug tradition.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

 

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151. Nagarjuna (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Nagarjuna and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Nagarjuna (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Ludrub (Tibetan)
Together with Asanga, Nagarjuna was one of the two great pioneers of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition. Together they are known as the Two Crowns. Nagarjuna was known to be a great scholar and abbot of Nalanda Monastery. He even became known as an accomplished alchemist who provided for the monastery with his extraordinary abilities. Once while he was giving teachings, two strangers anointed with sandalwood appeared. After the teachings, the strangers revealed themselves to be nagas in disguise and extended a formal request to the master Nagarjuna to descend into their realm in order to give teachings. After some thought, he agreed. While in the realm of the nagas, he was presented with the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras (Prajnaparamita), which contain teachings on emptiness (shunyata) that were hidden away in the realm of the nagas.

Nagarjuna proliferated these teachings and wrote various commentaries to the texts he brought back with him. The doctrine he expounded is called the Madhyamaka or the Middle Way philosophy, which became the main pillar of the Mahayana tradition. He also wrote several important commentaries on the Guhyasamaja Tantra along with various other writings. He is famous for a text called “Letter to A Friend”, which was a special personal teaching to a disciple who was the king of a medieval kingdom, whom he met when he was just a child. Nagarjuna’s heart disciple, Aryadeva, carried on the legacy of his teachings.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

152. Kurukulle (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Kurukulle and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Kurukulle (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Rigchema (Tibetan)
The sublime Kurukulle is a female deity who is red in colour. Her practice is one that invokes upon the activity of control and magnetisation. She is in dancing posture and has four arms holding a bow, an arrow made of flowers, a noose and a vajra hook of flowers. Kurukulle is considered a manifestation of Red Tara, one of the 21 Taras of the old Tara Tantras. Interestingly, her name is actually Kurukulla although it is popularly pronounced as ‘Kurukulle’, due to the Tibetan pronunciation of her mantra and Sanskrit grammar. Kurukulle is also very popular among the Newari Tantric Buddhists of Nepal.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

153. Four-Armed Chenrezig (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Four-Armed Chenrezig and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Four-Armed Chenrezig (English)
Alternative name: Caturbhuja Avalokiteshvara (Sanskrit)
Chenrezig’s sacred name literally means the “All-Seeing Lord”. He is regarded as the embodiment of compassion and his divine presence is invoked through his well-known six syllable mantra, OM MANI PADME HUM. His most commonly depicted form has four arms that represent the “Four Immeasurables” of loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and perfect equanimity. With two of his hands folded at his heart, he holds a blue wish-granting gem, symbolising the great compassion of all Buddhas. With his other right hand, he holds aloft a mala (rosary) of 108 beads, representing his ability to guide all beings on the path to liberation. With his other left hand he holds aloft the stem of an immaculate lotus, indicating that he is unstained by samsara and he has great compassion. Chenrezig’s practice is excellent for those who are angersome, as his practice lessens anger, as well as for those who suffer from depression.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

154. Standing Green Tara (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Standing Green Tara and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Arya Tara (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Green Tara (English); Shyama Tara (Sanskrit); Drolma (Tibetan); Droljang (Tibetan)
Tara is known as Jetsun Drolma in Tibetan and she is a very important figure in Tibetan Buddhism. She is known as the ‘saviouress’ and is considered the embodiment of the activity of all the Buddhas. In the Tara Tantras, it is said that she was a Bodhisattva disciple of the Buddha of another world system. Her name was Yeshe Dawa and she had deep faith in the Buddha of that world system and made tremendous offerings to him. She went to receive teachings and engaged in deep meditations as well. At one time, she received a special teaching on the development of Bodhicitta – the infinitely compassionate mental state of a Bodhisattva.

After the teachings, some monks approached her and suggested that because of her level of attainments, she should pray to be reborn as a male to progress further in her next life. She contemplated their words and told the monks that it is only the “ignorant minded” who see gender as a barrier to attaining enlightenment. Nevertheless, she realised that there have been few who have developed the aspiration to work for the welfare of sentient beings in a female form. Therefore, she made the aspiration to be reborn in a female form again and again, to work tirelessly to liberate all beings until samsara is emptied. She then remained in a state of meditation and perceiving her supreme aspiration, the Buddha prophesied that she would manifest enlightenment and be known as the Goddess Tara. She is associated mainly with enlightened activity and protection. Tara is known for swift action and manifests many miracles through her sacred images in both India and Tibet.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

155. Eight Medicine Buddhas (Main figures)

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(Top to bottom): Eight Medicine Buddhas, White Mahakala, Four-Faced Mahakala and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Medicine Buddha (English)
Alternative names: Bhaisajyaguru (Sanskrit); Menlha (Tibetan)
The Medicine Buddha made a vow during a previous aeon that if any being who suffers from sickness calls upon on him, he will heal them. Illnesses can be both mental and physical, but the root causes for any illness are ignorance, hatred and desire. According to scriptural sources, the Medicine Buddha is believed to reside in the Eastern Pure Land of “Vaiduryanirbhasa” or the “Pure Lapis Lazuli”. Reciting the Medicine Buddha mantra and blowing onto both people and animals is said to purify the immediate negative karma afflicting them and can also help them to take a good rebirth. It is good practice to recite the mantra of Medicine Buddha and blow on animals to help them take positive rebirths where they can practise the Dharma. It is also beneficial to blow the mantra onto animal bones or remains, even though they are long dead, to help them take a good rebirth in the future. The Medicine Buddha practice has many and varied benefits and is therefore very prevalent within all schools of Tibetan and Chinese Buddhism.

There are seven Buddhas that one can propitiate alongside Medicine Buddha in order to invoke upon their healing abilities. During puja or prayers, the name and mantra of each Buddha is recited in order to invoke upon their vows, and thereby invoke upon the purification and blessings of their vows. The seven healing Buddhas are Buddha Suparakirtita Namashri, Buddha Nirghosharaja, Buddha Dharmakirtisagara, Buddha Ashokattamshri, Buddha Suvarnabhadra Vimala, Buddha Abhijnaraja and Buddha Shakyamuni.

Deity: White Mahakala (English)
Alternative names: Gonkar (Tibetan); Shadbhuja Sita Mahakala (Sanskrit)
White Mahakala is an emanation of Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion. He is the principal wealth deity practised within the Shangpa Kagyu tradition founded by Khedrup Khyungpo Naljor in the 11th Century. His practice exists within many other Tibetan Buddhist traditions, including the Gelug tradition. In this form, Mahakala is both a protector deity and a meditational deity, whose function is to increase wealth and material abundance for spiritual practitioners. When practitioners no longer need to worry about mundane needs, they can spend more time developing themselves spiritually.

Deity: Four-Faced Mahakala (English)
Alternative names: Chaturmukha Mahakala (Sanskrit); Gonpo Shel Shi (Tibetan)
Four-Faced Mahakala is a Dharma Protector associated explicitly with the Heruka Tantras and is propitiated by Heruka practitioners for spiritual protection and for the granting of material necessities so that they can concentrate on their spiritual practice. Four-Faced Mahakala has a very close connection with Dorje Shugden. In his previous lives as great lamas and teachers, Dorje Shugden as a lama relied on Four-Faced Mahakala as one of his primary protectors.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

156. Manjushri Namasamgiti (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Manjushri Namasamgiti and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Manjushri Namasamgiti (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Jampelyang Tsenjod (Tibetan)
Manjushri is the patron Buddha of Wisdom. In one of his right hands, he holds a flaming wisdom sword which cuts away the roots of ignorance from our lives and in one of his left hands, he holds the Perfection of Wisdom (Prajnaparamita) text. This text is symbolic of his practice granting wisdom, insight and merit. Manjushri is frequently featured in sutras because he is known to have asked important spiritual questions, which Lord Buddha answered by giving extremely beneficial teachings.

The Manjushri Namasamgiti teaching is regarded as one of the most advanced teachings given by Buddha Shakyamuni. It represents the pinnacle of all of Buddha Shakyamuni’s teachings on non-dual tantra. According to tradition, the teachings contained in this treatise were given by Buddha Shakyamuni for his disciple Vajrapani and his wrathful retinue. At the heart of this treatise is the Bodhisattva Manjushri as the embodiment of all knowledge and it lists his various epithets, names and forms. Amongst these is a central form of Manjushri which has since become known by the name of the treatise itself. The form depicted here in this thangka follows the Sakya tradition’s presentation of Manjushri Namasamgiti.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

157. Shiva, Parvati and Ganapati (Main figures)

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(Top to bottom): Shiva, Parvati, Ganapati, Santoshi and Dorje Shugden.

Deities: Shiva, Parvati and Ganapati (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Lha Chenpo, Lhamo Uma and Tsodag (Tibetan)
Within the Hindu pantheon of deities, Shiva, Parvati and Ganapati embody the celestial aspect of familial bonds. Shiva the Destroyer is one of the Trimurti or holy trinity, together with Brahma the Creator and Vishnu the Preserver. These three gods together govern the creative, preservative and destructive forces of existence. Shiva’s destructive force, though thought of as literal, is also thought of as metaphorical in regards to the destruction of one’s ego, which leads to higher states of consciousness and salvation. Shiva’s power (or Shakti) is embodied in his consort, Parvati, who is herself a formidable goddess. Their son, the elephant-headed Ganapati, here portrayed as a child, is the god who creates and removes obstacles in one’s life. Due to a boon he was granted by his father, Ganapati is worshipped before any other god during both daily prayers and annual rituals.

Deity: Santoshi (Sanskrit)
Santoshi is considered to be one of the daughters of Ganapati. Her practice is widespread, especially amongst those who want their wishes granted. Her practice is one that involves fasting and prayer, and is popularly engaged in by adolescent women.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources. Dorje Shugden’s form is said to have manifested in the heavenly realms, via energy emitted from the body of the enlightened Ganapati.

158. Portrait of Shambhala (Abode)

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(Top to bottom): Dorje Shugden, Shambhala (abode) and emanation of King Raudra Chakrin.

Abode: Shambhala
Shambhala is a physical place associated with the Kalachakra Tantra. One can enter the kingdom with one’s physical body but it exists on a slightly different plane. Spiritually-attained beings are able to visit Shambhala using their astral bodies. His Holiness the Panchen Lama and his line of incarnations are masters of the Kalachakra Tantra and are said to have travelled to this realm. The 6th Panchen Lama Lobsang Palden Yeshe recorded the way to get to Shambhala as well as what exists there in detail in his text known as Shambhala Lam Yig or “The Way to Shambhala”. The kingdom, which takes the shape of an eight-petal lotus, is ruled by great rulers who are emanations of various enlightened beings. They preserve the Kalachakra Tantra and proliferate its practice.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

Dorje Shugden, in his previous lifetimes as great translators and lineage-holders, was responsible for the dissemination and preservation of the Kalachakra Tantra in Tibet. One of the places Dorje Shugden abides is Shambhala. According to the long Fulfilment Puja (kangsol) text, Dorje Shugden at the beginning of the puja is called forth from this mystical land, the last great stronghold of the Kalachakra lineage on earth.

Deity: King Raudra Chakrin (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Rigden Dragpo (Tibetan)
Raudra Chakrin’s name literally means ‘Forceful Wheel Holder’. The final king prophesied in the Kalachakra Tantra, Raudra Chakrin is foretold to reign over the kingdom of Shambala in the year 2424 CE and will emerge from his hidden kingdom to establish a planet-wide Golden Age following his defeat of degenerate world rulers who will try to invade his paradise-like kingdom. At that time, the world will be devoid of true Dharma and signs of spiritual degeneration will be very strong. The depiction of the king here is his wrathful emanation, which he will employ to battle the armies of the degenerate world rulers.

159. Portrait of Shambhala (Abode)

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(Top to bottom): Shambhala (abode) and Dorje Shugden

Abode: Shambhala
Shambhala is a physical place associated with the Kalachakra Tantra. One can enter the kingdom with one’s physical body but it exists on a slightly different plane. Spiritually-attained beings are able to visit Shambhala using their astral bodies. His Holiness the Panchen Lama and his line of incarnations are masters of the Kalachakra Tantra and are said to have travelled to this realm. The 6th Panchen Lama Lobsang Palden Yeshe recorded the way to get to Shambhala as well as what exists there in detail in his text known as Shambhala Lam Yig or “The Way to Shambhala”. The kingdom, which takes the shape of an eight-petal lotus, is ruled by great rulers who are emanations of various enlightened beings. They preserve the Kalachakra Tantra and proliferate its practice.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

Dorje Shugden, in his previous lifetimes as great translators and lineage-holders, was responsible for the dissemination and preservation of the Kalachakra Tantra in Tibet. One of the places Dorje Shugden abides is Shambhala. According to the long Fulfilment Puja (kangsol) text, Dorje Shugden at the beginning of the puja is called forth from this mystical land, the last great stronghold of the Kalachakra lineage on earth.

160. King Raudra Chakrin (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Shambhala (abode), His Holiness the 10th Panchen Lama, Two-Armed Kalachakra, Raudra Chakrin, Manjushri and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: King Raudra Chakrin (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Rigden Dragpo (Tibetan)
Raudra Chakrin’s name literally means ‘Forceful Wheel Holder’. The final king prophesied in the Kalachakra Tantra, Raudra Chakrin is foretold to reign over the kingdom of Shambala in the year 2424 CE and will emerge from his hidden kingdom to establish a planet-wide Golden Age following his defeat of degenerate world rulers who will try to invade his paradise-like kingdom. At that time, the world will be devoid of true Dharma and signs of spiritual degeneration will be very strong.

Abode: Shambhala
Shambhala is a physical place associated with the Kalachakra Tantra. One can enter the kingdom with one’s physical body but it exists on a slightly different plane. Spiritually-attained beings are able to visit Shambhala using their astral bodies. His Holiness the Panchen Lama and his line of incarnations are masters of the Kalachakra Tantra and are said to have travelled to this realm. The 6th Panchen Lama Lobsang Palden Yeshe recorded the way to get to Shambhala as well as what exists there in detail in his text known as Shambhala Lam Yig or “The Way to Shambhala”. The kingdom, which takes the shape of an eight-petal lotus, is ruled by great rulers who are emanations of various enlightened beings. They preserve the Kalachakra Tantra and proliferate its practice.

Lama: His Holiness the 10th Panchen Lama (Tibetan)
The Panchen Lama line of incarnations are believed to be emanations of the kings of Shambhala. His Holiness the 10th Panchen Lama was no different. He was a lineage master of the Kalachakra Tantra and promoted the practice heavily. He was born in 1938 in what is today’s Qinghai Province. He was enthroned and given the name ‘Choekyi Gyaltsen’ at Kumbum Monastery in 1949. He led an illustrious life and entered clear light in Shigatse at the age of 51 in 1989.

Deity: Kalachakra (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Dukyi Korlo (Tibetan)
Kalachakra means ‘Wheel of Time’ or “time-cycles” and is the name of a tantric deity of Vajrayana Buddhism. The meditations contained in this tantric system has the great ability to bring one to complete enlightenment. According to the Kalachakra Tantra, Buddha Shakyamuni taught the Kalachakra Root Tantra in Dharanikota (near modern-day Amaravathi) in south-eastern India to the first King of Shambhala. This king brought the Tantra back to Shambhala where it is the main practice of this mystical land. All the Kings of Shambhala are the lineage holders of this Kalachakra Tantra.

Deity: Manjushri (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Jampel Yang (Tibetan)
Manjushri, or Jampal Yang in Tibetan, literally means “Gentle-voiced” and he has the appearance of a youthful 16-year-old prince. He is one of the most popular Bodhisattvas in the Buddhist pantheon and his earthly abode is in Wutai Shan (Five-Peak Mountains) of China. He is widely known to be the patron Bodhisattva of Wisdom.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

Dorje Shugden, in his previous lifetimes as great translators and lineage-holders, was responsible for the dissemination and preservation of the Kalachakra Tantra in Tibet. One of the places Dorje Shugden abides is Shambhala. According to the long Fulfilment Puja (kangsol) text, Dorje Shugden at the beginning of the puja is called forth from this mystical land, the last great stronghold of the Kalachakra lineage on earth.

 

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161. Vajra Yogini (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen, Vajra Yogini, Cittipati and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Naro Kechari Vajra Yogini (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Dorje Neljorma (Tibetan)
This form of Vajra Yogini arose from a pure vision beheld by the Indian Mahasiddha Naropa, hence her name Naro Kechari (or Naropa’s Dakini). This form of Vajra Yogini and her practice has since become the main form of Vajra Yogini transmitted due to the efficacy of her practice and blessings of her lineage. Her Tantra promises rebirth in her pure land known as Kechara Paradise, in order that practitioners can continue their spiritual journey without worldly distractions until they become a fully enlightened Buddha.

Deity: Cittipati (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Durdak Yabyum (Tibetan); Shri Shmashana Adhipati (Sanskrit)
According to scriptural sources, Cittipati is also known as Shri Shmashana Adhipati, which literally means “Lord and Lady of the Charnel Ground”. The practice of Cittipati arises from the Secret Essence Wheel Tantra. This Tantra is closely associated with the Chakrasamvara Tantra, the scriptural source of the Vajra Yogini practice. Cittipati is regarded as the emanation of Heruka and Vajra Yogini. They are, therefore, in essence, enlightened wisdom protectors.

Deity: Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen (Tibetan)
Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen was a contemporary of the Great 5th Dalai Lama and a heart disciple of His Holiness the 4th Panchen Lobsang Chokyi Gyeltsen. He was a pure monk in the Buddhist monastic tradition and was recognised by the Panchen Lama to be the reincarnation of Panchen Sonam Drakpa, part of a long line of successive incarnations going all the way back to the time of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni. Due to an aspiration generated in a previous life, after Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen met with an untimely demise, he arose as the Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden as requested by the Dharma Protector Nechung.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden has a special regard for the Vajra Yogini Tantras. Before he arose as a Dharma Protector, he had for several lifetimes been great Mahasiddhas, scholars and Tantric practitioners. During his incarnations as the Mahasiddha Naropa and the master Tsarchen Losel Gyatso, he was pivotal in the revelation and proliferation of the Vajra Yogini Tantra. In his Dharma Protector form, Dorje Shugden clears obstacles and provides conducive conditions for spiritual practice to flourish, especially for those who practise compassion and work for the benefit of others.

162. Dorje Shugden (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Dorje Shugden

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

In his previous life, he was the incomparable Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen, a great and compassionate Buddhist master who arose as Dorje Shugden to protect the Buddhist teachings and its practitioners. As a Dharma Protector, Dorje Shugden helps to alleviate our worldly obstacles if you sincerely call upon him. When worldly obstacles are removed, spiritual practice can be focused on without interruption. Dorje Shugden is said to help not only Buddhists, but anyone who needs assistance. He is well-known to provide swift help in dire situations, with clear and effective remedies. Reliance on Dorje Shugden requires no special ceremonies, rituals nor commitments as long as one practises being a good person.

163. Dorje Shugden (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Dorje Shugden, Chenrezig and Vajrapani.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

Deity: Chenrezig (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Avalokiteshvara (Sanskrit)
Chenrezig’s sacred name literally means the “All-Seeing Lord”. He is regarded as the embodiment of compassion and his divine presence is invoked through his well-known six syllable mantra, OM MANI PADME HUM. He holds the stem of an immaculate lotus, indicating that he is unstained by samsara and he has great compassion. Chenrezig’s practice is excellent for those who are angersome as his practice lessens anger and also for those who suffer from depression.

Deity: Vajrapani (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Chagna Dorje (Tibetan)
Vajrapani, known as Chagna Dorje in Tibetan, literally means ‘Holder of the Vajra’. Vajrapani is known as the Lord of Secrets and that means he bestows practitioners with a special aptitude to practise Tantra. He is also the Subduer of all Inner and Outer Maras. Inner maras are delusions and the self-grasping mind while outer maras refer to malevolent spirits and obstructing beings.

164. Five Tseringma Sisters (Main figures)

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(Top to bottom): Guru Rinpoche, Achi Chokyi Drolma, Five Tseringma Sisters and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Tashi Tseringma Five Goddesses (English)
Alternative name: Tashi Tsering Chenga (Tibetan)
Tashi Tseringma and her sister goddesses are mountain spirits who dwell in the border regions of Tibet and Nepal. They are believed to have been subdued by Guru Rinpoche in the 8th Century and have since been entrusted with protecting Buddhism. It is said that they travelled into India and received teachings at the ‘Dark noisy’ charnel ground from the Tibetan master, Lopon Chogyi Gocha and the Indian Mahasiddha Krishnacarya.

Then in the 11th Century, the sister goddesses manifested apparitions to distract Milarepa in order to test his resolve. However, they could not cause any harm due to their oaths to Guru Rinpoche and they appeared before the yogi three days later and reconfirmed their vows to protect the Dharma. It is said that they requested teachings, which Milarepa gave them including those on generating Bodhicitta, teachings on the Hevajra Tantra and others. The sisters consist of Tashi Tseringma, Thingi Zhalsangma, Miyo Losangma, Chodpen Drisangma and Telkar Drosangma.

Deity: Guru Rinpoche (Tibetan)
Alternative names: Guru Padmasambhava (Sanskrit); Lopon Rinpoche (Tibetan)
Guru Rinpoche, also known as Guru Padmasambhava, was an 8th Century Indian Buddhist master who travelled to Tibet in order to spread the Buddha’s teachings. Guru Rinpoche is highly revered within all schools of Tibetan Buddhism. He was invited to Tibet to subdue powerful obstructive beings who opposed the spread of Buddha’s teachings. He waged supernatural war with these deities and won due to his high spiritual attainments. Instead of vanquishing these obstructive beings, he chose to follow the Buddha’s teaching on compassion and bound them to an oath never to harm sentient beings again. They promised to protect and provide for practitioners on the Buddhist path.

Deity: Achi Chokyi Drolma (Tibetan)
Achi Chokyi Drolma is a Dharma Protector practised within the Drikung Kagyu lineage and the Karma Kagyu lineage, where she is known as Achi Chodron. She is considered an emanation of Vajra Yogini and it is said her coming was prophesied within the Heruka Chakrasamvara Tantra. Even the great Jigten Sumgon, himself the founder of the Drikung Kagyu, wrote extensive prayers to Achi Chokyi Drolma. In fact, she is said to be his great-grandmother.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

165. Samayavajra (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Samayavajra and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Samayavajra (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Damtsig Dorje (Tibetan)
Samayavajra’s name literally means ‘Indestructible Close Bond’. He is believed to have arisen from the collective minds of all the enlightened Buddhas. His practice stems from the Guhyasamaja (literally “Secret Assembly”) Tantra, which refers to the meditative gathering of psychic winds and elements within one’s energy channels, represented by the 32 deities of the Guhyasamaja mandala. As his name implies, Samayavajra purifies degenerated vows and commitments, and especially purifies heavy transgressions that severs the bond we have with our spiritual teacher. It is an important purification practice that is particularly emphasised within the Gelug tradition.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

166. Vajrapani (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Vajrapani and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Vajrapani (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Chagna Dorje (Tibetan)
Known as Chagna Dorje in Tibetan, Vajrapani’s name literally means ‘Holder of the Vajra’. He is wrathful, appearing in the form of a yaksha being. With his right leg bent and left outstretched, he stands in pratyalidha posture. He holds a golden five-pointed vajra in his right hand and with his left hand held in front of his heart, he makes a threatening gesture at our delusions and negative karma. Vajrapani is also known as the Lord of Secrets and he bestows practitioners with a special aptitude to practise Tantra. He is well-known to pacify inner and outer maras. Inner maras are delusions and the self-grasping mind while outer maras refer to malevolent spirits and obstructing beings.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

167. Standing Ksitigarbha (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Ksitigarbha, Buddha Amitabha and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Standing Ksitigarbha (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Dizangwang Pusa (Chinese)
Ksitigrabha is widely worshipped in East Asian Buddhism in the form of a Mahayana Buddhist monk. His name Kṣitigarbha literally means ‘Earth-store’, ‘Earth Treasury’ or ‘Earth Womb’. He is widely known for his incredible vow to liberate all sentient beings in the six realms between the time of the current Buddha Shakyamuni and the coming of the future Buddha Maitreya, as well as his vow not to achieve Buddhahood until all hells are emptied. That is why he is often regarded as the Bodhisattva of suffering hell-denizens. In Japanese Buddhism, he is also known as the guardian of children as well as the patron deity of deceased children and aborted foetuses. He is commonly depicted in East Asian Buddhism as a fully ordained monk with a halo around his shaved head and carries a monk’s staff to force open the gates of hells, and a wish-fulfilling jewel.

Deity: Buddha Amitabha (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Amituofo (Chinese)
Amitabha practice is very strong both in Tibet and China. In China there are many schools of Amitabha practice and the practice is known to be very efficacious. Chinese Buddhists, when meeting or parting with another person will salute each other by saying ‘Namo Amituofo’ which means ‘Praise to Amitabha’. This is to constantly recognise the inherent nature of Amitabha in all beings they encounter. Buddha mentioned clearly all of us have the seed of enlightenment and we have to recognise this. Reciting the sutra and mantra of Amitabha diligently with great faith combined with certain layman’s vows will create the causes of taking birth in what is known as the ‘Western Paradise’ of Amitabha. Practitioners of this path are said to have no fear at the time of death as Amitabha with an entourage will escort the practitioner personally to his pure land.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

168. Mahachakra Vajrapani (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Mahachakra Vajrapani and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Mahachakra Vajrapani (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Chagna Dorje Korlo Chenpo (Tibetan)
Vajrapani is also known as Guhyapati, Lord of Secrets, and he bestows practitioners with a special aptitude to practise Tantra. He is well-known to pacify inner and outer maras. Inner maras are delusions and the self-grasping mind while outer maras refer to malevolent spirits and obstructing beings. Mahachakra is a highest tantric form of the Vajrapani appearing as a meditational deity and regarded as completely enlightened. There are several forms of Mahachakra, with or without a consort and with retinue figures or solitary.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

169. Trakpo Sumtril (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen, Buddha Amitabha, Lama Tsongkhapa, Trakpo Sumtril, Chenrezig Sengetra, Nageshvaraja and Dorje Shugden.

Lama: Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen (Tibetan)
Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen was the heir to the Zimkhang Gongma line of incarnations. The first in the line of these illustrious incarnations was the great Panchen Sonam Drakpa (1478-1554). ‘Zimkhang Gongma’ literally means the Lord of Upper Residence and refers to the great ladrang (household) of Panchen Sonam Drakpa nestled in the hills above Drepung Monastery. It also refers to this incarnation line as well. Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen was a contemporary of the Great 5th Dalai Lama and both lamas were the heart disciples of His Holiness the 4th Panchen Lama Lobsang Chokyi Gyaltsen. In a previous lifetime he made the promise to arise as a protector of Je Tsongkhapa’s teachings, which came to pass as murderers forced a khata (silk scarf) down his throat and suffocated the lama. It was then that Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen arose as Dorje Shugden and eventually came to be known as a popular Dharma Protector of the Sakyas and Gelugs. Even those within some traditions of the Nyingma and Kagyus traditions consider him to be an extraordinary protector of the Dharma as well.

Deity: Buddha Amitabha (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Opagme (Tibetan)
Buddha Amitabha is one of the Five Dhyani Buddhas and resides in his Western Paradise called Sukhavati where practitioners with deep faith and those endowed with merit can take rebirth, in order to continue practising the path to become a fully enlightened being. He represents the awakened aggregate of mental discernment and purifies desire, hence he is red in colour.

Lama: Lama Tsongkhapa (Tibetan)
Alternative names: Sumati Kirti (Sanskrit); Lobsang Drakpa (Tibetan)
Lama Tsongkhapa was a 15th Century scholar-yogi who established the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. After spending years studying and meditating, he established monastic institutions of learning and practice, producing limitless masters, tantrikas, yogis, scholars and teachers of the Buddhist path. He is depicted here with his two heart sons, Gyaltsab Je and Khedrub Je. His teachings were so great that Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen arose as a Dharma Protector to ensure that they continue to benefit sentient beings along their spiritual path.

Deity: Trakpo Sumtril (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajrapani Hayagriva Garuda (Sanskrit)
Trakpo Sumtril in Tibetan literally means the ‘Three Wrathful Ones’ and this refers to a practice that combines three deities into one. The practice combines the practice of Vajrapani, Hayagriva and Garuda. However, the visualisation of this practice has Vajrapani as the central deity, while Hayagriva appears as a single green horse head protruding from Vajrapani’s head and a white Garuda, flying above. This practice is from the lineage of Lhodrag Drubchen Lekyi Dorje, (1326-1401 CE), who is an emanation of Vajrapani and one of Je Tsongkhapa’s teachers. This practice has many benefits but it is mainly a practice that can aid the healing of cancer, heart condition, epileptic fits, naga-related diseases and so forth.

Deity: Avalokiteshvara Simhananda (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Chenrezig Sengetra (Tibetan)
The practice of Avalokiteshvara Simhananda is one of Thirteen Golden Dharmas of the Sakya order. It is regarded as an important practice within the Sakya tradition and descends down through great masters such as Bari Lotsawa Rinchen Drag to Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (1092-1158 CE). The practice originated in India, from ancient masters such as Chandragomin and Suvarnadvipa. It then entered Tibet in the 11th century. Avalokiteshvara Simhananda is propitiated particularly in rituals to appease nagas. Therefore rituals and pujas associated with Avalokiteshvara Simhananda have a healing effect on those with skin conditions like leprosy, cancer and other related illnesses which are commonly believed to be caused by nagas. Furthermore, these rituals are also used in the offering of torma (ritual cakes) and incense to appease nagas as they are partial towards the great compassion of Avalokiteshvara.

Deity: Nageshvaraja (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Luwang Gyalpo (Tibetan)
His name literally means Tathagatha King of the Nagas or Luwang Gyalpo. He is also one of the 35 Confessional Buddhas as listed within the Mahayana Sutra of the Three Superior Heaps that we prostrate to in order to purify heavy negative actions. He sits in the full lotus posture with his body blue in colour and his face white. He is in the aspect of a fully awakened Buddha complete with all the marks and signs of an enlightened being. Above his head is a hood of seven serpents. Both his hands are clasped at the heart with the middle finger stretched out and touching, which is the mudra of releasing sentient beings from taking rebirth in the lower realms. This meditational form of Nageshvaraja is a meditational deity meant to remove diseases and obstacles inflicted by naga spirits. Furthermore, Nageshvaraja rituals are used to promote rain and employed in the creation of vases meant to harmonise the environment and bring stability to an area.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

170. Three Forms of Kalarupa (Main figures)

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(Top to bottom): Three Forms of Kalarupa and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Kalarupa (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Damchen Chogyal (Tibetan)
Kalarupa arose as the main Dharma Protector of the Yamantaka Tantras. Just like Yamantaka, he is an emanation of Manjushri, the Buddha of Wisdom. The practice of propitiating Kalarupa is commonly found in the Sakya, Kagyu and Gelug schools. Furthermore, Kalarupa is one of the three Dharma Protectors of the Lamrim tradition, along with Six-Armed Mahakala and Vaishravana. He is propitiated to aid in the study, contemplation and realisation of the lowest scope of the Lamrim teachings. These three protectors were also the special protectors of Lama Tsongkhapa. It is believed that Kalarupa manifested in human form to assist Lama Tsongkhapa during the long months of his arduous retreats. Kalarupa is part of Yamantaka’s retinue and he manifests in three main forms – Outer, Inner, and Secret. Inner and Outer Kalarupa are blue-black in colour while Secret Kalarupa is red in colour. The main form of Kalarupa is the outer Kalarupa and he appears with the face of a buffalo, alongside his consort Chamundi. Kalarupa pledged to eliminate obstacles that obstruct the divine activities of the great Yamantaka.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

 

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171. Samantabhadra (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Samantabhadra and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Samantabhadra (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Kuntu Zangpo (Tibetan)
In the Nyingma tradition, Buddha Samantabhadra represents the primordial Buddha or the Dharmakaya aspect, which is the mind of complete enlightenment. Buddha Samantabhadra arose from descriptions in the Guhyagarbha Tantra and other tantric texts. He is blue-black in colour, nude and possess the marks and signs of a fully enlightened Buddha. He also has his hands placed in the meditation posture and legs folded in the vajra position and embraces his consort, Samantabhadri. She is white in colour. However, there are some traditions that depict the couple adorned with jewellery and clothes.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

172. Buddha Shakyamuni (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Guru Rinpoche, Lama Tsongkhapa, Buddha Shakyamuni, Four-Faced Mahakala, Dorje Drolo, Palden Lhamo and Dorje Shugden.

Lama: Guru Rinpoche (Tibetan)
Alternative names: Guru Padmasambhava (Sanskrit); Lopon Rinpoche (Tibetan)
Guru Rinpoche, also known as Guru Padmasambhava, was an 8th Century Indian Buddhist master who travelled to Tibet in order to spread the Buddha’s teachings. Guru Rinpoche is highly revered within all schools of Tibetan Buddhism. He was invited to Tibet to subdue powerful obstructive beings who opposed the spread of Buddha’s teachings. He waged supernatural war with these deities and won due to his high spiritual attainments. Instead of vanquishing these obstructive beings, he chose to follow the Buddha’s teaching on compassion and bound them to an oath never to harm sentient beings again. They promised to protect and provide for practitioners

Lama: Lama Tsongkhapa (Tibetan)
Alternative names: Sumati Kirti (Sanskrit); Lobsang Drakpa (Tibetan)
Lama Tsongkhapa was a 15th Century scholar-yogi who established the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. After spending years studying and meditating, he established monastic institutions of learning and practice, producing limitless masters, tantrikas, yogis, scholars and teachers of the Buddhist path. In his previous life, during the time of Buddha Shakyamuni, he was a young boy who, upon seeing the Buddha, offered him a crystal mala (rosary) as an offering. It was then that Buddha prophesied that the boy would be reborn in a land to the north (Tibet) to spread his teachings there. This boy later took rebirth as Lama Tsongkhapa, revived the Buddha’s teachings in Tibet and established the Gelug tradition.

Deity: Buddha Shakyamuni (Sanskrit)
Alternative Name: Sangye Shakya Tubpa (Tibetan)
Shakyamuni is the historical Buddha who founded Buddhism in ancient India about 2,500 years ago. After an exhaustive search, he finally attained perfect and complete enlightenment under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya. His teachings became the basis for the Buddhist faith and he proclaimed that he was not the only one who achieved this state and revealed that there are other fully awakened beings that we can rely on.

All of the Buddha’s teachings are based on the four Noble Truths, which he established in his first sermon to explain the basis of our existence. He is depicted sitting in the Vajra position with his legs in the pose of full meditation. His body is said to bear all the 112 marks of a fully enlightened Buddha according to the ancient Indian belief of a Chakravartin or Universal Monarch. Buddha Shakyamuni is normally depicted in the Bhumisparsha mudra or the earth touching mudra with his right hand and the other hand cradling a begging bowl.

Deity: Four-Faced Mahakala (English)
Alternative names: Chaturmukha Mahakala (Sanskrit); Gonpo Shel Shi (Tibetan)
Four-Faced Mahakala is a Dharma Protector associated explicitly with the Heruka Tantras and is propitiated by Heruka practitioners for spiritual protection and for the granting of material necessities so that they can concentrate on their spiritual practice.

Deity: Dorje Drolo (Tibetan)
Dorje Drolo is a wrathful emanation of Guru Rinpoche, practiced particularly within the Nyingma tradition to overcome very negative obstacles. Guru Rinpoche manifested in this form to overcome many demons, spirits and obstructing beings of Tibet and the surrounding Himalayan region.

Deity: Palden Lhamo (Tibetan)
Alternative names: Shri Devi (Sanskrit), Remati (Sanskrit)
Palden Lhamo refers to a number of female protector deities. In the Gelug tradition, the principle form of Palden Lhamo is known as Magzor Gyalmo or the ‘Queen who Repels Armies’ and she is regarded as the wrathful emanation of Saraswati. Palden Lhamo is also the protectress of the Dalai Lama’s line of incarnations and originated within the entourage of Mahakala’s mandala.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

173. Buddha Shakyamuni (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Buddha Shakyamuni and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Buddha Shakyamuni (Sanskrit)
Alternative Name: Sangye Shakya Tubpa (Tibetan)
Shakyamuni is the historical Buddha who founded Buddhism in ancient India about 2,500 years ago. After an exhaustive search, he finally attained perfect and complete enlightenment under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya. His teachings became the basis for the Buddhist faith and he proclaimed that he was not the only one who achieved this state and revealed that there are other fully awakened beings that we can rely on.

All of the Buddha’s teachings are based on the four Noble Truths, which he established in his first sermon to explain the basis of our existence. He is depicted sitting in the Vajra position with his legs in the pose of full meditation. His body is said to bear all the 112 marks of a fully enlightened Buddha according to the ancient Indian belief of a Chakravartin or Universal Monarch. In this depiction, the Buddha was besieged by an army of demons, summoned by Mara to attack the Buddha on the night before he gained complete and perfect enlightenment. All the arrows, spears and weapons hurled at the Buddha transformed into a light shower of flowers on the Buddha.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

174. Chenrezig Gyalwa Gyatso (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Chenrezig Gyalwa Gyatso and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Chenrezig Gyalwa Gyatso (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Avalokiteshvara Jinasagara (Sanskrit)
Jinasagara, otherwise known as Gyalwa Gyatso, the ‘Ocean of Conquerors’ is a meditational form of Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion. Jinasagara’s practice is classified as a Highest Yoga Tantra which is equivalent to the Guhyasamaja, Heruka Chakrasamvara and Yamantaka Tantras. This practice has the generation and completion stages of tantric practice, which means that the practice has the potential to bring one to enlightenment within a single lifetime. With regards to its lineage, there exist several important traditions, which are the Rechungpa tradition, the Mindrolling tradition and the Mitra Yogin tradition. Within the Mitra Yogin tradition, the 3rd Panchen Lama Palden Yeshe was known to have contributed significantly to the body of written works of this deity practice.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

175. Ksitigarbha (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Ksitigarbha and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Phagpa Sai Nyingpo (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Ksitigarbha (Sanskrit)
Ksitigarbha is widely worshipped in East Asian Buddhism. His name Kṣitigarbha literally means ‘Earth-store’, ‘Earth Treasury’ or ‘Earth Womb’. He is mainly a Bodhisattva figure mentioned in the Mahayana Purvapravidhana Sutra and little mention within the tantras. He is widely known for his incredible vow to liberate all sentient beings in the six realms between the time of the current Buddha Shakyamuni and the coming of the future Buddha Maitreya, as well as his vow not to achieve Buddhahood until all hells are emptied. That is why he is often regarded as the Bodhisattva of suffering hell-denizens. His practice is mainly to prevent taking rebirth in the hell realm.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

176. Chenrezig Eight Perils (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Chenrezig Eight Perils and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Chenrezig (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Avalokiteshvara (Sanskrit)
Chenrezig’s sacred name literally means the ‘All-Seeing Lord’. He is regarded as the embodiment of compassion and his divine presence is invoked through his well-known six syllable mantra, OM MANI PADME HUM. He holds the stem of an immaculate lotus, indicating that he is unstained by samsara and he has great compassion. Chenrezig’s practice is excellent for those who are angersome as his practice lessens anger and also for those who suffer from depression. The Chenrezig of the Eight Perils or fears refers to the eight types of dangers that may potentially endanger or derail the spiritual path of a practitioner. The basis of these fears come from a particular Sutra called “The Sutra of Tara Who Protects from the Eight Fears” which, in Sanskrit, is known as the “Tara Staghoratarani Sutra”.

The Eight Fears contain both an inner and outer meaning:

  1. Water or drowning represents desirous attachment.
  2. Thieves represents false views.
  3. Hungry lions represents pride.
  4. Venomous snakes or serpents represents jealousy.
  5. Fire represents anger.
  6. Spirits or flesh-eating demons represents doubt.
  7. Captivity or imprisonment represents greed.
  8. Elephants represents ignorance.

Through the practice of worshipping Chenrezig, we are able to purify the karma of receiving harm from these eight fears and their associated inner delusions.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

177. Janguli (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Janguli and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Janguli (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Dugselma (Tibetan)
The historical Buddha Shakyamuni was the first to reveal the mantra of Janguli, a goddess who protects against snake bites and all manner of poison. Snakes like other wild and dangerous animals can be overcome by the power of compassion. According to her sadhana, Janguli is actually Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of Great Compassion manifesting in a female form to save those from the outer danger of snakes bites and poison. On the other hand, the snake in Buddhism is also a metaphor for anger, the destructive delusion, meaning her practice can help to overcome anger.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

178. Dipamkara Srijnana Atisha (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Dipamkara Srijnana Atisha, Dromtonpa and Dorje Shugden.

Lama: Dipamkara Srijnana Atisha (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Jowo Je Atisha (Tibetan)
Dipamkara Srijnana Atisha was a great Bengali (Indian) master, who travelled to Tibet in order to translate and propagate Buddhism at a time when the teachings had declined there. He is now known as a reviver of the Buddhist faith in Tibet. Having spent the majority of his life learning and studying the scriptures, especially during his 12-year stay in the Srivijaya Kingdom of Sumatra (Indonesia) where he focused intensely on teachings on compassion, he was perfectly able to bring about a renaissance of Buddhist practice in Tibet. Atisha’s main yidam or meditational deity was Tara and he had many visions of her. According to his biography, it was Tara who urged him to accept the invitation to travel to Tibet. While he was in Tibet, Atisha became famous for giving many extraordinary teachings. Amongst the many teachings he imparted, he is celebrated for starting the lineage of making wealth vases, for his mind training teachings and for starting the genre of teachings known as the Lamrim, which combine all of the Buddha’s teachings in a graduated path to enlightenment.

Lama: Dromtonpa (Tibetan)
Dromtonpa Gyelwe Jungne is the Tibetan heart disciple of Atisha and his main spiritual heir. Thus, he became instrumental in the formation of the Kadampa School in accordance to the teachings of his master Atisha. Although he remained a lay master, he was famous for his teachings on monastic discipline and founded Radreng Monastery. He had many disciples including a whole generation of Kadampa masters: Potowa Rinchen Sal, Chengawa Tsultrim Bar and Phuchungwa Shyonnu Gyaltsen.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

179. Manjushri Nagarakshasa (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Buddha Akshobhya, Manjushri, Manjushri Nagarakshasa and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Buddha Akshobhya (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Mitrugpa (Tibetan)
Buddha Akshobhya is one of the Five Dhyani Buddhas and represents the consciousness aspect of the five aggregates purified and in its enlightened form. The other four purified forms of the aggregates are represented by the other four of the Five Dhyani Buddhas. In the scriptures, he is known as the Lord of the Eastern Pure Land Abhirati, also known as ‘The Joyous’. His name literally means ‘immovable’ and his practice pacifies anger. Pujas and rituals to Akshobhya are performed to purify the heavy negative karma of taking rebirth in the hell realms. Manjushri Nagarakshasa belongs to Akshobhya’s family meaning that his practice also pacifies anger and the negative karma associated with actions performed out of anger. Akshobhya is depicted with one face, two arms and is blue in colour.

Deity: Manjushri (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Jampel Yang (Tibetan)
Manjushri, or Jampal Yang in Tibetan, literally means “Gentle-voiced” and he has the appearance of a youthful 16-year-old prince. He is one of the most popular Bodhisattvas in the Buddhist pantheon and his earthly abode is in Wutai Shan (Five-Peak Mountains) of China. He is widely known to be the patron Bodhisattva of Wisdom.

Deity: Manjushri Nagarakshasa (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Jampel Nagarakshasa (Tibetan)
The ferocious Manjushri Nagarakshasa or Jampel Nagarakshasa is one of the most fearsome looking Buddhas within the Tibetan Buddhist pantheon. As his name implies, he is a wrathful emanation of Manjushri but appears with the lower half of a naga. This practice first appeared in Tibet during the time of Guru Rinpoche. At that time, King Trisong Detsen discovered that nagas in disguise were attending Guru Rinpoche’s teachings. In dealing with the nagas, the king inadvertently offended them and was stricken with a terrible disease caused by the nagas. Guru Rinpoche eventually came to find out what had transpired and gave the practice of Manjushri Nagarakshasa to the king to alleviate the disease. Hence, the lineage of this practice descended from Guru Rinpoche with the purpose of appeasing the nagas and alleviating naga-related diseases. Signs that we receive when nagas are offended include dreams of snakes attacking us, accidents, skin diseases, kidney problems, disharmony within our lives, and in extreme cases can lead to possession. As powerful beings that can control the weather, they can also cause severe drought, or floods if they are displeased.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

180. Manjushri Namasamgiti (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Manjushri Namasamgiti and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Manjushri Namasamgiti (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Jampel Yang Tsenjod (Tibetan)
Manjushri is the patron Buddha of Wisdom. In one of his right hands, he holds a flaming wisdom sword which cuts away the roots of ignorance from our lives and in one of his left hands, he holds the Perfection of Wisdom (Prajnaparamita) text. This text is symbolic of his practice granting wisdom, insight and merit. Manjushri is frequently featured in sutras because he is known to have asked important spiritual questions, which Lord Buddha answered by giving extremely beneficial teachings.

The Manjushri Namasamgiti teaching is regarded as one of the most advanced teachings given by Buddha Shakyamuni. It represents the pinnacle of all of Buddha Shakyamuni’s teachings on non-dual tantra. According to tradition, the teachings contained in this treatise were given by Buddha Shakyamuni for his disciple Vajrapani and his wrathful retinue. At the heart of this treatise is the Bodhisattva Manjushri as the embodiment of all knowledge and it lists his various epithets, names and forms. Amongst these is a central form of Manjushri which has since become known by the name of the treatise itself. The form depicted here in this thangka follows one of the Gelug tradition’s presentations of Manjushri Namasamgiti.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

 

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181. Pratisara (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): 12-Armed Maha Pratisara, 2-Armed Pratisara and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Pratisara (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Sosordrangma (Tibetan)
The female Maha Pratisara is found within chapter fifteen of the Vajrapanjara Tantra. In the Vajrapanjara Tantra, she is associated with two other deities who are Bhutadamara Vajrapani and White Prajnaparamita. She is also related to the Hevajra Tantras. Her practice descends primarily via the Jonang lineage and has since been included within the Rinjung Gyatsa collection of sadhanas or daily practices. Pratisara is specifically propitiated to protect women who are pregnant as well as from various physiological ailments associated with women. The main deity is the elaborate form of Pratisara while the one on the bottom right is the 2-armed emanation of this deity.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

182. Sakya Pandita Kunga Gyaltsen (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Sakya Pandita Kunga Gyaltsen, Manjushri and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Sakya Pandita Kunga Gyaltsen (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Sapan (Abbreviated Tibetan Name)
Sakya Pandita Kunga Gyaltsen is believed to have been an emanation of Manjushri, the Buddha of Transcendent Wisdom. In addition, he is counted as the fourth of the Five Sakya Forefathers. These illustrious masters are Sachen Kunga Nyingpo, Sonam Tsemo, Jetsun Drakpa Gyaltsen, Sakya Pandita and Chogyal Phagpa. He received his ordination vows from the great Kashmiri abbot, Shakya Shri Bhadra. He became known as a great logician and fierce debater, especially after defeating the Thirtika master, Harinanda who travelled to Tibet and challenged him in philosophical debate. His fame spread like wildfire, which led to him being invited to the court of the Mongol ruler Goden Khan. It is said that he is one of the earlier incarnations of Dorje Shugden and thus owing to this karmic affinity, this Dharma Protector first arose within the Sakya School.

Deity: Manjushri (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Jampel Yang (Tibetan)
Manjushri, or Jampel Yang in Tibetan, literally means “Gentle-voiced” and he has the appearance of a youthful 16-year-old prince. He is one of the most popular Bodhisattvas in the Buddhist pantheon and his earthly abode is in the Wu Tai Shan Mountains of China. He is widely known to be the patron Bodhisattva of Wisdom. He was the main meditational deity or yidam of Sakya Pandita.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

183. Dharmadhatu Vagishvara Manjushri (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Dharmadhatu Vagishvara Manjushri and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Dharmadhatu Vagishvara Manjushri (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Choying Sungwang (Tibetan)
Manjushri is the patron Buddha of Wisdom. In one of his right hands, he holds a flaming wisdom sword which cuts away the roots of ignorance from our lives and in one of his left hands, he holds the Perfection of Wisdom (Prajnaparamita) text. This text is symbolic of his practice granting wisdom, insight and merit. Manjushri is frequently featured in sutras because he is known to have asked important spiritual questions, which Lord Buddha answered by giving extremely beneficial teachings.

Dharmadhatu Vagishvara Manjushri arises from the Manjushri Namasamgiti treatise which is regarded as one of the most advanced teachings given by Buddha Shakyamuni. It represents the pinnacle of all of Buddha Shakyamuni’s teachings on non-dual tantra. According to tradition, the teachings contained in this treatise were given by Buddha Shakyamuni for his disciple Vajrapani and his wrathful retinue. At the heart of this teaching is the Bodhisattva Manjushri as the embodiment of all knowledge and it lists his various epithets, names and forms. Dharmadhatu Vagishvara Manjushri is one of the main forms as listed in the treatise.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

184. Fasting Buddha Shakyamuni (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Fasting Buddha Shakyamuni, Sujata and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Fasting Buddha Shakyamuni (Sanskrit)
Alternative Name: Sangye Shakya Tubpa (Tibetan)
Shakyamuni is the historical Buddha who founded Buddhism in ancient India about 2,500 years ago. After an exhaustive search, he finally attained perfect and complete enlightenment under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya. His teachings became the basis for the Buddhist faith, and he proclaimed that he was not the only one who achieved this state and revealed that there are other fully awakened beings that we can rely on.

All of the Buddha’s teachings are based on the Four Noble Truths, which he established in his first sermon to explain the basis of our existence. He is depicted sitting in the Vajra position with his legs in the pose of full meditation. His body is said to bear all the 112 marks of a fully enlightened Buddha according to the ancient Indian belief of a Chakravartin or Universal Monarch. Buddha Shakyamuni depicted here is emaciated and therefore, he is known as the fasting Buddha because he practised severe asceticism before becoming enlightened. He accepted an offering of milk and rice from the milkmaid Sujata after he realised the path to enlightenment should be the Middle Way, free from extremes. This momentous occasion in the life story of the Buddha is depicted here.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

185. Three Saints of the Western Pureland (Main figures)

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(Top to bottom): Amituofo, Dashizhi, Kuan Yin and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Amituofo (Chinese)
Alternative names: Buddha Amitabha (Sanskrit), Opagme (Tibetan)
Amitabha practice is very strong both in Tibet and China. In China there are many schools of Amitabha practice as it is known to be very efficacious. Chinese Buddhists, when meeting or parting with another person will salute each other by saying ‘Namo Amituofo’ which means ‘Praise to Amitabha’. This is to constantly recognise the inherent nature of Amitabha in all beings they encounter. Buddha mentioned clearly all of us have the seed of enlightenment and we have to recognise this. Reciting the sutra and mantra of Amitabha diligently with great faith combined with certain layman’s vows will create the causes of taking birth in what is known as the ‘Western Paradise’ of Amitabha. Practitioners of this path are said to have no fear at the time of death as Amitabha with an entourage will escort the practitioner personally to his pure land. He is often portrayed flanked by two bodhisattva attendants, Kuan Yin on the right and Mahasthamaprapta on the left. This trinity is known as the ‘Three Saints of the Western Pureland’.

Deity: Dashizhi (Chinese)
Alternative name: Mahasthamaprapta (Sanskrit), Tuchen Tob (Tibetan)
Dashizhi is a Bodhisattva who represents the power of wisdom and her name literally means “arrival of the great strength”. She is famously considered one of the Eight Great Bodhisattva Disciples of Buddha Shakyamuni and just like Kuan Yin, she is depicted as a woman in Chinese Buddhism. In Tibetan Buddhism, Mahasthamaprapta is an emanation of Vajrapani and is a protector of Buddha Shakyamuni’s teachings.

Deity: Kuan Yin (Chinese)
Alternative names: Avalokiteshvara (Sanskrit), Chenrezig (Tibetan)
Kuan Yin is a popular archetypal Bodhisattva in the Sutras, in which she strives towards complete enlightenment. She is famously considered one of the Eight Great Bodhisattva Disciples of Buddha Shakyamuni. Kuan Yin’s practice is excellent for those who are angersome as her blessings lessen anger and also for those who suffer from depression. Appearing in India as a male, in China she transformed into a female over the centuries. Her origins seem to derive from the legend of the 7th Century Princess Miao Shan, who is widely believed to have been an emanation of Avalokiteshvara.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

186. Buddha Amitabha and Kuan Yin (Main figures)

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(Top to bottom): Amituofo, Kuan Yin and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Amituofo (Chinese)
Alternative names: Buddha Amitabha (Sanskrit), Opagme (Tibetan)
Amitabha practice is very strong both in Tibet and China. In China there are many schools of Amitabha practice as it is known to be very efficacious. Chinese Buddhists, when meeting or parting with another person will salute each other by saying ‘Namo Amituofo’ which means ‘Praise to Amitabha’. This is to constantly recognise the inherent nature of Amitabha in all beings they encounter. Buddha mentioned clearly all of us have the seed of enlightenment and we have to recognise this. Reciting the sutra and mantra of Amitabha diligently with great faith combined with certain layman’s vows will create the causes of taking birth in what is known as the ‘Western Paradise’ of Amitabha. Practitioners of this path are said to have no fear at the time of death as Amitabha with an entourage will escort the practitioner personally to his pure land. He is often portrayed flanked by two bodhisattva attendants, Kuan Yin on the right and Mahasthamaprapta on the left. This trinity is known as the ‘Three Saints of the Western Pureland’.

Deity: Kuan Yin (Chinese)
Alternative names: Avalokiteshvara (Sanskrit), Chenrezig (Tibetan)
Kuan Yin is a popular archetypal Bodhisattva in the Sutras, in which she strives towards complete enlightenment. She is famously considered one of the Eight Great Bodhisattva Disciples of Buddha Shakyamuni. Kuan Yin’s practice is excellent for those who are angersome as her blessings lessen anger and also for those who suffer from depression. Appearing in India as a male, in China she transformed into a female over the centuries. Her origins seem to derive from the legend of the 7th Century Princess Miao Shan, who is widely believed to have been an emanation of Avalokiteshvara.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

187. Brahmarupa Mahakala (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Brahmarupa Mahakala and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Brahmarupa Mahakala (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Gonpo Tramsuk (Tibetan)
Brahmarupa literally means the “One in the Brahmin Form”. Portrayed as a dark-skinned Indian yogi, Brahmarupa is a form of Four-Faced Mahakala, an emanation of Manjushri, the Buddha of Wisdom. He is considered to be a protector of both the Guhyasamaja and Chakrasamvara Tantras. He is therefore widely propitiated by many great lamas, yogis and practitioners in order to clear their path of inner obstacles while they engage in spiritual practice and retreats on these two tantric systems. During his lifetime, Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen (the previous life of Dorje Shugden) propitiated Brahmarupa Mahakala as his main Dharma Protector. Here he is depicted surrounded by the four dakinis of his entourage: the blue-coloured Dombini; the yellow-coloured Singhali; the red-coloured Rakshasi; and the green-coloured Chandali.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

188. Vajraraksha (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Vajraraksha and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Vajraraksha (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Dorje Sung Wa (Tibetan)
Vajraraksha’s name literally means ‘Indestructible Protection’. This unique Buddha possesses a unique skin tone of a white face, red body and blue legs. He holds a shirt of armour. He is included in the mandalas of several tantric deities including Vajradhatu Vairochana, Sarvavid Vairochana and Dharmadhatu Vagisvara Manjughosha, as well as various Japanese tantric mandalas. The form depicted here is from the Vajradhatu Vairochana mandala. In other mandalas he appears with different iconography. Vajraraksha embodies compassion and the perfection of joyous effort in order to protect practitioners from laziness. It is often said that when one develops compassion, one is moved into action to benefit others and through working for others one is able to overcome laziness.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

189. Ushnishavijaya (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Ushnishavijaya and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Ushnishavijaya (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Tsugtor Namgyalma (Tibetan)
The Buddha Ushnishavijaya’s name literally means ‘Victorious Crown Ornament’ and she is primarily worshipped as a deity granting long-life. That means her practice is meant to prolong one’s lifespan, heal the body, and purify physical ailments and their karmic causes. She is also a part of the Three Long-Life deities or Tselha Namsum in Tibetan, alongside Amitayus and White Tara. Although there are other long-life and healing deities, these three deities are regarded as the main long-life deities. This grouping was not found in the Indian texts but was proliferated as a trinity in Tibet.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

190. Ngok Lotsawa Loden Sherab (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Loden Sherab, Setrap and Dorje Shugden.

Lama: Ngok Lotsawa Loden Sherab (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Loden Sherab (Tibetan)
The 11th Century Ngok Lotsawa Loden Sherab was one of the most famous translators of his time. He was the nephew of Ngok Lekpe Sherab, one of the main disciples of the Indian master Atisha. He travelled to India in order to study Sanskrit translation and receive teachings with contemporary Indian masters. He returned to Tibet with a number of priceless texts and the Dharma Protector practice of Setrap. He is also known to have revised the translation of the Bodhicharyavatara and composed a commentary to this popular treatise. Throughout his lifetime, he translated a number of Indian treatises and revised a number of other treatises as well.

Deity: Setrap Chen (Tibetan)
Setrap’s name literally means Golden Cuirass and he is a Dharma Protector that was brought to Tibet by Lama Loden Sherab from India. He is believed to be the direct emanation of Amitabha Buddha. He was installed as the protector of Samphu Neutog Monastery and over time was brought over and installed as the protector of Gaden Shartse Monastery. He is also popularly worshipped within the Sakya School alongside Tsiu Marpo and Dorje Shugden, who are collectively known as the Three Kings or Gyalpo Sum.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

 

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191. 2nd Karmapa Karma Pakshi (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Vajradhara, Karma Pakshi, Palden Lhamo Dusolma and Dorje Shugden.

Lama: Karma Pakshi (Tibetan)
The 2nd Karmapa, Karma Pakshi, was born in Chilay Tsakto in eastern Tibet and was somewhat of a child prodigy. At a very young age, he taught himself to read and write. Later, he developed a photographic memory of the scriptures and many masters considered him to have grasped the Buddha’s teachings. For 11 years Karma Pakshi studied at the feet of Pomdragpa, specialising in the Mahamudra teachings of Saraha and Gampopa, and received the entire corpus of the Kagyu lineage teachings. He travelled to Kham to build and restore a number of monasteries. He also became the teacher of the Mongolian rulers Mongka Khan and Kublai Khan during his travels to Mongolia and travelled widely throughout the northern and eastern parts of Tibet.

Deity: Vajradhara (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Dorje Chang (Tibetan)
Vajradhara’s name means ‘Holder of the Vajra’. He is dark blue in colour with one face and two arms, which are crossed at the level of his heart. Buddha Vajradhara is none other than Buddha Shakyamuni, who took this form in order to teach the tantras, which are known to expedite one’s spiritual practice to achieve enlightenment. It is said that while following the sutra methods of practice takes practitioners three great aeons to achieve enlightenment, through the practice of tantra on the other hand, enlightenment can be achieved in this very lifetime.

Deity: Palden Lhamo Dudsolma (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Sri Devi (Sanskrit)
The protectress Palden Lhamo, also known as Shri Devi in Sanskrit, refers to a wide range of female protector deities from within the Tibetan Buddhist pantheon. They all share similar iconographic characteristics and so do their emanations. Lhamo Dudsolma is an emanation of the enlightened goddess of abundance known as Pal Lhamo or Sri Lakshmi in Sanskrit. Dudsolma means ‘smoke-clad’ and she appears in an extremely wrathful form with one face and four arms, riding a horse. She is primarily worshipped within the Nyingma, Kagyu and Sakya Schools.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

192. Three Drakpas (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Panchen Sonam Drakpa, Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen, Dulzin Drakpa Gyeltsen and Dorje Shugden.

Lama: Panchen Sonam Drakpa (Tibetan)
Panchen Sonam Drakpa was the disciple of the 2nd Dalai Lama and the teacher to the 3rd Dalai Lama. He became such a respected scholar-lama and was the Abbot of Gaden, Sera, Drepung Monasteries, as well as the Gaden Tripa. He achieved all of this within a single lifetime. His writings became used as scriptural textbooks used in the monastic curriculum of a number of Gelug monasteries. He established a residence known as the Upper House (Zimkhang Gongma Ladrang) that survived until the lifetime of Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen.

Lama: Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen (Tibetan)
Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen was the contemporary of the 5th Dalai Lama and the disciple of the illustrious Panchen Lobsang Chokyi Gyeltsen. He was a great scholar and meditator. During an audience with the Nechung oracle, he was reminded of his promise to arise as a Dharma Protector. At that time, it seemed that the fame of Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen eclipsed that of the Dalai Lama himself. Therefore, jealous attendants plotted and carried out the assassination of Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen. The protector Dorje Shugden arose after the demise of this great lama. However, the illustrious Zimkhang Gongma incarnation and his physical residence came to an end.

Lama: Dulzin Drakpa Gyeltsen (Tibetan)
He was a disciple of the great Lama Tsongkhapa himself and was hailed as an immaculate monk of great repute. Thus, he was given the title of Dulzin, which means ‘Holder of the Vinaya’ for the purity of his vows. He was known for his devotion to his Lama, which he expressed by building Gaden Monastery for his ageing lama to reside in and give teachings. He is also said to have made the promise to Nechung in order to arise as a Dharma Protector. Later, he built his own monastery, which was named Tsunmo Tsel Monastery.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

193. Buddha Shakyamuni (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Buddha Shakyamuni, Lama Tsongkhapa, Guru Rinpoche, Nagarjuna, Kalarupa, Six-Armed Mahakala, Dorje Drolo and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Buddha Shakyamuni (Sanskrit)
Alternative Name: Sangye Shakya Tubpa (Tibetan)
Shakyamuni is the historical Buddha who founded Buddhism in ancient India about 2,500 years ago. After an exhaustive search, he finally attained perfect and complete enlightenment under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya. His teachings became the basis for the Buddhist faith and he proclaimed that he was not the only one who achieved this state and revealed that there are other fully awakened beings that we can rely on.

Lama: Lama Tsongkhapa (Tibetan)
Alternative names: Sumati Kirti (Sanskrit); Lobsang Drakpa (Tibetan)
Lama Tsongkhapa was a 15th Century scholar-yogi who established the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. After spending years studying and meditating, he established monastic institutions of learning and practice, producing limitless masters, tantrikas, yogis, scholars and teachers of the Buddhist path. In his previous life, during the time of Buddha Shakyamuni, he was a young boy who, upon seeing the Buddha, offered him a crystal mala (rosary) as an offering. It was then that Buddha prophesied that the boy would be reborn in a land to the north (Tibet) to spread his teachings there. This boy later took rebirth as Lama Tsongkhapa, revived the Buddha’s teachings in Tibet and from his teachings arose the Gelug tradition.

Lama: Guru Rinpoche (Tibetan)
Alternative names: Guru Padmasambhava (Sanskrit); Lopon Rinpoche (Tibetan)
Guru Rinpoche, also known as Guru Padmasambhava, was an 8th Century Indian Buddhist master who travelled to Tibet in order to spread the Buddha’s teachings. Guru Rinpoche is highly revered within all schools of Tibetan Buddhism. He was invited to Tibet to subdue powerful obstructive beings who opposed the spread of Buddha’s teachings. He waged supernatural war with these deities and won due to his high spiritual attainments. Instead of vanquishing these obstructive beings, he chose to follow the Buddha’s teaching on compassion and bound them to an oath never to harm sentient beings again. They promised to protect and provide for practitioners.

Deity: Nagarjuna (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Ludrub (Tibetan)
Together with Asanga, Nagarjuna was one of the two great pioneers of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition. Together they are known as the Two Crowns. Nagarjuna was known to be a great scholar and abbot of Nalanda Monastery. He even became known as an accomplished alchemist who provided for the monastery with his extraordinary abilities. Nagarjuna proliferated the Madhyamaka or the Middle Way philosophy, which became the main pillar of the Mahayana tradition. He also wrote several important commentaries on the Guhyasamaja Tantra along with various other writings.

Deity: Kalarupa (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Damchen Chogyal (Tibetan)
Kalarupa arose as the main Dharma Protector of the Yamantaka Tantras. Just like Yamantaka, he is an emanation of Manjushri, the Buddha of Wisdom. He is propitiated to aid in the study, contemplation and realisation of the lowest scope of the Lamrim teachings. It is believed that Kalarupa manifested in human form to assist Lama Tsongkhapa during the long months of his arduous retreats.

Deity: Six-Armed Mahakala (English)
Alternative names: Shadbhuja Mahakala (Sanskrit); Gonpo Chagdrugpa (Tibetan)
Six-Armed Mahakala is an emanation of Avalokiteshvara and propitiated as the protector of the highest scope of the Lamrim. He is propitiated to aid in the study, contemplation and realisation of the highest scope of the teachings.

Deity: Dorje Drolo (Tibetan)
Dorje Drolo is a wrathful emanation of Guru Rinpoche, practiced particularly within the Nyingma tradition to overcome very negative obstacles. Guru Rinpoche manifested in this form to overcome many demons, spirits and obstructing beings of Tibet and the surrounding Himalayan region.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

194. Avalokiteshvara Simhananda (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Nagarjuna, Nageshvaraja, Avalokiteshvara Simhananda and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Avalokiteshvara Simhananda (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Chenrezig Sengetra (Tibetan)
The practice of Avalokiteshvara Simhananda is one of Thirteen Golden Dharmas of the Sakya tradition. It is regarded as an important practice within the order and descends down through great masters such as Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (1092-1158 CE). The practice originated in India, from ancient masters such as Chandragomin and Suvarnadvipa. It then entered Tibet in the 11th Century through the efforts of Rinchen Zangpo, Jowo Atisha, Bari Lotsawa Rinchen Drag and others. This practice is now found in all traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.

Historically, Avalokiteshvara Simhananda was also proliferated in Mongolia and China by Sakya Pandita Kunga Gyaltsen (1182-1251 CE) after he healed Goden Khan of leprosy using the special healing rituals of the deity. Avalokiteshvara Simhananda is propitiated particularly in rituals to appease nagas, serpentine-like beings who are depicted in the image as making offerings to Avalokiteshvara. Therefore, rituals and pujas associated with Avalokiteshvara Simhananda have a healing effect on those with skin conditions like leprosy, cancer and other related illnesses which are commonly believed to be caused by nagas. Furthermore, these rituals are also used in the offering of torma (ritual cakes) and incense to appease nagas as they are partial towards the great compassion of Avalokiteshvara.

Deity: Nagarjuna (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Ludrub (Tibetan)
Together with Asanga, Nagarjuna was one of the two great pioneers of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition. Together they are known as the Two Crowns. Nagarjuna was known to be a great scholar and abbot of Nalanda Monastery. He even became known as an accomplished alchemist who provided for the monastery with his extraordinary abilities. Nagarjuna proliferated the Madhyamaka or the Middle Way philosophy, which became the main pillar of the Mahayana tradition. He also wrote several important commentaries on the Guhyasamaja Tantra along with various other writings.

Deity: Nageshvaraja (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Luwang Gyalpo (Tibetan)
His name literally means Tathagatha King of the Nagas or Luwang Gyalpo. He is one of the 35 Confessional Buddhas as listed within the Mahayana Sutra of the Three Superior Heaps. He sits in full lotus posture with his body blue in colour and his face white. Above his head is a hood of seven serpents. Both his hands are clasped at the heart with a finger from each hand stretched out and touching, which is the mudra of releasing sentient beings from taking rebirth in the lower realms. This meditational form of Nageshvaraja is a meditational deity meant to remove diseases and obstacles inflicted by naga spirits. Furthermore, Nageshvaraja rituals are used to produce rain and employed in the creation of vases meant to harmonise the environment and bring stability to an area.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

195. Green Tara (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Buddha Amitabha, Green Tara and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Buddha Amitabha (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Opagme (Tibetan)
Buddha Amitabha is one of the Five Dhyani Buddhas and resides in his Western Paradise called Sukhavati where practitioners with deep faith and those endowed with merit can take rebirth, in order to continue practising the path to become a fully enlightened being. He represents the awakened aggregate of mental discernment and purifies desire, hence he is red in colour. He is also deeply connected with the Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden as he resides on the highest floor of Dorje Shugden’s mandala. Therefore, all who rely on Dorje Shugden for assistance against their obstacles and negative karma are also spiritually connected with Buddha Amitabha.

Deity: Arya Tara (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Green Tara (English); Shyama Tara (Sanskrit); Drolma (Tibetan); Droljang (Tibetan)
Tara is known as Jetsun Drolma in Tibetan and she is a very important figure in Tibetan Buddhism. She is known as the ‘saviouress’ and is considered the embodiment of the activity of all the Buddhas. In the Tara Tantras, it is said that she was a Bodhisattva disciple of the Buddha of another world system. Her name was Yeshe Dawa and she had deep faith in the Buddha of that world system and made tremendous offerings to him. She went to receive teachings and engaged in deep meditations as well. At one time, she received a special teaching on the development of Bodhicitta – the infinitely compassionate mental state of a Bodhisattva.

She made the aspiration to be reborn in a female form again and again, to work tirelessly to liberate all beings until samsara is emptied. She then remained in a state of meditation and perceiving her supreme aspiration, the Buddha prophesied that she would manifest enlightenment and be known as the Goddess Tara. She is associated mainly with enlightened activity and protection. Tara is known for swift action and manifests many miracles through her sacred images in both India and Tibet.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

196. Buddha Shakyamuni’s Parinirvana (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Buddha Shakyamuni with disciples and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Buddha Shakyamuni (Sanskrit)
Alternative Name: Sangye Shakya Tubpa (Tibetan)
Buddha Shakyamuni, from whom the 84,000 Dharmas arise, compassionately turned the wheel of Dharma until his parinirvana at the age of 81. Due to his great kindness in turning the wheel of Dharma enshrined in the 108 volumes of the Kangyur, many have been liberated from samsara and many will continue to be liberated. It is said Shakyamuni’s teachings will pervade our world system for 5,000 years after which only signs of Dharma will be seen but actual Dharma will not be practised. Shakyamuni established the order of the monks and nuns in which pure discipline (vinaya) can be practised bringing beings to higher states of rebirth. This spread all over Asia and now the west. The sangha community embodies the teachings, practice and discipline as taught by Buddha. The scene depicted here is the great passing or parinirvana of the Buddha in Kushinagar, where he was attended to by many of his disciples.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

197. Buddha Shakyamuni’s Turning the Wheel of Dharma (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Buddha Shakyamuni with disciples and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Buddha Shakyamuni (Sanskrit)
Alternative Name: Sangye Shakya Tubpa (Tibetan)
Buddha Shakyamuni, from whom the 84,000 Dharmas arise, compassionately turned the wheel of Dharma until his parinirvana at the age of 81. Due to his great kindness in turning the wheel of Dharma enshrined in the 108 volumes of the Kangyur, many have been liberated from samsara and many will continue to be liberated. It is said Shakyamuni’s teachings will pervade our world system for 5,000 years after which only signs of Dharma will be seen but actual Dharma will not be practised. Shakyamuni established the order of the monks and nuns in which pure discipline (vinaya) can be practised bringing beings to higher states of rebirth. This spread all over Asia and now the west. The sangha community embodies the teachings, practice and discipline as taught by Buddha. The scene depicted here is the great passing or parinirvana of the Buddha in Kushinagar, where he was attended to by many of his disciples.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

198. Mahakala of the Doors (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Mahakala of the Doors and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Panjaranata Mahakala (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Gonpo Gur (Tibetan)
Panjaranata Mahakala literally means the Mahakala of the Tent or sometimes translated as Canopy. He is first mentioned within the Vajra Panjara Tantra treatise. He is also referred to as Mahakala of the Doors because the wooden bar he carries in his arm is placed over large doors to lock them, like those found at the entrances of old monasteries. The Vajra Panjara Tantra belongs to the Hevajra Cycle of Tantras and is one of the main higher tantras practised within the Sakya School. He is also one of the subsidiary protectors propitiated within the Chakrasamvara and Vajra Yogini Tantras as well. Mahakala is surrounded by five black wrathful attendant deities and they are a father and mother, Kala Rakshasa and Kali Rakshasi and their three offspring Putra, Bhatra and Ekajati Rakshasi.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

199. Lama Tsongkhapa (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Manjushri, Saraswati, Lama Tsongkhapa with two heart sons and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Manjushri (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Jampel Yang (Tibetan)
Manjushri, or Jampal Yang in Tibetan, literally means ‘Gentle-voiced’ and he has the appearance of a youthful 16-year-old prince. He is one of the most popular Bodhisattvas in the Buddhist pantheon and his earthly abode is in the Wu Tai Shan Mountains of China. He is widely known to be the patron Bodhisattva of Wisdom.

He holds the stem of an immaculate lotus that supports a text on the “Perfection of Wisdom” in one hundred thousand stanzas which are symbolic of the highest form of wisdom – the correct view of emptiness. On top of the text is the fiery wisdom sword that cuts asunder delusions and obscurations. Hence, by relying on Manjushri we are able to develop powerful memory, a flair for the arts, clairvoyance and deep insight into the Buddha’s teachings.

Deity: Saraswati (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Yangchenma / Yangchen Drolma (Tibetan); Goddess Tara of Song and Music (English)
Saraswati is a well-known Indian goddess of music, wisdom and learning. She is widely regarded as both the emanation of Tara as well as the consort of Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom. Saraswati is the enlightened embodiment and bestower of awakened eloquence and special insight into the Buddha’s teachings. Due to her wisdom-bestowing nature, Saraswati is deeply interconnected with Manjushri. She is considered by many great masters to be the goddess and patron of the arts, music, language, literature, poetry, philosophy, and for all those engaged in creative endeavours.

Lama: Lama Tsongkhapa (Tibetan)
Alternative names: Lobsang Drakpa (Tibetan); Sumati Kirti (Sanskrit)
Lama Tsongkhapa was a 15th Century scholar-yogi who established the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. After spending years studying and meditating, he established monastic institutions of learning and practice, producing limitless masters, tantrikas, yogis, scholars and teachers of the Buddhist path.

Lama Tsongkhapa was known for his incredible memory of the broad range of Buddhist treatises, sharp debate skills and incredibly penetrative writing. He saw the benefit in the comprehensive nature of Lama Atisha’s Lamrim text known as Bodhipathapradipa, and composed an expanded version known as the Lamrim Chenmo. Naturally, it contained the entire graduated path to enlightenment, from chapters on death and impermanence to higher topics such as concentration meditation and wisdom. He also composed the Ngarim Chenmo, which is the graduated path for the teachings on tantra.

Lamas: Gyaltsab Je (left) and Khedrub Je (right)
Lama Tsongkhapa and his two disciples are collectively referred to as Je Yab Se Sum or ‘Arya Father and Sons Trinity’. The two disciples refer to Gyaltsab Je and Khedrub Je, who were not only his heart disciples but eventually became his successors after Lama Tsongkhapa entered parinirvana. The first Gaden Throneholder was Gyaltsab Je and when he completed his tenure, Khedrub Je ascended to become the next Gaden Throneholder, otherwise known as Gaden Tripa.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

200. Buton Rinchen Drub (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Buton Rinchen Drub with two disciples and Dorje Shugden

Lama: Buton Rinchen Drub (Tibetan)
The 14th Century Tibetan master, Buton Rinchen Drub (1290–1364 CE) was the 11th Abbot of Zhalu Monastery and educated in the Sakya tradition. Zhalu monastery in turn was one of the greatest monasteries of its time and was sponsored by aristocratic families of the Tsang Dynasty during a period of great revival of Buddhism in Tibet. Zhalu Monastery was one of the great centres for the Sakya tradition and Buton Richen Drub’s abbotship was marked by his expertise not only as an administrator but one of the greatest luminaries, prolific scholars, authors and translators of the time. He is also known as one of Tibet’s most celebrated historians. He began an ambitious project to catalogue all of the Buddhist scriptures at Zhalu, some 4,569 works and formatted them in a logical, coherent order. This collection became known as the famous Kangyur and Tangyur collections, containing the Buddha’s own words and commentaries respectively. He also composed the famous book, the History of Buddhism in India and Tibet at Zhalu which many Tibetan scholars utilise in their studies today. Buton Rinchen Drub was a great lineage holder of the Kalachakra Tantras and also a previous incarnation of Panchen Sonam Drakpa, thus establishing him as one of the previous lives of Dorje Shugden. His two disciples were Kunga Rinchen Gyeltsen Pelzang and Jangchub Gyeltsen Tai Situ.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

 

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201. Sakya Dorje Shugden Tanag (Main deity)

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(Top to bottom): Sakya Dorje Shugden Tanag

Deity: Dorje Shugden Tanag (Tibetan)
Dorje Shugden Tanag literally means ‘Dorje Shugden riding on a black horse’. He is a unique form of Dorje Shugden that arose within the Sakya tradition, is one of the earliest forms of the protector deity and is propitiated as an enlightened Dharma Protector. You can see this form of Dorje Shugden on numerous older Sakya thangkas. Differing slightly from the Gelug presentation of Dorje Shugden, he is depicted here holding a vajra club and a kapala filled with blood and the heart of an enemy.

Many masters of the tradition practised Dorje Shugden Tanag, including the 39th Sakya Throneholder Dragshul Trinley Rinchen who was an erudite scholar and lineage holder. He taught hundreds of students who became scholars, masters and great practitioners by following his teachings. He proliferated the practice of Dorje Shugden Tanag throughout the Sakya lineage.

Aside from Dragshul Trinley Rinchen, there were many other great Sakya throneholders who practised and proliferated Dorje Shugden Tanag within the tradition. These great masters include:

  • 30th Sakya Throneholder Sonam Rinchen (1705-1741)
  • 31st Throneholder Sachen Kunga Lodro (1729-1783)
  • 33rd Throneholder and Mahasiddha Padma Dudul Wangchug (1792-1853)
  • 35th Throneholder Tashi Rinchen (1824-1865)
  • 37th Throneholder Kunga Nyingpo (1850-1899)

202. Troma Nagmo (Main deity)

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(Top to bottom): Troma Nagmo and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Troma Nagmo (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Krodha Kali (Sanskrit)
The black dakini Troma Nagmo’s name means ’The Black Wrathful Mother’. She is the embodiment of wisdom. Her practice is intimately linked with certain Chod lineages. The practice of Troma Nagmo provides us with an extremely powerful means to cut through our delusions and obstacles, thus revealing our inherent wisdom nature.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

203. Yellow Vasudhara (Main deity)

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(Top to bottom): Buddha Shakyamuni, Yellow Vasudhara, Yellow Dzambala and Dorje Shugden.

Figure: Buddha Shakyamuni (Sanskrit)
Alternative Name: Sangye Shakya Tubpa (Tibetan)
Buddha Shakyamuni, from whom the 84,000 Dharmas arise, compassionately turned the wheel of Dharma until his parinirvana at the age of 81. Due to his great kindness in turning the wheel of Dharma enshrined in the 108 volumes of the Kangyur, many have been liberated from samsara and many will continue to be liberated. It is said Shakyamuni’s teachings will pervade our world system for 5,000 years after which only signs of Dharma will be seen but actual Dharma will not be practised. Shakyamuni established the order of the monks and nuns in which pure discipline (vinaya) can be practised bringing beings to higher states of rebirth. This spread all over Asia and now the west. The sangha community embodies the teachings, practice and discipline as taught by Buddha.

Deity: Vasudhara (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Norgyunma dza ma ri’i lug (Tibetan)
Vasudhara’s name literally means ‘A stream of jewels’ in Sanskrit. She is widely regarded as a Bodhisattva of wealth, prosperity and abundance. Hence, she is popular in several Himalayan countries and is the subject of many thangka and statue representations. Her practice originated in ancient India and later her worship spread to Nepal.

The origins of Vasudhara can be traced back to a text known as ‘The Inquiry of the Layman Sucandra’. This text recalls the story of a poverty-stricken layman by the name of Sucandra who had gone to seek Buddha Shakyamuni’s guidance. He requested the Buddha for a method to obtain wealth in order to feed his extended family and hopefully be able to engage in charitable works as well. The Buddha bestowed upon him Vasudhara’s dharani (long mantra) and ritual, which if engaged in would result in good fortune and prosperity. As he engaged in the rituals and the proliferating of her practice, Sucandra rapidly prospered. Noticing his sudden windfall, the monk Ananda asked Buddha Shakyamuni how he had obtained his fortune so quickly. Shakyamuni told Ananda that it was through the practice of Vasudhara and bestowed upon him the practice of Vasudhara’s dharani and told him to ‘impart it to others for the good of many.’ Thus, Vasudhara’s practice is meant to alleviate suffering because she is said to bestow physical wealth and abundance as well as spiritual wealth.

Apart from Nepal, Vasudhara’s practice also spread to Tibet and has since became known as an important wealth bestowing practice within Tibetan Buddhism. She is considered to be one of the 21 Taras, as she is known as the “Golden/Yellow Tara” or in Tibetan, Norgyunma. In Tibet, the worship of Norgyunma is most popular amongst the laity and thus she is known as a benefactor of the laity.

Deity: Yellow Dzambala (English)
Alternative name: Dzambala Serpo (Tibetan)
According to tradition, Dzambala was Buddha Shakyamuni’s disciple and a yaksha being. He protected the Buddha and on one occasion, he was badly injured. The Buddha healed him with nectar that issued forth from his sacred hand. Dzambala became enlightened and was henceforth known as a wealth-bestowing deity. This means that he bestows inner and outer wealth by means of purification of miserliness and selfishness, which are the causes of poverty. In celebration of the Buddha healing Dzambala, his ritual involves the pouring of water onto his sacred image.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

204. 108 Dorje Shugden (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Manjushri and 108 Dorje Shugden

Deity: Manjushri (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Jampel Yang (Tibetan)
Manjushri, or Jampal Yang in Tibetan, literally means “Gentle-voiced” and he has the appearance of a youthful 16-year-old prince. He is one of the most popular Bodhisattvas in the Buddhist pantheon and his earthly abode is in the Wu Tai Shan Mountains of China. He is widely known to be the patron Bodhisattva of Wisdom.

He holds the stem of an immaculate lotus that supports a text on the “Perfection of Wisdom” in one hundred thousand stanzas which are symbolic of the highest form of wisdom – the correct view of emptiness. On top of the text is the fiery wisdom sword that cuts asunder delusions and obscurations. Hence, by relying on Manjushri we are able to develop powerful memory, a flair for the arts, clairvoyance and deep insight into the Buddha’s teachings.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

In his previous life, he was the incomparable Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen, a great and compassionate Buddhist master who arose as Dorje Shugden to protect the Buddhist teachings and its practitioners. As a Dharma Protector, Dorje Shugden helps to alleviate our worldly obstacles if you sincerely call upon him. When worldly obstacles are removed, spiritual practice can be focused on without interruption. Dorje Shugden is said to help not only Buddhists, but anyone who needs assistance. He is well-known to provide swift help in dire situations, with clear and effective remedies. Reliance on Dorje Shugden requires no special ceremonies, rituals nor commitments as long as one practises being a good person.

205. Manjushri Lion’s Roar (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Manjushri Lion’s Roar and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Manjushri Lion’s Roar (English)
Alternative names: Jampel Sengetra (Tibetan); Vadisimha Manjushri (Sanskrit)
Manjushri is the patron Buddha of Wisdom. In his right hand, he holds a flaming wisdom sword which cuts away the roots of ignorance from our lives and in his left hand, he holds the stem of a lotus on top of which rests a Perfection of Wisdom text. This text is symbolic of his practice granting wisdom, insight and merit. This form of Manjushri is known as Vadisimha Manjushri, literally meaning ‘Manjushri Lion’s Roar’, as he rides on a lion. This name actually refers to a variety of Manjushri’s classical forms. In some forms Manjushri holds a sword like in this depiction; in others, he forms the Dharmachakra (Wheel of Dharma) mudra at his heart. The most famous depiction of Manjushri Lion’s Roar can be found prominently featured in temples on Mount Wu Tai (Wu Tai Shan), also known as the Five Peaks of Manjushri. There are also a number of depictions of Manjushri Lion’s Roar at the Manjushri Chapel in Sakya, Tibet which has contributed to the prevalence of Manjushri’s worship in this form.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

206. Nageshvaraja (Main deity)

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(Top to bottom): Avalokiteshvara Simhananda, Trakpo Sumtril, Hayagriva Sangdrup, Nageshvaraja, Manjushri Nagarakshasa and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Avalokiteshvara Simhananda (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Chenrezig Sengetra (Tibetan)
The practice of Avalokiteshvara Simhananda is one of the Thirteen Golden Dharmas of the Sakya tradition. The practice originated in India, from ancient masters such as Chandragomin and Suvarnadvipa. It then entered Tibet in the 11th Century through the efforts of Rinchen Zangpo, Jowo Atisha, Bari Lotsawa Rinchen Drag and others. This practice is now found in all traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. Avalokiteshvara Simhananda is propitiated particularly in rituals to appease nagas, serpentine-like beings. Therefore, rituals and pujas associated with Avalokiteshvara Simhananda have a healing effect on those with skin conditions like leprosy, cancer and other related illnesses which are commonly believed to be caused by nagas.

Deity: Trakpo Sumtril (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajrapani Hayagriva Garuda (Sanskrit)
Trakpo Sumtril in Tibetan literally means the ‘Three Wrathful Ones’ and this refers to a practice that combines three deities, Vajrapani, Hayagriva and Garuda, into one. The visualisation of this practice has Vajrapani as the central deity, while Hayagriva appears as a single green horse head protruding from Vajrapani’s head and a white Garuda, flying above. This practice is from the lineage of Lhodrag Drubchen Lekyi Dorje, (1326-1401 CE), who was an emanation of Vajrapani and one of Je Tsongkhapa’s teachers. This practice has many benefits but it is mainly a practice that can aid the healing of cancer, heart condition, epileptic fits, naga-related diseases and so forth.

Deity: Hayagriva Secret Accomplishment (English)
Alternative name: Hayagriva Sangdrup (Tibetan)
Hayagriva Secret Accomplishment is a form of Hayagriva popularised by the Shangpa Kagyu master Kyergangpa, who received the practice from Guru Rinpoche in a dream. Masters of other schools of Tibetan Buddhism have encouraged the practice, including Lama Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelug tradition who found it to be highly efficacious. The practice is included in the Sukha Gyatsa series of initiations compiled by His Holiness the 4th Panchen Lama Lobsang Chokyi Gyeltsen. In this form, he has three faces (red, green and white), six arms, and eight legs trampling on nagas. As such, his practice is considered effective protection against nagas and counters the after-effects of black magic and spells. He is especially beneficial for those suffering from terminal illnesses.

Deity: Nageshvaraja (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Luwang Gyalpo (Tibetan)
His name literally means Tathagatha King of the Nagas or Luwang Gyalpo. He is one of the 35 Confessional Buddhas as listed within the Mahayana Sutra of the Three Superior Heaps. He sits in full lotus posture with his body blue in colour and his face white. Above his head is a hood of seven serpents. Both his hands are clasped at the heart with a finger from each hand stretched out and touching, which is the mudra of releasing sentient beings from taking rebirth in the lower realms. This meditational form of Nageshvaraja is a meditational deity meant to remove diseases and obstacles inflicted by naga spirits. Furthermore, Nageshvaraja rituals are used to produce rain and employed in the creation of special vases meant to harmonise the environment and bring stability to an area.

Deity: Manjushri Nagarakshasa (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Jampel Nagarakshasa (Tibetan)
The ferocious Manjushri Nagarakshasa or Jampel Nagarakshasa is one of the most fearsome looking Buddhas within the Tibetan Buddhist pantheon. As his name implies, he is a wrathful emanation of Manjushri and appears with the lower half of a naga. This practice first appeared in Tibet during the time of Guru Rinpoche. At that time, King Trisong Detsen discovered that nagas in disguise were attending Guru Rinpoche’s teachings. In dealing with the nagas, the king inadvertently offended them and was stricken with a terrible disease caused by them. Guru Rinpoche eventually came to find out what had transpired and gave the practice of Manjushri Nagarakshasa to the king to alleviate the disease. Hence, the lineage of this practice descends from Guru Rinpoche with the purpose of appeasing the nagas and alleviating naga-related diseases. Signs that we receive when nagas are offended include dreams of snakes attacking us, accidents, skin diseases, kidney problems, disharmony within our lives, and in extreme cases can lead to possession. As powerful beings that can control the weather, they can also cause severe drought, or floods if they are displeased.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

207. Standing Yeshe Tsogyal (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Standing Yeshe Tsogyal, Guru Rinpoche, Guru Dorje Drolo and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Yeshe Tsogyal (Tibetan)
Yeshe Tsogyal was born in 777 CE as a princess in the Kharchen region of Tibet. Her name literally means ‘Victorious Ocean of Wisdom’ or ‘Queen of the Wisdom Lake’. She is widely believed to have been an emanation of Vajra Yogini. She is said to have lived for 99 years and was renowned to be the main spiritual consort of Guru Rinpoche. She became fully awakened and was thus a spiritual master in her own right.

According to her biography, she was initially the consort of King Trisong Detsen before she was offered up to Guru Rinpoche as an offering during an initiation. Her main practice was Vajrakilaya and after engaging in extensive practice, she gained a vision of the deity which was a sign of her great spiritual attainments.

After she became Guru Rinpoche’s consort, she became his scribe and wrote down teachings with Guru Rinpoche, who assigned many of these teachings as terma or ‘hidden treasures’. Yeshe Tsogyal was instructed by Guru Rinpoche to hide many of these teachings, as they were only to be revealed in the future. At the end of her life, she flew directly to Zangdok Palri or Copper-coloured Mountain, the pure realm of Guru Rinpoche.

Deity: Guru Rinpoche (Tibetan)
Alternative names: Guru Padmasambhava (Sanskrit); Pema Jungne (Tibetan)
Guru Rinpoche is highly revered within all schools of Tibetan Buddhism. He was invited to Tibet to subdue powerful obstructive beings who opposed the spread of Buddha’s teachings. He waged supernatural war with these deities and won due to his high spiritual attainments. Instead of vanquishing these obstructive beings, he chose to follow the Buddha’s teaching on compassion and bound them to oath never to harm sentient beings again. They promised to protect and provide for practitioners on the Buddhist path. One such being was Nechung, also known as Pehar Gyalpo. Once a powerful spirit from Persia, he came to reside in Tibet and after battling with Guru Rinpoche, he was subdued.

Deity: Guru Dorje Drolo (Tibetan)
Dorje Drolo is a wrathful emanation of Guru Rinpoche, practised particularly within the Nyingma tradition to overcome very negative obstacles. Guru Rinpoche manifested in this form to overcome many demons, spirits and obstructing beings of Tibet and the surrounding Himalayan region.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

208. H.H. the 5th Dalai Lama (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): H.H. the 4th Panchen Lama, H.H. the 5th Dalai Lama, Palden Lhamo and Dorje Shugden.

Figure: His Holiness the 4th Panchen Lama Lobsang Chokyi Gyeltsen
The Panchen Lama line of incarnations are believed to be emanations of Amitabha, the Buddha of Boundless Light. Amitabha is relied on strongly within Pure Land Buddhism which is popularly practised in East Asia. He currently resides in Sukhavati, the Western Pure Land, which practitioners aspire to take rebirth in to continue their spiritual practice. Panchen Lama is not just a name but a title bestowed by the Great 5th Dalai Lama upon his illustrious teacher, Lobsang Chokyi Gyeltsen and it literally means ‘Great Scholar’ in recognition of his teacher’s scholarly prowess. Since then, the Panchen Lamas have been regarded as the second-highest incarnation lineage after the Dalai Lamas in Tibet.

Lobsang Chokyi Gyeltsen, who later became known as the 4th Panchen Lama, was born in a village called Drukgya in the Lhan valley, in Tsang, Tibet in 1570. Later, he searched for and enthroned Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso as the 5th Dalai Lama and Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen as the 4th Zimkhang Gongma Tulku (the incarnation of Panchen Sonam Drakpa). These two lamas became the heart disciples of Lobsang Chokyi Gyeltsen.

Figure: The Great 5th Dalai Lama
Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso was recognised as the Great 5th Dalai Lama by His Holiness the 4th Panchen Lama Lobsang Chokyi Gyeltsen and was a contemporary of Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen. He was successful in unifying all of Tibet after a long period of civil war and from then on, the Dalai Lamas wielded temporal and spiritual power over the country. During his reign, he established diplomatic relations with China, other regional states and also met with several European explorers. As a writer, he composed 24 volumes of written works covering a broad range of scholarly and literary subjects. He built the Potala Palace as his seat of power but did not live to see its completion.

Deity: Palden Lhamo
Alternative name: Sri Devi (Sanskrit)
In the Gelug tradition, Palden Lhamo is known as Magzor Gyalmo or the Queen Who Repels Armies and is regarded as the wrathful emanation of Saraswati. She is propitiated as a protector of the Dharma. Palden Lhamo is also the protectress of the Dalai Lama’s line of incarnations.

Deity: Dorje Shugden
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is recognised to be an emanation of the bodhisattva Manjushri. In fact, Dorje Shugden arose from a long line of incarnated lamas who strove to proliferate and protect the teachings. He is a protector of recent origins, arising 350 years ago, and due to his strong affinity with beings of this time, he is widely renowned to be efficacious and powerful in overcoming our obstacles and creating favourable conditions for our practice.

209. Buddha Shakyamuni (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Buddha Shakyamuni, the Sixteen Arhats and Dorje Shugden.

Figure: Buddha Shakyamuni
Alternative Name: Sangye Shakya Tubpa (Tibetan)
Shakyamuni is the historical Buddha who founded Buddhism in ancient India about 2,500 years ago. After an exhaustive search, he finally attained perfect and complete enlightenment under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya. His teachings became the basis for the Buddhist faith and he proclaimed that he was not the only one who achieved this state and revealed that there are other fully awakened beings that we can rely on.

Figures: The Sixteen Arhats
Alternative Name: Ne Ten Chu Drug (Tibetan)
According to the scriptures, Buddha Shakyamuni personally instructed the Sixteen Arhats, amongst the retinue of his disciples, to remain and protect practitioners and the proliferation of the Dharma. Thus, they vowed to remain and uphold the Dharma until the advent of the future Buddha, Maitreya. Thus, it is highly auspicious to depict Buddha Shakyamuni along with the Sixteen Arhats and Bodhisattvas as this commemorates the Buddha’s request and the vow of the Arhats. Liturgies of offerings and invocation of the Sixteen Arhats are traditionally performed to create the cause for longevity and good health. The Sixteen Arhats include:

  1. Angaja (Tib. Yenlag Chung)
  2. Ajita (Tib. Ma Phampa)
  3. Vanavasin (Tib. Nagnanepa)
  4. Mahakalika (Tib. Düden Chenpo)
  5. Vajriputra (Tib. Dorje Möbu)
  6. Shribhadra (Tib. Pal Zangpo)
  7. Kanakavatsa (Tib. Sergyi Be’u)
  8. Kanaka (Tib. Serchen)
  9. Bakula (Tib. Bakula)
  10. Rahula, the Buddha’s son (Tib. Drachen Dzin)
  11. Chulapanthaka (Tib. Lamtren Ten)
  12. Pindola Bharadvaja (Tib. Bharadodza Sönyom Len)
  13. Panthaka (Tib. Lamchenten)
  14. Nagasena (Tib. Lüdé)
  15. Gopaka (Tib. Bechepa)
  16. Abhedya (Tib. Michepa)

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

210. 35 Confessional Buddhas (Main figures)

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(Top to bottom): 35 Confessional Buddhas and Dorje Shugden

Deities: 35 Confessional Buddhas
Alternative name: Sheg Lha So Nga (Tibetan)
The 35 Confessional Buddhas were first mentioned within ‘The Sutra of the Three Heaps’ which is known in Sanskrit as the Triskhandhadharmasutra, or briefly the Triskandha Sutra. This treatise is a ritual text recited primarily by monks and nuns as well as the laity, as a confessional practice of moral downfalls and the purification of heavy negative karma. The depiction of the 35 Confessional Buddhas includes Buddha Shakyamuni and the rest are mainly classified under the Five Dhyani Buddha families.

There are three basic systems of depicting the Confessional Buddhas and they are:

  1. The Gestures Only (Without Hand Attributes) – Sakya, Jonang and some other traditions
  2. Nagarjuna System (With Hand Attributes) – Nyingma, Kagyu and some Gelug traditions; and lastly,
  3. The Je Tsongkhapa System (With Some Hand Attributes) – Gelug and Karma Kagyu tradition.

This thangka adheres to the Nagarjuna System. Of the 35 Buddhas depicted here, only two of these Buddhas are worshipped separately from the larger group. They are Buddha Shakyamuni and the Buddha Nageshvaraja (as he appears in the Tsongkhapa system).

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

 

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211. Black Tara (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Black Tara and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Black Tara (English)
Alternative name: Tro Nyer Chen Ma (Tibetan)
Tara is known as Jetsun Drolma in Tibetan and she is a very important figure in Tibetan Buddhism. She is known as the ‘saviouress’ and is considered the embodiment of the activity of all the Buddhas. In the Tara Tantras, it is said that she was a Bodhisattva disciple of the Buddha of another world system. She is associated mainly with enlightened activity and protection. Tara is known for swift action and manifests many miracles through her sacred images in both India and Tibet. This form of Black Tara is from the Chogyur Lingpa Tradition and she is the Tara who protects practitioners from evil spirits, black magic, negative karma and heavy obstacles.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

212. Two-Armed Heruka (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Two-Armed Heruka and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Heruka Chakrasamvara (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: He Ru Ka Pa Chig (Tibetan)
Heruka is the principal deity of the Chakrasamvara Tantras. He is a meditational Buddha of the Highest Yoga Tantra classification, which means that his practice has the potential to bring us directly towards enlightenment within one lifetime. Heruka’s practice uniquely utilises desire as a means towards achieving liberation from samsara or suffering. Heruka is also one of the main Tantras that most of the 84 Mahasiddhas of ancient India relied upon in order to gain their great attainments. This particular form is a rare lineage of Heruka with his hands in the blazing mudra of invoking the wisdom beings.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

213. H.H. the 1st Karmapa Dusum Khyenpa (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Gampopa Sonam Rinchen, 1st Karmapa Dusum Khyenpa, Mahakala Bernagchen and Dorje Shugden.

Figure: Gampopa Sonam Rinchen (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Dakpo Lharje (Tibetan)
The name ‘Gampopa’ (1079–1153) literally means ‘the man from Gampo’ and he was a Tibetan Buddhist teacher from the Kagyu tradition. Gampopa was also a doctor, hence he was also known as Dakpo Lharje meaning ‘the physician from Dakpo’. He was a tantric master who founded the Dagpo Kagyu school and the foremost disciple of Milarepa. Gampopa received numerous teachings including practices like Vajravarahi, Tummo and Mahamudra. It was his disciple, Dusum Khyenpa who founded the Karma Kagyu sub-school.

Figure: 1st Karmapa Dusum Khyenpa
The 1st Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa Chokyi Dragpa (1110-1193) received novice ordination with the Kadam monk Trewo Chokgi Lama, a disciple of Ngok Lotsawa Loden Sherab and his uncle, Ngok Legpai Sherab. It is said that when Dusum Khyenpa was 16 years old, he was given a black hat woven from the hair of ten thousand dakinis, while the physical hat the Karmapas don for their famous “black hat ceremony” was given to the 5th Karmapa by the Ming Yongle Emperor (1402-1424).

When he was 30 years old, Dusum Khyenpa set out to meet the famous Gampopa Sonam Rinchen (1079-1153), the ordained disciple of the great Milarepa and received teachings from him. In 1189, Dusum Khyenpa founded Tsurphu Monastery in Tolung, west of Lhasa, which eventually became the principal seat of the future Karmapa incarnations in Tibet.

Dusum Khyenpa, who became greatly attained in his lifetime, also made predictions about his future incarnations. He is said to have written a letter to his main disciple, Sanggye Rechen Peldrag (1148-1218), foretelling where his next incarnation would be born and instructing him to locate the boy and train him. The prophecy of their future incarnations issued by the Karmapas themselves has become a hallmark of the Karmapa line of incarnations.

Deity: Mahakala Bernagchen (Sanskrit / Tibetan)
This form of Mahakala is called Bernagchen and he is the principal protector of the Karma Kagyu school. Two-armed Bernagchen’s name literally means ‘The Black Cloak’. The practice of propitiating Mahakala Bernagchen was introduced into the Karma Kagyu school by the 2nd Karmapa, Karma Pakshi (1206-1283). In fact, the practice originated from the Revealed Treasure Terma Tradition of the Nyingma school. He is also the main protector of the Karmapa incarnations specifically.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

214. Mahasiddha Kukkuripa (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Vajra Yogini, Kukkuripa and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Naro Kechari Vajra Yogini (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Dorje Neljorma (Tibetan)
This form of Vajra Yogini arose from a pure vision beheld by the Indian Mahasiddha Naropa, hence her name Naro Kechari (or Naropa’s Dakini). This form of Vajra Yogini and her practice has since become the main form of Vajra Yogini transmitted due to the efficacy of her practice and blessings of her lineage. Her Tantra promises rebirth in her pure land known as Kechara Paradise, in order that practitioners can continue their spiritual journey without worldly distractions until they become a fully enlightened Buddha.

Figure: Kukkuripa (Sankrit)
The Mahasiddha Kukkuripa was one of the famous 84 Mahasiddhas who lived in ancient India. While wandering about, he came across a starving dog. Upon seeing the dog, great compassion arose in him and so he fed the dog and took care of her. The two became inseparable and soon, they moved into a cave so Kukkuripa could engage in his sadhanas in solitude. When he went out to beg for food, the dog would remain and guard the cave. After 12 years had passed, Kukkuripa gained a certain level of attainments due to his diligent practice. It was said that the gods of the Thirty-Three Sensual Heavens noticed Kukkuripa’s accomplishments, so they extended an invitation for him to visit them at their celestial abode. He accepted and was able to travel there and was greeted by the gods and a grand feast was thrown in his honour.

However, he found that he could not enjoy the rich offerings as with every bite he took, he thought of his loyal dog, left behind and all alone in the cave. He wanted to leave but every time, the gods would persuade him to remain. Eventually, he decided to look down from the heavens and he saw that his dog had become thin, sad, and very hungry. He could not bear the sight and decided that he should return to the cave at once. Upon his return, he was reunited with his dog and upon scratching her, she instantly vanished. The dog reappeared as a dakini and she told him that she was pleased and that he had learnt that there are greater things than desire and temptation. She granted him special instructions and with those instructions, he gained higher realisation. He soon returned to Kapilavastu, where he lived a long life benefiting others.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

215. Five Visions of Lama Tsongkhapa (Main figures)

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(Top to bottom): Five Visions of Lama Tsongkhapa and Dorje Shugden

Figures: Five Visions of Lama Tsongkhapa
Alternative name: Je Zig Pa Nga (Tibetan)
It was said that after Lama Tsongkhapa entered clear light, Khedrub Je would often make requests to him for guidance and inspiration. On five different occasions, Lama Tsongkhapa appeared directly to Khedrub Je – as a monk on a white elephant, as a vibrant lama on a throne supported by youthful gods and goddesses, as the Bodhisattva Manjushri on a snow lion, as a yogi on a tiger and as a monk sitting on a lotus.

Lama Tsongkhapa would answer all of Khedrub Je’s questions and give him strong encouragement to continue his work of spreading Kadam Dharma through his teachings. On each occasion, Khedrub Je was able to talk for a long time with Lama Tsongkhapa, who gave him many special instructions and empowerments before the vision finally dissipated.

In this thangka, Lama Tsongkhapa is enthroned between his two main spiritual sons, Khedrub Je and Gyaltsab Je. This trinity is known in Tibetan as Je Yab Se Sum. Both of Lama Tsongkhapa’s spiritual sons eventually became his successor in upholding the legacy of his teachings and lineage.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

216. Guhya Manjushri (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Guhya Manjushri and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Guhya Manjushri (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Jampel Sang Den (Tibetan)
Manjushri is the patron Buddha of Wisdom. The text that he holds is symbolic of his practice granting wisdom, insight and merit. Both the main figure and the smaller figure above is that of Guhya Manjushri. Guhya Manjushri or Secret Manjushri is a rare form where he has six faces.

The main figure shows that he has six faces in a single level, as per the Mitra Gyatsa by the Indian Mahasiddha Mitra Dzokyi. He has two hands, both holding a lotus that supports Dharma texts. He is yellow-saffron in colour and sits in full lotus position.

The smaller Guhya Manjushri above is from another lineage which depicts him with six faces, five on one level and the sixth on top. This form of Manjushri was originally from Tibet but was transmitted and worshipped within the royal household of the Forbidden City of Imperial China. In fact, this Guhya Manjushri was regarded as the ‘protector’ of the Forbidden City and his worship was particularly emphasised by the emperors of China as the royal court favoured the pursuit of wisdom and the intellect as an important aspect of life and the growth of the empire. Manjushri is a deity the Chinese emperors established strongly and worshipped in their royal courts.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

217. Pal Lhamo (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Pal Lhamo and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Pal Lhamo (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Sri Lakshmi (Sanskrit)
Pal Lhamo is otherwise known as Sri Lakshmi. She is the peaceful emanation of Palden Lhamo Dudsolma, one of the principal female protectors of Tibetan Buddhism. Pal Lhamo is depicted with a third eye and is typically shown in a peaceful or semi-wrathful expression, white in colour and sitting in royal ease with her left leg extended. She holds an upturned victory arrow tied with a mirror in her right hand and a bowl of jewels in her left. This indicates that she is a wealth protectress. Depictions of Pal Lhamo are common after the 17th Century and she is primarily propitiated within the Gelug tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

218. Ra Lotsawa Dorje Drakpa (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Yamantaka, Ra Lotsawa Dorje Drakpa and Dorje Shugden.

Deity: Yamantaka (Sankrit)
Alternative names: Vajrabhairava (Sanskrit); Shinje She (Tibetan); Dorje Jigje (Tibetan)
Yamantaka or Vajrabhairava is the manifestation of Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Stainless Wisdom. From amongst the many lineages of practices to enter Tibet, the two translators Ra Lotsawa and Mal Lotsawa were known to have disseminated the main transmissions of Yamantaka. This tantra utilises anger as a means to purify all delusions and it is the only tantra that has the potential to purify extreme negative karma associated with the most heinous crimes.

It was the Indian master Lalitavajra who was the first to reveal the Yamantaka Tantra. Lalitavajra was a 10th Century scholar-master from Nalanda Monastery in Bihar, India. His main yidam (meditational deity) was Manjushri. One day, he had a pure vision of Manjushri exhorting him to travel to the land of Oddiyana in order to retrieve the Yamantaka Tantra. This master made the long journey there and encountered a special dakini, Vajra Vetali, who is Yamantaka’s consort, along with other dakinis who eventually revealed the entire Yamantaka Tantra to him.

Unfortunately, they refused to allow him to take the texts with him. He was only allowed to memorise as much of the texts as he could in the short time he was in their presence. Upon their departure, this master quickly put down in words whatever he had memorised and the practice lineage descended down in this manner.

Figure: Ra Lotsawa Dorje Drakpa
Ra Lotsawa Dorje Drakpa is one of the previous lives of Dorje Shugden. He was born on the bordering town of Nyenam, which lies on the main trading route between Tibet and Nepal. He travelled to Nepal in order to receive teachings from the great Nepalese master, Barom Chagdum. From this great master, he received a number of initiations and practices including the Yamantaka lineage. Upon his return to Tibet, he proliferated the Yamantaka Tantras and encountered resistance as many could not accept an animal-faced yidam and figured that it must be a corrupted practice. Ra Lotsawa found himself in a confrontational situation where he had to defend his lineage. In the ensuing magical battle of psychic powers, 13 lamas were slain in a divine play between great masters to highlight the power and efficacy of the Yamantaka Tantras.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

219. Sukkhasiddhi (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Sukkhasiddhi and Dorje Shugden

Deity: Sukkhasiddhi Vajra Yogini (Sanskrit)
Alternative names: Kha Drod Kar Mo (Tibetan); Sita Kechari (Sanskrit)
The Vajra Yogini Tantras originally arose from within the Chakrasamvara Tantras and across time as well as great lineage masters, there have arisen various Vajra Yogini lineages like the Naro Kechari, Maitri Kechari and Indra Kechari traditions. Of these, the white Sukhasiddhi Vajra Yogini is a lesser-known lineage of Vajra Yogini that stems from within the Shangpa Kagyu lineage.

The name Sukkhasiddhi implies a connection between Khyungpo Naljorpa and his Indian yogini teacher, Sukhasiddhi. She is in the unique posture of revealing her secret organ in the manner akin to giving birth. This represents the emphasis of this lineage on powa (mind transference) to a pure land. This is a special practice of death meditation that prepares the practitioner to eject their mind to a pure land which, in the case of Vajra Yogini, is known as Kechara Paradise.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

220. Mahasiddha Tilopa (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): Mahasiddha Tilopa and Dorje Shugden

Figure: Mahasiddha Tilopa (Sanskrit)
Alternative name: Drubchen Tilopa (Tibetan)
The Mahasiddha Tilopa was one of the earlier lineage masters of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. He was Indian and was ordained as a monk at the temple of Somapuri in Bengal. It is said that one day a dakini (female wisdom being) appeared to him in a vision and Tilopa requested teachings from her. He received the initiation into the Chakrasamvara Tantra from her and henceforth, he practised Chakrasamvara at his monastery. When he did his practice, women were seen entering his quarters and thus, he was expelled from the community for breaking monastic rules.

Tilopa ended up wandering throughout India, seeking out many teachers and acquiring many teachings. He earned his living during this period by grinding sesame seeds (‘til’ in Sanskrit) for oil, which gave rise to his name Tilopa. It is said that he had a vision of the Buddha Vajradhara who gave him teachings on Mahamudra and who became his main teacher. He ended up in remote and inhospitable places but his fame as a great meditational master brought him equally great disciples. None is more famous than his main disciple, the indomitable Mahasiddha Naropa.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

 

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221. White Manjushri (Main figure)

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(Top to bottom): White Manjushri and Dorje Shugden

Deity: White Manjushri
Alternative names: Jampel Karpo (Tibetan); Sita Manjushri (Sanskrit); Siddhaikavira (Sanskrit); White Arapachana Manjushri (English)
Manjushri is the patron Buddha of Wisdom. In his right hand, he holds a flaming wisdom sword which cuts away the roots of ignorance from our lives and in his left hand, he holds the stem of a lotus on top of which rests a Perfection of Wisdom Text. This text is symbolic of his practice granting wisdom, insight and merit. He is closely associated with Avalokiteshvara and Vajrapani as they are part of the trinity known as Rigsum Gonpo (Three Protectors). Manjushri also belongs to a group of deities that are known as the Eight Bodhisattva Disciples of Lord Buddha, alongside Avalokiteshvara, Vajrapani, Maitreya and others. Manjushri is frequently featured in Sutras because he is known to have asked important spiritual questions, which Lord Buddha answered by giving extremely beneficial teachings.

This form of Manjushri and his practice originates from the Siddhaikavira Mahatantraraja or the Solitary White Manjushri Tantra. Although there are a number of lineages of White Manjushri’s practice, the name generally refers to this specific form. White symbolises the pacification of ignorance. Hence, White Manjushri is popularly worshipped in the monasteries in order to gain higher insight into the Buddha’s teachings and to develop the special wisdom of debate.

Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)
Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)
Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for our spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.

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Antique and Ancient Thangkas

Here are more thangkas for all of you. These wonderful antique and ancient thangkas feature the Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden. They are all high-resolution so you can click and then download to print out for your altar.

1. Guru Rinpoche (Main figure)