Friday, July 3, 2009

Dharmapala Mahakala

Mahakala Thanka by Mukti If you visit this blog regularly you may have notice with some deities’s statues or thanka paintings, which is in terrifying or wrathful forms. Wrathful deities looks terrified, hideous and hair raising and different then other Buddhist ideals. But They are not personifications of evil or demonic forces. Wrathful deities are kindly gods who symbolize the tremendous effort it takes to vanquish evil, the violence that is a fundamental reality of the cosmos and the human mind and protect the faithful by instilling terror in evil spirits. In Sanskrit, the wrathful deities are known as Dharmapalas, which means "Dharma Protector".

Mahakala Panjaranatha face
There is a group of eight Dharmapalas. Dharmapalas are divinities with the rank of Bodhisattva who wage war without any mercy against the demons and enemies of Buddhism.

Mahakala Mahakala is one of the eight dharmapala of the Buddhist pantheon. Mahakala's name translates as the "Great Black," one, or "Great time." The latter is a reference to the deity's ability to transcend all time. In Tibet we can found more then seventy five manifestations of Mahakala. As dharma protector, images of the wrathful deities are given a good position at the entrance doors of home and Buddhist Shrines.
Mahakala is one of the most popular terrific protectors in Tibetan Buddhism. Mahakala is worship in all schools of Tibetan Buddhism. He frequently appears at the inner entrance of a temple or is afforded a special shrine. His myth speaks of his having been tamed by Avalokiteshvara. He is sometimes even considered to be a fierce form of that Bodhisattva of Compassion.

Origin of Mahakala
The Buddha Amitabha manifested as Avalokiteshvara who took a vow to forgo his own enlightenment until all the realms of samsara had been emptied. ( read full STORY OF 1,000 ARMS AVLOKITESHWOR)This vow required a renewal of determination, and so with Amitabha's blessing, Avalokiteshvara next assumed a form with eleven heads and a thousand arms. Still he had been unable to benefit even a few beings.
Therefore after reflecting for one whole week, he determined that by assuming a wrathful form he would be able "to subdue the degenerate beings of this Age of Darkness." Also he saw that even beings who practiced Dharma were unable to escape from the Bardo realms (time between rebirths where beings may face great anxiety and terrifying experiences) and he thought that in wrathful form he could also protect them in that way. And lastly, he thought that the beings in this Dark Age were poor and needy, experiencing only suffering after suffering, and that in wrathful form he could provide them an antidote to that suffering so that by simply making the wish (for protection) their needs could be met.

These three motives made his determination even greater than before and so from the heart of Noble Avalokiteshvara emerged a dark blue HUNG syllable that immediately became the Instantaneous Protector of Wisdom, Mahakala. (resource:

MahakalaHowever, he is depicted in a number of variations, he is almost always depicted with a crown of five skulls, which represent the transmutation of the five kleshas (negative afflictions) into the five wisdoms.
The most notable variation in Mahakala's manifestations and depictions is in the number of arms, but other details can vary as well. For instance, in some cases there are Mahakalas in white, with multiple heads, without genitals, standing on varying numbers of various things, holding various implements, with alternative adornments, and so on.

Some of the different manifestations of the Mahakala
MahakalaSix arms Mahakala or Vighantaka:- This form is most favored by the Gelukpa order of Tibetan Buddhism, and in this manifestation Mahakala is considered to be the fierce and powerful emanation of Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of compassion.

The Six-armed Mahakala's left leg is outstretched while the right is bent at the knee. The former symbolizes his accomplishments for the benefit of others and the later those for himself. An elephant-headed entity lying crushed under his legs (misunderstood as Lord Ganesha) represents our instinctive, primary animal force and urge, which when unleashed can prove to be extremely destructive. These cravings however, can also be extremely useful to our self-development and -realization when we master them and bring them under our moderation. Indeed, it is warned that dreaming about a herd of elephants is a sign that instinctive and irrepressible forces that may have been suppressed for too long are about to be unleashed.

Four Arms Mahakala
MahakalaThe four arms of this manifestation of Mahakala perform one of the following four positive karmas or actions, which are said to be his specific boon to his worshippers:
A). Pacify sickness, hindrances, and troubles.
b). Increase life, good qualities and wisdom.
c). Attract whatever Dharma practitioners need and bring people to the Dharma.
d). Destroy confusion, doubt, and ignorance.

White Mahakala
MahakalaMahakalaThis is the wealth aspect of Mahakala which specifically supports the comfort and economic well-being of tantric practitioners. The following description is according to his sadhana:
"His body is white. His face is wrathful and he has three eyes. He has six arms. His main right hand holds a wish- fulfilling jewel (chintamani) mounted on a jewel-tipped handle, in front of his chest."

The White Mahakala is known as mGon po yid bzhin nor bu in Tibetan with the last four meaning 'Wish-Granting Gem,' and he is the special protector of Mongolian Buddhists. His iconography is rich in symbols delineating his 'wealth-deity' status. For example his skull bowl, rather than contain the mortal remains of his victims, is full of various jewels, and his crown is made up of five jewels instead of the trademark five skulls.

Mahakala Panjaranatha
Mahakala Panjaranatha Mahakala Panjaranatha facePanjaranatha Mahakala is one of the most important Dharma protectors in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. He is a benefactor and protector of the monastic tradition, and is also the physical representation of the Mother Tantras of Chakrasamvara and Hevajra. Although typically dark blue, Mahakala and his entourage are gold in color, signifying the radiant gold light emitted by attained beings. This Statues shows Panjaranatha with his typical implements of flaying knife, skull cup, and staff, and he is surrounded by his messengers and attendants.

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sdsfasda said...

I loved the explanation of wrathful deities when I wrote about them for the first time. I think, it's very clever and nice invention.

Theofilia said...

Dear Host of this blog, is your name Mydzi?
I just discovered this blog after googling "male and female Buddha in same body" because in my blog today I wrote about seeing a picture-image long time ago, of a half male and half female Buddha (in one body) with which personally resonated with me because of what I experieced onece. . .
I'm very glad I decided to check out this blog and read a bit here and there. Feels beautiful to be here . . .
I understand your explanation about the Wrathful Deities and their special purpose in human life . . .I know first hand how tremendously hard it is to get to the point in ones evolution where one is able to work on transmuting the energies of "evil" directly.

I'm not a Buddhist per se, but am familliar with this philosophy. Ganesha, for instance was one of Deities who presented Himself to my consciousnes when the going was rough.

"Kwan Yin", (I asked "what's your name?" and she said "Kwan Yin") more than 10 years ago now, 'showed up' when I was very sad and gave me Transmission of energy. In my blog I describe how that happened.

In todays blog I said that many years ago "Manjusri" introduced himself to my consciousness, which gave me the courage to go on when all the world seemed to be against me.

Pls. forgive this self-indulgent rant. Thank you for this beautiful blog. I will be visiting this site.
If you wish please visit my blog too:)

Bharat said...

Hi Liudmila and Theofilia,
Liudmila your comments always inspire me for learning more...
I appreciate all readers for your visit in my blog. thank you for keep coming back.

Theofilia, Thanks for sharing your experience in this blog. I think you are very lucky to have guidance from different Bodhisatva. Wish you have this guidance forever.
Best Regards

Theofilia said...

Thank You Bharat
I do feel myself very fortunate because I have been able to surrender myself to 'guidance' from 'beyond'. Once while reading The Tibetan Book Of The Dead I became overcome with the most 'surrendered' gratitude for the Teaching and stoped reading with the intention to express that feeling.
I knelt on the floor (before a floor-to-ceiling (high) window) and with eyes closed opened the book placing it on the floor before me. Next, I placed my forhead on the book and talked to Padma Sambhava expressing gratitude for the Teaching, asking for a blessing.
After this very heartfelt moment I opened my eyes and beheld Padma Sambhava -- His seated image. "In His Copper Mountain Paradise" with two consorts Yeshe Tsogyal and princess Mandrava -- with His right hand raised in a 'blessing' gesture. . . I wept with Joy:)
(I have Robert Thurman translation)

Indeed I am very lucky that despite the struggles I never gave up.
I trust the Light I see around my body . . . Light which 'speaks' to me through its various Forms. In May/94 I experienced and recorded in my journal the following: "Saw my Etheric aura!!! Electric Blue!".
In a different ink-color adding below "by August saw my golden light aura".
Just a short entry, but it was something which rocked my world!
How could I not trust That, no matter what?
I will add that the blue ribbon of light next to the skin ("ribbon"? - bec. it's what it looks like.) I saw while looking in the mirror in a ceratin lighting. I was very surprised bec. I wasn't looking to see it. I just happened to be undressing in fron of the mirror.
Both, my then 9 year old twin son's saw the the blue light too. One kept pocking his finger into it with, "oh kool! oh kool!".
The other, after few silent minutes of gazing at his "blue ribbon of light" said with tears in his eyes "what is it?"

I share this as a testimony that those beautiful tangka images of Buddhas and Bodhisatvas become very much alive to us when we trust . . .


Druv said...

Great blog, absolutely love it. I would love to know more about "Mahakala" and why does he takes this furious form?


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