The Vajravarahi Tantric Master
Vajravarahi is a Dakini & spiritual energy perceived to transmute the Five Negative Afflictions which represent five obstructions which obscure the true nature of the life & obstruct Buddhists as they seek illumination as they journey to enlightenment.
In her form as Vajravarahi, when she is known as ‘the Vajra Sow’ she is often pictured with a sow’s head on the side of her own as an ornament and in one form has the head of a sow herself. Vajrayogin is often associated with a triumph over ignorance, the pig is associated with ignorance in Buddhism. This sow head relates to the origins of Vajravarahi from the Hindu sow-faced goddess Varahi.
Table of Contents
The iconography of Vajra Varahi
The crown of five skulls symbolizes Vajravarahi’s power to transform the five negative afflictions. Vajravarahi_Buddhist Art Tibetan troubles into the Five Pearls of Wisdom. The Sanskrit word kleshaliterally means ‘defilement’ or ‘poison.’ Normally obscured by greed, hatred, delusion, jealousy & pride often called the five poisons.
The five wisdom levels
- Tathata Jana – the ‘non-conceptualizing awareness’ of Sunyata.
- Adarsa Jana – the ‘Mirror-like Awareness’, ‘devoid of all dualistic thought & in union with its ‘images’ as a mirror is in its reflections’.
- Samata Jana – Awareness of Sameness, which perceives the sameness, the commonality of dharmas or phenomena,
- Pratyaveksana Jana – ‘Investigative Awareness’.
- Krtyanusthana Jana – Accomplishing Activities, the awareness that spontaneously carries out all that has to be done for the welfare of beings.
Each of these Wisdom Energies has a unique association with one of the Five Buddha Groups.
The Gesture of Vajra Varahi
Her threatening Tarjani hand gesture also known as Karana mudra is made with a raised index & little finger & by folding the other fingers usually around an object represents her energy aimed at clarifying ignorance. In this case, she clasps a flying knife [Skt. Kartika] symbolizing her breaking the power of materialism. The word Kartika comes from the name of Shiva’s Son.
Her right-hand pours self-regenerating uterine blood into her mouth from a skullcap representing her independence from the material world …including men.
Vajravarahi is painted with a magical tantric staff leaning against her shoulder & which has impaled three heads. The first blue head is a fresh severed, the second redhead is in decay and the third a white skull.
Vajravarahi stands in satyalida position with one leg held aloft & the other trampling on the deity Kalatri representing the ego.
She wears a necklace of fifty human heads as a symbol that she vanquishes the fifty negative emotions or ‘forms’ she has overcome.
She is shown in a celestial dance position upon an orange sun disc associated with the feminine wisdom aspect & on a Lotus Throne representing Great Bliss, and her overall figure is surrounded by a circle of flames of immaculate consciousness.
The trees in the left foreground are the Ashoka Tree. The word Ashoka means without sorrow & is the tree linked to the Vedic God of love & sexual union Kamadeva. Apparently, the tree blossoms when a virtuous lady touches it.
Chakra is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘wheel’. The flayed human skin represents her power over greed, the tiger skin represents her power over hatred and the elephant skin represents her immolation of Ignorance.