Interpreting Indian Adept Avadhutipa – Maitripa

Interpreting Indian Adept Avadhutipa – Maitripa

Avadhutipa is also known as Maitripa who is an important figure both in Mahayana and . It is through him that and ’s crucial on nature, the Uttara Shastra, became widely followed in .

He also transmitted the esoteric aspect of buddha nature, embodied in the , which treat the topic of in great detail and provide a wide range of progressive, highly-refined .

The life of the Indian Mahasiddha

In this section, we are going to talk about the life of Avadhutipa. After a short etymological description of the word Avadhutipa itself, we will review his influence among his students and beyond, his conversation by the Damarupa, and finally, we will highlight the transmission of his teaching that became the most famous.

Maitrīpāda (ca 1007-1085, also known as Maitrīgupta, Advayavajra, and, to , ), was a prominent Indian Mahasiddha associated with the Mahāmudrā transmission. His teachers were and .

Etymology of Avadhutipa

The term ‘avadhutipa’ or ‘awadhutipa’ refers to a mendicant, someone who has given up all worldly goods and concerns.

It is intended as a title but comes to also be used as a name by a number of different Indian .

Avadhutipa is a mendicant Buddhist of who has no .

Avadhutipa’s influence

His students include , , , , (also known as Sahajavajra), Devākaracandra (also known as Śūnyatāsamādhi), and Rāmapāla.

His hermitage was Mithilā (also known as ), somewhere in northern Bihar and neighboring parts of southern .

He was influential as the major source of the teachings of Mahamudra for .

Avadhutipa’s conversion by the mahasiddha Damarupa

The Indian mahasiddha Avadhutipa was a non-Buddhist that was subdued and converted by the mahasiddha Damarupa.

Animal sacrifice in the kingdom was stopped and the king took up the practice of the .

He renounced his kingdom and practiced a path free from extremes and became known as Avadhutipa; spending his playing in the streets with the children of the kingdom.

Avadhutipa’s famous teaching

He is famous for transmitting the Margapala (Path Together with the Result) teachings to the Indian Pandita Gayadhara. Avadhutipa is 6th in the list of lineage teachers.

The Margapala is known in Tibetan as the ‘’ and primarily but not exclusively associated with the Tantra and Verse commentary by the Mahasiddha .

Iconography of Avadhutipa

In the of Avadhutipa, we will go through his posture, hand and leg gesture and different representation of Avadhutipa in and statues.

Posture of Avadhutipa

Avadhutipa is typically shown in ‘Siddha appearance’, in a seated posture with the legs lose, sometimes with one knee raised. He often has the right arm extended across the knee and the hand in a slight gesture of pointing with the .

Siddha in means accomplished one. Siddha’s appearance is further divided into 3 categories.

  • Monastic
  • Layperson
  • Siddha

In Siddha’s appearance, the tantric Siddhas wears the bone ornaments, tiger , etc which is also called Maha Siddha appearance.

Avadhutipa holding a skull bowl

Avadhutipa holding a skull

The left hand can hold a skull bowl.

Alternately the posture can be reversed and the skull bowl absent. He can wear either bone ornaments, jewelry or flowers, or any combination of the three depending on the skill and preference of the .

Heruka appearance

In the Hevajra Tradition, and based on descriptions of ‘’ appearance in the Hevajra Tantra text, flowers are stipulated as an appropriate adornment to indicate an anti-social, anti- behavior.

Heruka’s appearance is a wrathful appearance.

Sculpture and paintings of the Mahasiddha

Avadhutipa is not typically ever depicted alone. All sculpture and of the mahasiddha belong to much larger sets of figures depicting all of the Lineage teachers of the Lamdre Tradition. There are verses of praise directed to Avadhutipa but there are no Guruyoga practices or focused directly on him as the central subject.

Depicting (Siddha) – Avadhutipa

The of Avadhutipa is from Eastern Tibet. It was made in between 1700 AD to 1799 AD. It is from Lineage.

The base of the is , mineral pigment, fine gold line are used to make the painting.

Presently this painting is in the .

In depicting this thangka we will learn how the Tantric Yogi is represented in this thangka with various and layman. At the top left, there is Chakravartin, 2 laymen in the center, and on the right of the .

Tantric yogi

Tantric yogi is an accomplished male Tantric practitioner, specifically to . Avadhutipa is shown as a tantric yogi appearance in this thangka with brown in color with a full black beard and the hair piled on the crown of the head he is adorned with various flowers blossoms.

He wears white bone earplugs in place of rings, a gold necklace, bracelets, anklets, bone ornaments, and a long garland of flowers

He wears a red scarf and a red – blue-trimmed – lower garment.

In the right hand outstretched is a small gold knife. On the left side, there is a green fruit with a stem and leaves.

He is relaxed in a Siddha posture. He sits atop of the tiger skin and mats of fresh green leaves placed above a rocky outcropping. There is a round blue basket of traveling in its behind.

Ushnisha Chakravartin

Ushnisha Chakravartin is represented at the top left. He is a wrathful deity who is yellow in color with one face and two hands, wearing wrathful vestments.

The right-hand holds aloft a gold and the left held to the heart performs a wrathful gesture. He is wrapped in a green scarf and tiger skin garment and he stands with the right leg bent and the left straight atop a disc and red blossom.


is on the right side who is white in color. He is holding a stick with a gold vajra tip in the right hand and performing a wrathful gesture.


Yamantaka is at the bottom left who is dark blue in color. He is holding a vajra ax and performing a wrathful gesture.


Padmantaka is in the middle who is red in color. He is holding a pink lotus and with the left hand and he is represented in wrathful gesture.


Vighnantaka is in the right who is dark blue in color. He is holding a vajra and performing a wrathful gesture.

In the tradition, Vighnantaka is an important Tantric deity and belongs to the group of ten wrathful deities known as Dasamahakrodha.

The deities are visualized as part of a preparatory , to purify and rid oneself of the obstacles (vigna) to attain .

Hence Vighnantaka “Destroyer of Obstacles” in his six-armed wrathful form symbolizes this dedication and energy to attain the goal.

These five belong to a set of 10 wrathful deities that serve as the outer protection retinue for deity .

Two laymen on the Left

Two laymen stand are on the left of the central figure. They are holding a book and pointing.

Layman is known as a male householder, a term referring to non-monastic male figures. A layman is a male that does not have or hold the ordination () of a novice or fully ordained monk according to the Buddhist Vinaya system.

The lotus stem Tara

To the right is a monk within a structure and outside rising from a lotus stem Tara sits atop an orange lotus blossom.

Lotus stem tara is as . Green in color she has one face and two hands performing the of generosity with the right and holding the stem of a lotus to the heart with the left, seated in a relaxed manner.

Lamdre Lineage

Previously, we describe the Tantric yogi, Ushnisha Chakravartin. all these characters and are important parts of the Lamdre Lineage that we are going to discuss next.

In the Lamdre lineage, Avadhutipa follows his root Damarupa. Based on and style both paintings are likely from the same set and the same artist.

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