Goddess of Dawn and Light Marichi
The Goddess of the Dawn is depicted in many different forms. Sometimes Marichi rides a white horse through the sky, banishing the darkness and driving back the night with the orb of the sun in the outstretched right hand.
More commonly Marichi is yellow or red in color, with one, three or more faces and six to twelve arms, seated on a chariot drawn by seven pigs, or horses, removing all obstacles to happiness and well-being.
Marichi’s mood can be either peaceful or wrathful. The metaphor for spiritual practice and meditation is light, light overcoming darkness. The compendium of practices known as the Bari Gyatsa contains five different descriptions of Marichi.
The Drub Tab Gyatso has six descriptions. The Narang Gyatsa and Rinjung of Taranata describe a single form of Marichi. Both the Vajravali and Mitra Gyatsa describe a single mandala of Marichi with twenty-five surrounding figures.
Table of Contents
Origin of Marichi
The origins of Marichi are obscure. However, she appears to be an amalgamation of Brahmanical, Iranian, and non-Aryan antecedents spanning 1500 years.
Her name in Tibetan is Oser Chenma, which means “Goddess of the Great Light.”
Marichi protects human beings from physical dangers and harm, sudden death, thieves, wildlife, snakes, poisons, fire, and other forces. She also removes doubts about faith in those who have lost their way and illuminates the minds of those who are searching for a spiritual awakening.
The dawn and the light associated with the goddess symbolize the radiance of spiritual illumination and enlightenment. The protective power of the goddess is invoked mostly by travelers, who repeat her mantra or carry an amulet with her image.
Marichi in India
In India, Marichi is associated with Ushas, the Vedic goddess of the dawn that appears in the Rigveda and Surya, the Hindu God of the Sun. Later, as her aspects became more closely related to the war, she was associated with Parvati’s martial incarnation, Durga. Various forms of the goddess were transmitted to Tibet, where her image gained more characteristics.
In both India and Tibet, Marichi appears in two roles: as an independent goddess and as part of Tara’s retinue. As an embodiment of one of the twenty-one Taras, she is called “Marichi, who provides longevity and healing power to the sick.”
Marichi in China
Marici in China is worshiped as both a Buddhist and Taoist deity where she is known as Dipper Mother or Mariachi Deva. Most often she depicted with three eyes in each of her four faces; with four arms on each side of her body. Two of her hands are held together, and the other six hold a sun, moon, bell, goldenseal, bow, and halberd.
Marichi is either standing or sitting on top of a lotus or pig, or on a Lotus on top of seven pigs. Marichi is celebrated on the 9th day of the 9th lunar month. In Chinese Buddhism, especially in the south where Tantric Buddhism hardly penetrated.
Marichi is often confused with Cundi. Among Chinese Buddhists, she is worshiped as the goddess of light and as the guardian of all nations, whom she protects from the fury of war.
In Taoism, Marichi remains a popular deity and is often referred to as Queen of Heaven and is widely worshiped as the Goddess of Beidou.
She is also revered as the mother of the Nine Emperor Gods who is represented by the nine stars in the Beidou constellation. Legend has it that one spring day a queen went to bath in a pond. Upon entering she suddenly felt moved and nine lotus buds rose from the pond.
Each of these lotus buds opened to reveal a star which then became the Beidou constellation. She is still worshiped today in Taoist temples like the White Cloud Temple and the Tou Mu Kung Temple which has both Taoist and Buddhist influences.
Marichi in Japan
An important deity in the Shingon and Tendai schools. Marici was adopted by the Bujin or Samurai in the 8th century CE as a protector and patron. While devotions to Marici predate Zen, they appear to be geared towards a similar meditative mode in order to enable the warrior to achieve a more heightened spiritual level.
Marichi lost interest in the issues of victory or defeat thus transcending to a level where he became so empowered that he was freed from his own grasp on mortality.
The end result was that he became a better warrior. The worship of Marici was to provide a way to achieve selflessness and compassion through Buddhist training by incorporating a passion for the mastery of the self.
Samurai would invoke Marici at sunrise to achieve victory. Since Marici means light or mirage. Marichi was invoked to escape the notice of one’s enemies. She was also later worshipped in the Edo period as a goddess of wealth and prosperity by the merchant class, alongside Daikokuten and Benzaiten as part of a trio of three deities.
Marichi as a Yaksha General
Marici has also sometimes included as one of the twelve Yaksha Generals associated with Bhaisajyaguru, the Buddha of Medicine. An important deity in the Shingon and Tendai schools, Marici was adopted by the Bujin or Samurai in the 8th century as a protector and patron.
While devotions to Marici predate Zen, they appear to be geared towards a similar meditative mode in order to enable the warrior to achieve a more heightened spiritual level.
He lost interest in the issues of victory or defeat thus transcending to the level where he became so empowered that he was freed from his own grasp on mortality.
The end result was that he became a better warrior. She was also later worshipped in the Edo period as a goddess of wealth and prosperity by the merchant class, alongside Daikoku-ten and Benzaiten as part of a trio of three deities.
Eleven Types of Deities By Appearance of Marichi
The eleven types of deities by the appearance of Marchi ara listed below:
- Peaceful Appearance
- Semi-peaceful/semi-wrathful Appearance
- Wrathful Appearance
- Animal Featured Appearance
- Warrior Appearance
- Universal Appearance
- Layered Appearance
- Stacked Appearance
- Ithyphallic Appearance
- Androgynous & Gender Reversed Appearance
- Weird Gods & Fantastical Appearance
The first five of the Eleven Types of Deities By Appearance are included in the list of Eleven Figurative Forms of Himalayan Art. Those first five deities are the most important because they are the most general and the most commonly found forms.
The additional six types are important only because by knowing them it keeps confusion and incorrect identifications to a minimum.
Iconography of Marichi
Marici is usually depicted in one of the following ways:
- As a beautiful woman on an open lotus, the lotus itself sometimes perched on the back of seven sows.
- As a ferocious wrathful deity perched on the back of a boar.
- Riding a fiery chariot pulled by seven savage boars or sows.
- As a multi-armed woman with a different weapon in each hand standing or sitting on the back of a boar.
She has been depicted with one, three, five or six faces and two, six, eight, ten or twelve arms; three eyes; in her many-faced manifestations one of her faces is that of a sow.
She appears in a simple form, sitting in a padmasana (lotus pose), with two hands – the right hand in varada mudra (the gesture of generosity), and the left holding a flower or branch of the Ashoka Tree. The magical and healing properties of this tree, as well as its connection to female fertility and sexual desire and love, are deeply embedded in early Buddhism, particularly in relation to the figures of yakshini. In the case with Marichi, this element of her iconography implies her initial relationship with nature, and although in the later stages her prime role is as a celestial warrior, the Ashoka Tree remains as her distinctive feature.
he goddess is depicted in gold, yellow, white, or red colors, with one or three faces and three eyes. She is sitting in a padmasana or Lalita asana (pose of royal ease). Her hands may be two, six, eight, ten, twelve, or fourteen, holding different attributes, including a branch of the Ashoka tree, bow, arrow, vajra, hook, lasso, sword, trident, kapala, vase, the severed head of Brahma, as well as a needle and a thread, symbolizing the “suturing” of the eyes and ears of the people causing harm, and thus neutralizing them.
Marichi is usually depicted sitting on a lotus, a boar, or a chariot drawn by seven wild boars or horses. The boars symbolize the militant and defensive force of the goddess and can sometimes be seen as part of her ornamentation or as extra heads. The number of the seven boars is associated with the seven planets governing the days of the week in Indian astronomy. Thus the goddess is also assigned the role of managing the planets and supporting the Sun and Moon, which are often painted over her.
Marichi is depicted primarily as an independent deity, but some Buddhist texts mention that she is Buddha Vairochana’s spiritual wife, as well as his emanation. In rare cases, she appears as a partner of Hayagriva, a wrathful aspect of Avalokiteshvara. In the Tantric tradition, images of the goddess in union with Hayagriva are occasionally seen.
Marichi plays an important role in the Buddhist tradition of India and Tibet and, like most of the Mahayana goddesses, she saves sentient beings from suffering, illuminating their hearts with the light of enlightened wisdom. The tradition of her worshiping is still alive today, especially in Tibetan ritual practices, wherefrom a heavenly goddess she became a strong protector overcoming all kinds of obstacles.