Mahakala with Vajrasattva Thangka is handpainted on cotton canvas by a Thangka artist from Nepal. Mahakala is comprehensive in nature. The two-armed Mahakala called Bernakchen is a protector of the Karma Kagyu school.
Mahakala is presented at the center of the thangka. Vajrasattva is presented at the top of Mahakala in the thangka. Two lamas are presented at the top right and top left corner of the Mahakala in the thangka. Three Deities are resented at the bottom of Mahakala in the thangka. It is often thought to be the primary protector, but it is actually the main protector of the Karmapas specifically.
Iconography of Mahakala
Mahakala is typically black in color. Just as all colors are absorbed and dissolved into black, all names and forms are said to melt into those of Mahakala. Mahakala is symbolizing his all-embracing. Black can also represent the total absence of color and signifies the nature of Mahakala as ultimate or absolute reality and transcendence of all forms.
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, the two-armed Mahakala was transformed from the first Buddha, Ardhalma, and is worshiped for his spiritual wisdom. The four-armed Mahakala was transformed from the Sambhogakaya Buddha. The six-armed Mahakala comes in two forms: one white and one black. His white form helps one attain riches and long life.
His black form was transformed from Avalokitesvara and helps people conquer any obstacles on their path to enlightenment. This protective deity is described as figures possessing stout bodies, short but thick and strong limbs. His flaming hair, decorated with a crown of skulls, rises from his forehead, while a circle of flames dances around him.
His face possesses a typical wrathful expression. The mouth is contorted to an angry smile from its corners protrude long fangs. The protruding, bloodshot eyes have an angry and staring expression and usually, a third eye is visible in the middle of the forehead.
In his right hand, he holds a chopper which symbolizes the cutting through of negative patterns such as aggression, hatred, and ignorance. In his left hand, he holds a skull cup a ritual element typically filled with blood or human brain matter. He is seen standing on the corpse of two human bodies which symbolizes the death of negativities and the complete uprooting of negative patterns to such a point that like a dead body, they will not come to life.
Mantra of Mahakala
The mantra of Mahakala is Om Mahakalaye Soha.
Iconography of Vajrasattva
Vajrasattva is presented at the top of Mahakala in the thangka. Vajrasattva is pure white in color and is sometimes known as the Prince of Purity. His name means “Adamantine Being”, or more poetically “Embodying Reality”.
He is a member of the Vajra family of Aksobhya which also includes Vajrapani. He is depicted as a young man in the prime of life, with all the silks and jewels of a wealthy prince.
In his right hand, he delicately balances a vajra at his heart. In his left hand, he holds a bell at his waist. The vajra represents Reality, and Compassion; while the bell represents Wisdom.
Vajrasattva is said to have originated from the seed syllable Hum and is generally invoked to remove the obscuration of Kleshavarana and Jneya Avarana.
His hundred-syllable mantra is very efficacious in purifying our defilements through confession practice. It is said if confession is done with the four opponent powers, then non-virtuous actions or obscurations will be purified.
The first opponent’s power is the force of reliance. This means looking upon the visualized image of Vajrasattva as the embodiment of one refuge. The second opponent power is the sincere regret for the non-virtuous action done by oneself.
The third opponent’s power is desisting from evil deeds. The fourth opponent power is to apply the power of good deeds; and especially regarding this case, practicing the meditation and recitation of Vajrasattva without parting from Bodhicitta while remaining in the state of emptiness.
Vajrasattva is a very popular tutelary deity for Nepalese Vajracharya. He is worshipped very often by Nepalese Buddhists through the Guru Mandala ritual.
In some mandalas Vajrasattva represents the Adi Buddha or the Primordial Principle of Buddhahood in others, he changes places with Aksobhya in the East.
In Shingon Buddhism, Vajrasattva passes on the initiation of the Dharmakaya Buddha Mahavairocana to Nagarjuna, thereby creating the Vajrayana lineage.
Mantra of Varasattva
The mantra of Vajrasattva is om Vajrasattva Hum.
|Size||100 x 70cm|
|Material||Cotton Canvas, Minerals Color|