White Mahakala Thangka
White Mahakala Thangka

White Mahakala Thangka


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White Mahakala is also known as Shadbhuja Sita Mahakala. He is called gon po kar po chag drug pa in Tibetan and the White Lord with Six Hands in English.

He is the emanation of Avalokiteshvara and the principal wealth deity of the Shangpa Kagyu Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.

White Mahakala, a wealth deity of the Kriya class of Tantra, satisfies the economic needs of Tantric Buddhists. This is a Gelugpa example of a deity that has become popular within all schools of Tibetan Buddhism. It should be noted however that the Shangpa Kagyu School, founded by Khedrup Khyungpo Naljor (11th century), is unrelated to the more famous school of the same name founded by Marpa and his principal student Milarepa.

“Homage to Lord Chintamani, Holy Avalokiteshvara, the gathered compassion of all Buddhas of the ten directions and three times; to that emanation, the Six-Handed Protector, devotedly with the body, speech and mind I bow.”

The Iconography of the White Mahakala

White Mahakala is a rare form of the wrathful Buddhist deity. He is associated with the attainment of wealth. 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 mounted on a jewel-tipped handle, in front of his chest. This emblem is held by deities associated particularly with wealth.

His upper right-hand holds a chopper. This crescent-shaped chopper corresponds in shape to the cavity of the skullcup and functions to make ‘mincemeat’ of the hearts, intestines, lungs, and life-veins of enemies hostile to the Dharma. A similar crescent-shaped hand cleaver is used in oriental cuisine to chop meat and dice vegetables.

His lower right arm holds a hand drum, damaru in Sanskrit. According to the strict rules of Tibetan-Buddhist iconography, the damaru is held and played in the right hand, and its function is to summon or invoke all of the Buddhas, inspiring them with supreme joy. The damaru as held by wrathful and semi-wrathful Buddhist deities is described as being fashioned from the joined skulls of a fifteen or sixteen-year-old boy and girl. The left side of the double-skull damaru is drawn smaller to represent the pubescent girl’s skull. The magical qualities possessed by these skulls symbolize the virginal ripening to the fullness of the male and female bodhichitta essences.

His lower left arm holds a skull-cup with a vase in it filled with many jewels. The skull-cup – fashioned from the oval upper section of a human cranium, serves as a libation vessel for wrathful and protective Vajrayana deities. As a receptacle for sacrificial offerings presented to wrathful deities, the kapala parallels the precious tray or bowl containing auspicious substances like the jewels shown here in this painting.

The central right-hand holds a vajra hook. As a handheld weapon, the vajra hook symbolizes the hooking of negativities or evil beings, and the pulling or driving of all beings out of samsara and towards liberation.

The uppermost left-hand holds a trident. As a weapon, the trident symbolizes the destruction of the three poisons of ignorance, desire, and aggression within the three realms. The two prongs uniting in the flaming central prong also symbolize the unity of method and wisdom; the abandonment of the two extremes of samsara and nirvana; and the ultimate union of absolute and relative truth.

He is adorned with jeweled ornaments and wears a beautiful skirt made of many scarves with jewels hanging down on the skirt.

Under each of his feet is a prostrate deity with an elephant head. This is symbolic of Lord Ganesha, the Hindu Lord of obstacles, thus representing the overcoming of obstacles.

Even though stationary in his stance, a lively movement is imparted through the agitated postures of his arms and the “Art-Nouveau” curves of his floating scarves.

The White Mahakala is more unusual than the customary black form. He is especially popular in Mongolia as the main protector deity of Mongolia., given such distinction by the third Dalai Lama.

The teachings of the White Mahakala were brought to Tibet in the eleventh century by Khedrup Khyungpopa, who also brought the teachings of the Six-armed Black Mahakala.

Performing the White Mahakala ritual is supposed to bring endless wealth to the needy practitioner in such things as a family, material goods, food, power, knowledge, and spirituality.

The lineage of White Mahakala

Vajradhara, Jnana Dakini, Shri Shavaripa, Lord Maitripa, Mahasiddha Rahulagupta, Khedrup Khyungpo Naljor, Nyam Med Rinchen Tsondru, Bonton Kyergangpa, etc.

The mantra of White Mahakala




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