Herukas – The unified consciousness with emptiness
Heruka, is the name of a category of wrathful deities, enlightened beings in Vajrayana Buddhism that adopt a fierce countenance to benefit sentient beings.
In East Asia, these are called Wisdom Kings.
Table of Contents
The definition of Herukas
Herukas represent the embodiment of indivisible bliss and emptiness.
They appear as Iṣṭha-devatā or meditational deities for tantric sādhanā, usually placed in a mandala and often appearing in Yab-Yum.
Heruka represents wrathful imagery with indivisible emptiness (śūnyatā), bliss, peace, wisdom, compassion (bodhicitta), and love.
Herukas represent unified consciousness, with emptiness being a reflection of “non-phenomena” or emptiness which is “all love,” or removal of imagery to reach universal love, mercy, and compassion-mind.
Interpretation of Heruka is similar to the female ḍākiṇī or buddha Vajrayogini.
Forms & manifestations of Herukas
This is a list oh Herukas commonly used in Tibetan Buddhism practices.
Mahakala is a deity common to Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism. According to Hinduism, Mahakala is a manifestation of Shiva and is the consort of Hindu Goddess Kali and most prominently appears in Kalikula sect of Shaktism. Mahākāla also appears as a protector deity known as a dharmapala in Vajrayana Buddhism, particularly most Tibetan traditions (Citipati), in Tangmi and in Shingon. He is known as Dàhēitiān and Daaih’hāktīn (大黑天) in Mandarin and Cantonese, Daeheukcheon (대흑천) in Korean and Daikokuten (大黒天) in Japanese. In Sikhism, Mahākāla is referred to as Kal, who is the governor of Maya.
Heruka, is the name of a category of wrathful deities, enlightened beings in Vajrayana Buddhism that adopt a fierce countenance to benefit sentient beings. In East Asia, these are called Wisdom Kings.
Hevajra is one of the main yidams in Tantric, or Vajrayana Buddhism. Hevajra’s consort is Nairātmyā.
Hevajra has four forms described in the Hevajra Tantra and the Samputa Tantra which are Kaya Hevajra, Vak Hevajra, Citta Hevajra and Hrdaya Hevajra.
Yamantaka literally means ‘The Destroyer of Yama, the Lord of Death’, is a wrathful form of Manjushri.
In Buddhism, wrathful deities or fierce deities are the fierce, wrathful or forceful forms of enlightened Buddhas, Bodhisattvas or Devas. Because of their power to destroy the obstacles to enlightenment, they are also termed krodha-vighnantaka, “Wrathful onlookers on destroying obstacles”. Wrathful deities are a notable feature of the iconography of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism. These types of deities first appeared in India during the late 6th century with its main source being the Yaksha imagery and became a central feature of Indian Tantric Buddhism by the late 10th or early 11th century.
Vajrakilaya or Vajrakumara — the wrathful heruka Vajrakilaya is the yidam deity who embodies the enlightened activity of all the buddhas and whose practice is famous for being the most powerful for removing obstacles, destroying the forces hostile to compassion and purifying the spiritual pollution so prevalent in this age. Vajrakilaya is one of the eight deities of Kagyé.
The Cakrasaṃvara Tantra is an influential Buddhist Tantra. It is roughly dated to the late eight or early ninth century by David B. Gray. The full title in the Sanskrit manuscript used by Gray’s translation is: Great King of Yoginī Tantras called the Śrī Cakrasaṃvara (Śrīcakrasaṃvara-nāma-mahayoginī-tantra-rāja). The text is also called the Discourse of Śrī Heruka (Śrīherukābhidhāna) and the Samvara Light (Laghusaṃvara).
Acala is a dharmapala primarily revered in Vajrayana Buddhism. He is seen as a protective deity particularly in Shingon traditions of Japan where he is known as Fudō Myō-ō, in Tangmi traditions of China and Taiwan as Búdòng Míngwáng, in Nepal and Tibet as Caṇḍaroṣaṇa, and elsewhere.
Rakta Yamari is an emanation of the meditational deity and bodhisattva of wisdom Manjushri or Yamantaka.
Yamari deities have two forms: red (rakta) and black (krishna), and are part of the Anuttarayoga Class of Tantric Buddhism.
In Tibetan and Japanese Buddhism, Hayagrīva is an important deity who originated as a yaksha attendant of Avalokiteśvara or Guanyin Bodhisattva in India.
Appearing in the Vedas as two separate deities, he was assimilated into the ritual worship of early Buddhism and eventually was identified as a Wisdom King in Vajrayana Buddhism.
Kundali or Amritakundalin, also known in Chinese as Juntuli Mingwang and in Japanese as Gundari Myōō (軍荼利明王), is a wrathful deity and dharmapala in East Asian Esoteric Buddhism.