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Tibetan Buddhist temple Art ~ Vajrakumara (Vajrakilaya)

tangka Vajrakumara aka Vajrakila Tibetan Busshist art

Click on the picture for a larger view.

 

This very vibrant and colorful temple wall hanging (jiantang in Tibetan) is Vajrakilaya (Skt. Vajrakīlaya; Tib. Dorje Phurba; Wyl. rdo rje phur pa) or Vajrakumara (Skt. Vajrakumāra; Tib. Dorje Shönnu; Wyl. rdo rje gzhon nu) — 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 deity representing enlightened activity is Vajrakilaya. In peaceful form, he is Vajrasattva, in semi-wrathful form he is Vajra Vidharana (Tib. Dorje Namjom), in wrathful form he is Vajrapani, and in extremely wrathful form he is Vajrakilaya. (description and links courtesy of rigpawiki.org)

One curiosity of the painting is the presence of a second foot on the left side, i have not been able to determine exactly what the nature of this second foot and have come to the conclusion that it represents a stomping of his foot making it a very powerful asana.

The three deities at the bottom are all wrathful types, two males, flanking a single female. How does one determine the sex of a wrathful deity? The safest way is by the clothes they wear; males have tiger skins and females have leopard skins, so problem solved.

The back side of this wall hanging has a 3-syllable mantra written in red, which is also seen on the ends of scripture transport boxes: OM AH HOM, which is the "Body~Speech~Mind" of Buddha, as in one's acquisition of these properties and is written in the regular Tibetan script.

This temple wall hanging is the most recent of those we were able to bring out of Tibet. It was not intended to be rolled up, however I had no other way of transporting it out of Tibet and it shows some creasing where it resisted the rolling. There is a vertical seam running up the left third of the painting where Vajrakilaya's blue arms show. The seam appears to be sewn by machine as the stitching is uniform and quite different from the other wall hangings we brought out of Tibet. It comes a Certificate Of Authenticity that is brush signed by one of the monks at the Senge Monastery.

It was in the Naga Temple which was built in the 1880s. In March of 1958 the temple was destroyed by the Chinese. The villagers and the monks were able to save this jiantang from destruction, hiding it for a few decades. The Naga temple was rebuilt around 1990 and new art was painted to adorn the walls.


Age: circa 1885-90
Overall H=55' x W=46" Painting less border area ~H=45.5" x W=36"

To Purchase this jiantang contact David@Baronet4Tibet.com

Price $8800 plus shipping and handling West coast $88.00 ~Mtn $93.00 ~Mid-west $99.00 ~East coast $110.00 other destinations contact David@Baronet4Tibet.com for a quote.

Iconography

This very vibrant and colorful temple wall hanging is Vajrakilaya (Skt. Vajrakīlaya; Tib. Dorje Phurba; Wyl. rdo rje phur pa) or Vajrakumara (Skt. Vajrakumāra; Tib. Dorje Shönnu; Wyl. rdo rje gzhon nu) — 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 deity representing enlightened activity is Vajrakilaya. In peaceful form, he is Vajrasattva, in semi-wrathful form he is Vajra Vidharana (Tib. Dorje Namjom), in wrathful form he is Vajrapani, and in extremely wrathful form he is Vajrakilaya. Covering his back side is a freshly killed elephant of ignorance. All 6 of his hands are in the Gesture of Banishing and is presented very forcefully. He is the deity of the magic phurba dagger, a symbol of the sharp point of wisdom fixed immobile on the power of goodness. This archetype has a very specific yogic use and is not merely considered an external deity to be worshiped or manipulated in ritual activities. His unusual form is carefully visualized until the practitioner can imaginatively adopt his form at will, this in turn affects the self image and the central nervous system, opening the yogi's or yogini's sensibility and clearing obstructions to inner energy flows. This allows the attainment of spiritual insights into the deep self and to incorporate powerful energies otherwise locked away in the normally unconscious regions of the mind.

Vajrakumara is shown in terrific union with his wisdom prajnya consort, together they represent the union of wisdom and method, which is active compassion. His 5 skulled crown represents the 5 addictions transmuted into the 5 wisdoms.

There is one Buddha at the top and two Bodhisattvas. The buddha is one of the primordial Buddhas and either Sikhin, which is probable or Kanakamuni, as the other possibility. The Bodhisattva on the right has the same Gesture of banishing as does Chamundi, while the Bodhisattva on the left appears to have the same mudra as the Buddha at the top; both have their right hand held in the Gesture of Intellectual argument and the left hand is mostly hidden under their sash. The perceptual teaching of Sikhin is; there are four infinite virtues (1) give others happiness; (2) remove their suffering; (3) help them see, thus freeing them from desire; (4) help them abandon attachment to love and hate to become impartial to all.

The deities at the bottom of the painting are blue fierce Heruka archetypes with an unusual female in the center with reddish brown skin, most probably Chamundi. She is very unusual in Tibetan Buddhist art, her main quality is to protect and to banish demons. She appears with either blue-black skin or the reddish skin, in the other depiction in Tibetan buddhist art she has long blond hair. One of her characteristics is blazing eyes. Chamundi would be most beneficial in this tangka as the main theme is one of removing and destroying obstacles and demons. Her hands are together in front of her, over her heart and both depict the Gesture of Banishing or karam.

The border is adorned in bael fruit or the wood apple. Bael fruit symbolizes the goal of recognizing emptiness and dependency, the connection between cause and effect. It presents a a challenge to avoid actions that will cause suffering and increase actions that will bring about healing, a concentration on good outcomes; this is in keeping the the goal of Vajrakilaya.

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