Terminology: In Vajrayana Buddhism, Vajrabhairava, also known as Yamantaka, is (1) a wrathful, buffalo-headed meditational deity (Tib: yi-dam) of the Highest Yoga Tantra class and/or (2) a dharma protector...
In Sanskrit "Vajrabhairava" stands for 'Adamantine Terrifier'. Regardless which manifestation of Vajrabhairava you are looking at it he is always depicted as fear-inducing, scary, and intimidating. Not only is he terrifying to look at but - according to the Vajrabhairava Tantra - he also has conquered all evil spirits, including the Lord of Death, Yama. That's why he is also called "Yamantaka", the Slayer of Death. Depending on which manifestation of Yamantaka the Tibetans call him either gSin-rje-gsed or in the buffalo-faced aspect of Vajrabhairava rdo-rje 'jigs-byed. It seems that the term "Yamantaka" (and "Yamari") is used in a more general way than "Vajrabhairava" which is restricted to the buffalo-headed yidam of the Gelug and Sakya schools (see Lokesh Chandra). Sometimes the protector Kalarupa is called "Yamaraja" and comes as Outer, Inner, and Secret Yama- or Dharmaraja. In the Gelug school Yama- or Dharmaraja is part of the Vajrabhairava practice.
The Ngor Mandala collection of the Sakya tradition alone lists eight different forms/lineages of the blue/black buffalo-faced Vajrabhairava (which include the two Gelug ones) and four of red Rakta- or blue Krishna-Yamari (all without the buffalo head). All the former are yidams (=meditational deities) whereas Yamaraja (sometimes also called Dharamaraja) is a Dharma protector. Inner and Outer Yamaraja are blue/black, the Secret Yamaraja is red in color; Outer and Secret have buffalo heads, the Secret Yamaraja does not. There is also an emanation of Yamantaka (called Yamantaka orYamantakrt) in the Ten Wrathful Ones / Uncommon Protection Wheel in the Vajrabhairava and Guhyasamaja practices. Other emanations of Yamantaka appear as residents in the various mandalas (13-, 17-, 21-, and 49-Deity). They all embody the wrathful aspect of peaceful Manjushri; Yamnataka's consort, Vajravetali the wrathful nature of Saraswati.
New Yamantaka Practice Texts
In anticipation of David Gonsalez's forthcoming translation of two essential Yamantaka commentaries (see article) Dechen Ling Press has published a number of practice texts that are available for immediate download. Check out the new Yamantaka section of DLP's online store.
The following new texts are available:
Jhampa Shaneman was one of the first western Buddhist monks in the Tibetan tradition of Mahayana Buddhism. In his first 10 years in India he studied the tenants of Buddhism interspersing this with short periods of meditation retreat. By 1980 he had completed 6 years of study of the Sutras and Tantras and approximately 4 years of short retreats such as the four preliminaries and several deities. In the fall of 1980 Jhampa entered the traditional great retreat of Yamantaka and spent the next 3.5 years in isolation on the mountains above Dharmsala, India under the direct guidance of Kyabje Ling Rinpoche.
Upon returning to Canada in 1984 Jhampa returned his ordaination but he continued as a lay Buddhist teacher. His Holiness Dalai Lama gave Jhampa permission to teach Tantra in 1988.
Jhampa has been teaching Sutra and Tantra for over 30 years in Canada, Europe, the United States and Mexico. He uses Buddhist wisdom and Mindfulness practices to help people deal with the stress of our modern world. His presentations are full of interesting antidotes from both life in India and the Western World.