Single-Deity Vajrabhairava

The Solitary Hero ("Ekavira", i.e. without a female consort) Vajrabhairava is the wrathful form of Manjushri. He is dark blue in color, has 9 faces, 34 hands and 16 legs. The main face is that of a buffalo, with a red face above and the slightly angry yellow face of Manjushri placed on top. Flames shoot from the tips of the horns. The three right faces are yellow, blue and red and the three left are black, white and smoky. Each face has three large round eyes, bared fangs and frightful expressions; brown hair flows upward like flames. The first pair of hands hold a curved knife and skullcup to the heart. The remaining hands hold a multitude of weapons with the second and last set holding in addition the fresh outstretched hide of an elephant. He is adorned with bracelets, necklaces and a girdle all formed of interlaced bone ornaments, a necklace of snakes and a long necklace of fifty heads. The right legs are bent pressing down on a man, animals and various gods. The left legs are extended straight and press upon eight birds and various gods; standing above a sun disc and multi-colored lotus completely surrounded by the orange flames of pristine awareness.

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The (13-Deity) Vajrabhairava with the consort Vajravetali (Dorje Rolangma; Tib: rDor-rje ro-lang-ma) is terrifying and wrathful, dark blue in color with 9 faces, 34 hands and 16 legs. His main face is that of a buffalo, with a red face above and the slightly angry yellow face of Manjushri placed on top. The three right faces are yellow, dark blue and red and the three left are black, white and smoky. Each face has three large round eyes, bared white fangs and frightful expressions; dark yellow hair flows upward; adorned with bone ornaments and a necklace of fifty heads. The first pair of hands hold a curved knife and skullcup embracing the consort. The remaining hands hold a variety of objects. Vajravetali has one face and two hands, blue in color with orange hair pressed against the back; holding a skullcup in the left hand. The right legs of Bhairava are bent pressing down on various animals and gods. The left legs are extended straight and press upon various birds and gods; standing above an orange sun disc and multi-colored lotus completely surrounded by the orange flames of pristine awareness.

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Manjushri

Manjushri (Tib: 'jam dpal dbyangs; The Glorious One with a Melodious Voice), along with Avalokiteshvara (Chenrezig) and Tara (Drolma), is one of the most popular bodhisattvas and meditational deity figures in Tantric Buddhism. Practiced in all schools, there are dozens of lineages, forms and variations of practice. In the Vajrabhairava tantra, the yellow (or Arapachana) youthful form of Manjushri represents the peaceful form of Yamantaka. He has one face and two hands holding aloft a sword of wisdom and a book upon a lotus blossom. For the Vajrabhairava practice the visualization of oneself as Yamantaka with yellow Manjushri in one's heart, and at Manjushri's heart the dark-blue syllable HUM is known as the "triple stack being".

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Vajrabhairava Mandalas

The Tibetan word for "mandala" (dkyil-'khor) literally means "that which encircles a center." A "center" here signifies a meaning, and "that which encircles it" - a mandala - is a round symbol that represents the meaning. For a more extensive explanation of the mandala in context of Tibtean Buddhist Vajrayana see the excellent article The Meaning and Use of a Mandala at Berzin Archives.

There are many types of mandalas, used for various purposes in both the sutra and tantra practices of Buddhism. Here we are only dealing with the cloth mandala (ras-bris-kyi dkyil-'khor), which is a two-dimensional depiction of the palace and environment, somewhat like an architectural blueprint, painted on a piece of cloth or paper, and usually placed inside an ornately painted square wooden frame with open sides and a roof.

When it comes to the residents of the mandala, they are sometimes representend as (1) figures or (2) iconic symbols (drawn from the attributes of the deities); or a combination of both.

 

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