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Early Tibetan Mandalas


Sastradhara Hevajra
bstan-'dzin dgyes-rdo-rje'i dkyil-'khor

Central Tibet, 14th century
62.4 x 53.5 cm

Sastradhara Hevajra

This mandala features Hevajra in his form as Sastradhara, "he who wields weapons."1 The eight-faced, sixteen-armed, four-footed god embraces his consort, Nairatma ("she who is without ego"). All eight faces are wrathful, three on both sides of the centr al face, the eighth surmounting it, enveloped by flames. One pair of legs assumes a powerful stance in which the right leg is held taut, the left knee bent (alidha); the other pair assumes a dancer's pose (ardhaparyanka). Crushed underneath are the four Maras, obstacles to enlightenment. Hevajra holds sixteen weapons, each indicating his multifaceted powers: the hook, trident, staff, cup, wheel, arrow, sword, vajra, lasso, gesture of argumentation (tarjani mudra), jewel, skullcup, ceremonial staff, bow, lotus, and bell.

The first circle of deities includes: Gauri (E), Cauri (S), Vetali (W), Ghasmari (N), Pukkasi (NE), Sabari (SE), Candali (SW), Dombini (NW). The second circle includes four deities at the intermediate points of the compass: Vamsa (NE), Vina (SE), Mukund a (SW), Muraja (NW). The door guardians bear the heads of animals: Hayasya (horse-headed, E), Sukarasya (pig-headed, S), Svanasya (dog-headed, W), Simhasya (lion-headed, N).

A lineage of historical teachers and deities associated with the teachings of this mandala appears in the top and bottom registers. They include Indian masters and Tibetans such as Ra Dorje Drakpa (rva rdo-rje grags-pa, b. 1016), whose translations of In dian Buddhist literature were praised in his own time as exemplary.2

1 The iconography of this mandala follows that described in the fifth chapter of the NSP. See Mallmann, Introduction a l'iconographie du tantrisme bouddhique, pp. 46-47.

2 For a brief biography of Ra Dorje Drakpa, see Roerich, The Blue Annals, pp. 374-76.


Images and text Rossi and Rossi, London.

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