YAMANTAKA (Skt. Vajra-Bhairava: Tib. rDo-rje ‘jigs-byed)
Yamantaka, the ‘slayer of the lord of death (Yama)’, is depicted here in his yab-yum form as Vajra-Bhairava, a wrathful manifestation of the wisdom bodhisattva Manjushri. He is extremely fierce, blue-black in color, with nine heads, thirty-four arms and sixteen legs. His principal face is that of a black buffalo, with three round red eyes, a roaring fanged mouth, and a pair of sharp sky-blue horns that are tipped with fire. The three heads to the right of his central face are colored yellow, blue and red; and to the left gray, white and black. Above his principal head is a wrathful blood-dripping red face, above this is the semi-wrathful yellow face of Manjushri, and above all of these nine heads his tawny hair blazes upward like fire. With his two principal arms he holds a curved knife and skull cup of blood, as he embraces his wrathful blue consort, Vajra-Vetali (Tib. rDo-rje ro-langs-ma) - the ‘indestructible resuscitated corpse’. She is blue in color, with one face and two arms; the right holding a curved vajra-knife behind his neck, and the left offering a skull-cup full of blood to one of his mouths. With his two upper arms Yamantaka stretches the bloody skin of an elephant across his back, and with his other thirty outstretched hands he holds an array of weapons and ritual implements.
Beneath his eight right feet are eight mammals (human, buffalo, ox, mule, camel, dog, sheep, fox), and beneath these are the four Hindu gods Brahma, Indra, Vishnu and Rudra, who represent the four maras. His eight left feet trample upon eight birds (vulture, owl, raven, parrot, hawk, garuda, cockerel, swan), and the four great gods Kumara, Ganesh, Chandra and Surya. In ‘warrior stance’ he leans towards the right upon a sun disc, moon disc and lotus. He is adorned with the six bone ornaments, a loosened tigerskin loincloth, a serpent necklace, and a rosary of fifty freshly severed heads; while his consort is adorned with the five bone ornaments and a garland of fifty dry white skulls. In sexual union they stand amidst a blazing mass of wisdom fire.
At the bottom of the thangka are the outer, inner and secret forms of Dharmaraja Yama, the ‘Lord of the Dead’. At the center is the ‘outer’ form of blue Yama; who is naked with a buffalo head, an erect penis, and who tramples upon a blue buffalo and a human enemy, whilst holding a skull-club and noose in his right and left hands. Chamunda, his naked consort, wears an ox-hide over her back and stands to his left holding a trident and offering a skull-cup of blood to her lord. At the bottom left is the dark blue ‘inner’ form of Yama, who has a demon’s face, wears a tigerskin loincloth, and tramples upon the corpse of an enemy. He holds a skull-cup of blood in his left hand and a curved vajra-knife in his right. At the bottom right is the ‘secret’ form of red Yama, who is similar in appearance to blue Yama, but appears without a consort. He tramples upon a red buffalo and a human enemy, and holds a faceted jewel and a skull-cup full of blood in his right and left hands.
©Painting by Chewang Dorje Lama, Nepal.
Size: 6 x 4 inches