Yamantaka
Tib.: "GShin-rje-gShed"
 

Yama Dharmaraja


[Yama King of the law] is the sometimes buffalo-headed Lord of the Death of ancient Indian mythology, who judges the soul at the gate of hell, and whose minions come for us when our days are done. In Buddhist myth, Manjushri has brought this most fearsome god under control as a Dharma protector [Dharmapala] and us such he is a major protector deity in the Tibetan Buddhist practice. He is especially important for the Gelugpas, because of Tsong Khapa´s special association with Manjushri, the Conqueror of Yama. At to [second figure from the left] there is an image of Tsong Khapa. This identifies the work from Geluk order.

Archetype and protector deities can have outer, inner, secret, and sometimes ultimate forms. The Outer Yamaraja, with his buffalo head, is the form normally represented. He confronts outer obstacles and seeks to protect practitioners and monasteries from doughts, bandits, and other misfortune.

There is also an Inner Yamaraja, a similar form usually represented with a human-type terrific face. The true spiritual obstacles in one´s life are not outer circumstances, but inner defilements such as fear, hate, pride, and jealousy; so he inner Yamaraja is invoked to destroy them. He is an protector on and emotional, spiritual plane.

There is also the Secret Yamaraja, who works in the instinctive wellsprings of one´s being and brings correspondingly deep positive energy out from those inner realms.

Finally, there is the Ultimate Yamaraja, the encounter with death. In the moment of death the mind experiences the self as obliterated, but as it meets nothingness it sees that instead of obliteration it has reached selflessness, the inexorable web of relativity. So death is a gateway, and the mind opens to enlightement

With dark blue body lunging wildly across the back of his bull mount, Yama waves a bone-white skull-headed club and lasso. He glares into the face of his consort, the blond-haired Chamundi, who is also blue, and who straddles the haunches of the bull and Yamas left leg. She holds a trident and offers Yama a skull bowl full of demon-blood elixir.

Both have three eyes and five-skull crowns, his is topped by a fierce vajra, symbolizing his having been tamed and bound to an oath of benevolent service by Manjushri Yamantaka. The vajra and his strong, short horns stand out against his solid mass of black- and goldlined earth colored hair wafting out behind him with strangely parallel regularity. He has an enormous necklace of moist, severed heads. The skin of a spotted grey antelope covers her back.

Both are naked, but their blue bodies sparkle with the sharp slashes of delicate, threadlike, human-bone jewels. The moss green bull copulates with the stricken white body of ignorant life beneath his bellowing form.

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