Tibetan Buddhism has a lot of interesting deities and spirits. One is Mahakala, the Great Black One. He's got bulging eyes, canine teeth, a black visage, and wears a crown of skulls. Talk about tough. Others, like Yamantaka, the slayer of the lord of death, and Palden Lhamo, the consort of Mahakala, are equally striking.
I used to be a bit scared of the images of some of the wrathful deities since they tend to be grotesque and none too friendly looking. They serve some great purposes though, mostly as defenders.
I always found the Dakini interesting. They are protectors of wisdom and various learnings. They dance feverishly and represent both nature and the natural qualities of women in general. They are inticing but not sexual and are often found as part of Tantric rites. They generally test those who call on them, only helping when the supplicant has proven themselves worthy.
Dakini is translated from Sanskrit and is generally interpreted to mean 'sky dancer', 'celestial woman' or 'space-goer'. The Tibetan term for them is khandro, 'master of space' or 'master of ether'. In the context of Buddhism, this relates to the concept of emptiness. Thus, Dakinis can speed enlightenment by revealing the truth of emptiness.
Above is an image of a Red Dakini. She is dancing on a lotus flower. Under her foot is a body. In her right hand is a ceremonial knife called a trigug. It is used to fight the demons of ignorance. In her left hand is a skull cup, kapala, that serves as a reminder of mortality, the transient nature of existence and as an offering bowl. She has a staff held in the crook of her arm. It represents the male facet.
Saturday, April 01, 2006
Posted by Shawn at 8:22 PM