Code: ABP 046
Country: Nepal (dolpo)
Date: 1400 - 1500
Dimensions in cm WxHxD: 140 x 114
Materials: Painted wood
Pigments on Wood
This mandala painted on wood depicts the five transcendental Buddhas (tathagatas). mandala at center shows the crowned Buddha Vairocana, at his left, Buddha Amoghasiddhi (North), and at his right, Buddha Ratnasambhava (south). Above Buddha Amitabha (West), and below Buddha Akshobhya (East).
The four corners of the mandala are occupied by representations of various historical persons including Padmasambhava.
The faces, jewelry, body proportions and throne all displays marked Nepalese influence in painting. It is to be noted that only Vairocana is crowned, The Buddha of the four Cardinal Points are represented here as his assistants and thus have chignon, but not crown. To the left beside Amitabha, three Tibetan monks are seated, their hats have pointed center and long lapels, wich is common to several Tibetan monastic schools. to the right of Amitabha, three lapels, wich is common to several Tibetan monastic schools. To the right of Amitabha, three figures from the sacred biographies of Padmasambhava: Ye shes mtsho rgyal, the Tibetan consort of Padmasambhava, who is seated beside her, recognizable by his robe and the peacock feather of his hat; next to Padmasambhava is the Tibetan btsan po Khri srong Ide btsan (reign: 755-797 A.D.), recognizable by his distinctive robe and turban. Traditionnaly it is believed that Khri srong Ide btsan invited Padmasambhava to Tibet to participate in the foundation of bSan Yas, the first Tibetan monastery, in 799 A.D. A monk with a very stylized face and hat is next to them - the hat resembles the hat of Karmapa black hat, which may be proposed as an identification here. However, it is also a style of hat worn by rNying ma pa lamas. as there is no inscription which provides his name, the identification of this lama is not certain.
To the right of Amoghasiddhi, there are four lay people seated together. All have chignon and robes indicating that they are lay practitioners. The two men make the gesture of salutation (namaskara mudra) in homage to the third man, who faces straight forward, his hands over his heart, at his left, the fourth man facing him, again in a gesture of homage. These religious masters are not identified by inscription and their representation is non-specific for any historically identification.
To the left of Akshobhya, a male Bodhisattva with green body, wearing chignon, no crown but earrings, his arms are crossed in front of his chest over his heart, then Buddha Vairocana in the aspect of perfect enlightenment (abhisambodhi Vairocana) with his hands in the mudra of the Dharmadhatu where the two thumbtips meet in a gesture of meditation. Avalokiteshvara in his four arm aspect as Sadaksari is beside Vairocana. according to the Vairocana -abhisambodhi tantra, the family of Vairocana consist of Vajrapani and Avalokiteshvara, as his principal attendant Bodhisattva. However, if Vajrapani is indeed represented here at left, it is very difficult to see the vajra held between his two hands.
Diagram is attached to show position of the Jina and subordinate figures.
In the center, there are numerous prayers. These are complex prayers, written in Sanskrit language transcribed in Tibetan letters, as well as Lantsa alphabet. The text written in a circle surrounding the center mandala does not include the names of any historic figures responsible for the dedication as far as the present writer can determine. The text is presented as follows:
first line of circle: Om: shyadbhya pya u dza la sya shri dha ba va dhi hi dza i pa: ha i hi ta tha ga ta ba ri ba ri: i i : u u: th y nam ta na de hi: a ra d thi bam: shi sha : nor thi bi sham: ti bhu pa ni: sha pa le i mo: so bar mtho u i i: sun gha ti a hum: na mo: bhu dha ya: ku bi ra: c rya bi sa bha ga da na ta tha ga te: a ha tra tha na: se mya ga sam bhu dha ddho: bo rya tsa ra tsa: ma nu shu ba tsa: bhu da dha bha ga ba na: no shun dha sarva ta tha gha ta: na su wa ni: a bi sva nya sham: gu ja la nam: bi ta bo de: sa tva nam: ra tsa a... pa rgya...ga la ni: sar bha da: a dha ka ra rmi: ka na a pra.... (illegible 7 lettres) a na pra ti bha nen: bshud dha sva tan: a pad ni: rami: ran ya tsa na ke tu pan: a pra ti: du le bha: ba su mu ga ta: bi ra dha: pir bu gha sh ya:
Second line: a mo gha: dud di la: pa ri sh loo: dzanya nin pa ti shi ti i ti ta: na ga ta sva du da na ni: na ma bhu dha na: ba ga bha ti dza ne na pra ti sthi to: bhu da u nya a ni ra a bri thi to: bhu da bu ta: gsum shi to: sa rva to lo ka ni: u bhu mo du mo.... bi a sha ne ti bra: a ti y sha: da ha tsa u: so ke bam ta ta : hu la ka ti: OM A HUM///
The disturbing emotion of anger is transformed into the Buddha Akshobhya’s wisdom at enlightenment and we may ask how aggression or anger relates to Buddha Akshobhya, who is a very peaceful activity. Or we may wonder how the absence of anger is Buddha Akshobhya.
It is important to know that Akshobhya is the Sanskrit name and in Tibetan he is called sangay mikyodpa or the “immovable, stable and changeless Buddha.” He is called “immovable and changeless” because when the disturbing emotion of anger is present, everything inevitably changes; our face becomes red, the body begins to shake and the friend we are angry with becomes our enemy. When anger is purified, everything is peaceful and stable which is the realization of the meaning of the changeless, stable, and permanent Buddha Akshobhya.
The Buddha Akshobhya’s blue color has a symbolical meaning. The dhyana buddhas are of the five main colors of blue, red, yellow, green and white. Blue symbolizes permanence that is changeless just as the sky has always been blue, whether this year or a thousand years ago. The Buddha Akshobhya is blue to represent this changelessness.
Furthermore, the buddha Akshobhya also holds a vajra in his lap which is also a symbol of his indestructible and changeless nature. He sits in the full vajra or full lotus posture to symbolize the indestructible nature and his right hand touches the earth which is also a gesture of the changeless. In a mandala Akshobhya resides in the east and is painted as being on an elephant throne. Incidentally, in a mandala the position away from one is always west regardless of what the real direction is.
2. Buddha Ratnasambhava
The Buddha Ratnasambhava is the purification of pride. Ratnasambhava is Sanskrit and the Tibetan name is sangay rinchenjungdan. The Tibetan word sangay means “buddha” and the word rinchen means “precious” referring to all precious, good, and immaculate things. The word jungdan means “the source.” So Ratnasambhava is the source of all good qualities with these precious qualities being the absence of pride. When ego and pride have been removed, one is open enough to actually receive all knowledge and qualities, that is the realization of Sangay Rinchen Jungdan. Knowing the meaning of Rinchen Jungdan, one understands why his activity encompasses the enrichment of all precious qualities of realization.
Ratnasambhava resides in the south and is yellow or gold in color. The color gold represents wealth and Ratnasambhava holds a wish-fulfilling jewel at his heart in his left hand. The wish-fulfilling jewel is a jewel which gives a person everything that he or she desires and so this also symbolizes enrichment. He is seated in the vajra posture of fulfillment on a horse’s throne representing the four bases or legs of miraculous powers that enables unobstructed passage everywhere. His right hand is in the mudra of giving supreme generosity, i.e., his activity is supreme generosity.
3. Buddha Amitabha
The third dhyana buddha is Amitabha who represents the purification of desire also called attachment. When we are under the influence of attachment, we discriminate between good and bad, beautiful and ugly, and then we cling to what seems to be attractive and shun those things which seem bad or ugly. Attachment and aversion are disturbing emotions that arise from not understanding the nature of things as they are and as they appear. It is due to ignorance that mind accepts and rejects objects of attachment and aversion. With the wisdom of discrimination, one knows things as they appear just as they are without any confused and prejudiced opinions. This comes about by purifying attachment and realizing Buddha Amitabha.
Buddha Amitabha is the Sanskrit name and the Tibetan name is sangay odpamed, which means “boundless light.” When one has developed the awareness of knowing everything as it manifests, one has developed the clarity of boundless light, which is completely free from confusion. This realization is described as odpamed or “boundless light.” We can compare this state with an example of a lamp. A faulty lamp cannot illuminate a room clearly, whereas a perfect lamp can allow us to see things distinctly and clearly. The light of Buddha Amitabha is therefore boundless and is realized through the purification of attachment and desire.
Buddha Amitabha is of the lotus family because a lotus grows in muddy water while its blossoms remain stainless. Likewise, Amitabha represents freedom from attachment, and it is attachment which causes us to experience pain, loss, and dissatisfaction that never finds fulfillment. Purification of the negative emotion of attachment is a state of immaculate, pure peace. Therefore, the Buddha Amitabha is seated in the full vajra posture and both hands resting in the meditative posture of mental clarity. He fully understands things as they are and as they appear without subjective notions. This state is one of peace and ease. He resides in the buddha realm of Dewachen.
4. Buddha Amogasiddha
Buddha Amogasiddha is realization of all-accomplishing wisdom.
The Tibetan word for Buddha Amogasiddha is sangay donyodtrubpa. The word danyod means “meaningful” and the word trubpa means “accomplishment.” So Buddha Amogasiddha means “whatever is meaningful and fruitful is accomplished.” He is also the complete purification of jealousy, which is a hindrance for both material and spiritual success.
His activity is perfect accomplishment and fulfillment of meaningful aims. Furthermore, his activity removes ordinary daily hindrances such as illnesses and obstacles. This is why Ratnasambhava’s activity is meaningful accomplishment.
Buddha Amogasiddha holds a double-vajra in the form of a cross in his left hand, which symbolizes that his activity pervades and touches all directions. He sits in the full lotus posture. The left hand of all five dhyana Buddhas rests in the meditative posture of the changeless realization of dharmata. Amogasiddha’s right hand is in the mudra of fearless protection. He protects all living beings from any mishaps, obstacles, and negative influences. So his posture is known as “the mudra of fearless protection.” He is white which represents “without fault” and he rests in the center to the mandala and is on a lion’s throne. Amogasiddha is green and resides in the north holding a sword representing the cutting of existence.
5. Buddha Vairocana
The fifth dhyana Buddha is Vairocana who is known as sangay namparnanzad, or in English, “perfect knowledge of all things as they manifest.”
Buddha Vairocana is realized when the conflicting emotion of ignorance is removed. When one cannot things as they really are, one has the conflicting emotion of ignorance. As a result one judges things from a mistaken point view. With the realization of the wisdom of dharmata, one realizes Buddha Vairocana.
The example for this that is given is to say there is a rope lying on the floor in a dark room. Because of ignorance we mistake the rope for a snake and become alarmed and feel tremendous fear. The solution to this fear is to simply see the rope as really a rope and not a snake. This example shows how mind functions in a state of ignorance. The distress and fear is simply the result of misperceiving the situation and simply knowing the rope isn’t a snake eliminates all the fear and distress created.
Buddha Vairocana holds the wheel of dharma in his hands, which symbolizes absence of ignorance and complete and clear knowledge of all things as they are and as they manifest— dharmata. He is realized when ignorance is removed, the quality of Buddha Vairocana. This wheel symbolizes the Buddha’s teachings, which show us what to abandon and what to take up in our gradual advancement to enlightenment. We learn how to give up and abandon negative emotions and how to develop wisdom. Thus the dharma wheel brings us from ignorance to wisdom. In comparison, it was the wheels of a chariot in Buddha’s time that brought you to your destination. The wheel of dharma similarly carries you from the darkness of ignorance to the clarity of knowing each thing as it is.
Both hands of Vairocana Buddha are placed in the mudra called “enlightenment” or sometimes “the mudra of turning the wheel of dharma.” Since the only means to remove ignorance and defilements is by learning the dharma, Buddha Vairocana discloses the dharma to all living beings. He is white which represents “without fault” and he rests in the center to the mandala and is on a lion’s throne.
So these are the five buddha families. The chart gives the Sanskrit and Tibetan name for the five wisdom Buddhas. Then it gives the pure realm that these buddhas live in. Each wisdom is associated with a particular skandha which is a stage of perception and with a disturbing emotion of klesha. Next is given the wisdom this buddha represents along with the color of the deity. One can recognize this deity because he is holding a particular object and also is on a throne supported by a particular animal. Each wisdom has a feminine aspect which is the consort of this buddha. This wisdom also represents a particular element and a particular chakra in the body.
Béguin, Gilles, 2013. Art sacré du Tibet – Collection Alain Bordier, [catalogue of the exhibition held at the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Ives Saint Laurent; 14 mars au 21 juillet 2013]. Paris: Fondation Pierre Bergé – Ives Saint Laurent. Editions Findakli.
Khenchen Thrangu, 1998. The Five Buddha Families and the Eight Consciousnesses. Boulder: Namo Buddha Seminar . Namo Buddha Seminar 1390 Kalmia Avenue Boulder, CO, 80304-1318 USA Tel.: (303) 449-6608 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Rinpoche’s web site: www.rinpoche.com
Midal, Fabrice, 2000. Mythes et dieux tibétains. Une entrée dans le monde sacré.. Edition du Seuil.
Sèngué, Tcheuky, 2002. Petite Encyclopédie des Divinités et symboles du Bouddhisme Tibétain. Editions Claire Lumiere . Pp. 124-129
von Schroeder, Ulrich, 2013. Datenbank der Fondation Alain Bordier. Unpublished.