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Identification deity Vajrabhairava with entourage , 18th century by an unknown Tibetan artist

Yamantaka ( Tibetan གཤིན་ རྗེ་ གཤེད་ Wylie gshin rje gshed ; also: Vajrabhairava , Tibetan རྡོ་ རྗེ་ འཇིགས་ བྱེད ། rdo rje 'jigs byed , Japanese 大 威 徳 明王 Daiitoku Myōō ) is a buffalo-headed, wrathful Yidam- des Anuttaray of Tibetan Buddhism .

History and meaning

In addition to Chakrasamvara and Guhyasamaja , he is the most important meditation deity in the Gelug school, but is also regarded as the main yidam in the Sakya school. Both schools see in him the wrathful aspect of the wisdom Buddha Manjushri . In the other schools ( Nyingma and Kagyu ), however, he is seen more as a Dharma protector .

The Yamantaka Tantra is one of the so-called father tantras , which are aimed at practitioners with anger as the main feeling of disturbance, as opposed to the mother tantras where it is attachment and the non-dual tantras where it is confusion.

Yamantaka is considered to be the conqueror of Yamas , hence his name Yama ( god of death ) - Antaka ( conqueror ).

He can be represented individually or with his companion Vajravetali . He is represented with his companion in a 13-deity mandala .

Yamantaka belongs to the so-called eight great Heruka gods (blood drinkers), Hayagriva , Guhyasamaja, Hevajra , Vajrakilaya , Yamantaka, Chakrasamvara, Amrita and Mamo .

Yamantaka is one of the most important archetypal deities of the Gelugpas and represents the Diamond Wisdom of the highest reality in triumph over evil, suffering and death. He is the terrifying form of Bodhisattva Manjushri, whose benevolent, princely head of gold with a crown and earrings appears on the pyramid of Yamantaka's heads. In order to conquer death, the compassionate Bodhisattva assumes the buffalo-headed form of Yama, the Lord of Death. With his nine faces, 16 legs and 34 arms, he illustrates the manifold facets of his incredible enlightenment and reveals a much greater power than Yama. So he overpowers Yama, puts an end to his killing and becomes the conqueror of death [yamantaka]. This archetypal deity played a prominent role in the life of Tsongkhapa [who was considered to be the incarnation of Manjushri]. Therefore, she is especially venerated in the Gelug school.

There are three main forms of Yamantaka in the practice of Tibetan Buddhism: the red Yamantaka [Raktayamari]; the black Yamantaka [Krishnayamari]; and the Diamond Fear Maker [Vajrabhairava Yamantaka]. Of the three, the polychrome form of the Diamond Fear Generator is by far the most well known. Forms of the Bhairava are awe inspiring, terrifying figures from Hinduism, and the Vajra is the symbol of the highest reality revealed as compassion. Thus Vajrabhairava rises in selfless supreme reality, where the power of the Bhairava forms is increased into the unthinkable in order to lead the viewer through horror to transcendence.

In this extremely powerful manifestation, he holds his pale blue companion Vajravetali, the Diamond Undead [vetali], in the blissful union that symbolizes the union of compassion and wisdom. They are enclosed by a powerful light yellow-orange-red flame ring and framed by golden lines. Under her feet are skilfully portrayed people and animals.


All textual sources go back to the Indian student of the Nalanda University Lalitavajra , whose main Yidam Manjushri ( 10th century ). One day he had a vision from Manjushri who told him to go to the land of Oddiyana to receive the tantras from Yamantaka. So he went there and met the Wisdom Dakini Vajravetali who, along with other Dakinis, gave him the various Yamantaka tantras. They did not let him take the texts with him, but only allowed him to take with him what he could remember in the short time.


Tsongkhapa , the founder of the Gelug School, emphasized and spread the practice to Yamantaka. Thus, alongside Chakrasamvara and Guhyasamaja, it became the main practice in the tantric colleges and monastic universities of the Gelugpas. Even today it is still considered a main practice for monks and lay people alike. The main practice texts come from Tsongkhapa (for the 13-deity practice) and Pabongka (for Yamantaka as a single figure). Important historical comments come from Tri Gyaltsen Senghe (for the solitary figure ) and Lhundup Pandita (for the 13-deity practice).


  • Bulcsu Siklos: The Vajrabhairava Tantras: Tibetan and Mongolian Versions . The Institute of Buddhist Studies, Tring 1996, ISBN 0-9515424-6-X
  • Rob Preece: The Psychology of Buddhist Tantra: Stuff and More Old stuff . Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca 2006, ISBN 1-55939-263-0
  • Martin Willson, Martin Brauen: Deities of Tibetan Buddhism: The Zurich Paintings of the Icons Worthwhile to See . Wisdom Publications, Somerville 2000, ISBN 0-86171-098-3
  • Geshe Acharya Thubten Loden: Ocean of indivisible method and wisdom . Melbourne 1999
  • Kyabje Gelek Rinpoche: Solitary Yamantaka Teachings on the generation stage . Nijmegen: Jewel Heart 1998
  • Akhu Sherab Gyatso and others: Vajrabhairava completion stage . Chödzong, Fürth 2000

Web links

Commons : Yamantaka  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Marylin M. Rhie, Robert AF Thurman: Wisdom and compassion - The sacred art of Tibet . Harry N. Abrahams Inc., pp. 283/285.