Gods of Wrath
Wrathful deities are a notable feature of the iconography of Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist culture.
They possess the power to destroy obstacles to enlightenment and are also termed krodha-vighnantaka, “wrathful onlookers on destroying obstacles”.
Defenders, destroyers, demons or gods these tantric deities are the ideal avatars for our chaotic and confusing age.
Traditionally, wrathful deities are understood to be aspects of benevolent principles — fearful only to those who perceive them as alien forces. When recognized as aspects of oneself and tamed by spiritual practice they assume their true benevolence.
Herukas (khrag ‘thung, “blood drinker”) are enlightened masculine beings who adopt fierce forms to express their detachment from the world of ignorance.
Dakinis (khandroma, “sky-goer”) are their feminine counterparts, sometimes depicted with a heruka and sometimes as independent deities.
The Eight Dharmapala are:
- Yama, the god of death
- Mahakala, the Great Black One
- Yamantaka, the conqueror of death
- Vaiśravaṇa or Kubera, the god of wealth
- Hayagriva, the Horse-necked one
- Palden Lhamo, female protectress of Tibet
- White Brahma or Tshangs pa
- Begtse, a war god from Mongolia
Chogyam Trungpa has said wrathful deities work more directly and forcefully with passion, aggression, and delusion — conquering and trampling them.
They represent the power and compassion of enlightened activity — using multiple skillful means (upaya) to guide us in tantric transformation of our negative emotions.
Let us pray they can protect us from our baser selves.
Originally published at http://diywellbeing.blogspot.com.