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Forty-two peaceful deities

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Forty-two peaceful deities (zhi ba bzhi bcu zhe gnyis). Samantabhadra and Samantabhadri, the five male and female buddhas, the eight male and female bodhisattvas, the six munis, and the four male and female gate keepers.


Peaceful Deities from the Mandala of Hundred Peaceful and Wrathful Deities

The forty-two peaceful deities (Tib. shyiwé lha shyé nyi; Wyl. zhi ba'i lha zhe gnyis) belong to the mandala of the Hundred Peaceful and Wrathful Deities, and feature in several practices and cycles of teachings, most notably the Tibetan Book of the Dead and the Guhyagarbha Tantra. They are:

1) Samantabadra

Samantabhadra (Wyl. kun tu bzang po);

2) Samantabadri

Samantabhadri (Wyl. kun tu bzang mo);

3-7) The Five Male Buddhas of the Five Families

Buddhas of the five families (Skt. jinakula; Tib. རྒྱལ་བ་རིགས་ལྔ་, Wyl. rgyal ba rigs lnga) — the five peaceful buddhas of the sambhogakaya:

  1. Vairochana, buddha family
  2. Akshobhya, vajra family
  3. Ratnasambhava, ratna family
  4. Amitabha, padma family
  5. Amoghasiddhi, karma family

8-12) The Five Female Buddhas of the Five Families

The five female buddhas of the five families, also known as the five mothers (Wyl. yum lnga) are:

  1. Dhatvishvari (Skt.; Tib. དབྱིངས་ཕྱུག་མ་, Ying Chukma) also known as Vajra Datvishvari or White Tara, the consort of Vairochana, who represents the purity of the element space
  2. Buddhalochana (Skt.; Tib. སངས་རྒྱས་སྤྱན་, Sangyé chenma) the consort of Akshobhya, who represents the purity of the element earth
  3. Mamaki (Skt.; Tib. མ་མ་ཀི་, Mamaki) the consort of Ratnasambhava, who represents the purity of the element water
  4. Pandaravasini (Skt.; Tib. གོས་དཀར་མོ་, Gökarmo) the consort of Amitabha, who represents the purity of the element fire
  5. Samayatara (Skt.; Tib. དམ་ཚིག་སྒྲོལ་མ་, Damtsik Drolma) also known as Green Tara, the consort of Amoghasiddhi, who represents the purity of the element wind

The Five Female Buddhas are a set of figures visualized in meditation. They embody aspects of wisdom, and through visualizing them and reciting their mantras gradually something of that wisdom ‘rubs off’. Most of these five figures have not played a very important role in the Buddhist tradition. They appear mainly in the tantric context as consorts of the five male figures known as the Five Jinas (‘Conquerors’ – of suffering) or the Five Dhyani Buddhas (‘Buddhas of meditation’). The sacred union Mandala of the Five Wisdom Male and Female Buddhas is a representation of our mind, when our mind is free from delusion. It is the union of our male and female sides in deep awareness.
In Tibetan Buddhism it is believed that enlightenment is obtained through the union of wisdom and compassion. The figures in a Yab Yum (father mother) Mandala are meditation tools, the male deity representing compassion, the female representing wisdom (insight), and their balanced union an offering of compassion for the world.
The process of contemplating and practicing with the five wisdom “fathers and mothers Buddhas” allows us to become grounded in a deeper knowledge of ourselves, our patterns and the workings of our consciousness.


13-20) The Eight Male Bodhisattvas

Eight Great Bodhisattvas, or 'Eight Close Sons' (Skt. aṣṭa utaputra; Tib. ཉེ་བའི་སྲས་བརྒྱད་, Wyl. nye ba'i sras brgyad) — the main bodhisattvas in the retinue of Buddha Shakyamuni:

Read more about them

21-28) The Eight Female Bodhisattvas

The ' eight female bodhisattvas (Wyl. byang chub sems ma brgyad) are also referred to as the eight offering goddesses. They are the consorts of the eight great bodhisattvas:

  1. Goddess of Beauty (Skt. Lāsyā; Tib. Gekpama; Wyl. sgeg pa ma) the consort of Kshitigarbha
  2. Goddess of Garlands (Skt. Mālyā; Tib. Trengwama; Wyl. phreng ba ma) the consort of Akashagarbha
  3. Goddess of Song (Skt. Gītā; Tib. Luma; Wyl. glu ma) the consort of Vajrapani
  4. Goddess of Dance (Skt. Nirtī; Tib. Garma; Wyl. gar ma) the consort of Avalokiteshvara
  5. Goddess of Flowers (Skt. Pūṣpā; Tib. Metokma Wyl. me tog ma) the consort of Sarvanivaranavishkambhin
  6. Goddess of Incense (Skt. Dhupā; Tib. Dukpöma; Wyl. bdu spos ma) the consort of Maitreya
  7. Goddess of Light (Skt. Alokā; Tib. Marmema or Nangselma; Wyl. mar me ma) the consort of Samantabhadra
  8. Goddess of Perfume (Skt. Gandhā; Tib. Drichabma; Wyl. dri chab ma) the consort of Mañjushri

Symbolically they represent the pure state of sense objects.

29-34) The Six Munis

The Six Munis © 2004 Shechen Archives

The Six Munis (Skt.; Tib. Tubpa Druk; Tib. ཐུབ་པ་དྲུག་, Wyl. thub pa drug) are the supreme nirmanakaya buddhas for each of the six classes of beings. They are:

  1. Indra Kaushika (Skt.; Tib. དབང་པོ་བརྒྱ་བྱིན་, Wangpo Gyajin; Wyl. dbang po brgya byin) for the god realms
  2. Vemachitra (Skt. Vemacitra; Tib. ཐགས་བཟང་རིས་, Taksangri; Wyl. thags bzang ris) for the demi-gods or asura realms
  1. Shakyamuni (Tib. ཤཱཀྱ་ཐབ་པ་, Wyl. shAkya thub pa) for the human realm
  2. Shravasingha or Dhruvasiṃha (Skt.; Tib. སེང་གེ་རབ་བརྟན་, Sengé Rabten; Wyl. seng ge rab brtan) for the animal realm
  3. Jvālamukhadeva (Skt.; Tib. ཁ་འབར་དེ་བ་, Khabar Dewa; Wyl. kha ‘bar de ba) for the preta realms
  4. Dharmarāja (Skt.; Tib. ཆོས་ཀྱི་རྒྱལ་པོ་, Chökyi Gyalpo; Wyl. chos kyi rgyal po) for the hell realms

35-38) The Four Male Gate Keepers

The four male gatekeepers (Wyl. sgo ba yab bzhi) are:

  1. Achala, guarding the east gate (or Vijaya, or Mahabala?)
  2. Yamantaka, guarding the south gate
  3. Hayagriva, guarding the west gate
  4. Amritakundali, guarding the north gate

39-42) The Four Female Gate Keepers

The four female gatekeepers (Wyl. sgo ma bzhi) are:

  1. Ankusha (Skt. Aṅkuśā; Wyl. lcags kyu ma or rta gdong ma) also called 'Horse Face' or 'Iron Hook', guarding the east gate and in union with Vijaya (or Achala?)
  2. Pasha (Skt. Pāśā; Wyl. zhags pa ma or phag gdong ma) also called 'Sow Face' or 'the Noose', guarding the south gate and in union with Yamantaka
  3. Shrinkhala (Skt. Śriṅkhalā; Wyl. lcags sgrog ma or seng gdong ma) also called 'Lion Face' or 'Iron Chain', guarding the west gate and in union with Hayagriva
  4. Ghanta (Skt. Ghaṇtā; Wyl. dril bu ma or spyang gdong ma) also called 'Wolf Face' or 'the Bell', guarding the north gate and in union with Amritakundali.

These deities are also described as the deities of the three seats.

Further Reading


RigpaWiki:Forty-two peaceful deities