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Buddhist Pantheon

From Tibetan Buddhist Encyclopedia
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35 Buddhas of Confession

Thirty-five Buddhas of Confession:
Shakyamuni, Vajragarbhapramardin, Ratnarchis, Nageshvararaja, Viresena, Viranandin, Ratnagni, Ratnachandraprabha, Amoghadarshin, Ratnachandra, Vimala, Shuradatta, Brahman, Brahmadatta, Varuna, Varunadeva, Bharadrashri, Chandashri, Anantaujas, Prabhasashri Ashokashri, Narayana, Kusumashri Brahmajyotirvikriditabhijna, Padmamajyotirvikriditabhijna, Dhanashri, Smritishri, Suparikirtitanamashri, Indraketudhvajaraja, Suvikrantashri, Yuddhajaya, Vikrantagamishri, Samantavabhasavyuhashri, Ratnapadmavikramin, Shailendraraja.

Meaning 'Immovable.'

A bodhisattva. Meaning "Essence of space,' he is the counterpart of Ksitigarbha (Essence of Earth) and one of the eight bodhisattvas attending Amitabha.

One of the sixteen bodhisattvas.


One of the Five Buddha Families or also called dhyani Buddhas. He is of the vajra family and his related wisdom is mirror-like wisdom, and the related confused emotion is aggression. His right hand is in bhumi sparsha mudra and his left hand in dhyana mudra. Sometimes he holds a vajra in his left hand. He can be depicted as a nirmanakaya buddha, in that case he wears simple monk robes. Or in samboghakaya he wears a crown and ornaments.
Sometimes he is depicted with a begging bowl instead of a vajra, or completely empty handed, this is very common with statues.
Amitabha Buddha of Boundless Light. One of the Five Buddha Families or dhyana buddhas. He presides over the pure realm of Sukhavati (dewachen) and is lord of the Lotus family. Rebirth in his pure land guarantees complete enlightenment in one lifetime.
As a nirmanakaya Buddha he wears simple monk robes. His hands hold a begging bowl and are in dhyana mudra, His body color is red.

Amitabha sits on a throne with a lotus and full moon disc, which is upheld by eight peacocks. The peacocks symbolize enchanting beauty, for which we ordinarily develop passion and attachment. The aggregate associated with attachment/passion is the aggregate of perception. The wisdom realized through transforming is discriminating wisdom.
The lotus with its smooth pedals symbolizes that hte practice of amitabha soothes the mind of the practitioner. And secondly, a lotus grows in muddy waters and the lotus itself is untouched, unstainted by the mud, so through the practice we free ourselves from the causes of pain and suffering of the swap-like samsara.


The Buddha of infinite life. As a sambhogakaya Buddha he wears ornaments and a crown. He is red and his hands hold a long life vase (amrita kalasha) with on top a twig of the Ashoka tree and his hands are in dhyana mudra.
Amitayus, White Tara and Namgyalma form together the Three Long Life Deities.

Other representations of him have Amitayus depicted in nirmakaya form, holding the long life vase or a begging bowl. In this last case he looks like Amitabha.


He is one of the Five Buddha Families . He belongs to the Karma family and symbolises wisdom that accomplishes all actions. He is green in color, as a nirmakaya Buddha he wears simple monk robes. His right hand is in abhaya mudra, which symbolises great compassion and the removal of suffering. His left hand is in dhyana mudra, resting on his lap and palm open upwards.

The symbolic animal upholding the throne of Amogasiddhi varies according to the different sadhanas, and this difference is important. One of these animals symbolizes the mental affliction of jealousy, and the other symbolizes the transformation of jealousy as the all-accomplishing quality of Amogasiddhi's activity. One of these animals is the water buffalo. This animal runs in herds abd always competes for the first place at the front of the herd. Thus it symbolizes the mental affliction of jealousy that goads us to compete and be supreme above all others. Sometimes the throne of Amogasiddhi is upheld by the mythological creatures called SHANG SHANG, having a human body, wings like a bird and antlers or horns. In ancient times people used to go to the ocean in search of precious gems, and it was said that to even hear the voice of this bird-like creature would mean the fulfillment of all one's wishes. The potent effect of this creature's voice represents the quality of the energy of Amogasiddhi, which realizes all goals and accomplishes all wishes.
Amogasiddhi is green i color. The color green is a mixture of different colors, this signifies the combination of many accomplishing activities. The double vajra in his right hand represents the four directions, meaning in this case that theres is nothing Amogasiddhi cannot accomplish in any of the four directions.
Appearence of Stainless Fine Gold

One of the seven Medicine Buddhas

Asura, Demi Gods

One of the six existences. The asuras are dominated by jealousy and envy and suffer as a result of their constant quarreling and fighting.

See Chenrezik.

A bodhisattva


See gelong.

A disciple of Atisha, he was a prince and ordained monk, he invited Atisha to Tibet
Buddha Shakyamuni

Sage of the Shakyas. The historical buddha was born as prince Siddartha Gautama into the Sakya clan in the fifth century BCE. Upon attaining enlightenment at Bodhgaya, Buddha Shakyamuni taught the Dharma. He is the fourth of the thousand buddhas of the present era.

A main yidam that belongs to the anuttara tantra set of the New Translation school. Tantric emanation associated with practices for mental purification and the transformation of obstacles. His consort is Vajravarahi, Dorje Phakmo. He is described in the Samvara tantra, which belongs to the Mother tantras of the Anuttarayoga tantras.
He can have one face and two arms or three faces and six arms or four faces and twelve arms.

A universal ruler; a king who propagates the Dharma.

Born in Samana, South India. He was a son of a Brahmin. Later he took full ordination from the abbot Chandranatha from whom he received his name. He went to study under the guidance of Nagarjuna. He became a famous philosopher in India, writing commentaries on Nagarjuna's treatises on madhyamaka.

Texts by Chandrakirti: Prasannapada (full name: Mulamadhyamaka vritti prasannapada nama)]), a commentary on Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika
Madhyamakavatara, Entering the Middle Way, an outline of the 'Bodhisattva Path from the Madhyamaka viewpoint

Bodhisattva residing with Medicine Buddha in his pure realm Vaidurya Paradise. His name can be translated as "Luminous Like the Moon" or "Brilliance of the Moon."

Chenrezik, Four-Armed

The bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all buddhas. His six syllable mantra is OM MA NI PAD ME HUM (OM MANI PEME HUNG). SO he is sometimes called Sadaksari, the "six syllable Avalokiteshvara." Chenrezik is the patron deity of Tibet. Both His Holiness Karmapa and His Holiness Dalai Lama are manifestations of Chenrezik.

Damchen Dorje Legpa

A dharma protector. Orginally he was the protector of blacksmiths. With the arrival of Guru Rinpoche he became a dharma protector.

Damchen Dorje Legpa

He was the king of the legendary kingdom of Ling (gling) in the vinicity of the border of Tibet and Sichuan in China. It is believed that he was a reincanation of Padmasambhava.

Protector of the doctrine. Fierce and powerful, the Dharma protectors vow to guard the Dharma and its practitioners. Dharmapalas can be wisdom protectors, who are emanations of buddhas or bodhisattvas, or mundane protectors, who are virtuous samsaric beings.
Dorje Phakmo

The embodiment of wisdom, she is one of the main yidams of the Kagyu lineage and the consort of Chakrasamvara.
Drin Zangma

One of the Five Goddess of Long Life. She is red in color and is seated on a deer.
Dro Zangma, gtad dkar 'gro bzang ma, sugati

One of the Five Goddess of Long Life. She is green in color and is seated on a dragon.
Eight Goddesses of the Eight Auspicious Symbols

   1. Goddess of Golden Fishes, gser nya ma, suvarnamatsya
   2. Goddess of Umbrella, gdugs ma, chattra
   3. Goddess of Conch, dung ma, Shankha
   4. Goddess of Endless Knot, dpal be ma, shrivatsa)]
   5. Goddess of Victory Banner, rgyal mtshan ma]], dhvaja
   6. Goddess of Vase, bum pa ma, kalashi
   7. Goddess of Lotus, padma ma, padma
   8. Goddess of Wheel, 'khor lo ma, chakra
Eight Sugatas, Tathagatas

Excellent Name

One of the seven Medicine Buddhas.
Five Goddess of Long Life

1. Tashi Tseringma, bkra shis tshe ring ma, mangaladirghayushi
2. Thing Gi Zhel Zangma, mthing gi zhal bzang ma, sumukhi
3. Lob Zangma, mi gyo blo bzang ma, sumati
4. Drin Zangma, chod pan mgrin bzang ma, sukanthi
5. Dro Zangma, gtad dkar 'gro bzang ma, sugati

Four Goddesses

1. Lochana, spyan ma
2. Mamaki, mamaki
3. Pandura, gos dkar mo
4. Tara, sgrol ma,

Glorious Supreme One Free from Misery

One of the eight or seven medicine buddhas. Both hands are in dhyana mudra.


A wrathful deity. In the Nyingma lineage also known as Pema Wangchen (pad ma dbang chen) or Pema Sung (pad ma gsung).
He is one of the main deities in the eight teachings of Drupde (sgrub sde), the section of accomplishment in the Mahayoga, and the main deity of the secret speech section.
The Nyingma Gyu Bum (rnying ma rgyud 'bum) contains several tantras related to Hayagriva.
A description of a Hayagriva mandala can be found in the Pema Wangchen Yang Sang Tro Pay Gyu (pad ma dbang chen yang gsang khros pa'i rgyud). Hayagriva as the central figure is surrounded by Vajramahendra in the east, Ratnamahendra in the south, Padmamahendra in the west, Karmamahendra in the north, and Ankushi, Pashi, Sphoti and Ghanta in the four gateways of the mandala.

The literal meaning is “wheel of time.” A deity manifested by Shakymuni Buddha at the request of the king of Shambhala. Kalachakra is an anuttara yoga tantra. Receiving the empowerment is thought to guarantee rebirth in Shambhala.
Khadiravani Tara

In the Nagarjuna tradition: Green Tara is also called Seng Deng Nak Kyi Drolma, Khadiravani Tara (Tara of the teak forest).
King of Direct Knowledge

One of the seven medicine Buddhas

 A bodhisattva. Meaning "Essence of Earth,' he is the counterpart of Akashagarba (Essence of Space) and one of the eight bodhisattvas attending Amitabha.


Part of the Durgatiparishodhana, a yoga tantra. Also known as the Sarvavid Vairochana. It is used in funeral ceremonies.

Lob Zangma

One of the Five Goddess of Long Life. She is golden yellow in color and is seated on a tiger.

Lords of Three Families

These are Manjushri, Avalokiteshvara, and Vajrapani. Manjushri symbolizing the Buddha's wisdom, Avalokiteshvara the Buddha's compassion and Vajrapani the Buddha's power.


Wrathful deity, blue in color, having three faces, six arms and embraces his consort. He is biting a snake with his mouth of the center face.
Mahachakravajrapani is described in the Nilambaradharavajrapani tantra, this tantra belongs to the Father tantras of the Anuttarayoga tantras.

The buddha of the future, who at the present time resides in Tushita, a heavenly realm, from which he emanates manifestations into other realms. He will take birth as the last buddha of the present era.

The bodhisattva manifesting the perfection of wisdom and thus a frequent figure in the prajnaparamita sutras of the mahayana tradition. He is shown wearing sambhogakaya ornaments and holding a flaming sword in his right hand and a text in his left.


She is can be represented with one face and four arms or three faces and eight arms, riding a boar or on chariot that is pulled by boars.
Medicine Buddha

The Healing Buddha
His aspiration is to pacify the suffering of all beings. His pure realm is Vaidurya Paradise in the East. He is accompanied by two bodhisattvas: Suryaprabha (Luminous Like the Sun) and Chandraprabha (Luminous Like the Moon). Different sources call his attendants Suryavairochana and Chandravairochana. Since Akshobhya's color is blue, this attribute is also assigned to Medicine Buddha.
The sutra of seven Medicine Buddhas was translated into Tibetan by Jinamitra, Danashila.

The fourth of the Thirty-five Buddhas of confession.
He is dressed in monk robes (chos gos). His hands are in dharmachakra mudra (teaching mudra) and he is seated in varjasana or dhyanasana. His head is surrounded by a nimbus (dbu’i ‘od ‘khor) adorned with seven serpents, his hair is in tight curls with a topknot (ushnisha) He rests on a lotus seat (padmasana).
Namgyalma Blazing Crown

Naro Kha Choma

A form of Vajrayogini.

Nojin Tsi'u Marpo

A Nyingma dharma protector. According to Nyingma termas, this deity was born as a Khotanese prince at the time the teachings of Buddha Kashyapa were dissapearing. Later in life he became a Buddhist monk. He met an untimely death as a result of fals accusations. He turned into a yaksha (gnod sbyin), striking fear into the hearts of many beings. He was sujugated by Hayagriva.
Palden Lhamo

Female Dharma protector, the only female of the eight Dharma protectors.
Precious Moon

One of the seven Medicine Buddhas

The third of the Thirty-five Buddhas of confession.
He is dressed in monk robes (chos gos). His hands are in dhyana mudra (meditation mudra) and he is seated in varjasana or dhyanasana. His head is surrounded by a nimbus (dbu’i ‘od ‘khor). And is supported by a lotus seat (padmasana).

One of the Five Buddha Families .
Among the four activities, Ratnasambhava embodies the activity of enrichment, which his yellow color symbolizes. Ratnasambhava sits on a lotus-and-full-moon-disc throne upheld by eight horses. In ancient timesshorses were the swiftest means of transportation, so the swiftness of the eight horses represents the speedness or impulsiveness of our pride and arrogance.
The right hand of Ratnasambhava holds a widh-fulfilling gem, signifying that Ratnasambhava can effortlessly fulfill the wishes of sentient beings the moment they turn and open their minds to him. His left hand holds a bell, signifying that he fulfills these wishes in a pleasing and gentle manner.

Head of the Ratna or Jewel family, wisdom of equanimity, pride, South, yellow in color.
Resounding Dharma Melody

One of the seven Medicine Buddhas

Meaning "All Good." One of the eight bodhisattvas.

Sangde Jig Sum

These three Gelugpa tutelary deities are: Vajrabhairava, Chakrasamvara, and Guhyasamaja


One of eight great bodhisattvas. He is blue in color, one face two arms. He is said to remove all mental obscurations on the path to enlightenment.

The first of the Thirty-five Buddhas of Confession.
The historical Buddha, Gautama Buddha, or Buddha Shakyamuni.
Dressed in monk’s robes (chos gos) and seated in vajrasana or dhyanasana. His right hand is in the bhumisparsha mudra, his left hand in dhyana mudra, his head is surrounded by a nimbus (dbu’i ‘od ‘khor) and his hair is in tight curls with a ushnisha.

Six Armed Mahakala

A wrathful dharma protector. Traditional attendants of the Six Armed Mahakala are: Takkiraja (who holds a damaru), Kshetrapala (riding a bear), Jinamitra (holding a damaru and kapala), Takshad (riding a horse and Palden Lhamo (riding a mule).

Bodhisattva residing with Medicine Buddha in his pure realm Vaidurya Paradise. His name can be translated as "Luminous Like the Sun" or "Brilliance of the Sun."
Tashi Tseringma

One of the Five Goddess of Long Life. She is seated on a white snow lion, and she is white in color.

Three Deities of Lhasa

The three most famous Buddhist images in Lhasa:
1. Shakyamuni Buddha in the Jokhang (jo khang).
2. Eleven-faced Chenrezig, known as Rangjung Nga Den (rang byung lnga ldan).
3. Akshobhyavajra at the Ramoche.

Three Deities of Longevity

These three are: Amitayus, White Tara and Namgyalma.

Twenty One Taras

Twenty one manifestations of Tara. There are two main traditions: one according to Atisha and the second is the Suryagupta. In Atisha's tradition all the Taras have one face and two arms, in the Suryagupta many Taras have more than two arms.

Ushnisha Vijaya

Together with Amitayus and White Tara she is one of three longlife deities in Tibetan Buddhism. She is white in color, has eight arms, and three faces. In her right hands she holds a double vajra at the heart, an image of Amitabha, and an arrow. In her left hands she holds a longlife vase, a lasso, and an arrow. She is an emanation of Buddha Vairochana .


The first of the Five Buddha Families.
He sits upon a throne that represents the true nature of things. The throne is composed of a lotus and full-moon disk and is upheld by eight snow lions. The snow lions represents the complete realization of the true nature of the aggregate of form, the realization of wisdom that clears away all confusion to unveil the true nature of ignorance. The lotus and full-moon disk represent the skillfull means and primordial wisdom that conquer confusion and overcome the deluded mind, enabling one to turn awaya from non-meritorious actions toward beneficial practice. The color of the deity is white, unsustained by confusion. His right hand holds the Wheel of Dharma, symbol of the constant disclosure of the teachings, his left hand holds a bell, symbol of the gentle manner, kindness, and compassion with which he turns the Whell of dharma.--------from The Five Buddha Families, by Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche.

Buddha, Vairochana, dharmadhatu wisdom, ignorance, center, white.


A protector of wealth. In Tibetan Namthose or in short Namse. He rides a lion and holds a parasol and a jewel spitting mongoose.


The wrathful (krodha) emanation of Manjushri. He is a main yidam (ishta deva) of the Gelukpas. As a dharma protector he keeps away all that hinders a practioner on the path. He conquers Maheshvara and Uma, who are trempled under his feet. He can be depicted alone or with his consort (yum) Vajravetali. He can be depicted with two, six, eighteen, or with twenty arms, of which with six is the most common form.
The six-armed has a wrathful buffalo head, with on top a smiling face of Manjushri.

The second of the Thirty-five Buddhas of confession.
He is dressed in monk robes (chos gos). His hands are in dharmachakra mudra (teaching mudra) and he is seated in varjasana or dhyanasana. His head is surrounded by a nimbus (dbu’i ‘od ‘khor). And is supported by a lotus seat (padmasana).

Blue in color, his right hand holds a vajra, his left hand a rope. An one of the eight bodhisattvas or great sons of Buddha.

One of the 16 arhats.

"Destroyer of Obstacles" , a protector.

The fifth of the Thirty-five Buddhas of confession.
He is dressed in monk robes (chos gos). His right hand is in buddhashramana mudra (renunciation mudra), his left hand is in abhaya mudra (fearlessness mudra) and he is seated in varjasana or dhyanasana. His head is surrounded by a nimbus (dbu’i ‘od ‘khor) adorned with seven serpents, his hair is in tight curls with a topknot (ushnisha) He rests on a lotus seat (padmasana).

White Tara

Female deity whose special function is to promote good health and long life, both for the practitioner and for others. White Tara, Amitayus, and Ushnisha Vijaya form the three deities of longevity. She is white with two arms and seven eyes of perfect wisdom that give birth to enlightenment.

White Umbrella

She can have a thousand faces, arms and legs. Or three faces and six or eight arms. Or one face and two arms. She is white in color.

Wrathful manifestation of Manjushri.
Zhel Zangma

One of the Five Goddess of Long Life. She is blue in color and is seated on a white khyang (tibetan donkey).