Vajrapani, Hayagriva, Garuda Combined
Tibet, 18th century
Ground mineral pigments with gold on cloth
Image: 29 1/4 x 20 in. (75 x 51 cm.)
From a Private Italian Collection.
HAR No. 8047
This fine thangka depicts Guhyapati Vajrapani, in his rare form of showing three wrathful deities: Vajrapani, Hayagriva and Garuda combined in one. The three deities are emanation of Buddha’s enlightened mind, speech, and body, respectively. Thus, they together embody the perfect power of all Buddhas, and protect beings from harmful spirits that create disease, disharmony and obstacles. The special practice of the Vajrapani-Hayagriva-Garuda deity has a long history of lineage, passed down from Je Tsongkhapa’s teacher, Lhodrag Drubchen Lekyi Dorje (1326-1401), who had obtained enlightenment through the practice Vajrapani.
The upper register of this painting shows five figures with Amitabha Buddha on the far right, and four teachers on the left, all wearing the typical yellow cap of the Gelugpa lineage.
Dwelling in the middle of a mass fire, the Vajrapani-Hayagriva-Garuda deity has a body blue-black in color, with one face and two hands. The right hand holds a vajra and the left raised to the heart in a wrathful gesture. His hair twisting upwards amongst which a horse head, neighing sharply three times over-powering the Three Realms. The neighing of the horse on the right over-powers the male lineages, one the left over-powers the female lineages, and the one in the middle bestows attainments on the practitioner. Below the horse is the King of Birds, Garuda, with a body white in color, beating the sword-wings, adorned within a jewel crown. His hair is adorned with a white spotted snake representing the Kings race. He wears a lower garment of tiger skin, adorned with all the jewel ornaments.
Vajrapani-Hayagriva-Garuda deity is particularly practiced in the Kriya Tantra classification, and grants protection from nagas. Executed strictly according to monastery scripture, he is accompanied by Buddha Nagaraja seating on the right, and Simhanada Avalokiteshvara seating on the left, who belongs to the Kriya classification, and is to remove sickness and disease especially illness caused by nagas.
Few other identified examples are held at The Fine Arts Zanabazar Museum, Tashi Lhunpo Compilation, Beijing, and Rainy Jin & Johnny Bai collection (See Himalayan Art Resource, Buddhist Deity: Vajrapani, Three Combined Wrathful Ones).