རྡོ་རྗེ་ཕུར་པ། Understanding Vajrakīla

kilaThe cycle of Vajrakīla deities come with Palchen Dorje Zhonu (Vajrakumāra) as the central figure with four or five sons depending on the traditions. The sons are mostly depicted with their lower part as kīla nailing down the evil forces. There are then the ten wrathful emanations with a executioners (gsod byed) and a Devourers (za byed) bearing animal and bird head each.  The central figure Palchen Dorje Zhonu and the ten wrathful ones are all depicted with three faces, six hands, four legs in union with a female consort each. The color of face, implements, and the hostile forces that they trample upon differs according to their direction and task. Central figure Palchen Dorje Zhonu has his right face white, left red, and center face dark blue with three eyes on each face which makes nine eyes staring in ten directions. His mouth is open with tongue rolling up in between the fangs. In his right two hands holds nine-pronged vajra and five-pronged vajra. In his two left hands holds blazing fire ball and a three pointed Kathvanga. The last two remaining hands together rolls the kīla dragger called the mount Meru kīla, relating to its massive size. As all the wrathful deities do, Vajrakīla too wears elephant’s skin and bone ornaments. All these ornaments come in set, which will be discussed later. The female consort is depicted with her left feet lifting around male counterpart’s waist. Although the text reads as her right hand hugging through male deity’s neck and left hand feeding him with the blood in the conch shell, the art form of the tradition shows the female deity’s right hand holding a flaying knife.

The Implements and Their Representations

All these representations symbolize certain meanings. The meaning and gesture of some symbols are seen in the praise (stod pa) section of the text while some are discussed in other sections such as exhortation (bskul byang). The nine pronged vajra symbolizes the over coming of the conceptual thoughts through the nine yanas (thegs pa rim pa dgu) while the five pronged vajra induces the five states of sentient beings as a basis or support. The blazing fire ball in the first left hand represents the burning of the karmic residues and the three pointed khatvanga cuts through the three poisons from their root. Khenpo Namdrol explains that the union of the figure with his consort (yab yum) as the symbol of the non-duality of the expanse of emptiness and expression of primordial wisdom and the blue color of the deity is the unchanging reality. Three faces of the deities represent the three bodies of Buddhahood, the dharmakaya, Sambogakaya and the Nirmakaya or the three states through liberation. The six arms of the deity symbolize the six transcendent perfections. The four legs denote four legs of miraculous transformation.

Vajrakīlayas are also adorned with different types of bone and other ornaments that are significant to their wrathfulness. However, all these ornaments come in set with their symbolic meanings. An standard set of ornaments are worn by the deities that are both peaceful and wrathful. For the wrathful deities, eight ornaments of charnel ground, which includes, three divine garments, two hanging ornament, and three anoint elixir are depicted. In addition, there are also six-serpent ornament and eight attires of splendor.

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