Artist: Chewang Dorje
Size: 152 x 102 mm // 6 x 4 inches
Vajrakila or Vajrakilaya, meaning ‘the dagger of indestructible reality’, is a powerful and wrathful yidam deity of the Nyingma tradition who embodies the destructive energy of the triple-bladed ritual dagger or kila (Tib. phur-bu), which annihilates all demonic obstacles and hindrances. He is blue-black in colour, with three faces, six arms and four legs, and he tramples upon the Hindu gods Mahadeva and Umadeva, who lie prone upon his sun disc and lotus. With his two principal arms he rolls a vast triple-bladed dagger as he embraces his consort, Diptachakra. She is dark blue in colour, and wears a leopard-skin loincloth, gold and bone ornaments, and a garland of fifty dry white skulls. With her left hand she holds aloft a skull-cup full of blood, while with her right hand she holds a blue lotus behind Vajrakila’s neck as she embraces him. With his second and third right hands Vajrakila holds a nine-pointed vajra with open prongs, and a five-pointed vajra with closed prongs. With his second left hand he makes the ‘threatening forefinger’ gesture as he unleashes a blazing mass of fire from the palm of his hand, and with his third left hand he holds a khatvanga trident.
Vajrakila’s three wrathful faces are coloured white (right), blue-black (centre), and red (left), which represent his triumph over the three poisons of ignorance, hatred and desire. He stands amidst a blazing mass of fire; with the sharp feathers of his vajra-wings spread open, and his tawny hair streaming upwards. He is adorned with the ‘eight attires of the charnel ground’: human ash on his forehead; blood on his nose and cheeks; human fat on his chin and neck; a five-skull crown and a garland of fifty freshly severed heads; ornaments of writhing serpents; a tiger-skin loincloth; a human skin shawl, and a flayed elephant skin that is stretched across his back. Above his head is a serpent-devouring garuda, and in the sky are two vultures carrying eyes and human entrails. At the top centre are blue Samantabhadra and his white consort, Samantabhadri, and at the bottom are skull and jewel offerings.
© text by Robert Beer