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Vajrabhairava The Yamantaka

Vajrabhairava (Tibetan: Dorjejigje. English: Vajra Terror) embracing the consort Vajra Vetali surrounded by four protector deities. Vajrabhairava, with a large buffalo head, terrifying and wrathful, is dark blue in color, with 9 faces, 32 hands and 16 legs. The upper face is red and a slightly angry yellow face of Manjushri placed on top. The horn tips are flaming. The three right faces are yellow, dark blue and red and the three left are black, white and smoky. Each face has three eyes and various frightful expressions; dark yellow hair flows upward like flames. The first pair of hands holds a curved knife and skull cup embracing the consort. The remaining hands hold a variety of objects with the 2nd set holding in addition the fresh outstretched hide of an elephant at the top. Adorned with bone ornaments and a necklace of fifty heads he embraces the consort Vajra Vetali who has one face and two hands holding a skull cup in the left. The right legs of Bhairava are bent pressing down on various animals and gods. The left legs are extended straight and press upon various birds and gods; standing above an orange sun disc and multi-colored lotus completely surrounded by the orange and red flames of pristine awareness. In front of the lotus seat is a skull cup filled with various offerings.

As a tutelary deity (Tibetan: Yidam and Sanskrit: Ishta Devata) Vajrabhairava, also known as Yamantaka (Tibetan: Shinjetharche), belongs to the Yamari class of Tantras and specifically arises from the Bhairava Root Tantra (Tibetan: Jigjetsagyu) and belongs to the method (father) classification of Anuttaryoga Tantra. The practice of Bhairava is common to the three Sarma Schools: Sakya, Kagyu and Gelugpa. There are numerous forms and styles of practice from the very complex with numerous deities to the very concise with a single Heruka form. The main lineages to enter Tibet were those of Jowo Atisha, Rwa Lotsawa, Mal Lotsawa and the like.

This form of Bhairava with the central faces placed 3 vertically and 3 faces to each side arranged horizontally are unique to the Gelugpa School and true to a visionary experience of Lord Tsongkhapa the founder.

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