(Tib. Dorje Naljorma) is a manifestation of supreme enlightenment in
female form, and she belongs to the Mother class of the Highest Yoga
Tantra systems of the Chakrasamvara cycle of tantras, which emphasizes
the cultivation of Wisdom and the attainment of Clear Light. As the
red consort of Chakrasamvara her two principal identities are as
Vajrayogini or Vajravarahi, who appear in different postures as
individual yidam deities in their own right, with the former mainly
being practiced in the Gelug and Sakya schools, and the latter in the
Kagyu and Nyingma traditions. Vajrayoginis Pure Land is known as
Khechara, the sky-going paradise, and the main lineage of her practice
descends from the Indian mahasiddha Naropa, because of which she is
commonly known as Naro Khandroma or Naro Khechari (Naropas Dakini).
abides within a reality source or dharmodaya, composed of two
intersecting red triangles that form a double and downward-tapering
tetrahedron, which appears as an open six-pointed star with an
anticlockwise-swirling pink wheel of joy in four of its six corners.
Within this dharmodaya rests the multicoloured lotus and golden sun disc
upon which Vajrayogini stands as she leans to the left in
alidha-posture. With her left foot she tramples upon the head and heart
of black Bhairava, while her right foot tramples on the breasts of red
Kalaratri. Bhairava, the terrible, is a wrathful form of Shiva, and
his head and heart represent the seats of ignorance and aversion.
Kalaratri, the black night, is a fierce aspect of Umadevi, Shivas
consort, and her breasts represent the seat of desire. Both of these
Hindu tantric deities wear their respective silk, tiger-skin, bone and
skull ornaments. Both gods hold a curved knife and skull-cup, while
four-armed Bhairava also holds a khatvanga and damaru.
is naked, passionate, radiant, ruby red in colour, and she is youthful
and lusty like a sixteen-year-old, with firm round breasts. From the
pores of her skin light rays scintillate against her blue inner aura,
which is encircled by a red outer aura of blazing wisdom fire. Her long
black hair hangs freely behind her back, and her head inclines as she
gazes up towards the realm of the dakinis with her three bewitching
eyes. Her beautiful body is adorned with golden bracelets, armlets,
anklets, earrings, a neck choker, and a jewel-topped five-skull tiara.
She also wears a garland of fifty dry white skulls, and the five bone
ornaments of a dakini, which are fashioned from carved beads and
filigree slivers of human bone.
Her right arm extends downward as
she holds a vajra-handled curved knife, with her index finger raised
threateningly to terrify all maras or obstructing demons. With her left
arm bent upward she holds a tilted skull-cup full of blood, which she
pours into her open mouth. The white skull represents her realization of
emptiness, and the warm blood that she continually drinks represents
the essence of her great bliss. Balanced upon her left shoulder is her
tantric staff or khatvanga, which is equal in height to her own body and
symbolizes her inseparable union with her consort, Chakrasamvara.
khatvangas golden shaft is sealed at its base with a single-pointed
vajra, while its upper shaft supports a crossed-vajra, a golden nectar
vase, and three impaled heads: a fresh red head, a decaying blue head,
and a dry white skull. An iron trident crowns the top of this particular
khatvanga, although in other traditions a half-vajra or full vajra is
commonly shown. Likewise the positions and colours of the two lower
heads may vary, or all three may be depicted as skulls. A billowing
white silk ribbon is tied around the golden nectar vase, along with a
golden chain or thread bearing a damaru, a bell, a sun-moon symbol, and a
silk tassel or triple-valance. All of these attributes have complex
outer, inner, and secret levels of symbolic meaning. The offerings at
the bottom centre of this painting include jewels, a ritual vase bearing
a skull-cup of fresh blood, a colourful swirling wheel of joy or
bliss, and a dharmodaya in the form of a six-pointed star.
drawing used for this painting was made by myself in 1980, as part of an
iconographic project I was working on at that time. More than twenty
years later my friend Marc Baudin had this and many other drawings of
mine made into paintings by two skilful Indian miniature painters that
worked at his studio in Jaipur. All of these paintings were executed in
pure mineral pigments on handmade paper.
text by Robert Beer