. There are several forms of Chakrasamvara; in the present painting he is depicted with four heads and twelve-armed. Textual descriptions describe Chakrasamvara as displaying the nine moods, among which his three physical moods are of majesty, heroism, and menace; his three verbal moods of laughter, wrath and ferocity; while his three mental moods are of compassion, attentiveness, and serenity.
His principal hands are in vajrahumkara-mudra, and holding his consort. His upper two hands grasp the flayed skin of an elephant. His remaining hands are in threatening gesture and boon-bestowing gesture, respectively. His twelve arms represent the overcoming of the twelve folded chain of causation (nidana) . In union with Chakrasamvara is female Buddha Vajravarahi, who is one-faced, with two hands and three eyes. Vajravarahi is visualized as an energetic, luminous female, naked, except for the bone apron she wear as a lower garment. Vajravarahi's legs are entwined around Chakrasamvara's waist, a position that indicates a specific lineage teaching of the Chakrasamvara meditative practices. Chakrasamvara stands in alidha posture of outstretched legs on solar disk on the prostrate figures. He is adorned with a gold crown with skulls, bone ornaments, silk flowing scarves and a tiger-skin skirt.
The figures are surrounded with eight Dakinis and auspicious symbols. The four corners also depict the figures of dakinis. The walls of the square are decorated with stylized design. There are four gates in the square in cardinal direction and in which live the protector deities. Over the gates are houses with decorations. The upper centre depicts dharma wheel flanked by two deer. Victory banner in a vase and a vase with jewel stand on each side of gate outside the wall. The area outside the square is filled with stylized design.
The square is surrounded by fire fence which is florally rendered here. Fire in Vajrayana means knowledge, and without knowledge (prajna) there is no possibility of arriving at supreme understanding. Moreover, here fire means that believers who enter the mandala are purified, as it were, and at their passage through the purging fire, their ego and all their illusions will burn away. Then there is a circle of lotus petals. Here the spiritual realm begins. Thereafter is the circle of skulls, symbolizing enlightenment's power to transform death into eternal life.
The upper centre depicts Chenrezig, in front of a shrine, seated in a courtyard with fantastic garden surrounded by a wall. Chenrezig or Avalokiteshvara is a Lord Who Gazes Down with compassion. He is one of the most popular deities of Buddhism, and the Bodhisattva of compassion. Chenrezig is the patron deity of Tibet. All the Dalai Lamas are considered manifestation of Avalokiteshvara. A Dragon and A Garuda are depicted each side of the shrine of Chenrezig shrine. Upper left corner is filled with the figure of Padmasambhava in clouds; he is seated on a throne and flanked by his two wives. Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche was a great Buddhist teacher of Tibet, and tantric master. Upper right corner depicts a preaching Buddha with two attendant disciples. He is seated on a lotus throne in clouds. The middle ground is filled with figures of stylized fame or Agni, lotuses, leaves etc. The lower middle ground portrays pointed high peaks, covered with snow, stupas, charnel ground with siddhas and trees.
Lower left corner depicts Dharmaraja Yama, a protector of Buddhism and the lord of Death. The bottom centre depicts Simhavaktra; Lion headed Dakini, who is dancing on a solar disk on a lotus, in the centre of a lake. Dakinis are esoteric female sky-goers that appear to esoteric parishioners to teach, inspire, assist, and admonish. Among the dakinis Simhavaktra is considered a most powerful. Charnel ground and wrathful offerings. The bottom right corner is filled with the figure of six-armed Mahakala, who is dancing on prostrate human figures on a solar disk. Mahakala is the wrathful manifestation of Avalokiteshvara. He removes obstacles, grant power and knowledge and fulfill wishes.
A. Getty, The Gods of Northern Buddhism, Tokyo, 1962
Ben Meulenbeld, Buddhist Symbolism in Tibetan Thangka, Holland, 2001
J.C. Huntington and D. Bangdel, The Circle of Bliss: Buddhist Meditational Art, Ohio, 2004
Lokesh Chandra, Transcendental Art of Tibet, Delhi, 1996
L. A Waddell, Buddhism and Lamaism of Tibet, Delh1979, (reprint)
This description is by Dr. Shailendra K. Verma, whose Doctorate thesis is on "Emergence and Evolution of the Buddha Image (From its inception to 8th century A.D.)".