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Paintings > Thangka > Red Tara Kurukulla with Pancha Mahabhuta Landscape
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Red Tara Kurukulla with Pancha Mahabhuta Landscape

Red Tara Kurukulla with Pancha Mahabhuta Landscape

Red Tara Kurukulla with Pancha Mahabhuta Landscape

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Tibetan Thangka Painting

Size of Painted Surface 15.0" X 19.0"
Size with Brocade 25.5" X 35.5"
Item Code:
TM95
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Red Tara Kurukulla with Pancha Mahabhuta Landscape

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Kurukulla is an emanation of Goddess Tara and is thus also known as Red Tara; she is also called the heart of Tara. Kurukulla embodies the subjugation and control of all passions, both internal and external. Through the repetition of her mantras, she bestows on the practitioners the mundane siddhis of domination and conquest of enemies. Yet as the aspect of supreme wisdom, Kurukulla destroys ignorance and transforms egocentric hindrances into energizing insight through her arrows of flowers.

The goddess is usually shown in her usual four-armed form, dancing in ardhaparyankasana and adorned with crown of skulls, necklace of severed human heads, and the bone ornaments. Her upper left hand bears her standard attributes of the drawn bow and arrow, with the bow in her left, or wisdom hand. The right hand counterpart of method is shown pulling back the bowstring. Her one right hand holds a summoning arrow or hook and flower noose or string in her left hand.

Ichnographically the bow and arrow are key symbolic implements referencing the goddess's subjugating qualities. When shown preparing to shoot, they are understood to be combining wisdom and method to aim the power of that union straight into the enemy's heart. The arrow serves to transfix false views, while the bow shows mastery over the three realms. When bow and arrow are adorned with or created from flowers, as found in Kurukulla's standard iconography, it alludes to the destruction of Kamadeva, the Hindu god of passion, who after shooting arrows at the meditating figure of Shiva was burnt to ashes by his wrath-filled gaze.

In the context of mundane concerns, Kurukulla's mantras and attributes are able to bring any being under the control of the devotee through adherent practice. After having gained the proper empowerment and dedication to Kurukulla, the initiate may contain the deity's power within him or herself in order to accomplish the aim of the particular ritual. Kurukulla uses their sexual passion as a means of transcending reality and moving toward comprehension of the Dharma, free from ignorance and desire.

Goddess Kurukulla confers success in the Tantric rites of vasikarana or enchanting men, women, ministers, and even kings. It is said that she is invoked when no woman is near. If she is invoked with the mantra, om kurukulle hum hrih svaha, before her image ten thousand times, she touches the heart of the beloved who is surely won over.

There are different forms of Kurukulla both in peaceful and wrathful appearance. Here in the present painting she is shown dancing in ardhaparyankasana on a corpse. She has one head with a crown of five skulls with jewels, three eyes and wrathful appearance. Her densely curly hair erect in loose, looks like a pyramid. She has four hands – on the right she holds a flowery arrow and the second right hand clasps and pulls the bowstring and flowery arrow, at the left, a hand holds the floral bow and the other a flowery string of leaves. Her body is decked with ornaments of bone and gold. Moreover she wears a long flowing scarf, a long garland of freshly severed human heads and tiger-skin skirt. There is an arch-shaped aureole behind her with wisdom fire border. There is an auspicious peaceful offering at the bottom centre. The landscape depicts pancha mahabhuta. The pancha Mahabhuta or five great elements are earth, water, fire and space. The universe is supposed to compose of from pancha mahabhutas. The element earth is depicted here by rock formations, and mountainous landscape; the element water by waterfalls and lakes; fire by aureole's wisdom fire; air by cloud formation and space by sky.

Select Bibliography

A. Getty, The Gods of Northern Buddhism, Tokyo, 1962

B. Bhattacharyya, The Indian Buddhist Iconography, Calcutta, 1968

J.C. Huntington and D. Bangdel, The Circle of Bliss: Buddhist Meditational Art, Ohio, 2004

Lokesh Chandra, Transcendental Art of Tibet, Delhi, 1996

Marylin M. Rhie & Robert A.F. Thurman, Worlds of Transformation: Tibetan Art of Wisdom and Compassion, New York, 1999

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.)".

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