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Paintings > Thangka > A Synthesis of Hinduism, Buddhism and Tantra
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A Synthesis of Hinduism, Buddhism and Tantra

A Synthesis of Hinduism, Buddhism and Tantra

A Synthesis of Hinduism, Buddhism and Tantra

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Tibetan Thangka Painting

17.0" x 22.5"
Item Code:
TE46
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A Synthesis of Hinduism, Buddhism and Tantra

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Viewed 4283 times since 2nd Oct, 2008
Nepal has traditionally remained an amalgamating center for the triple strands of Hinduism, Buddhism and Tantra. The ancient valley of Kathmandu consisting of the three cities of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur has remained the locus of this melting pot where these three practises have co-mingled for approximately the last two thousand years.

This skilfully painted image is a perfect example of this synthesis. It depicts the terrific Goddess Chinnamasta, one of a group of ten Tantric-Hindu goddesses, popularly referred to as the 'Dash Mahavidyas,' or the Ten Wisdom Goddesses. The spectrum of these ten goddesses covers the whole range of feminine divinity, encompassing horrific goddess's at one end, to the ravishingly beautiful at the other. Chinnamasta, as is evident from her macabre image, belongs to the former.

The goddess is shown standing on the copulating couple of Kamadeva and Rati, with Rati on the top. They are shown lying on a lotus. There are two different interpretations of this aspect of Chinnamasta's iconography. One understands it as a symbol of control of sexual desire, the other as a symbol of the goddess's embodiment of sexual energy. The most common interpretation is one where she is believed to be defeating what Kamadeva and Rati represent, namely sexual desire and energy. In this school of thought she signifies self-control, believed to be the hallmark of a successful yogi. The other, quite different interpretation states that the presence of the copulating couple is a symbol of the goddess being charged by their sexual energy. Just as a lotus seat is believed to confer upon the deity seated atop it's qualities of auspiciousness and purity, Kamadeva and Rati impart to the Goddess standing over them the power and energy generated by their lovemaking. Gushing up through her body, this energy spouts out of her headless torso to feed her devotees and also replenish herself. Significantly here the mating couple is not opposed to the goddess, but an integral part of the rhythmic flow of energy making up the Chinnamasta icon. The cutting of her own head (with the chopper held in the right hand) is a reminder of the lengths she can go to quench the hunger and thirst of her devotees. While in the traditional Indian image the two accompanying companions would be receiving the blood streams directly into their own mouths (see accompanying image),

here they are seen collecting it in their respective skull-bowls which is a distinctive attribute of the Tantric Buddhism of Tibet. All the three females are totally devoid of any clothing except for the bone ornaments adorning their buxom yet supple forms. Such kind of bone jewelry is typical to the class of Buddhist goddess' known as 'Yoginis'.

At the top left corner of the painting can be the Dhyani Buddha Akshobhya, and at the bottom right the terrible Buddhist goddess Vajrayogini.

This painting was created in Bhaktapur.

Click Here to View the Thangka Painting along with its Brocade


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