The name Vajradhara means “holder of the vajra or thunderbolt’, implying that Vajradhara is the holder or protector of Vajrayana Buddhism. He is the supreme guru of the Kargyupa and the principal deity of this sect whose origins go back to Marpa. Marpa was a disciple of Naropa and the master of supreme yogi and the mystic poet Milarepa. Vajradhara occupies a prominent position in the mystical experience of the Gelugpa too. Vajradhara is Buddha from the beginning with no conquest of Buddhahood. He is the Absolute, beyond the five Dhyani Buddhas, transcending them and nevertheless permeating them as the source of all apparent things. He is referred to as being the sambhogakaya form, the Body of Bliss or Transcendent Buddha form, of the primordial Buddha, the representation of pure Buddha nature from whom all Buddhas arise. He is also considered as counterpart of Adi-Buddha Vajrasattva. The unreformed Lamaist sects in Tibet acknowledged a primordial Buddha whom they worshipped under the name of Samantabhadra. The Red-Caps as well as Nepalese Mahayanists worshipped the Adi-Buddha under the name of Vajrasattva, while the ‘Yellow-Caps’ looked upon Vajradhara as the Supreme power or Adi-Buddha and creator of all things.
The Guru in his transcendant character may be envisaged as the yidam with whom one has the paramount feeling of transcendance. The Guru enters life as a spiritual friend (kalyanamitra) and ultimately he is a manifestation of Buddhahood. The Supremely Enlightenment One has said in his precious tantras and sutras that in this degenerate age Lord Vajradhara manifests himself in the form of spiritual friends, and acts for the good of sentient beings. Accordingly, our spiritual friends, apart from merely exhibiting different aspects of being, are manifestations the Lord Vajradhara to attract beings, are manifestations of the Lord Vajradhara to attract us who have the ill-fortune of being unable to perceive Buddhahood directly. . Vajradhara is shown here seated in vajraparyankasana on a moon disk on a pink lotus flower against a brilliant aureole. The complexion of his body is blue, suggestive of the absolute. His both the hands are crossed over the chest in vajra-humkara-mudra and carries the vajra in the right and vajra-tipped bell in the left hand, respectively, a gesture symbolizing highest energy and the union of compassion and wisdom necessary to reach enlightenment. He is dressed in royal attire, with diadem with jewels, necklaces, earrings, armlets, bracelets, anklets, silk scarf, dhoti and waist-band.
Vajradhara is widely represented in all Buddhist countries of North, especially in Tibet and China. As mention above this thangka is brilliantly drawn and painted. The extended brocade is woven with flowers and Chinese good-luck symbols. The painting is very much suitable for sadhana and practices of Vajradhara Buddha.
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.)”.