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Paintings > Thangka > A Personification of Wheel of Time
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A Personification of Wheel of Time

A Personification of Wheel of Time

A Personification of Wheel of Time

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Tibetan Thangka Painting

Size of Painted Surface 15.0 inches X 19.5 inches
Size with Brocade 25.5 inches X 34.5 inches
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Viewed 5545 times since 8th Oct, 2010
This painting depicts Kalachakra Buddha father Mother (Yab Yum). Kalachakra, "Wheel of Time", who embraces his wisdom aspect (Prajna), "Mother of the Universe", is a representation of perfect bliss and void. A major ishta devata of the Highest Yoga Tantras, Kalachakra is an emanation of the Primordial Buddha and nondual teachings expounded in the Kalachakra Tantra. Tantra is a method or path reaching enlightenment faster although with great effort, capable of leading the practitioner to Buddhahood within one human lifetime. The motive for reaching enlightenment sooner is altruistic, since an enlightenment being is able to more effectively help others. The Kalachakra Tantra belongs to the fourth division of tantra, the Highest Yoga Tantra. In tantric practice, the union of wisdom and method are complete, and the two exist simultaneously in the mind. The main purpose of the Kalachakra Tantra is to transform the body and mind of the practitioner into purity through the practice of deity yoga. The Kalachakra Tantra contains all the essentials of the path to reach Buddhahood. In one meaning, time refers to immutable bliss and wheel refers to empty form, illustrating the union of method (bliss) and wisdom (emptiness). In another meaning time refers to the innate fundamental mind of clear light, which is timeless. Everything that is subject to change exists within time, but time itself does not exist as an independent linear entity. The wheel refers to the entire expanse of the universe, of both samsara and nirvana, which arises from the timeless continuum of the innate mind of clear light.

Kalachakra has four faces, each one with three eyes, representing the four periods of time or four shifts of breaths during yogic concentration.He is described as having three necks symbolizing the three internal channels (nadi) of the subtle body. According to the Kalachakra Tantra, his six collarbones not only represent the six seasons of time spring, winter, late winter, but also personify the six watches of day and night.

Kalachakra Buddha has twelve upper arms, six on each side. Following this, he has twenty-four forearms, twelve on each side. These twenty-four arms personify the dark and light phases in a year, "twelve waxing and twelve waning phases of the moon," as well as "twenty-four half-shifts of the breath". They also represent Kalachakra's purified and enlightened body, speech, and mind and thus are used to remove the obstructions of the body, speech and mind or wisdom. Further, on each hand, the back of each finger has its own symbolic colour and represents the five elements. The text also described that Kalachakra's hands are comprised of 360 phalanges, or finger joints, with three joints on each finger and fifteen on each hand. These 360 phalanges represents the 360 days in a year during a twelve-month lunar cycle. The number is also symbolic of the 360 units in a day where each unit is comprised of sixty breaths, making a total 21,600 breaths in a twenty-four hour day. This is significant because half of this number during a twelve-hour period is 10,800, and the sacred number of 108 is derived from this figure.

Kalachakra holds twenty-four attributes in his twenty-four hands. His primary hands hold a vajra and bell (Ghanta) crossed in front of his chest in vajra-humkara-mudra, also known in Tibetan as the "embracing" gesture. He is adorned with the jewelry of the six "seals" (mudras), including earrings, a necklace, bracelet, armlets, anklets, a crown, and garlands of a scarf. He wears a tiger-skin as his lower garment and stands in the lunging pratyalida pose.

Kalachakra Buddha embraces the Universal Mother Vishvamata, the embodiment of wisdom. She has four faces, each with three eyes. Vishvamata has eight arms, four on each side, and eight hands, each holding attributes. She embraces Kalachakra's neck.

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