His body is white. His face is wrathful and he has three eyes. He has six arms. His main right hand holds a wish- fulfilling jewel mounted on a jewel-tipped handle, in front of his chest. This emblem is held by deities associated particularly with wealth.
His upper right hand holds a chopper. This crescent-shaped chopper, corresponds in shape to the cavity of the skullcup and functions to make 'mincemeat' of the hearts, intestines, lungs, and life-veins of enemies hostile to the Dharma. A similar crescent-shaped hand cleaver is used in oriental cuisine to chop meat and dice vegetables.
His lower right arm holds a hand drum, damaru in Sanskrit (Tib. Da ma ru, rnga chung). According to the strict rules of Tibetan-Buddhist iconography, the damaru is held and played in the right hand, and its function is to summon or invoke all of the Buddhas, inspiring them with supreme joy. The damaru as held by wrathful and semi-wrathful Buddhist deities, is described as being fashioned from the joined skulls of a fifteen or sixteen-year old boy and girl. The left side of the double-skull damaru is drawn smaller to represent the pubescent girl's skull. The magical qualities possessed by these skulls symbolize the virginal ripening to fullness of the male and female bodhichitta essences.
His lower left arm holds a skull-cup with a vase in it filled with many jewels. The skull-cup (Skt. Kapala; Tib. Thod phur)- fashioned from the oval upper section of a human cranium, serves as a libation vessel for wrathful and protective Vajrayana deities. As a receptacle for sacrificial offerings presented to wrathful deities, the kapala parallels the precious tray or bowl containing auspicious substances like the jewels shown here in this painting.
The central right hand holds a vajra hook. As a hand held weapon, the vajra hook symbolizes the hooking of negativities or evil beings, and the pulling or driving of all beings out of samsara and towards liberation.
The uppermost left hand holds a trident. As a weapon the trident symbolizes the destruction of the three poisons of ignorance, desire and aggression within the three realms. The two prongs uniting in the flaming central prong also symbolize the unity of method and wisdom; the abandonment of the two extremes of samsara and nirvana; and the ultimate union of absolute and relative truth.
He is adorned with jewelled ornaments and wears a beautiful skirt made of many scarves with jewels hanging down on the skirt.
Under each of his foot is a prostrate deity with an elephant head. This is symbolic of Lord Ganesha, the Hindu Lord of obstacles, thus representing the overcoming of obstacles.
Even though stationary in his stance, a lively movement is imparted through the agitated postures of his arms and the "Art-Nouveau" curves of his floating scarves.
The White Mahakala is more unusual than the customary black form. He is especially popular in Mongolia as the main protector deity of Mongolia., given such distinction by the third Dalai Lama.
The teachings of the White Mahakala were brought to Tibet in the eleventh century by Khedrup Khyungpopa, who also brought the teachings of the Six-armed Black Mahakala.
Performing the White Mahakala ritual is supposed to bring endless wealth to the needy practitioner in such things as family, material goods, food, power, knowledge, and spirituality.
Of Related Interest:
Wrathful Guardians of Buddhism: Aesthetics and Mythology (Article)
Four Headed Mahakala (Black Meditational Thangka)
Mahakala (Sterling Silver Pendant)
The Night of Compassion (Brass Wall Hanging)
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