About the Artwork

Sarvavid, meaning 'all-knowing', is a white four-faced and peaceful sambhogakaya aspect of Vairocana Buddha, whose yoga-tantra practice was first reputedly taught to the gods in order to 'eliminate all the miseries' of their possible future rebirths. This complex double-mandala has an 'inner mansion' of thirty-seven deities, and an 'outer mansion' of sixty further residents, all of whom are represented by the small symbol of a vajra-handled curved knife resting upon a moon disc and lotus. All of these symbolic deities face inward towards Sarvavid Vairocana, who occupies the central chamber of the lotus dais at the mandala's center. The traditional protection wheels of the lotus-circle, vajra-ring and fire-mountain encircle the complex outer structure of the mandala palace. But this particular mandala has a white protection wheel that contains the minute and meticulously painted forms of ninety-six lokapalas or guardian deities, many of which are common to both the Hindu and Buddhist traditions. In the upper left and right corners are the Mahasiddha Jnanavajra, and the founder of the Gelugpa tradition, Tsongkhapa (1357-1419). In the lower corners are the Gelugpa protectors, Six-armed Mahakala (left), and Paldan Lhamo (right).

The central vajra-dais of the mandala is divided into nine chambers, with Vairocana occupying the white central chamber. In the blue eastern chamber (bottom) appears the pinkish-white Buddha Vishodhanaraja, the 'Purifying King', who sits on an elephant-throne and makes the dhyana-mudra of meditation, with his white consort Locana occupying the southeast chamber next to him. In the yellow southern chamber (left) appears the blue Buddha Jinavararatna, the 'Victorious Jewel', who sits on a horse-throne and makes the earth-touching bhumisparsa-mudra, with his blue consort Mamaki occupying the adjacent southwest chamber. In the red western chamber (top) is the red Buddha Shakyakulendra, the 'Heroic Shakya', who sits on a peacock-throne and makes the dharmachakra-mudra of teaching, with his red consort Pandara occupying the adjacent northwest chamber. And in the green northern chamber (right) is the green Buddha Kamalakumita, the 'Blossoming Lotus', who sits on a garuda-throne and makes the abhaya-mudra of protection, with his green consort Tara occupying the northeast corner chamber. All of these directional Buddhas and their consorts have one face and two arms, and wear the silk garments and jewel ornaments of sambhogakaya deities.

© text by Robert Beer

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