About the Artwork

Dorje Drolo (rdo rje gro lod), meaning the 'Pot-bellied Vajra', is one of the 'Eight Manifestations' of Guru Rinpoche or Padmasambhava, and the extremely fierce form he assumed at thirteen different Himalayan locations with the name of 'Tiger's Lair', such as at Senge Dzong, Pemako, and Paro Taktsang in Bhutan. Guru Rinpoche manifested in this terrifying aspect in order to subdue the most malevolent and arrogant spirits that inhabited these regions, with the transformed aspect of his consort Tashi Chidron serving as his ferocious tigress vehicle or mount.

Dorje Drolo is extremely wrathful and dark-brown or maroon in color, with three eyes, two arms and two legs. In dynamic pratyalidha posture he leans towards the right as he dances upon the back of a fierce lactating tigress, which is a symbol of fearlessness and protection, as a maternal tigress will let no other creature approach her offspring. The tigress rips out the blood-dripping hearts and life-veins of two obstructive male and female demons with its right claws. With his right hand Dorje Drolo holds aloft a blue vajra made from meteorite iron, with which he is prepared to strike the skull of an enemy. With his left hand he grasps the handle of his ritual-dagger or kila (Tib. phurba) as he thrusts its sharp point towards the heart of a demonic enemy.

Surrounding Dorje Drolo is his retinue of four male dakas and four female dakinis, who all stand in dancing bow-and-arrow posture upon white moon-discs and pink lotus pedestals. Each of these figures is encircled by a radiant blue inner aura and a red outer aura, and they are paired to correspond to the four directions with a white, yellow, red, and green daka and dakini respectively appearing in the east, south, west and north.

Enthroned upon moon-discs and lotus seats amidst the clouds in the upper sky is the central form of Amitabha Buddha and four lineage masters. Amitabha, as the 'Lord of the Padma or Lotus Family' is red in color, wears the three robes of a nirmanakaya Buddha, and his hands are folded on his lap in the dhyana-mudra of meditation as he supports his blue alms bowl.

© text by Robert Beer

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