pastel and ink on paper
37 x 13.5 inches (sheet)
Private Collection

Ushnishavijaya is one of three long-life deities in Tibetan Buddhism.  The other two are White Tara and Amitayus.  Originally a Hindu goddess, Ushnishavijaya is considered to be the female emanation of Buddha Vairochana who grants long life to her devotees. Ushnisha, the first part of her name, refers to the protuberance on the top of the Buddha’s head representing a crown or the crown chakra, symbolizing the light of wisdom he acquired when he attained enlightenment. In Hindu mythology a vijaya is a bow granted to deities for the overcoming of evil.

Ushnishavijaya is seated on a lotus in front of a Buddhist temple (stupa).  She has three heads and eight arms.  In her middle left and right hands she holds the bow and arrow referenced in her name which symbolize her ability to throw the arrow of wisdom to its target. The uppermost right hand holds an image of Buddha Amitabha and the lowermost right hand is in the gesture of giving. In her lowermost left hand, she holds a long-life vase.  

In addition to a personal ritual (sadhana) to Ushnishavijaya, there is also a larger ceremony that can be commissioned from a monastery with professional ritualists performing the ritual.  This image was taken from a 12th century Tibetan painting (thanka).

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