GURU DRAGPUR, 2006
pastel and ink on paper
34.5 x 26.5 (sheet)
37.5 x 29.5 inches (frame)
Guru Dragpur is one of the many forms of Padmasambhava, in this case one of his wrathful forms. Padmasambhava is thought to have lived in the 8th century and to have brought Buddhism to Tibet although he does not appear in the historical record. The idea is that Padmasambhava, like other Tibetan deities, takes on different appearances depending on the necessity of the situation.
In this wrathful form Padmasambhava is clearing Tibet of all the demons who oppose Buddhism. He is red in color, holds a gold vajra in his right hand, and a black scorpion in his left hand. His hair rises upwards. He has a gaping mouth with bared fangs. He is adorned with a crown of five skulls which indicates his victory over the five poisons (kleshas) of ignorance, desire/lust, aversion/hatred, pride, and jealousy, the antidotes to which are personified by the five Dhyani Buddhas.
Dragpur’s conquests are symbolized by the elephant hide draped around his shoulders and by the demon’s hide tied around his neck. Instead of legs, his lower body is in the form of a three-edged peg (Tib: phurba, Skt: kila), a weapon that he is said to have invented, piercing a demon which in psychological terms is the ego, but in historical terms represents the native demons of Tibet who opposed Buddhism. On top of the peg is a green makara devouring nagas (snakes). His gold earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and sashes indicate that this is a samboghakaya form. This image was taken from a 19th century Bhutanese thanka.