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The Iconography of Harihari Hari Vahan Lokeshvara

The Iconography of Harihari Hari Vahan Lokeshvara

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Published by Min Bahadur shakya

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Published by: Min Bahadur shakya on Sep 03, 2009
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The Iconography of Harihari hari vahan Lokeshvara by Min Bahadur Shakya 1.

Among the many forms of Avalokiteshvara the composite image of Hariharihari vahan Lokeshvara is unique and is basically of Nepalese origin.In some instance the name of this deity is ascribed four 'hari' according to Pandit Amoghvajra.But Sadhanamala provides two sadhanas: Nos.33 and 34.In both sadhanas only triple 'hari' is mentioned. The argument of Pandit Amoghvajra is that the composite image contains four elements which refers to the name 'hari' as a name of snake,a lion, a worshipper o votary of vishnu i.e Garuda. Henc the fourfold Hari signifies a snake, a lion, a Garuda and the Vishnu.This composite image ,fourfold harivahan Lokeshvara is found only at Kanak caitya Mahavihara or Janabahal where there are 108 forms of colour illustrations of Lokeshvaras drawn by famous artist Siddhimuni Shakya In stone or bronze images found in the Kathmandu valley the snake is lacking in most cases. There are two stone sculptures of HHHV in Okubahal, and other two stone sculptures are found in Swayambhu Caitya Park and Svayambhu museum.One bronze image of HHHV is installed in Hiranyavarna Mahavihara of Patan. It is believed that main image of of Changu Narayan temple is that of HHHV. But I have never seen it.Local people say that the priest always covers the image of Lokeshvara with flowers and can be seen only the image of Narayana on Garuda throne. II.Sadhana. Now let us discuss what Sadhanamala has to say concerning iconographic features of this deity: The Sadhana no 33 describes thus: "purvokta vidhanena sunyata bhavana antaram sita Hrih kara nispannam hariharihari vahanodbhavam harharihari bhagvantam aryavalokiteshvaram sarvanga suklam jatamukutinam santavesam, daksinakarena bhagavanmtam tathagatam saksinam kurvantam, dvitiyenam aksamala/varada dharinam, tritiyenam dhukuhakam lokam upadeshayantam, vamena danda dharam, dvitiyena krsnajinadharam, tritiyena kamandaludharam, simhagarudavisnu skandha sansthitam atmana dhyatva Om hrih eti mantram japet." (translation) As described earlier after meditating on the emptiness, one should visualize oneself as Lord Avalokiteshvara in the form of HHHV originating from white seed syllable Hrih, white in all limbs with ten crown of matted hair in graceful robes. He cited the Lord Tathagata as witness ( gesture) with one of his right hands, carries the rosary in the second, and teaches deluded beings with the third.

He carries the staff in one of his left hands, holds Krishnajina in the second and the kamandala in the third. He sits on the shoulder of Vishnu who in turn sits on Garuda. Garuda in turn sits on the lion. In the same text it is said that those who meditates on this form of Lokeshvara will have power to benefit all sentient beings, he will be liked by all , he will have great wisdom, he wll be healthy, wealthy and free from disaster. He will have power to neutralize poisons etc. III.Legends on the origin of the deity. We have stated earlier that this form of avalokiteshvara is basically of Nepalese origin. It is based on Svayambhu Purana text.A summary of the story can be cited thus: When great bodhisattva Manjusri drained the laked called Nagadaha now Kathmandu Valley all the Nagarajas especially Taksaka was very angry. Bodhisattva samantabhadra descended from Sukhavati heaven according to the instructions of Avalokiteshvara.He pacified them all except the Taksaka Naga. He killed many people and animals of Kathmandu valley. Due to this act of violence he was afflicted with leprosy. He repented his actions and began to pray Arya Avalokiteshvara in order to eliminate his sufferings. due to strong devotion and confession to Lord avalokiteshvara he was cured of his disease. On the day while he was leisurely basking in nearby river, a hungry Garuda saw him there.He alighted down and tried to devour Taksaka. Since Taksaka was the king of Nagas, he had a great strength. They began to engage in a ferrocious battle, he soon began to drag Garuda into river and intended to kill him. Garuda, finding himself about to be killed, invoked his protector Vishnu who came there immediately to save him. As Vishnu was about to cut off the head of the Taksaka with his Sudarshana Cakra i.e whirling disc, Taksaka realizing his upcoming defeat, prayed for Avalokiteshvara for his protection.Avalokiteshvara arrived there instantly flying over his lion vehicle. Vishnu was ashamed to find Avalokiteshvara, the lord of compassion in front of him and instantly bowed before him throwing awaying his whirling disc and paid homage. Thereafter Taksaka and Garuda too retreated from the battle and joined to the worship of Avalokiteshvara. After that Vishnu offered himself to Avalokiteshvara to be his vehicle. In the mean time, the lion also offered himself to be the vehicle of Garuda in turn. although Nagaraja is not mentioned in the Sadhanamala. IV.Some Misconceptions of Hindus Concerning this composite image of the deity some Indian scholars speculated that that Buddhist dominated Hindu deities.Such iconographic features can be found in numerous cases especially Tantric Buddhist iconology. Benoytosh Bhattacharya writes in the introduction of the book "Nispannayogavali" " Except probably Ganesh and Sarasvati in some isolated sadhanas, no Hindu deity was ever given the pricipal place in the mandala, and whenever Hindu

deities were accepted they received either a subordinate position or a humiliating role."[p.20] He further remarks that the Buddhists showed their animosity against the Hindu gods such as Brahma, Vishnu, Siva and Indra who were reckoned as four Maras and several Buddhist deities can be seen trampling them under their feet.The severed head of Brahma is carried by a number of Buddhist deities especially Cakrasamvara. Bhattacharya emotionally remarks that it is a matter of satisfaction however, that the Hindus never disgraced any gods belonging to the alien faith in this manner. On the contrary, they placed Buddha amongst the ten Avataras of Vishnu. (Nispannayogavali, p.21).According to him, it was Buddhists who humiliated the Hindu gods and goddesses. V.Refutation of Misconception Concerning Bhattacharya's argument on placement of Buddha amongst ten Avataras of Vishnu they are not expressing their respect to Buddha but humiliated. The concept of Ten avataras of Vishnu is one of the most humiliating piece of literature for Buddhists. In ninth Avatara Lord Buddha was depicted as the embodiment of evils as found in the personality of Vishnu. It should be noted that he judged and presented his view based on external iconographic features only. Bhattacharya neglected the features of iconology in their inner and secret meaning of Buddhist tradition especially Vajrayana in particular of which he is well aware of. In Vajrayana, the icons are the physical manifestation of the enightened qualities. In the enlightened state of Cakrasamvara, the head of Brahma which stand for desire for creation ( craving) or attachment to the phenomenal world is severed. It never meant that the deity Cakrasamvara severed the head of Brahma. People misunderstand this inner meaning and thinks that the Hindu gods are humiliated. Concerning humiliation, Hindu gods are better treated in Buddhist liturature than in Hindu sacred scriptures. How Hindu gods are treated in sacred Puranas of Hindus is illustrated in the following lines. For instance, 1. Indra, the king of gods is the one who raped Ahilya, the consort of the sage Gautami as described in the Sacred Ramayana.In numerous instances he is described as sensual god for which he has often been an object of scolding from Narada, the sage and Three Great Gods as well. 2. As for Brahma he is depicted as immoral god who raped his own daughter. 3. Similarly, the God Shiva is no exception. He is well known for his eccentric and folly behavior.How was he worshipped in the form of phallus is itself a most humiliating story in Svasthani vrata katha of Hindu literature.It is funny that Hindus liked this story and feel no shame.The story of Ardhanarishvara is equally funny and it obviously depicts the sensual nature of Mahadeva. 4. Vishnu again is popular for his tricky talents rather than the compassionate one.

It is said that once Lord Vishnu, due to fear of Asura Kalayavan hid under the sleeping chamber of Mucukunda, the Asura. As a result two Asuras fought themselves until both of them died. Many more examples can be cited from numerous saced scriptures of Hindus.In one instance, he even raped to the consort of Jalandhara, the Asura King in disguise of Jalandhara. On the otherhand these deities are better treated in Buddhist literature.Buddhists have no motivation to humiliate Hindu gods as they did themselves according to numerous Purana literature.Some examples can be cited: When Buddha attained Perfect enlightenment under Bodhi Tree. He meditated for 49 days without a food. Thinking that the sentient beings of this world immersed in the fire of lust, hatred, and ignorance cannot grasp his profound teaching thus he was for the time being reluctant or hesitating to turn the wheel of dharma. In the mean time due to clairvoyant power of Sikhi brahma and Indra, out of compassion for sentient beings, requested Lord Buddha to turn the wheel of dharma.Consequently, Buddha Shakyamuni agreed and turned the wheel of dharma at Sarnath. For this, Buddhists are ever grateful to Sikhi Brahma and Indra. 2. In Guranakarandavyuha Sutra, it is stated that Lord Avalokiteshvara emanated Vishnu from his heart,Mahadeva from forehead, Brahma from his shoulders and so forth. Lord Avalokiteshvara even predicted Mahadeva that he would be a Buddha called Bhasmeshvara in future. 3. Indra is a popular deity in Buddhist literature. In prajnaparamita scripture he is frequently mentioned as interlocuter concerning perfection of Wisdom. It seems that Indra is a Bodhisattva versed in perfection of wisdom doctrine. From above citations it can be proved that Bhatacharya's hypothesis is mistaken and was a just an emotional statement.

VI.Conclusion In Kathmandu Valley too, the followers of brahmanical faith followed the same mistaken view as Bhattacharya's. Due to this mistaken view they remained isolated from the contact of sacred buddhist scriptures .Although most educated people of the world both East and West have come to understand the importance of Buddha's teachings for peace, humanity and deveopment so called elite Brahmanical Pandits do not seemed to have understood its importance and on the contrary,even prohibited to study Buddhist scriptures, for their followers. How sad ! Due to this biased and mistaken views on the nature of Buddha dharma, even in these modern days Buddhism could not flourish in Kathmandu valley among non-Newars especially among Brhamans and Ksetris. We, Buddhists can just wait until they realize its importance for the betterment of humanity and peace.

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