Dictionary of Buddhist Iconography  -  Volume 11

Dictionary of Buddhist Iconography - Volume 11

Product ID: 13277

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Author: Lokesh Chandra
Publisher: Aditya Prakashan
Year: 2004
Language: English
Pages: 310
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8177420569


Buddhist iconography is a whirlwind of forms, that enshrine pensive reflections of the mind, that weave the threads of our inner Being, that are visions of the pulse-beats of serenity, and the echoes of contemplations, in the sparkle of dazzling thankas, of diaphanous East Asian paintings, of the secret rhyme of icons where music of the sadhaka bursts into na adevo devam arcayet, or to sculpt or to paint is to evoke the divine. The 'More' of the transic mind, the bhiyyobhava of the Pali texts, triumphs in form. Iconic morphology in the round or on plane surfaces draws humans to their depths and stirs the spirit as well as the eye.

This volume continues the theonyms beginning with the letter S in the previous volume. Every name of a deity has a context in a sutra or tantra. Sometimes a deity appears in several collocations or mandalas and can have separate attributes, for example Samantabhadra has different colours and characteristics in various texts

The divergences are so vital, that we can no longer speak of Samantabhadra as a single deity but we will have to specify every form with the root text, guru, or deity with whom he is associated.

Sarasavati has two, four, six, or eight arms and the iconic forms go upto twentyfour. Some of their root texts, or ritual traditions, or transmission lineages may be traced some day. For the present, this Dictionary poses a challenge to unravel the mind of Sunyata rupam: the void and the Form surrounded by infinities and transfinites.


The Dictionary of Buddhist Iconography is an endeavour of half a century to identify, classify, describe and delineate the bewildering variation in Buddhist icons. It spans the last twenty centuries, and it is a comparative study of unprecedented geographic variations, besides the ever-evolving visualisations of great maters who introduced extraordinary plurality of divine forms in the dharanis and sadhanas.

The multiple forms of a theonym arise in varying contexts. For example, Hevajra of the Hevajra-tantra holds crania in his hands, while the Hevajra of the Samputa-tantra has weapons. Both are subdivided into four each on the planes of kaya, vak, citta and hrdaya, with two, four, eight and sixteen arms. The dictionary classifies several such types of a deity and places each in its theogonic structure, specifies the earliest date of its occurrence (e g Amoghapasa appears in Chinese in AD 587), the earliest mage, the direction in which its is placed in the specific quarter of the mandala, its classification, colour, crown or hairdo, ferocious or serene appearance, number of eyes and heads, hair standing up and /or flaming, number of arms and attributes held in them, consort, lord of the family (kulesa), and so on. The esoteric name, symbolic form (samaya0, bija (hierogram), mantra, mudra and mandala are given in this Dictionary for the first time and on an extensive scale. The Sanskrit, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Tibetan, Mongolian, Manchu and other names are given under the main entry, as well as cross-referenced in their own alphabetic order.

The Dictionary details the characteristic attributes, chronology and symbolism of over twelve thousand main and minor deities. It reflects the extraordinary cultural, literary, aesthetic and spiritual achievements of several nations of Asia over two millennia.



Dictionary (Sakyamuni-Sparsavajra)