Wrathful deities

From Academic Kids

A notable feature of Tibetan Buddhism is the emphasis on wrathful deities, often alternative manifestations of normally peaceful deities. True to their name, in Tibetan art, wrathful deities are presented as fearsome, demonic beings adorned with human skulls.

Wrathful deities can be divided into several categories:

  • The Herukas (Tb. tRak-thung, lit. "blood drinker"), which are enlightened beings that adopt fierce forms to express their detachment from the world of ignorance.
  • The Protectors (Sanskrit. pala), usually subdivided into three categories:
    • Dharmapalas or "Protectors of the Law" are bodhisattvas, beings one step from enlightenment, which have taken a vow to assist other sentient beings on their path
    • Lokapalas or "Protectors of the World" are guardians of the four cardinal directions
    • Kshetrapalas or "Protectors of the Region"
  • The Wisdom Kings (Sanskrit. vidyaraja), known particularly as the protectors of the Five Wisdom Buddhas; more a feature of Japanese than Tibetan Buddhism
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