Open edition of signed and numbered gold on black Guhyasamaja screen prints available in A3 size (16 x 11.5 inches).
Guhyasamaja (Tib. Sangdu), meaning the 'secret assembly', is an anuttarayogatantra or Highest Yoga Tantra yidam deity of the 'father' class of tantras, which emphasizes the development of 'skillful means' - as opposed to the 'wisdom' aspect of 'mother tantra' practices, such as Chakrasamvara or Vajrayogini. As such it is known as the 'King of Tantras', and is the earliest of the Buddhist Tantras, which possibly dates back to the 4th century. The are two main lineages of the Guhyasamaja Tantra, that of Arya Nagarjuna and that of Jnanapada, although the original transmission came from Vajradhara to King Indrabhuti and then to other mahasiddhas, such as Saraha, Nagarjuna, Nagabodhi, Aryadeva and Chandrakirti. The practice of Guhyasamaja is common to both the Sakya and Kagyu traditions, and in the Gelugpa tradition the Tantra was widely expounded by Tsongkhapa in a text known as 'The Five Stages of Guhyasamaja'. As a deity he is identified as an aspect of Akshobhya with a mandala of thirty-two deities, where he is commonly known as Guhyasamaja-Akshobhyavajra.
Guhyasamaja sits in vajra-posture upon a moon and sun disc, and a multicoloured lotus that rests a triangular vajra-rock formation. He is blue-black in colour, with three faces and six arms, and is endowed with the thirty-two major and eighty minor marks of an enlightened being. His central face is blue-black in colour with an expression of combined anger and passion as he bares his sharp teeth. His right face is white with a peaceful expression, and his left face is red with a passionate expression. Each of his faces has three bloodshot eyes, and his three faces represent his triumph over anger (black face), ignorance (white face), and desire (red face). His long black hair is bound-up into a topknot that is sealed with a radiant jewel, with loose strands of his hair hanging about his shoulders. Each of his faces is adorned with a five-jewel crown, and the small image of white Vajrasattva and his consort crowns his head. He wears lower garments of silk that are loosened for sexual intercourse, and a vajra-scarf that curves protectively around his upper body before twisting around his arms and billowing outward at his sides. And he is adorned with the jewel and gold ornaments of earrings, necklaces, bracelets, armlets and anklets.
With his first pair of right and left arms he embraces his consort, with his hands holding the method and wisdom attributes of a vajra and bell. With his other two extended right hands he holds a golden wheel and a lotus, and with his other two left hands he holds a faceted jewel and a sword. These attributes are the symbols of Vajradhara (vajra and bell), Vairocana (wheel), Amitabha (lotus), Ratnasambhava (jewel), and Amoghasiddhi (sword), with Guhyasamaja himself symbolizing Akshobhya.
His consort Sparshavajri, the 'vajra touch' goddess, is similar in form to himself, with a lighter blue complexion, three faces and six arms. Her central face is blue, her right face white, her left face red, and each of her faces has three eyes. She sits upon his lap in lotus-posture, with her two legs wrapped around his waist, and her first right and left arms embracing his neck. With her other two right hands she holds a golden wheel and a lotus, and with her other two left hands she holds a faceted gem and a sword. She is likewise adorned with jewel ornaments and silk garments.
© text by Robert Beer