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Vajrakila (Tib. Dorje Phurba) or Vajrakilaya, meaning the “Dagger of Indestructible Reality”, is one of the eight wrathful yidam or meditational deities of the Nyingma oral Mahayoga transmissions. He is a wrathful aspect of Vajrasattva, and associated with the 'enlightened activity' of Amoghasiddhi Buddha and the Karma Family; while his consort, Diptachakra, is regarded as a wrathful emanation of Green Tara. Vajrakila's practices are designed to remove both inner and outer obstacles, where the inner obstacles are essentially the afflictive emotions of egoism, and the outer obstacles are the negative forces eliminated through the performance of the four rites of pacification, enrichment, subjugation, and wrath. Vajrakila is also known as Vajrakumara (Tib. Dorje Shonnu), the “Youthful Vajra.”
Vajrakila is extremely wrathful and dark blue in colour, with three faces, four legs, and six arms. He stands leaning to the right in alidha posture upon a golden sun disc and an open lotus. With his two right feet he tramples on the forehead and back of Rudra (Shiva-Mahadeva), who lies face down upon the sun disc. And with his two left feet he tramples on the breasts of Rudra's consort, Rudrani (Uma-Mahadevi), who lies on her back facing upwards. Rudra wears a tiger-skin loincloth, and Rudrani a leopard-skin loincloth, and both hold blood-filled skull-cups in their left hands.
Vajrakila's three faces are white (right), blue (centre), and red (left), indicating his triumph over the three poisons of ignorance, aversion, and attachment. Each face is extremely fierce, with three round red eyes, upward-blazing facial hair, and a gaping mouth that reveals its white teeth, four sharp fangs, and twisting red tongue. Each face is adorned with a five-skull crown, and his upward-streaming hair is tawny-yellow in colour, with a half-vajra and snake adorning his topknot. He is crowned by the small serpent-devouring form of a flying blue garuda, who appears above his matted hair-locks.
His powerful body is adorned with the 'ten glorious attires of the charnel grounds': with cemetery ash, fresh blood, and human fat smeared on the three bulges of his forehead, cheeks, and chin. The flayed skin of an elephant is stretched across his back, he wears a human-skin shawl, a tiger-skin loincloth, and a long garland of fifty freshly severed heads. He is adorned with gold, bone, and serpent ornaments, and together with his mighty outspread vajra-wings and the blazing mass of awareness fire that surrounds him, these complete the ten attires of the charnel grounds.
With his first two hands he embraces his consort as he rolls a ritual dagger (Skt. kila: Tib. phurba) between his open palms. This dagger is said to be as vast as Mount Meru, with its three blades representing the transmutation of the three poisons of ignorance, attachment, and aversion into the three supreme nectars of wisdom, compassion, and power. With his other two right hands he holds a golden five-pointed vajra, and a wrathful nine-pointed golden vajra with open prongs. With his upper left hand he makes the threatening tarjani gesture, as he unleashes a blazing mass of fire from the palm of his hand. And with his lower left hand he holds a trident-topped khatvanga.
His fierce consort Diptachakra, the “Blazing Wheel”, is lighter blue in colour, with one face, two arms and two legs. In the bliss of sexual-union she presses every part of her body against her lord, with her left leg wrapped around his waist, and her outstretched right foot also pressing down upon the form of Rudrani. She is youthful and nubile, and wears a leopard-skin loincloth, a five-skull crown, the five bone ornaments of a dakini, and a long garland of fifty dry white skulls. She has three round red eyes, a gaping mouth, sharp teeth and fangs, and a twisting red tongue. With her left hand she holds aloft a skull-cup full of fresh blood, and with her right arm she embraces Vajrakila's neck whilst holding a blue lotus flower; although in certain other traditions she may hold a khatvanga, a wheel, or a bell in her right hand.
In the foreground landscape is an upturned skull with its scalp attached that contains the wrathful offering of the five torn-out sense organs, consisting of; a heart (touch), a tongue (taste), a nose (smell), ears (sound), and eyes (sight). On either side of this are two skull-cups containing swirling blue nectar (left), and fresh red blood (right).
© text by Robert Beer