Origin of the Chakrasamvara Tantra
Once, the whole world was under the control of Bhairava. Worship of this fierce deity took place in 24 places that were sacred to him and his consort Kalarati.
During this ritual sacrifice, thousands of animals were slaughtered.
There were even human sacrifices that were believed to bring these powerful worldly deities the divine powers. These were the degenerate practices of aggression and licentiousness. It became so widespread that countless beings thought they were performing virtuous actions. But in fact, they were in fact led away from the path to liberation.
Vajrapani and Buddhas of the five lineages implored Vajradhara to help, as they were unable to tolerate this situation. Vajradhara manifested in the form of Heruka Chakrasamvara. He subdued Bhairava through the power of his enlightened inspiration and blessings. He manifested his own enlightened mandalas and let them there without reabsorbing them.
This is said to be an auspicious sign that when the times become more degenerate and the poisons of anger and lust become even more powerful than they are now while other tantric systems will suffer a decline, that of Chakrasamvara will become even stronger, fueled by the deluded energies his practices so effectively transform.
Chakrasamvara has the ability to enter even the most unpromising worldly situations. And transform them instantly through the power of insightful wisdom. There were many famous practitioners of Chakrasamvara who were highly unorthodox. But they had nevertheless mastered the esoteric science of spiritual transformation completely.
So, to cut through the stultifying conceptions of conventional society, they often manifested their spiritual mastery in the most dramatic way.
Forms of Chakrasamvara:
He is mostly depicted in two major forms in thangka paintings which includes the 12 armed form and the two armed form. In both the forms, he is depicted in bright blue color, embracing the mother Vajravarahi (red color)
and holding Vajra and bell with his main hands.
12 Armed Chakrasamvara:
- 12 arms and 4 faces represents the four Buddha family
- The Central face is blue, left: red, Back: yellow, Right: white
- His hand attributes are as follows:
1st hands: Vajra and Bell and embrace mother Vajravarahi
2nd hands: stretched by the elephant skin
3rd hands: Damaru (right) and Khatanga with Vajra (left)
4th hands: Axe (right) and Lasso (left)
hands: 3-pointed Spear (right) and a skull cup (left)
hands: Diggu (right) and Brahma's head (left)
- He wears the crescent moon in his top knot of the hair.
- He stands in the dance posture having transmuted passion into Karmic . He wears the bone and jewel ornaments.
- He stands on Mahādeva and Umādevi who represent the ego.
- He stands on a solar disc upon a multicolored lotus seat.
2 Armed Chakrasamvara:
In this simpler form of Chakrasamvara, he is portrayed with two hands, as a single figure as well as surrounded by the four Dakini. He is blue black in color, standing graciously on a sun disc. His hands are crossed in the embracing mudra (along with mother Vajravarahi) holding Vajra and Bell.
The mother holds a curved knife and a skull cup in her hands which respectively symbolizes the cutting of ego and blissful wisdom.
He is surrounded by the flaming wisdom fire.
His right leg extends and stands on the back of wrathful Bhairava. His left leg bents slightly on the breast of Bhairava's consort, Kalarati.
Chakrasamvara with the four Dakini:
As depicted in this Chakrasamvara thangka, he is surrounded with four dakini. All of them are one faced and have three eyes. They hold a curved knife upwards in the sky and a skull cup with their hands. And a Khatanga rest on the left side of their shoulder. They wear a set of 5 bone ornaments. Each of these dakini are named as below:
1. Blue Dakini:
She stands in the front and is blue in color.
2. Red Khandaroha:
She is depicted behind Chakrasamvara and is red in color.
3. Green Lama:
She is to the left and is green in color.
4. Yellow Rupini:
She stands to the right, and is yellow in color.
Click here to view this Chakrasamvara and the Four Dakini thangka
The Two Disciples of Chakrasamvara:
Reference are given to a few of these Mahasiddhas. Among the eighty-four Mahasiddhas, the two practitioners of Chakrasamvara are Luipa and Ghantapa.
1. Luipa, the Eater of Fish Guts
He was a prince who, despite his contempt for wealth and power, was compelled to ascend the throne of his father. Just like Shakyamuni before him, he made his escape from the royal life.
He traveled to another land. He exchanged his golden throne for a simple deerskin and his couch of silks and satin for a bed of ashes. Thus, he adopted the manner of a fully renounced yogi and took to begging for his daily food.
Finally, Luipa traveled to Bodh Gaya, the site of Shakyamuni's enlightenment. And then he went ot Pataliputra, the capital of the local kingdom. There, at a brothel, he met a courtesan. She was, in reality, a Dakini, a female embodiment of enlightened wisdom-energy.
She looked into the nature of his mind and said,
"Your four psychic centers and their energies are quite pure, but there is a pea-sized obscuration of royal pride in your heart."
Then she poured some putrid food into his begging bowl and told him to be on his way.
But Luipa threw the inedible slop into the gutter.
She then called after him, "How can you attain nirvana if you are still concerned about the purity of your food?"
The yogi realized that his judgmental mind still perceived things as intrinsically desirable than others. He also understood that this propensity was the chief obstacle to his attainment. With this realization, he went down to the banks of the Ganges and began 12 years of practice. He practiced overcoming his discursive thought patterns, prejudices, and preconceptions. During these times, he lived on the entrails of fish that the local fishermen discarded. Thus, he came to be known as Luipa, Eater of Fish-Guts.
Luipa was initiated into the tantra of Chakrasamvara by Shavaripa, a disciple of the great master Saraha. By the assiduous practice of Chakrasamvara's sadhana, Luipa achieved insight into the innately pure nature of his mind. This is the profound Mahamudra (literally, "great seal") experience. Through this, Luipa attained enlightenment.
2. Ghantapa, the Bell and the Vajra Bearer
One of the greatest practitioners of Luipa's Chakrasamvara lineage was Ghantapa. He had been a monk at the famous Nalanda Monastery and gained a great reputation for his learning.
Once, he met Luipa's disciple Darikapa who initiated him into the Chakrasamvara mandala and its practices. He told Luipa to go into the jungles to meditate. There he was initiated again, this time by a female swineherd.
Because of his ascetic lifestyle and poor diet, Ghantapa appeared emaciated and ragged. A local ruler who was on a hunting expedition caught sight of him. The ruler encouraged him to come to the city where he would receive proper food, clothing, and shelter.
"Just as a great elephant cannot be led out of the jungle on a thread, I, a monk, cannot be tempted from this forest even by the immense wealth of a king.”
Humiliated and angry with the answers of Ghantapa, the king decided to seek revenge. He offered a large reward to any woman who could seduce this arrogant monk and force hìm to break his vow of celibacy. One woman, a low-caste wine seller, boasted that she could do what the king wished.
She found the hut where Ghantapa lived and requested him to keep her as his servant. Although, Ghantapa had no need of such a servant he told the woman she could stay. He realized the strong karmic relationship existed between them in their previous lives.
As several years went by, he decided the time was right to help people and develop a greater interest of Dharma in them. He ordered the woman to go to the king and tell him that she had not only seduced the monk but that their union had produced two children, a son, and a daughter.
The king was delighted that his plan had worked so well. So, he instructed her to bring Ghantapa to the city on a particular day. Then he issued a proclamation full of disparaging comments about Ghantapa. And he called upon his attendants to insult this bogus holy man when he arrived.
When that day arrived, Ghantapa and the woman left the forest. They were accompanied by their children, the boy walking on Ghantapa's right and the girl on his left. Ghantapa himself staggered along as if he were drunk and held a bowl into which the woman poured wine.
The people gathered around shouted insults.
"When our king first invited you to the city, you arrogantly refused him, but now you come drunk with a wine-seller and children! This isn't a very good example for a Buddhist monk, is it?"
When Ghantapa heard this he pretended to become angry and threw his bowl on the ground in rage.
Where it hit, the earth split open and water gushed out in a flood. Then, his son transformed into a vajra, his daughter into a bell, and his consort into Vajrayogini.
He himself transformed into Heruka Chakrasamvara, taking Vajra and Bell in hand. He embraced Vajrayogini, whereupon they both flew up into the sky!
The astonished crowd, along with the king, prayed to the divine couple to return and save them. The water was now threatening to engulf the whole city. But Ghantapa refused. He was absorbed in the concentration of immutable wrath.
But he told them that they should pray to Avalokiteshvara, who is the embodiment of great compassion. When they did so, the benevolent bodhisattva immediately appeared. He then stopped the flood by pressing his foot on the fissure through which the water had come forth.
Before departing to the pure Dakini-land, Ghantapa declared:
Although medicine and poison create contrary effects,
In their ultimate essence they are one;
Likewise negative qualities and aids on the path,
One in essence, should not be differentiated.
The realized sage rejects nothing whatsoever,
While the unrealized spiritual child,
Five times poisoned, is lost in samsara.
As a result, the king and his subjects became extremely devoted to dharma. They began practicing and attained high realizations.
Ghantapa-also is known as Vajraghanta, (Bearer of the Vajra and Bell). He is regarded in Tibet as the founder of the five-deity lineage of the Chakrasamvara teachings. The central deity is visualized in the two-armed form.
Finally, the esoteric insights he transmitted reached Naropa and other Mahasiddhas. They formulated these insights into practices such as the Six Yogas of Naropa. And they passed them on to their Tibetan and Nepalese disciples.
Thus, the established lineages have preserved these profound practices. The highest yoga tantra is still alive and flourishing to this day. And they are now transmitted personally from guru to disciple.