Fifty-eight wrathful deities

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The fifty-eight wrathful deities belong to the mandala of the Hundred Peaceful and Wrathful Deities, and feature in several practices and cycles of teachings, most notably the Tibetan Book of the Dead and the Guhyagarbha Tantra. They are:

1-10) The Five Wrathful Herukas and their Five Consorts

The five wrathful herukas and their five consorts—the wrathful aspect of the buddhas of the five families and of the five female buddhas—are:

  1. Buddhaheruka and his consort Buddhakrodhishvari;
  2. Vajraheruka and his consort Vajrarodhishvari;
  3. Ratnaheruka and his consort Ratnarodhishvari;
  4. Padmaheruka and his consort Padmakrodhishvari and
  5. Karmaheruka and his consort Karmakrodhishvari.


11-18) The Eight Wrathful Females

The eight wrathful females or eight gaurima (Skt. gaurī; Tib. gaurima; Wyl. gau ri ma brgyad) are:

  1. Gauri (Skt. Gaurī; Wyl. ko'u ri)
  2. Pukkasi (Skt. Pukkasī; Wyl. pus ka si)
  3. Chaurimatrika (Skt. Caurī; Wyl. tso'u ri)
  4. Ghasmari (Skt. Ghasmarī; Wyl. kas ma ri)
  5. Pramoha (Skt. Pramohā; Wyl. pra mo)
  6. Chandali (Skt. Caṇḍālī; Wyl. tsan dha li)
  7. Vetali (Skt. Vetālī; Wyl. be'e ta li)
  8. Shmashani (Skt. Śmaśānī; Wyl. sme sha ni)

19-26) The Eight Tramen

The eight tramen (Wyl. phra men brgyad; Skt. piśacī), or eight singhama (Wyl. sim ha brgyad) are animal-headed deities (tramen literally means 'hybrid'). They are:

  1. Simhamukha (Skt. Siṃhamukhā)
  2. Vyaghrimukha (Skt. Vyāghramukhā)
  3. Srigalamukha (Skt. Śṛgālamukhā)
  4. Shvanamukha (Skt. Śvanmukhā)
  5. Gridhamukha (Skt. Gṛdhramukhā)
  6. Kangkamukha (Skt. Kaṅkamukhā; Wyl. kang ka mu kha), dark red in colour with a kite's/heron's (?) (Skt. kaṅka) head
  7. Kakamukha (Skt. Kākamukhā)
  8. Ulumukha (Skt. Ulūkamukhā)

27-30) The Four Female Gatekeepers

The four female gatekeepers (Wyl. sgo ma bzhi) are:

  1. Ankusha (Skt. Aṅkuśā; Wyl. lcags kyu ma or rta gdong ma) also called 'Horse Face' or 'Iron Hook', guarding the east gate and in union with Vijaya (or Achala?)
  2. Pasha (Skt. Pāśā; Wyl. zhags pa ma or phag gdong ma) also called 'Sow Face' or 'the Noose', guarding the south gate and in union with Yamantaka
  3. Shrinkhala (Skt. Śriṅkhalā; Wyl. lcags sgrog ma or seng gdong ma) also called 'Lion Face' or 'Iron Chain', guarding the west gate and in union with Hayagriva
  4. Ghanta (Skt. Ghaṇtā; Wyl. dril bu ma or spyang gdong ma) also called 'Wolf Face' or 'the Bell', guarding the north gate and in union with Amritakundali.

31-58) The Twenty-eight Ishvaris

The twenty-eight ishvaris (Skt. īśvarī; Tib. wangchukma nyer gyé; Wyl. dbang phyug ma nyer brgyad)

The twenty-eight ishvaris are composed of four groups of six yoginis corresponding to the four activities, and of the four female outer-gate keepers:


1. The six yoginis corresponding to the activity of pacifying:
White ishvaris w.jpg

  • Rakshasi (white)
  • Brahmi
  • Mahadevi
  • Lobha
  • Kumari
  • Indrani


2. The six yoginis corresponding to the activity of increasing:
Yellow ishvaris w.jpg

  • Vajra
  • Shanti
  • Amrita
  • Chandra
  • Danda
  • Rakshasi (dark yellow)


3. The six yoginis corresponding to the activity of magnetizing:
Red ishvaris w.jpg

  • Bhakshini
  • Rati
  • Mahabala
  • Rakshasi (pale red)
  • Kama
  • Vasuraksha


4. The six yoginis corresponding to the activity of subjugating:
Green ishvaris w.jpg

  • Vayudevi
  • Nari
  • Varahi
  • Nanda
  • Mahahastini
  • Varunadevi


5. The last group is composed of the four female outer-gate keepers.
4 female gatekeepers.jpg

59-60) Chemchok Heruka and his Consort

The fifty-eight wrathful deities become sixty when you add Chemchok Heruka (Wyl. che mchog heruka) and his consort Krodhishvari, who are the wrathful aspects of Samantabhadra and Samantabhadri.

Further Reading

  • Thinley Norbu, The Small Golden Key (Shambhala Publications, 1999), pages 81-88.