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Kagyé (bka' brgyad) - The term Kagyé refers to the eight (gyé) sets of teachings or transmissions (ka) entrusted to the eight vidyadharas of India.

Among the eight deities of the Kagyé, there are five wisdom deities who represent the enlightened body (ku), speech (sung), mind (tuk), qualities (yönten) and activity (trinlé) of all the buddhas and three semi-worldly or worldly deities.

The Deities of Kagyé

Yamantaka (body)

The deity representing the enlightened body is known as Mañjushri Body or Yamantaka. Although usually Mañjushri represents enlightened speech, here in the Kagyé he represents enlightened body. Having the nature of Mañjushri this deity appears in wrathful form and is known as Yamantaka. This is the same as the yidam deity known as Vajrabhairava (Tib. Jikché), on which the followers of the Riwo Ganden tradition (i.e. the Gelugpas) meditate.

Hayagriva (speech)

Hayagriva is a wrathful manifestation of Avalokiteshvara. Generally, Avalokiteshvara embodies the compassion of all the buddhas, and so he is connected with the enlightened mind, but in his manifestation as Hayagriva he represents enlightened speech.

Yangdak (mind)

Vajrasattva is the peaceful form. The wrathful manifestation of Vajrasattva is Yangdak Heruka. He is similar to the deity known as Chakrasamvara (Tib. Demchok), who is practised in the Gelug tradition, and all the deities of the Mother Tantras are included in the practice of Yangdak.

Chemchok (qualities)

Generally, Chemchok is the chief of the mandala, but here in the Kagyé, Chemchok is the deity who embodies all the buddhas’ enlightened qualities.

Vajrakilaya (activity)

The deity representating enlightened activity is Vajrakilaya. In peaceful form, he is Vajrasattva, in semi-wrathful form he is Vajra Vidharana (Tib. Dorje Namjom), in wrathful form he is Vajrapani, and in extremely wrathful form he is Vajrakilaya.

These five are wisdom deities.

The Three Worldly Deities

Then there is a deity who is in-between (literally ‘on the border’) the wisdom and the worldly deities and neither male nor female: Mamo Bötong.

Jikten Chötö and Möpa Drakngak are worldly deities. They are both the manifestation of Vajrapani, but they appear in the form of worldly deities.

--From a teaching by Garje Khamtrul Rinpoche, Lerab Ling, 12th August 1992

The Mandala of Kagyé

There are 725 deities in the mandala of Kagyé:

  • Centre - Chemchok (36)
  • East - Yangdak (58)
  • South - Yamantaka (59)
  • West - Hayagriva (58)
  • North - Vajrakilaya (74)
  • South East - Mamo Bötong (70)
  • South West - Lama Rigdzin (22)
  • North West - Drekpa Kundul (32)
  • North East - Topden Nakpo (20)
  • Drekpa Kundul is the chief figure in the mandala of Jikten Chötö
  • Topden Nakpo is the chief figure in the mandala of Möpa Drakngak

Chemchok, the deity embodying enlightened qualities is an emanation of Samantabhadra, and is therefore the chief of the mandala and appears in the centre. Lama Rigdzin therefore takes the place of Chemchok in the south west, making nine main deities in total.

There are 406 main deities and retinues. To these are added five sets of sixty messengers (ponya) representing body, speech, mind, qualities and qualities. This gives 706. With the twelve tenma of Tibet and the seven mothers there are 725 deities.

The Eight Vidyadharas and the Kagyé

According to Dudjom Rinpoche:
Master Deity Casket
Vimalamitra Chemchok gold
Humkara Yangdak silver
Mañjushrimitra Yamantaka iron
Nagarjuna Hayagriva copper
Padmasambhava Vajrakilaya turquoise
Dhanasamskrita Mamo Bötong rhinoceros horn
Rambuguhya Jikten Chötö agate
Shantigarbha Möpa Drakngak Zi stone