Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Tantra in Tibetan Buddhism:Yab-yum and Sexual Union

Tibetan art also sanctifies Yab-yum

Tantra in Tibetan Buddhism: Yab –yum and Sexual Union
Tibetan Buddhism is distinct from other forms of Buddhism. It has Hindu influence. One of the basic themes in Tibetan art is Yab –yum, which represents two deities in a sexual embrace. Most Tibetan art represents Yab-yum through Bodhisattva Vajrapani who is a great follower of the Buddha.
Vajrapani is the holder of the holder of the Vara (thunderbolt scepter) with which he saves all mankind. He is a given a fierce appearance in Tibet art and is supposed to have 3 faces and six arms. This is famous as the Tantric form for sexual union and takes a form known as mahacakra. In this form he not only has sexual uninon with his consort but also subdues the nagas i.e. Snakes and serpents.
This aspect of Buddhist thought and art is heavily borrowed from Hindu Tantra sex rituals. While having sexual union with his consort he holds the vajra in his right hand and points it at the sky. This pose in which his consort sits in his lap in a sexual union symbolizes salvation, protection as well as grace and charity.
In this pose the Bodhisattva wears a crown of 5 leaves and his ankles and arms are adorned with pearls, bracelets, jewels and ornaments. It does remind a dispassionate researcher as somewhat akin to Kaal Bhairav the Hindu God. Snakes go in and out of the mouth of the Buddhist deity.
His beloved in the union depicted is also suitably adorned. She is slim and beautiful with buxom breasts. She is supposed to offer a cup filled with blood to her lover. In her right hand she holds a tantric chopper (Kartika).
In Buddhism like the image of Shiva and his consort Shakti in Hinduism represent power and road to salvation , so also in Buddhism this image of a sexual union represents the union of the masculine (upaya)with the feminine( prajna) and both are supposed to fuse into one on the path of salvation. Tantra is an essential part of Tibetan Buddhism and is often referred to as Yab-yum.