Dharma Protectors of Tibetan Buddhism Dharma Protectors of Tibetan Buddhism
A common question that is often asked by those who are not familiar with Tibetan Buddhism relates to the practice of Dharmapalas or Dharma... Dharma Protectors of Tibetan Buddhism

A common question that is often asked by those who are not familiar with Tibetan Buddhism relates to the practice of Dharmapalas or Dharma Protectors. These are actually beings who support our practice through a number of methods. Primarily they are propitiated in order to remove obstacles and difficulties that block spiritual progress. As human beings, we encounter myriad problems on a daily basis and most of the time these problems consume a lot of our time and effort, limiting the amount of time we can spend on spiritual development. We cannot solve these problems quickly and effectively without some form of help. Dharma Protectors assist us by removing such obstacles.

Linked to this is the fact that we spend most of our time during daily life working to sustain ourselves and our families. This again limits the time we can spend on spiritual development. It is in this regard that Dharma Protectors also help to create conducive conditions for practitioners to afford more time on our spiritual development. But these conducive conditions refer to much more than just resources, and include the presence of a Dharma centre, a qualified guru to teach us the path, and even meeting with people who support us in practice.

On a higher level Dharma Protectors can help to remove, or create the circumstance in which we ourselves become empowered to remove inner obstacles to our spiritual path. These can include doubt, depression, laziness, anger, jealousy, thoughts of giving up and other emotional issues. Therefore in essence Dharma Protectors are beings who act very compassionately like a divine friend, somewhat akin to a guardian angel, safeguarding both our physical and spiritual well-being.

Dharma Protectors often arise in wrathful forms with wrathful sounding liturgies. This wrath is testament to their quality of extreme compassion which motivates them to act urgently to bless and protect, whether as emanations of enlightened beings (such as Dorje Shugden in the Gelug or Sakya traditions, or Achi Chokyi Drolma in the Drikung Kagyu tradition) or worldly oath-bound beings (such as Shangmo Dorje Putri in the Sakya tradition). The analogy most often used is that of a mother angry at her child for doing something that can cause harm. This wrathful nature also includes an element of speed in helping us. This can be observed within our own worldly behaviour. For example when we are angry, we naturally move and react much quicker than usual. Therefore wrathful demeanour represents the element of speed in which the particular protector can come to our aid.

Dharma Protector practice is prevalent throughout all traditions of Tibetan Buddhism and is in fact integral within Tantra. I wanted to show this through sharing a brief overview of 10 Dharma Protectors from different traditions. Through this I hope to share with everyone, the varied forms Dharma Protectors can take. I hope you enjoy reading!


The oath-bound demi-god Za Rahula

Alternate names: Za Rahula (Sanskrit), Kyab Jug Chenpo (Tibetan).
Status: Oath-bound demi-god.
Tradition: Nyingma.
Known to protect: Dzogchen Teachings & Terma Teachings.


Rahula is one in the triune of Dharma Protectors within the Nyingma tradition, known as ‘Ma Za Dam Sum’ or the ‘Three Terma Protectors’, together with Ekajati and Dorje Legpa. Out of the three protectors, Rahula is considered the most wrathful, therefore his full propitiation is restricted to only those who have received the highest teachings.

Rahula is one of the nine planets within ancient Indian belief systems. He is a king of the asuras (demi-gods), and swallows the other heavenly bodies causing eclipses. He was oath-bound by Guru Rinpoche to serve and protect the Dharma, especially the ‘terma’ teachings, which were hidden by Guru Rinpoche for certain practitioners to find and reveal in the future.

Za Rahula

Though a high level worldly protector, Rahula is very wrathful and known to cause seizures and other ailments to those who misuse the Dharma or who are in danger of breaking their vows. It is said that he holds his noose around the neck of practitioners as a reminder to keep one’s vows. For those who are very sincere in their practice, it is said you can actually feel his noose around your neck at all times. Many great Nyingma lamas have relied on Rahula as a personal protector, due to his quick assistance and his wrathful form, for work dealing with healing the most serious diseases and the preparation of medicines. Through his practice one can cure naga-caused ailments and interferences as well as those caused by the spirits inhabiting the earth. He is also known as a deity capable of changing weather conditions, in order to relieve drought, stop rain, and other natural disasters.

Physical Attributes

Za Rahula. Note that Guru Rinpoche is depicted at the top, reminding Rahula of his oath to protect the Dharma and its practitioners.

Rahula is portrayed with a serpentine lower body that is coiled and upper body with nine heads and four arms. The nine heads actually represent the nine heavenly bodies that he has eclipsed by eating them and which now appear as his heads. His actual face appears on his stomach, and is the largest and most wrathful. The crow’s head that appears at the very top of his form represents the Three Jewels and his oath to support practitioners.

His bow and arrow represent his ability to destroy those who misuse the Dharma or are enemies of the Buddhist teachings and harm practitioners. The sceptre in his upper right hand represents his ability to defeat nagas. And in his upper left hand he holds a naga that he uses as a noose. He has 1,000 eyes which appear all over his form, symbolising his ability to see everywhere at all times within samsara.

Za Rahula

He sits on top of a triangular throne in a lake of blood symbolising his release of worldly attachments, and is surrounded by wrathful fire symbolising his ability to burn away miseries caused by samsara. He is usually grey in colour, but his colour and slight variations of his form occur depending on the particular terma teaching he is protecting. In representations that have the correct iconography, either Guru Rinpoche or Vajrapani are portrayed above Rahula’s head, to remind practitioners that Rahula is oath-bound and to remind Rahula of the same.

Since Rahula is an oath-bound protector who can be very wrathful, only those who have permission from a qualified lama should engage in his full propitiation.


“Arisen out of the pure Land of Fire and Infinite Ferocity,
The Lord who is created out of violent activity,
Smokey grey in colour, nine heads, four arms, one thousand flaming eyes,
Homage to the Dharma protector Kyab Jug Chenpo.”
– A Nyingma prayer

“From the palace of the triangle of swirling blood and fat,
Terma guardians, Ekajati, Rahula and Damchen, to you I pray:
Grant your blessings so that outer and inner obstacles may be pacified!”
– From the Vajrakilaya Prayer: A Rain of Accomplishments, as revealed by Gyarong Khandro and recorded by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

Back to Tabs


Ekajati – an emanation of Tara

Alternate names: Ral Chig Ma (Tibetan), Tse Chig Ma (Tibetan).
Status: Emanation of Tara.
Tradition: Nyingma.
Known to protect: Dzogchen Teachings & Terma Teachings.


Ekajati is part of the ‘Ma Za Dam Sum’ or the ‘Three Terma Protectors’ that Rahula is in as we have seen. She is known as the main protector of the Dzogchen teachings and is the guardian of all ‘terma’, or revealed teachings. Her name means ‘one braid of hair.’ She is considered to be an emanation of Tara in the form of a Dharma Protector.

She is known as the protector of all secret mantras, therefore her own mantra is secret and cannot be recited without the appropriate empowerment and permission from a qualified guru. As she is the keeper of these mantras, she reminds practitioners of their preciousness and the tantric commitments not to reveal them to those who are not ready to receive them.

A blue form of Ekajati

Within the Nyingma tradition she is given great importance. There is even a portion of the Vima Nyingtik, or ‘seminal heart of Vimalamitra’ teachings dedicated to the prayers, rituals and rites to propitiate her. This is known as the Ngagsung Tromay Tantra, also known as the Tantra of Troma Ekajati. Within the Sarma traditions (Kagyu, Sakya and Gelug) she is less known and practised, but can be found in various Mahakala practices and Tara practices. She has presence in certain Green Tara practices, where she is an attending deity within the mandala. In some traditions she is also known as the mother of Palden Lhamo.

Of special note, within the Gelugpa tradition as held by His Eminence 25th Tsem Rinpoche, she is included as one of the three deities in the Chenresig Ngesung Kundrol practice, together with Chenresig and Green Tara. Here she is not depicted in the same form as in the Nyingma tradition but in a similar form to Green Tara.

Physical Attributes

A form of Ekajati with the protectors Za Rahula and Dorje Legpa

Ekajati is portrayed as black or dark blue in colour. She has one braid of hair which flows upwards like a flame (after which she derives her name). She has one eye, one long and sharp tooth, which bites down over her lower lip and one breast.

In her right hand which is in a wrathful mudra, she holds a stick aloft, while pointing upwards. This stick has an impaled human corpse at the top. In her left hand she holds a human heart that is dark red. In some representations she holds this out to the side, and in other representations, she is depicted holding it to either her heart or near her mouth, as if she is eating it. This depends on which terma she is protecting. Other representations have the heart replaced with a noose.

She wears a crown made of five skulls, with a scarf of smoke around her neck and adorned with earrings, necklace, bracelets, armlets and anklets. She wears a flayed tiger skin skirt. In some representations she uses a flayed human skin as a cloak as well.

She is depicted in a dancing posture, atop a prostrate human figure, with a triangular throne. The human figure represents obstructors, obstacles and our negative karma. She is completely surrounded by wisdom fire and smoke that emanates from her body.

Since Ekajati’s function is to preserve the secret practices, her practice is not engaged in by those who do not have an appropriate empowerment or permission from a qualified guru.


“Arisen out of the suffocating black wind at the world’s end,
Mistress of every action and understanding,
Empress of the Mamo, Queen of Existence,
Homage to the Protectress of the Tantra, Ralchigma!”
– A Nyingma prayer

“From the palace of the triangle of swirling blood and fat,
Terma guardians, Ekajati, Rahula and Damchen, to you I pray:
Grant your blessings so that outer and inner obstacles may be pacified!”
– From the Vajrakilaya Prayer: A Rain of Accomplishments, as revealed by Gyarong Khandro and recorded by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

Back to Tabs

Dorje Legpa

The oath-bound Dorje Legpa

Alternate names: Damchen Dorje Legpa (Tibetan), Vajrasadhu (Sanskrit).
Status: Oath-bound theurang (demon).
Tradition: Nyingma.
Known to protect: Dzogchen Teachings & Terma Teachings.


Dorje Legpa is the third in the ‘Ma Za Dam Sum’ or the ‘Three Terma Protectors’ trinity, together with Ekajati and Rahula. His name means ‘Excellent Vajra’ and his practice can be found in both the Nyingma and Kagyu traditions, but is mainly practised in the former.

In oral legend in some parts of Tibet, he is considered to have been a monk from Nalanda Monastery in India. However he committed many negative actions, which led to his rebirth as a theurang spirit that came to roam Tibet. Before becoming a Dharma Protector, Dorje Legpa was propitiated as a god of war and gambling, due to his immense power despite belonging to the theurang class of spirits. Guru Rinpoche is known to have bound him by oath to become a protector of the Buddhist teachings, especially the various terma or ‘revealed’ teachings.

Physical Attributes

A wrathful form of Dorje Legpa. Note he is not wearing a domed hat but his hair is loose and flowing upwards.

Dorje Legpa is portrayed as red in colour, riding a snow lion. He brandishes a vajra made from meteoric iron in his right hand and holds a heart in his left hand. In his variant forms he is portrayed riding a goat with crossed horns instead, a typical animal mount for a theurang spirit. This type of goat is native to Tibet and is even known as the ‘oath-bound goat.’ Theurang spirits are known to delight in mischief and chaos, and can inflict illness upon people, especially children. He also wears a domed Tibetan traveling hat.

Dorje Legpa is most commonly depicted at the bottom of deity thangkas, together with Rahula and Ekajati. In singular depictions, either Guru Rinpoche or Vajrapani are portrayed above him, to remind practitioners he is a worldly and oath-bound protector and as a reminder to Dorje Legpa to remember his oaths to protector the Dharma and its practitioners.

Dorje Legpa

Dorje Legpa has a vast retinue, including 360 of his own brothers. His main emanation, who serves as his chief attendant, is known as ‘Damchen Garba Nagpo’ or the ‘Oath-bound Blacksmith’. In this form he holds a vajra hammer instead of a vajra. He is given an equally important protective position as Dorje Legpa, and is considered the chief Dharma Protector of blacksmiths.

He is often mistaken as being Dorje Shugden due to various similarities in their iconography, such as riding a snow lion, being red in colour and wearing a domed hat.

As an oath-bound spirit, one should only engage in Dorje Legpa’s full propitiation prayers when authorised to do so by a qualified lama.


“Resident in the Valley of Shang in the country of Uyuk, in the burning Iron Palace,
He was born of malignant spirits and skilled in magical transformation,
Servant of the Bhagawan Vajrapani,
Homage to Dorje Legpa, Harbinger of Liberation.”
– A Nyingma Prayer

“From the palace of the triangle of swirling blood and fat,
Terma guardians, Ekajati, Rahula and Damchen, to you I pray:
Grant your blessings so that outer and inner obstacles may be pacified!”
– From the Vajrakilaya Prayer: A Rain of Accomplishments, as revealed by Gyarong Khandro and recorded by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

Back to Tabs

Mahakala Bernagchen

Mahakala Bernagchen – an emanation of Avalokiteshvara

Alternate names: Legden (Tibetan), Black Cloak Mahakala.
Status: Emanation of Avalokiteshvara (Tibetan: Chenresig)
Tradition: Karma Kagyu & Nyingma.
Known to protect: Personal protector of the Karmapa & protector of the Karma Kagyu.


This form of Mahakala arose from a Nyingma ‘terma’ tradition but was introduced into the Karma Kagyu tradition by the 2nd Karmapa, Karma Pakshi (1206-1283). It was in the Karma Kagyu tradition that his practice was solidified and became widespread.

Mahakala Bernagchen

It was from the time of Karma Pakshi that Mahakala Bernagchen began a very special relationship with the Karmapas, acting as their personal protector. In fact the Karmapas are renowned for performing a Mahakala dance during the preparations for the New Year Festival. As both Mahakala Bernagchen and the line of Karmapas are considered inseparable, both are considered emanations of Avalokiteshvara.

It is said that Avalokiteshvara manifested in this wrathful form to be of more benefit to sentient beings in this degenerate age, thereby upholding his vow to not enter into the bliss of complete enlightenment until all sentient beings are enlightened. At this point all the Buddhas proclaimed that this form would have the empowerment of all the wisdom dakinis, the strength of Yama (God of Death) and have the spirits, yakshas, devils and demons as his messengers. It is also noted that he represents all the wrathful empowerments of the Body, Speech, Mind, Qualities, and Activities of all the Buddhas throughout the past, present and future.

Physical Attributes

Mahakala Bernagchen

Mahakala Bernagchen is portrayed as squat in stature. His limbs are short but very powerful. He is black in colour with a fierce wrathful expression. His three eyes are wide and bulging through the fierce manifestation of his compassion. His mouth is open in a wrathful smile with bared fangs. His orange-yellow beard and hair flow upwards. The nails of both his hands and feet are long and sharp.

In his upraised right hand he brandishes a Kartika (Tibetan: drigug) which is a curved flaying knife that has a vajra handle, symbolising the cutting away of the Three Poisons. In his left hand, he holds to his heart a skull-cup filled with blood. He wears a crown with five dried skulls representing the Five Dhyani Buddhas, earrings and a garland of freshly severed heads.

His defining feature is the heavy black cloak he wears over a green Tibetan chuba. He is surrounded by wrathful wisdom fire and smoke. He steps on a human corpse, symbolic of the death of all karma, delusions and therefore all obstacles, on the path towards complete enlightenment.


OM! The impure world and beings are purified into emptiness.
From emptiness appears wisdom’s wind,
Fire, and hearth-stone skulls.
Upon them is a kapala containing the five meats and five amritas.
The air and fire cause the samaya-amrita to boil;
It shines with intensely bright light
That invites the jnana-amrita.
The amritas become inseparable, are blessed by OM AH HUNG,
And have an unequalled flavour and aroma.
The root and lineage gurus, the yidam deities,
The dakas, dakinis, and dharma protectors are invited.
They gather as thick clouds in space before me.
I offer to the root guru, who is the union of all the yidams;
I offer to the root guru, who is the union of the three jewels;
I offer to the root guru, who is the union of all the dharma protectors;
I offer, in particular, to the dharma protectors who wear a cloak (Mahakala)
And to Palden Lhamo Rangjung Gyalmo (Mahakali).
To this Mahakala and Mahakali, and to their entourage,
King Vaisravana, who is king of the northen direction and Ngadak,
Dorje Legpa, Singon, and Shing-Kyong,
Karnak Dorje Gyalpo, and all the others
Who protect the teachings of the Karmapas,
Receive this offering of the supreme torma
Of the immaculate five meats and amritas,
The living five amritas
With eight principal ingredients, and the liquid offering of rakta.
I make the Samantabhadra offering of the five sensory pleasures,
The secret offerings and the “thatness” offering,
With a true understanding of the actual nature of your perfection of qualities and your faultlessness,
I praise you with every single praise that can be made by body, speech and mind.
I pray to you for the fulfilment of my wishes.
Bestow upon me and all others as I sit upon this seat,
The supreme and the common siddhis.
I pray in particular for the increase of our life spans, health, prosperity, and wealth.
I pray that all I wish for in my mind will be instantly accomplished,
So that I will quickly accomplish every teaching of the Karmapas.
I pray that you grant me, in this very moment,
The powers that will enable me
To destroy into dust
All those who harm the teachings of the Karmapas.
I dedicate the positive power of my offering, praise, and faith
To all beings, who have all been my mother,
So that they will obtain the state of complete Buddhahood.


Composed by Jetsun Mikyo Dorje, His Holiness the 8th Karmapa (1507-1554), to fulfil a request made by Rinchen Palmo.

Back to Tabs

Palden Lhamo

Palden Lhamo – an emanation of Saraswati

Alternate names: Gyelmo Magzorma (Tibetan), Ochen Barma (Tibetan), Sri Devi (Sanskrit), Remati (Sanskrit), Kalidevi (Sanskrit).
Status: Emanation of Saraswati.
Tradition: Gelug.
Known to protect: Personal Protector of the Dalai Lamas.


Palden Lhamo, although found in all four traditions of Tibetan Buddhism in one form or another, is most prominent in the Gelugpa tradition due to her role as the personal protector of the line of Dalai Lamas. It was in the visions of the 1st Dalai Lama, His Holiness Gendun Drup, that she vowed to protect his reincarnation lineage. Since that time she has been the personal protector of all 14 Dalai Lamas. She is propitiated in many major monasteries and is known to be very quick and effective. She is considered to be an emanation of Saraswati, the Buddha of music, literature, poetry and speech, known as Yangchenma in Tibetan. Saraswati is the consort of Manjushri, the Buddha of Wisdom.

She is the protector of the sacred Lhamo Latso Lake in Lhokha Province, Tibet. Since the time of the 2nd Dalai Lama, high lamas have travelled to the lake to ask for guidance in finding the next incarnation of the Dalai Lama in visions while meditating there. As such the lake has become a very famous pilgrimage spot and to those who practise purely she will grant visions in the lake, foretelling the future.

Palden Lhamo thangka from Rashi Gempil Ling, New Jersey

Palden Lhamo was married to King Shinje, the ruler of an ancient island fortress called Lanka. When she married him she vowed that she would make him favourable towards the practice of Buddhism or put an end to his whole dynasty. Over the years the king did not change his ways and continued torturing his subjects, even killing many of them and the subjects themselves carried on their cannibalistic practices. Matters became worse as he began raising their son to become the ultimate destroyer of the Buddhist tradition.

After exhausting all avenues, she gave him an ultimatum – either give up his evil ways or she would kill their son. He didn’t listen, so one day when the king was away, she killed her son and drank his blood, using his skull as a cup. To escape the king, she rode away on a horse, using her son’s flayed skin as a saddle. The king rode after her to no avail, shooting a poisonous arrow at her, however this hit the horse instead. She removed the arrow from the horse and proclaimed “May the wound of my mount become an eye large enough to watch over the twenty-four regions, and may I myself be the one to extirpate the lineage of the malignant kings of Lanka.” This is why Palden Lhamo’s mount has a third eye in its left rump.

You can sponsor a Palden Lhamo Puja here.

Physical Attributes

Palden Lhamo’s form is similar to that of a female ogress. Her face is outlined by wild orange-brown hair, with nine peacock feathers floating above her head. She exposes her teeth and fangs, which are gnawing on a human corpse and has an intimidating stare with three blood-shot and bulging eyes. Her three bulging eyes represent her ability to see into the past, present and future without obstructions and her dark blue colour represents her attainment of great bliss and realisation of emptiness. Her body is smeared with ashes, fat and blood and her entire form is surrounded by flames, representing her presence in the charnel grounds.

A special Palden Lhamo statue in Lhasa, Tibet

In her right hand she holds a skull-cup full of blood, symbolic of the destruction of all obstacles. In her left hand she holds a sandalwood club topped with a vajra, a weapon used to watch over the oath-bound, ensuring their dedication and integrity in upholding the Dharma. She carries with her a bag of diseases that she collects from those who invoke her, symbolic of her ability to help cure health-related illnesses, and on the other hand release them to plague those who commit evil actions. Her legs are in a semi-relaxed posture, and a chain connects one ankle to the other. She sits on a horse or mule, who is untrainable and whose fearful shrieks sound like thunder.

She has a sun disc at her navel and a crescent moon above her head. She wears a billowing black scarf and flayed human skin as a shawl. Her upper garments are made from black fabric, whereas her skirt is made from tiger skin, held together by a belt made of intertwined snakes. She wears a crown adorned by five skulls, various bone ornaments such as bracelets and anklets, and a garland of freshly decapitated heads.

The reins of her horse are made of poisonous snakes, which wrap around the human skin saddle. Snakes dangling from the horse hold a pouch that contains a pair of dice used to determine karmic fate, one black and the other white, and a ball of string made up of rolled up weapons. This represents her ability to grant divinatory powers using dice to those who have received her empowerment. She also carries a red tablet used to cast spells tucked into her belt.


Praise To The Protectoress Palden Lhamo
The Goddess Saraswati in Wrathful Form

Palden Lhamo, hard to measure, who
Performs the magic of Method to the ends of space
O Bodhisattva’s emanation, to you
I prostrate in devotion with body, speech and mind.

Although you have no lack of offerings
To gain the glorious, holy realizations
I rain from the sky all objects of desire
May this mass of offerings fill your senses.

Palden, you are the witness of sins and virtues.
If I confess my whole collection of faults
Of body, speech and mind, with regret, before you,
By your power of Compassion, cleanse my obscurations!

In your utterly noble qualities
Which benefit beings and with perfect help to me
Delight me, with a joy without jealousy
I rejoice, and offer it to your mindstream.

Requesting Teachings
Your Supreme Body, with perfect qualities
Is black, noble, female, in terrifying garb
For the good of beings in all three times and ten directions
By means of your magical net, please teach the Doctrine!

Requesting Her To Remain
You whose supreme body has such perfection
For the good of beings, and to protect the Doctrine
As long as space has not come to an end
Please stay forever, not passing beyond sorrow!

Thus I have prostrated, offered, and confessed
Rejoiced, exhorted and requested you
When by these merits the lower realms are emptied
I dedicate them all to Enlightenment.

Requesting the Four Activities
1. JHO! The four various actions are mind itself, they do not exist apart from mind and mind does not exist. Ultimately, there are no distinctions and neither do colour and form exist. They are miraculously shown as mere illusions by the Glorious Goddess of Peace, in accordance with our disposition. Principal Lady amidst an assembly of pacifiers, distinguished by a very brilliant white body, you have pacified, will pacify and are in a pacifying mood. I prostrate to the Mother who always pacifies. Please pacify my illnesses, evil spirits and interferences.

2. JHO! The four various actions are mind itself, they do not exist apart from mind and mind does not exist. Ultimately, there are no distinctions and neither do colour and form exist. They are miraculously shown as mere illusions by the Glorious Goddess of Development, in accordance with our disposition. Principal Lady amidst an assembly of developers, distinguished by a very magnificent Yellow Body, you have developed, will develop and are in a developing mood. I prostrate to the Mother who always develops. Please increase my life span and develop my merits!

3. JHO! The four various actions are mind itself, they do not exist apart from mind and mind does not exist. Ultimately, there are no distinctions and neither do colour and form exist. They are miraculously shown as mere illusions by the Glorious Goddess of Conquest, in accordance with our disposition. Principal Lady amidst an assembly of conquerors, distinguished by a very sensual red body, you have conquered, will conquer and are in a conquering mood. I prostrate to the Mother who always conquers. Please conquer all beings of the three worlds.

4. JHO! The four various actions are mind itself, they do not exist apart from mind and mind does not exist. Ultimately, there are no distinctions and neither do colour and form exist. They are miraculously shown as mere illusions by the Glorious Goddess of Wrath, in accordance with our disposition. Principal Lady amidst an assembly of terrifyers, distinguished by a very fierce black mood, I prostrate to the Mother who always terrifies. Please, with your wrath, eliminate my sicknesses, evil spirits, enemies and misfortunes.

5. JHO! Although your nature, appearing with such varied characteristics, has no concrete existence, you still benefit migrators with your four actions. By thoroughly praising you with full attention, may I also effortlessly achieve the state of the four actions and, like you, strive to benefit migrating beings.

Mantra of the Protectoress Palden Lhamo:

Back to Tabs


Citipati – an emanation of Heruka Chakrasamvara and Vajrayogini

Alternate names: Kinkara (Tibetan), Shri Shmashana Adhipati (Sanskrit)
Status: Emanation of Heruka Chakrasamvara and Vajrayogini.
Tradition: Sakya & Gelug.
Known to protect: Special Protectors of the Heruka Chakrasamvara and Vajrayogini tantras.


Citipati’s practice arises from the Heruka Chakrasamvara Tantras. They are a pair of skeletons, the male is considered the emanation of Heruka, whereas the female is considered an emanation of Vajrayogini. Apart from being a protector from the Heruka tantras, they are considered the special protectors of the Vajrayogini tantra stemming from the Mahasiddha Naropa. They are commonly referred to as the ‘Lord and Lady of the Cemetary.’

Citipati. Note in this depiction the Mother holds a sheaf of grain and a treasure vase.

In their role from the Heruka tantras they are propitiated primarily for wealth and conducive conditions for Dharma practice, and also for protection from thieves. As the special protector of the Vajrayogini tantra their role is two-fold. They primarily protect Vajrayogini practitioners from obstacles arising from their karma and to create conducive conditions for the practice of Vajrayogini, in order for practitioners to gain high realisations and ultimate enlightenment. The other role is to protect the teachings from being lost or abused.

Though Citipati can be found throughout most traditions, their practice is prominent in the Sakya and Gelug traditions, as these place emphasis on Naropa’s lineage of Vajrayogini practice. Citipati is also important in various Chöd lineages through all traditions.

Physical Attributes


Citipati are white in colour and have the form of a male and female skeleton. They have big bulging eyes with open mouths and curled tongues. In their right hands they hold up over their heads clubs made of human bones, and in their left hands they hold skull-cups filled with blood.

Their crowns are adorned with five dry skulls, and they both wear lower garments made of silk that move as they dance amidst roaring wisdom fire. In some depictions the father is seen as embracing the waist of the mother. They are depicted in a dancing posture, with one leg standing on a cowrie shell.

In variant depictions the father is seen wearing a lower garment of tiger skin rather than silk; the mother holds a stalk of grain instead of a bone club, and a treasure vase instead of a skull-cup. This is symbolic of Citipati’s ability to provide practitioners with both spiritual attainments (as symbolised by the father) and conducive conditions for the practice of the Dharma (as symbolised by the mother) such as ample food and wealth.

Since Citipati’s practice is closely related to Highest Yoga Tantra, as emanations of Heruka and Vajrayogini, their practice is restricted to those who have received the appropriate permissions from a qualified guru.

Back to Tabs

Six-Armed Mahakala

Six-Armed Mahakala in the form commonly practised in the Shangpa Kagyu tradition

Alternate names: Nyingshuk (Tibetan), Gonpo Chagdrugpa (Tibetan), Shadbhuja Mahakala (Sanskrit), Swift-Acting Six-Armed Mahakala.
Status: Emanation of Avalokiteshvara (Chenresig).
Tradition: Shangpa Kagyu & Gelug.
Known to protect: Special Protector of the Shangpa Kagyu tradition, one of the three principal protectors of the Gelug tradition & protector of the Great Scope of Lam Rim.


The practice of Six-armed Mahakala was brought to Tibet by Khedrup Khyungpo Naljor, who also founded the Shangpa Kagyu tradition. As such, he is considered a special protector of the lineage and its practitioners. This form of Mahakala has become popular not only in the Shangpa Kagyu, but other Kagyu lineages, as well as the Sakya, Jonang and Gelug traditions. He is considered to be an emanation of Avalokiteshvara.

Six-Armed Mahakala as he is practised in the Gelugpa tradition. Note he stands in the warrior pose compared to the Shangpa Kagyu form in which he stands straight.

His practice was originally taught by Hayagriva, who himself is a wrathful emanation of Avalokiteshvara in the form of a tantric yidam (meditational deity). The form of this Mahakala differs according to the various traditions, including body colour, implements, addition of a consort and retinue figures. The most popular of these variations is Six-Armed White Mahakala (Tibetan: Gonpo Karpo Chagdrugpa, Sanskrit: Shadbhuja Sita Mahakala), who is popular among all traditions as a wealth deity.

Jagchen Jampa Pal (1310-1391 CE) a lineage holder of the Shangpa Kagyu passed this practice on to his student Lama Tsongkhapa (1357-1419 CE), who founded the Gelugpa tradition. In this tradition Six-Armed Mahakala came to prominence as the special protector of the Great Scope of the Lam Rim (Graduated Stages on the Path to Enlightenment) teachings. Within the Gelugpa tradition he is portrayed in his most wrathful form, with legs apart in the ancient Indian warrior pose. This contrasts with his form in other traditions, in which he stands up straight with both legs together.

Physical Attributes

Six-Armed Mahakala

Six-Armed Mahakala is midnight blue in colour, appearing in a very wrathful manner. His head is adorned with a crown that has five skulls, symbolic of the Five Dhyani Buddhas and therefore the transformation of the five negative afflictions into the five positive virtues. He has three eyes, symbolic of his abilities to see the past, present and future. His mouth gapes open, revealing his teeth and razor sharp fangs and his tongue is curled. His dark orange hair flows upwards.

His six arms represent the six perfections. His primary right hand holds a curved flaying knife, which not only cuts through obstacles, but also our negative karma and delusions. This is held above a blood-filled skull-cup which rests in his primary left hand. His secondary right hand holds a damaru (ritual drum). The sound from this is said to represent the primordial sound or vibration that originated existence; to rouse us from our ignorant state and practise the Dharma; and to scare away negative beings. He holds a skull rosary in his upper right hand which he counts, representing his continuous and unending activity to assist sentient beings. In his left hands he holds a trident and noose, representative of the Three Jewels and binding those who stray from or harm the Dharma respectively.

Six-Armed Mahakala

He is adorned with a necklace, bracelets, anklets and earrings. He wears the green scarf of a Bodhisattva, a loin cloth of tiger skin and flayed elephant skin as a cloak. Snakes slither across his body to form the sacred thread of the Brahmins. These represent the arising of psychic powers and instincts. By wearing them, he shows us that these should not impede our spiritual progress but we should harness them for spiritual attainments.

He stands on a prostrate white Ganesha, here representative of our animal instincts that can be extremely destructive. The sun cushion represents his achievement of emptiness and the lotus represents his achievement of compassion. He is surrounded by the roaring flames of wisdom fire, demonstrative of his powerful energy to burn away our negative karma and delusions.


Praise of the Six-Armed Lord


Quick-acting Avalokita, homage to you!
Wearing anklets, you trample Ganesa.
Mahakala, you wear a tiger-skin loincloth
Fully adorned with snake-ornaments on your six arms.


The (first) right holds a triku (chopping-knife), the middle a mala,
The last plays violently a damaru;
The left hold a skull-cup, and a three-pronged lance,
And likewise a noose, which serves for tying up.


Your wrathful mouth completely bares its fangs
Your three eyes are fierce. The hair of your head blazes upward.
Your forehead is properly anointed with red lead.
On your crown, Aksobhya’s royal presence is fixed.


You wear a great necklace of fifty men ‘s heads, dripping blood.
On your crown, you’re adorned with five dry, jeweled skulls.
You come from your tree and accept our torma offering,
Glorious Six-Armed – homage and praise to you!


Sternly protect the Doctrine of the Buddha!
Sternly praise the height of power of the Jewels!
For us – teachers, disciples and entourage –
Please quell all bad conditions and obstructions,
And grant us quickly whatever siddhis we wish!


Six-Armed Mahakala

Back to Tabs


Kalarupa – an emanation of Manjushri

Alternate names: Shinje Chogyal (Tibetan), Yama Dharmaraja (Sanskrit), Black Karma Yama.
Status: Emanation of Manjushri.
Tradition: Gelug.
Known to protect: Special Protector of the Yamantaka Tantras, one of the three principal protectors of the Gelug tradition & protector of the Small Scope of Lam Rim.


Kalarupa is found throughout all the Kagyu, Sakya and Gelug traditions as a special protector associated with the Vajrabhairava Yamantaka Tantras. He is generally said to be the protector that Lama Tsongkhapa chose for the Gelugpa lineage, and as such is practised throughout all Gelugpa monasteries and institutions, including at Kechara. He is depicted with his consort Chamundi.


As the protector of the Small Scope of Lam Rim, Kalarupa is the protector of those who observe the law of karma, or cause and effect in their spiritual practice, as he observes both their wholesome and unwholesome actions. Similar to the roles of other Dharma Protectors who guard specific teachings, Kalarupa protects Yamantaka practitioners from obstacles arising from their own karma. In addition he assists by creating conducive conditions for the practice of Yamantaka, in order for practitioners to gain high realisations and ultimately enlightenment. This role also includes to protect the teachings from being lost or abused.

You can sponsor a Kalarupa Puja here.

Physical Attributes

Kalarupa is dark blue in colour with the fierce head of a buffalo that has very sharp horns. He has three round blood-shot eyes, and his mouth is open revealing razor sharp teeth. In his right hand he holds upraised a bone club which has a skull at the top. In his left hand he holds a lasso.


He is adorned with a crown of five skulls and bone ornaments, and a garland of fifty freshly severed heads. He is in a wrathful warrior pose, standing on top of a bull. He is accompanied by his consort Chamundi who is also dark blue in colour. In her right hand she holds aloft a trident and in her left hand she holds a skull-cup filled with blood. She wears adornments similar to Kalarupa. Both do not wear clothes, save for their ornaments.

The buffalo stamps on a lifeless human corpse, which signifies overcoming enemies, obstacles and delusions. This rests on a sun disc symbolising Kalarupa’s attainment of the understanding of emptiness. Kalarupa and consort are surrounded by blazing wisdom fire, which burns up obstacles caused by our karma and delusions.


Praise To The Dharma-King Kalarupa

Kalarupa, splendid, fierce in form!
A string of human heads, mouths dripping blood
Hangs from your shoulders; destroyer of the pride
Of irresistible Mara-hosts, I praise you!

With vajra song, making great uproar,
I offer a torma, complete in all its parts
Tea and liquor offerings, foes’ minced flesh
And fish, adorned with oceans of blood and fat.

The worst of enemies who harms the
Doctrine Of the Tathagatha, you smash to dust!
From now on, you destroy for us the yogins,
The fears of sickness, age and death – I praise you!

Showing your fangs, as dazzling white as Venus,
Your eyes, destroying enemies, dart like lightning,
As with your pores blazing like the great fire
At time’s end you burn all demon-hosts – I praise you!

Lord of all Mamos, such as Chamundi
Possessed of effulgent splendour like sunlight
When you shout “DZA” to accomplish Divine Activities
You conquer fox-like hindering demons – I praise you!

All demons keep you on their heads like a hat
Your angry, buffalo-demon’s mouth gapes open
And shakes the great earth, screaming, rattling & buzzing
Wielder of skull-club born from YA, I praise you!

Attendants mounted on buffaloes sharp of horns
And hoof, others on dusty whirlwinds, such
As Shakali and Shinje-Bebma – a retinue
Of demons of the three worlds – surround you, I praise you!

O splendid-virtued, forcefully laughing, “HA HA”!
Accept the offerings, ARGHAM and the rest,
And incessantly carry out the promise
You swore before the glorious Yamantaka!


Back to Tabs


Vaishravana – Buddha of Wealth & Guardian of the North

Alternate names: Namtose (Tibetan).
Status: Buddha of Wealth and Guardian King of the North.
Tradition: All traditions.
Known to protect: Buddha Shakyamuni’s Vinaya teachings & special protector of the Medium Scope of Lam Rim.


Within the Gelug tradition, Vaishravana appears twice in the Gelug Refuge tree, but in different forms. In his standing form he appears as one of the Four Heavenly Kings. He is the guardian of the North, living on the northern slope of Mount Meru, protecting the heavens from attack from the Asuras (demi-gods). In this form he is also the King of all the Yaksha beings, with a Naga princess for a consort. As with the rest of the Four Heavenly Kings, he swore an oath to Buddha Shakyamuni to protect the Buddha, the Dharma and those who follow the Buddhist path of practice.


He is also considered to be the chief of the Four Heavenly Kings and is commonly portrayed on the walls of monasteries and temples to safeguard from obstacles and interferences.

In the form where he is riding a lion, Namtose is included in the Refuge tree as a wisdom protector, demonstrating his actual enlightened nature. In this form he is both protector and a Buddha of wealth. As the protector of the Medium Scope of the Lam Rim, he protects those who practise ethical purity through keeping their various types of vows, especially those who hold their Vinaya or monastic vows.

You can sponsor a Vaishravana Puja here.

Physical Attributes

Vaishravana has one face with a very stern expression, with wide and round eyes. He has bushy eyebrows and a beard. Usually he is not shown with his mouth open, because his breath is harmful to others, therefore he keeps his mouth tightly closed. His body is a rich golden colour.


He adorned like an ancient warrior-king, wearing flowing garments, adorned with a jewelled five pronged crown, necklace, bracelets, anklets and gold earrings. The five prongs of his crown symbolise the Five Dhyani Buddhas. He wears trousers and boots similar in style to those from Mongolia. Above this he wears a golden coat of armour and the green scarf of a Bodhisattva.

His right hand holds a victory banner as a symbol of his sovereignty, while his left holds a mongoose, commonly associated with good fortune in ancient India. This mongoose spits jewels symbolising his capacity as a Buddha of both spiritual and material wealth, similar to Dzambala. He rides a snow lion.


Praise to Vaishravana


The protector arisen from (the syllable) VAI
Upon a fearless lion seat
Is resting, virtuous and powerful.
I bow to you, the lord of the eight stages.


To you four princesses, four princes,
Eight harm-giving yakshas who do special tasks,
And eight great wealth-granting nagas, along with
You retinue of eight classes of gods and cannibals,
I make offering and prostration.
Destroy my enemies and hindrances without exception,
Bring about perfect enjoyment of wealth,
Fulfil my desires as I wish, and
Spontaneously achieve the welfare of others.


Back to Tabs


The oath-bound Pehar

Alternate names: Gyalpo Pehar (Tibetan), Nechung (Tibetan), Dorje Dragden (Tibetan).
Status: Oath-bound Gyalpo spirit.
Tradition: Nyingma & Gelug.
Known to protect: Special Protector of Samye Monastery & installed as a State Protector by His Holiness the Great 5th Dalai Lama.


Pehar was a non-native Gyalpo spirit who resided in Tibet when Guru Rinpoche arrived from India. Guru Rinpoche subdued Pehar, binding him by oath to protect the Dharma and its practitioners. He installed Pehar as the special protector of Samye, the first monastery established in Tibet. Guru Rinpoche also subdued many other Gyalpo spirits and put them under the control of Pehar.


During the time of His Holiness the Great 5th Dalai Lama, Pehar was installed as one of the State Protectors of the Tibetan government. Pehar will take trance in a qualified oracle (known as the Nechung Oracle) to give pronouncements, advice and blessings to the Tibetan government. Hence, Pehar is also commonly known as Nechung. Traditionally this is done on an annual basis, in front of the Dalai Lama, or as and when his assistance is needed.

Pehar actually has five main forms, of his body, speech, mind, qualities and activities. These are known as Monbu Putra, Dra Lha Kye Chigbu, Gya Jin, Shing Cha Chen and Pehar, respectively. The deity that takes trance of the Nechung Oracle is actually an emanation of Dra Lha Kye Chigbu, the speech aspect, known as Dorje Dragden.

Physical Attributes


Pehar is white in colour and has three faces. His right face is blue, his central face is white and his left is red. Each face is grimacing, with mouth open baring fangs, with three round and bulging eyes.

He has six arms. His primary left hand holds a bow, and his primary right hand holds an arrow drawn on the string of the bow, ready to fire. In his lower right hand he holds a sword and in his lower left hand he holds a stick. In his upper right hand he holds a stick with a taming hook and his upper left hand holds a knife.

He wears a tiger skin loin cloth and a round domed traveling hat. He is adorned with various ornaments including necklace, bracelets and anklets. He sits upon a snow lion with a green mane in the middle of sea of blood. He is surrounded by blazing fire.

Since Pehar is an oath-bound Dharma protector, it is not advisable to propitiate him without the appropriate permission and teachings from a qualified guru.


“In former times at Glorious Red Rock,
Acharya Padmasambhava, inviting the profound vast protector,
Had bound by an oath as the entrusted steward of all Dharma Establishments;
To Pehar I bow.”
– Nyingma praise

Back to Tabs


Four Important Questions

In light of the information shared on various Dharma Protectors, I would like to take the opportunity to clarify four questions commonly asked regarding the Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden, who is practised and relied on throughout the Gelug school of Buddhism and the Kechara organisation.

Dorje Shugden’s form is wrathful. Does this mean that he is a demon or spirit?

Dorje Shugden – an emanation of Manjushri

Some people mistakenly consider Dorje Shugden to be either a demon or spirit due to his wrathful form (riding a snow lion, carrying a sword and taming hook, etc). This does not make sense when taking into consideration the majority of other Dharma Protectors, who similarly have wrathful forms. For example, the wrath of Dharma Protectors such as Dorje Shugden is represented in their red and bulging eyes. These protuberant eyes do not arise from anger or evil but due to an abundance of welled up compassion. From this post alone, we can see that some are even more wrathful in form compared to Dorje Shugden. These include Rahula, who has nine heads and the serpentine body of a Naga and Palden Lhamo who gnaws on a human corpse in her mouth.

This wrath, as mentioned in the introduction, is symbolic of the quality of extreme compassion that enlightened beings have for sentient beings. The analogy mentioned is of a mother scolding her child for doing something that can cause harm, for example playing with fire. This wrathful form is therefore due to their extreme compassion to assist and benefit sentient beings.

When people label Dorje Shugden as a demon due to his form, they are (a) ignoring the form of the majority of other Dharma Protectors and (b) limiting the activities of the Buddhas by imposing their own projections. Within Buddhist teachings we are taught not to let our projections, or our expectations of how we think things should be, cloud our judgement and mind. By judging Dorje Shugden purely on his physical features, we are limiting our understanding of the compassion of the Buddhas. Manjushri, the Buddha of Wisdom has indescribable compassion for sentient beings and due to this emanated as Dorje Shugden in order to benefit us. This is similar to Saraswati emanating as Palden Lhamo, Avalokiteshvara emanating as Mahakala Bernagchen, Tara emanating as Ekajati or even Vajrayogini emanating as Achi Chokyi Drolma. The enlightened beings are constantly emanating in various forms to benefit beings. This can even be applied to yidam (meditational) deities as well. For example the well-known Yamantaka is very wrathful and even has a buffalo head.

The fact is that even though Dorje Shugden’s form can be seen as wrathful, there are many more Dharma Protectors and even yidams who are wrathful. The claim is not made that they are demons or spirits, therefore it does not make sense to label Dorje Shugden as such based on his wrathful appearance.

Dorje Shugden has violent imagery in his prayers, does this mean he is evil?

As explained above, the expression of wrath or violence within Tibetan Buddhism does not necessarily denote good or evil. Rather, in the case of enlightened beings, it is an expression of the love and extreme compassion that they have for us. The practice of Dorje Shugden is just one example with an entire corpus of practices that include such violent imagery. Thus it does not make sense to label Dorje Shugden as evil in light of all other Dharma Protector practices.

In fact violence within prayers is characteristic of all Dharma Protector practices. It is through this very violence, if we understand its meaning, that we can see the truly compassionate nature of the enlightened beings who appear as Dharma Protectors. This violence can be explained in two ways. The first is in relation to the speed in which the Dharma Protectors can aid practitioners as mentioned in the introduction. The second is because of our own karma. Since the obstacles we encounter in life are due to karma which can be very heavy, we propitiate the Dharma Protectors to help overcome this karma, and to do so quickly and effectively, this needs to manifest as violent in nature. For example if you are walking in the jungle but your way is covered with branches, plants and the like, you do not pick at the plants one by one to make room to pass, but you use a knife to cut away the undergrowth so that you can proceed. This is why Dharma Protector practices include violence. This is also a reason why Dharma Protectors manifest in wrathful forms too. For example many are seen wearing wrathful ornaments or the clothes of a general, such as Namtose. This is because protectors ‘go to war’ with our karma in order to benefit us on our spiritual journey.

The meaning of this violence within Dharma Protector practice has been explained before by His Eminence 25th Tsem Rinpoche in his commentary to the Trakze Dorje Shugden practice. This practice is extremely wrathful in nature, and as such is beneficial to assist practitioners in the dire circumstances such as affliction from spirit harm and black magic.

Since Dorje Shugden protects Gelug practitioners, does this mean he is sectarian?

As seen from the information above, Dharma Protectors have a specific function such as protecting a particular lineage, or certain teachings. For example Dorje Legba is only known to protect the terma teachings, not other teachings. Similarly Dorje Shugden arose to protect the teachings of Lama Tsongkhapa. This however does not make him sectarian. This is clearly evident because he is an enlightened being. As such he views all sentient beings equally with love and compassion. Anybody who prays to Dorje Shugden will benefit from his practice.

Protectors can arise in order to protect certain lineages such as Achi Chokyi Drolma, who protects the Drikung Kagyu lineage as a whole and Mahakala Bernagchen the Karma Kagyu. They do this because the teachings within these lineages can have a very real benefit in people’s lives, lead them to high attainments and even enlightenment. In other cases protectors can arise in order to protect very specific teachings, such as Dorje Shugden protecting the teachings of Lama Tsongkhapa, Ekajati protecting the terma teachings, or Six-armed Mahakala who protects those practicing the Highest Scope of the Lam Rim. For Vajrayogini practitioners, Citipati is taken as their special protector.

The claim that Dorje Shugden is sectarian because he only protects one lineage is therefore mistaken. All Dharma Protectors protect something but they are not all labelled as sectarian. The very fact that these beings protect the various lineages and teachings shows that they are all equally beneficial to spiritual development. If we were to label Dorje Shugden as sectarian, logically, we would need to label all Dharma Protectors as sectarian, and ignore the fact that some Dharma Protectors are the emanations of the enlightened beings who have perfect equanimity for all sentient beings.

Dorje Shugden is a wealth god. Does praying to him for wealth bind us further to samsara?

Gyenze – the increase form of Dorje Shugden

Dorje Shugden can be propitiated for wealth, especially as Gyenze who is his increase form. Gyenze can also be propitiated for much more such as the increase of life-span and merits. However, this ability is not only a part of Dorje Shugden’s practice but of all other Dharma Protectors. This ability is linked to the very function and nature of Dharma Protector practice, which is (a) to eliminate obstacles and (b) to provide conducive conditions for spiritual practice.

Due to the circumstances of our human civilisation, providing conducive conditions for spiritual practice necessarily involves the accumulation of wealth to survive. Rather than focus on the actual method, which is the accumulation of wealth, we should think about the motivation behind this accumulation. It is for the furtherance of spiritual practice. Even in monasteries across all Tibetan Buddhist traditions, pujas are conducted to bring wealth and resources for the preservation and furtherance of the teachings leading to enlightenment.

This aspect is just one facet of Dharma Protector practice. For example even Citipati is propitiated for the accumulation of wealth, especially in creating conducive conditions for the practice of Vajrayogini. This is even more apparent in the form of Namtose and his epithet of ‘Buddha of Wealth’. Namtose holds a jewel-spitting mongoose, clearly evidence of the fact that his practice can bestow wealth, whether this is outer (wealth) or inner (spiritual attainments).

Therefore this accumulation of wealth is for the higher purpose of spiritual development, rather the accumulation of wealth for samsaric reasons. In essence the practice of Dharma Protectors, which includes Dorje Shugden, does not bind one further to samsara, but provides you with the necessary conditions and the great opportunity to practice the Dharma in order to transcend samsara altogether.


The practice of propitiating Dharma Protectors exists throughout all traditions within Tibetan Buddhism. These beings, whether the holy emanations of the enlightened beings or mundane oath-bound deities, assist practitioners to create conducive conditions and eliminate obstacles facing both their worldly and spiritual lives. As we have seen, wrath plays an important roles in this as a method to overcome the negative karma that stops us from practicing the Dharma.

The claims laid against protectors, such as Dorje Shugden, must be viewed in relation to the entire pantheon of Dharma Protectors, the reasons for their various forms and their practices. It is too often the case, that one can have a mistaken understanding of something. As Buddhists who follow the logical system of analysis as expounded by the historical Buddha Shakyamuni, we shouldn’t take these claims on face value. Instead we need to analyse these claims in relations to Dharma Protectors as a whole.

As we have seen, Dharma Protectors, some of whom are emanations of enlightened beings can manifest in wrathful forms due to their extreme compassion. They emanate as Dharma Protectors for the preservation of lineages or certain teachings which contain methods that lead practitioners out of samsara and therefore their suffering. Certain claims made against Dharma Protectors must be understood from a much larger perspective in order to understand the true benefit of their practice.

May the Dharma Protectors mentioned in this post continue to protect practitioners for a long time, helping them in their spiritual journey towards enlightenment!


Information on unenlightened Dharma protectors has been provided here for educational purposes. We are often asked questions about unenlightened Dharma protectors and so wanted to share this information so that it is easily available for those that are interested. However, please remember that when you rely on unenlightened beings, they can cause you harm even though they are bound by oath. As they are not enlightened, their clairvoyance is limited. They can see that if you do a certain action now that it will work out well, and they have foresight into the future. However, this foresight is limited. For example, they can only see 10 years into the future, and for those 10 years they see that the action will be good. However, if you do as they advised, after 15 years perhaps this action will harm you. They did not know that it would harm you because they have limited abilities. So their harm is unintentional due to their limitations.

They may indeed be bound by high lamas, or their minds have been tamed, but you can still be harmed. Another way to look at this is if you rely on a fitness trainer who is not an expert, you can hurt your body, but this harm was unintentional. It is not like they were out to hurt you, but if you ask for their help, they will try to help you to the best of their ability. For example, if you ask a 10-year-old child if there is harm living near a radioactive building, they will not know and think there is nothing wrong. So, if you live near such a building, based on the advice of a 10-year-old child, you can potentially end up being very sick. The child did not want to harm you at all and did not think that the advice they gave was wrong because the child did not know better. It was beyond their capabilities. However, if you asked a doctor he/she would have told you not to live there because it was dangerous.

On the other hand, enlightened protectors, whether in enlightened forms or worldly forms, have full omniscience and therefore have complete clairvoyance. They have no obstructions to see all happenings (phenomena) in the past, present and future, so can give us perfect advice.

The purpose of providing these prayers here are because there are thousands of people worshipping these deities and they are benevolent. However, one needs to understand how to worship them safely. After all, it was not us who created these deities. But since people do ask us about such deities, we take the time, energy, care and concern to write about them. You can ask unenlightened beings to help you, just like you would ask a friend to help you but you cannot rely on them as a Buddha. For this, you should rely on Buddha Shakyamuni and take refuge in him. Following his teachings, you can reach the enlightened state. For ordinary day to day help such as finding a job, having enough resources, and other such actions, you can ask oath-bound unenlightened deities for help without taking refuge in them. That is the key to practising these deities.

No comments so far.

Be first to leave comment below.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *