Differences between Vajravarahi practice in Kagyupa schools

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Differences between Vajravarahi practice in Kagyupa schools

Postby lasirene » Sun Aug 25, 2013 1:10 am

Hi. I am a student of Ole Nydahl. I would like to do the practice of Dorje Phagmo, but soon I will not have any opportunity to take initiation from the hands of the Karma Kagyu lama. However, it is possible that Garchen Rinpoche from Drikung Kagyu line will give me this initiation sooner. I saw thangkas of Vajravarahi from Drikung Kagyu school and some of them show the Dakini with the raised left foot, while in Karma Kagyu it is the right leg. However, when she hugs her partner, it is assumed the position as in other traditions... I wonder what are the differences between the practices of these two schools?
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Re: Differences between Vajravarahi practice in Kagyupa scho

Postby dzoki » Mon Aug 26, 2013 7:39 pm

lasirene wrote:Hi. I am a student of Ole Nydahl. I would like to do the practice of Dorje Phagmo, but soon I will not have any opportunity to take initiation from the hands of the Karma Kagyu lama. However, it is possible that Garchen Rinpoche from Drikung Kagyu line will give me this initiation sooner. I saw thangkas of Vajravarahi from Drikung Kagyu school and some of them show the Dakini with the raised left foot, while in Karma Kagyu it is the right leg. However, when she hugs her partner, it is assumed the position as in other traditions... I wonder what are the differences between the practices of these two schools?


Could you show us the picture? As far as I know also in Drikung Vajravarahi has the right foot raised. The form of Vajrayogini/Vajravarahi which is quite popular in Drikung is called Two faced Vajrayogini or Vajrayogini with face of two truths. It looks a just slightly bit different from Karma Kagyu Vajravarahi which has a pig´s head protruding on the top of her head, the Drikung yogini with the Face of two truths has a pig´s head as the right face. Mantra used in both traditions is same. Both of these forms come from Chakarasamvara tantra, though their lineage is different, the Drikung yogini comes from the lineage of Lakshminkara and did not go to Tibet through Marpa.
There is pretty long sadhana of Drikung Vajrayogini by Rigdzin Chokyi Dragpa, called Ship of Liberation, this seems to be a main text used for Drikung Vajrayogini in the West, it focuses on the offerings and accumulating merit, it is quite rich, but also quite complicated, there is another much shorter text, but I don´t know its name. I think you would be better off starting with the shorter practice, ask Garchen Rinpoche about that.

Here is Karma Kagyu Vajravarahi:
http://www.himalayanart.org/image.cfm/839.html

Here is a Drikung Vajrayogini:
http://www.coloradoratnashri.net/images ... yogini.jpg
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Re: Differences between Vajravarahi practice in Kagyupa scho

Postby Silent Bob » Tue Aug 27, 2013 3:17 pm

In four decades of practice, I have never seen a representation of Vajravarahi with the left leg raised and my guess is that OP saw some off-brand thanka. As Lama Yeshe Gyamtso remarked in another context, "Thanka painters are notoriously unreliable sources of accurate information".
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Re: Differences between Vajravarahi practice in Kagyupa scho

Postby heart » Tue Aug 27, 2013 3:37 pm

Silent Bob wrote:In four decades of practice, I have never seen a representation of Vajravarahi with the left leg raised and my guess is that OP saw some off-brand thanka. As Lama Yeshe Gyamtso remarked in another context, "Thanka painters are notoriously unreliable sources of accurate information".


True that.

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Re: Differences between Vajravarahi practice in Kagyupa scho

Postby conebeckham » Tue Aug 27, 2013 7:25 pm

I've not seen one either, though I only have a couple decades of experience.... :smile:

I also don't know Drikung Vajravarahi--and the info here in this thread is interesting. I would have thought the Kamtsang and Drikung practices were from the same lineage, via Marpa/Mila/Gampopa.

I will say this: in Karma Kagyu, Vajrayogini/Varahi is very important. Primary, even. I have heard, but cannot say with full certainty, that Drikungpas place more emphasis on Chakrasamvara in Sahaja form. I would urge anyone with a connection to the Karma Kagyu lineage, and an interest in Varahi, to seek out and practice that lineage's transmission, instructions, etc., because they are unique to the Karma Kagyu lineage. But this is a very complex and elaborate practice in it's full form, not something one can just "add" to one's daily roster or deity recitations, IMO.
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Re: Differences between Vajravarahi practice in Kagyupa scho

Postby ratna » Wed Aug 28, 2013 8:02 am

Silent Bob wrote:In four decades of practice, I have never seen a representation of Vajravarahi with the left leg raised and my guess is that OP saw some off-brand thanka. As Lama Yeshe Gyamtso remarked in another context, "Thanka painters are notoriously unreliable sources of accurate information".


I've received an instruction where the left leg was raised.

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Re: Differences between Vajravarahi practice in Kagyupa scho

Postby conebeckham » Wed Aug 28, 2013 4:33 pm

Tell us more, Ratna!
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Re: Differences between Vajravarahi practice in Kagyupa scho

Postby ratna » Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:25 pm

conebeckham wrote:Tell us more, Ratna!


That was in the context of the Drikung Phowa.
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Re: Differences between Vajravarahi practice in Kagyupa scho

Postby lasirene » Sat Aug 31, 2013 10:33 am

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Re: Differences between Vajravarahi practice in Kagyupa scho

Postby conebeckham » Sun Sep 01, 2013 4:08 pm

A little research confirms that image of Varahi you've posted is concerned with or related to the Drikung Phowa practice, which was commented on here in this thread. I understand they have a unique Phowa transmission. The fact that the Thangka contains a single figure, with no other deities, leads me to think this--as does the seated Amitabha image...

Image
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Re: Differences between Vajravarahi practice in Kagyupa scho

Postby Karma Sherab » Mon Sep 09, 2013 4:03 pm

....the easiest explanation, which I have seen in person, is a photo developed by a photo studio, that was reversed.
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Re: Differences between Vajravarahi practice in Kagyupa scho

Postby Karma Jinpa » Tue Sep 10, 2013 3:25 am

conebeckham wrote:A little research confirms that image of Varahi you've posted is concerned with or related to the Drikung Phowa practice, which was commented on here in this thread. I understand they have a unique Phowa transmission. The fact that the Thangka contains a single figure, with no other deities, leads me to think this--as does the seated Amitabha image...

Image


Here is the full lineage thangka for the Phowa Jag-tshug-ma (a.k.a. Great Drikung Phowa)---the same image given to those who receive the empowerment. The practice originated as a Nyingma terma and was eventually given to the 1st Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang Rinpoche, and hence became a specialty of the Drikung Kagyupas:

http://www.garchen.net/resources/phowa-lineage-tree5x7.jpg


A detailed history of the practice, just as it is included at the beginning of the elaborate sadhana, can be found here:

http://www.ddcflorida.com/2009/01/jag-tshug-ma-standing-blade-of-grass.html :coffee:


:focus:

As for the difference between the Kamtsang and Drikung versions of Vajravarahi, quite honestly I didn't even notice that the leg raised differs between the two lineages at times, despite these being the two Kagyu lineages I have the most experience with. Is there significance in which leg is up, or are we simply used to it being the right leg? Could the placement of the sow's head be artistic license?

That said, I do know that 'Vajrayogini with the Faces of the Two Truths' is the Drikung Kagyu practice, whereas I may have dealt with mainly the Yangzab version of Varahi due to involvement in Lho Ontul Rinpoche's Drikung Dzogchen Communities...

Whatever the case, lasirene, rest assured that the essence of all deities is the same. Vajrayogini manifests in a multitude of forms to benefit beings with varying capacities and propensities, and Vajravarahi is an especially important yidam (if not the main one) for all Dagpo Kagyu (the 4 elder and 8 younger lineages).

Perhaps someone with more experience with the Shangpa Kagyu can comment on how central she is there?
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Re: Differences between Vajravarahi practice in Kagyupa scho

Postby untxi » Tue Sep 10, 2013 5:39 pm

The Yangzab Vajravarahi is the black dakini Troma Nagmo in a five-deity mandala with her entourage of dakinis. There are separate sadhanas for the mahayoga, anuyoga and atiyoga practices, as well as its own six yogas practice and commentary. In the Yangzab Three Roots she is red in union with Hayagriva, but she is not practiced as a dakini in that form. The mahamudra Vajravarahi is entirely a different practice and the style of the sadhana is an annutaratantrayoga sadhana. Whether she stands on the right or left is entirely an emphasis of skillful means (right) versus wisdom (left).

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Re: Differences between Vajravarahi practice in Kagyupa scho

Postby conebeckham » Tue Sep 10, 2013 5:45 pm

Most current-day Shangpa Kagyu practitioners complete the Kamtsang Phagmo before engaging in the Shangpa yidam practices. Perhaps not all....I don't know for sure.

In Shangpa, the dakini practices come AFTER the completion stage yogas--in particular, the "red and white dakinis" are very special and profound practices, and there is also the tradition of the Five Dakinis of the Shangpa, which is separate from Kamtsang Phagmo Lha Nga.

But Phagmo figures in her usual context as consort of Chakrasamvara, in Shangpa (Niguma's) Chakrasamvara, and also in the Shangpa Gyu De Lha Nga practice. And she appears in the completion stage practices, as well.

I don't know this for a fact, but I think the Drikung Phowa version is specialized for that practice, and the general Drikung Phagmo would be iconographically the same as Kamtsang Phagmo. Not sure the "location" of the Sow's head is different, frankly--but I may be wrong.
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Re: Differences between Vajravarahi practice in Kagyupa scho

Postby Karma Jinpa » Wed Sep 11, 2013 8:13 pm

Not sure of the symbolism behind it, but the Yangzab Three Roots, the Hayagriva yab-yum has Hayagriva as the usual red, but Vajravarahi is blue, rather than her usual red. This is the only place I've seen Dorje Phagmo depicted as blue. Everywhere else she seems to be red, except where she is represented as one of her specialized forms (e.g. Troma Nagmo being black, etc). Anyone know the reason?


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"The Sutras, Tantras, and Philosophical Scriptures are great in number. However life is short, and intelligence is limited, so it's hard to cover them completely. You may know a lot, but if you don't put it into practice, it's like dying of thirst on the shore of a great lake. Likewise, it happens that a common corpse is found in the bed of a great scholar." ~ Karma Chagme

དྲིན་ཆེན་རྗེ་བཙུན་བླ་མ་རཱ་ག་ཨ་སྱ་མཁྱེན་ནོ།
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Re: Differences between Vajravarahi practice in Kagyupa scho

Postby untxi » Wed Sep 11, 2013 8:44 pm

In the Yangzab the dakini is blue only union with Hayagriva in the Three Roots. The dakini is blackish in the separate Yangzab Varahi practice.

In truth, in more general terms, the dakini can appear in a variety of colors, more commonly white, red, blue and black. In one way of looking at it there is one for each of the Buddha families, and each of the Buddha activities. Looking at it in another way, there is no definite color or form as the dakini manifests according to the needs of beings.

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