Monday, September 21, 2009

Ekajati: Meditational Deity & Protector

Ekajati is a complex deity of Indian origin that should be understood as functioning as a:
1. Meditational Deity with many different forms.
2. Retinue Figure accompanying popular deities such as Lokeshvara and Tara.
3. Protector Deity, both represented as a central figure and as a retinue deity.

See the Ekajati Main Page and Outline Page.

The name 'eka jati' is a Sanskrit word combined of two parts (Sanskrit: eka = one; jati = braid), one and braid, meaning 'one braid' of hair.

(1) As a Meditational Deity Ekajati has a two-armed form, four-armed, eight-armed and a twenty-four armed and twelve headed form. (2) As a Retinue Figure Ekajati, in a wrathful form, stands behind Lokeshvara in the Five-deity practice. Older more traditional forms of practice of Green Tara describe the Three-deity Green Tara with the goddess Marichi standing to the right side of Tara and a semi-wrathful Ekajati standing on the left side. Ekajati is also an important (3) Protector Deity in both the Nyingma and Sarma (Sakya, Kagyu, Jonang, Gelug) Traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.

In the Nyingma Tradition Ekajati is the principal protector for the 'Revealed Treasure' Traditions. She manifests in numerous forms, both as a standard wrathful figure, black, with one face and two arms and appearing in her more famous guise with only one eye, one tooth, and one breast, sometimes even with only one leg as in the Drigung Kagyu Treasure Tradition (see detail lower left).

In the Sarma, New Traditions of Tibetan Buddhism after the 10th century, Ekajati is represented in all three types, by many different forms in each, accompanied by different narratives depending on the religious tradition and lineage.

In the Sakya Tradition, as a protector inherited from Rinchen Zangpo, Ekajati also plays the role of the mother of Shri Devi (Palden Lhamo Dudsolma) and has a more typical appearance with a wrathful visage and one braid of hair.

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