Chinese, Japanese & Central Asian Goddesses
Organized by Dr Lokesh Chandra
 
saturday 5th march at Lecture Hall, Crafts Museum 10.00 am - 12.30 pm  

 


Tibetan Goddesses - Prof Shashibala

 

The vast pantheon of Tibetan Buddhism comprises of a large number of goddesses invoked during daily prayers or on special occasions. Some of them are drawn in thangkas, mandalas and pantheons as consorts and as groups others are worshipped for specific purposes—health, wealth, wisdom and victory.
Usnisavijaya is the goddess of supreme victory. Prajnaparamita is a deification of Prajna sutras. She personifies the literature that bears the name. She is one of the twelve Paramitas and is given a large number of forms.

Visvamata, the Universal Mother is in the embrace of Kalacakra who became a new symbol of the Supreme Being’. Their sexual wisdom symbolizes the union of method of wisdom. Mandarava, is the Dakini of Pristine Awareness who has achieved ‘mahasukha’ and Infinite purity. Remati identified with the most ancient goddesses of Tibet, is the goddess of life and death, of fecundity and destruction. She is the great goddess who both nourishes and kills. Sarasvati is the goddess of wisdom. White Sarasvati - the first goddess in the Centum of Mitrayogin is the messenger of the Padma-kula and the main deity of her 13 deity Mandala.
The goddess Vajravarahi is dedicated to the creatures indicating the essential sameness of all things. Her two hands symbolize both absolute and relative truth. White Tara is the saviour par excellence. Her popularity is ever on the increase as a merciful and benevolent comforter. She is the kinetic power of compassion and saves suffering creatures. Green Tara is also a saviour for whosoever chants her name. She is one of the most popular deities of Tibet.

The local deities of Tibet assimilated into the Buddhist pantheon are usually protective deities or dharmapalas. Sridevi/Dpal-ldam lha- mo is the chief goddess of the Gelukpa school and Ma-geig Dpal- ldan lha-mo is the principal protectress of the Tibetan capital Lhasa. Goddesses in the mandalas are drawn in groups. The goddesses of offering, dance and music, and the Dakinis play important roles in the Buddhist female pantheon.

This paper will present them in various manifestations, classified according to their functions.

Dr. Shashi Bala is a graduate in Sanskrit, an M. Phil in Indonesian Grammatical Texts and a Ph.D in Japanese Buddhist Art. She is the author of “Buddhist Art: In Praise of the Divine”, “Introduction to Japanese Art”, “Divine Art”, “Buddhism: The Middle Path”, amongst seven others. She is the author of over 60 research papers including, ‘Bodhisattvas in Buddhist Art and Thought,’ ‘Impact of Sanskrit on the Cultures of SE Asia’, Sukhāvatī Scenes at the Dun-huang Caves of China, Xuanzang and the Silk Route. She has Lectured on the History of Japanese Buddhist Art in England and in many institutions in Japan, Indonesia, Germany, Russia and China. She has organized 5 exhibitions on Indo- Asian Art and Culture at the IIC. She has attended many International conferences and has had Fellowships in many Academic institutions around the world in her 35 year teaching and research career.

 

 Japanese gddesses - Yuriko Lochan

 

Japan, from the ancient period, is the country where the elements in universe are considered as vocal. Nature is the representation of God; it shows the way of life and suggests how to lead life with righteousness. This attitude of people towards nature has never lost in Japan. The image of gods and goddesses in India provides wisdom to the people even in this contemporary world. The fierce expression of Kali is directly related to the reality and the experience of life. Women and the power of nature have always been connected with synonyms such as ‘the mother earth’ along with the image of fertility.But isn’t it the dark, aggressive and ruthless part of nature distinguishes the identity of women? Though their images are usually represented as bright and plenty?

Yuriko Lochan holds a Master Degree in painting from Kyoto City University of Arts,, Japan. She has exhibited her works in mainly in Osaka Japan and in India. Since 1987 she has been living and working in India. In 2004 she has been appointed as Special Advisor for Cultural Exchange, by the Culture Affairs Ministry, Government of Japan.

 

 Chinese goddesses - Nirmala Sharma
 

There have been three teachings in ancient China -Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism. Taoism is indigenous to China, Buddhism originated in India and Confucianism is largely secular philosophy.
Taoism has a history spanning more than two millennia and it has influenced Chinese political theory, medicine, calligraphy and even Zen Buddhism.

Xiwangmu: The queen mother of the west is one of the oldest female deities of China one who “obtained the Tao”. She was widely worshipped from the Han dynasty onward, a patron deity of women and a divine teacher. She is still worshipped today in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Bixia Yuannjun: The sovereign of the clouds of dawn is one of the most popular Taoist deities from the Ming dynasty and onwards. She is the daughter of the male God of Mount Tai, the focal point of the imperial and popular worship since the Qin and Han dynasties.


Several other goddesses in Chinese mythology are invoked for the fulfillment of various desires of the people. These goddesses are also covered in the presentation.


Nirmala Sharma is an Art Historian and a Professor of Buddhist studies at the International Academy of Indian Culture, New Delhi. She is working on a project of IGNCA on “Iconography of the Mandalas of Dukhang of Alchi”. With two masters degree, one in Fine Arts and the other in Ancient Indian History, culture and Archaeology, her PhD thesis is on Ragamala Paintings. She is a recipient of National Fellowship in Fine arts, Nagpur University and has been a senior fellow of the American Institute of Indian Studies.

 

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