• Art of the Week
Vajradhara with Mahasiddhas
August 16, 2019

Mahasiddhas or the great tantric masters were true non-conformists of the Tantric Buddhist tradition. They resisted the comforts and strict supervision of Indian monastic living and instead practiced in impure, terrifying locations like cemeteries and cremation grounds [...]

Mahasiddha Kamala, Suvarnadvipa, and Viraya
July 5, 2017

This painting is from a large set depicting the eighty-four great Tantric adepts (mahasiddha) and portrays three of them, including both monastic and lay yogis [...]

Mahasiddha Naropa
June 28, 2017

In this painting the great Tantric adept (mahasiddha) Naropa sits gazing up at a red dakini flying in a dynamic pose in the upper-right corner [...]

Kanha, The Great Adept of Indian Tantric Practice
May 24, 2017

This 16th century Tibetan sculpture represents Kanha “the dark-skinned one” who was one of the semi-mythical Indian tantric masters known as the Mahasiddhas (Maha means “great” and siddha means “adept”). Kanha is remembered as a great poet and singer and his life story exemplifies the highs and lows of the Mahsiddhas’ tantric path, an often shocking alternative to the paths of Buddhist monasticism and standard lay practice. Although Kanha was a very successful meditator who experiences numerous mystic visions, he struggled with pride in his tantric achievements and became overwhelmed by anger when he was challenged. Despite ultimately being associated with the failure to bring what he learned through meditation into his daily life, Kanha’s story is widely known and enjoyed in tantric cultures such as Tibet. He is an important link in the Lamdre lineage of the Tibetan Buddhist Sakya tradition.

— Dominique Townsend, Head of Interpretation and Innovation

Guhyasamaja Akshobhvajra with Consort
March 15, 2017

Guhyasamaja is one of the main tantric deities (yidam) of the esoteric practice in Gelug tradition. The seated couple is shown in sexual embrace [...]