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- In Hinduism, lokapāla refers to the Guardians of the Directions associated with the four cardinal directions.
- In Buddhism, lokapāla refers to the Four Heavenly Kings, and to other protector spirits, whereas the Guardians of the Directions are referred to as the 'dikpālas'
In Tibetan Buddhism many of these worldly protector deities are indigenous Tibetan deities, mountain gods, demons, spirits or ghosts that have been subjugated by Padmasambhava or other great adepts and oath bound to protect a monastery, geographic region, particular tradition or as guardians of Buddhism in general.
These worldly protectors are invoked and propitiated to aid the monastery or Buddhist practitioner materially and to remove obstacles to practice. However, since they are considered to be Samsaric beings they are not worshiped or considered as objects of refuge.
According to Tripitaka Master Shramana Hsuan Hua of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, All of these beings are invoked (hooked and summoned) and exhorted to behave (subdued) and protect the Dharma and its practitioners in the Shurangama Mantra
Classes of Worldly Protectors
Classes of Worldy Protector include:
- The Four Heavenly Kings - (Tib. Gyalpo)
- Oathbound spirits - (Tib. Damchen)
- [Gold Mountain Shramana Tripitaka Master Hsuan]; Bhikshuni Rev. Heng Chih, Bhikshuni Rev. Heng Hsien, David Rounds, Ron Epstein, et al (2003). The Shurangama Sutra - Sutra Text and Supplements with Commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua - First Edition. Burlingame, California: Buddhist Text Translation Society. ISBN 0-88139-949-3. , Volume 6, Chapter 3: The Spiritual Shurangama Mantra, pp. 87-162, and Chapter 5, The Twelve Categories of Living Beings, pp. 177-191,
- Kalsang, Ladrang (1996) The Guardian Deities of Tibet Delhi: Winsome Books. (Third Reprint 2003) ISBN 81-88043-04-4
- Linrothe, Rob (1999) Ruthless Compassion: Wrathful Deities in Early Indo-Tibetan Esoteric Buddhist Art London: Serindia Publications. ISBN 0-906026-51-2
- De Nebesky-Wojkowitz, Rene. (1956) Oracles and Demons of Tibet. Oxford University Press. Reprint Delhi: Books Faith, 1996 - ISBN 81-7303-039-1. Reprint Delhi: Paljor Publications, 2002- - ISBN 81-86230-12-2