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Yamantaka is the "lord of death" deity in Vajrayana Buddhism, above riding a water buffalo.
The Japanese equivalent Daiitoku
Yamantaka-Vajrabhairava mandala
Yamantaka in a Beijing Buddhist temple.

Yamāntaka (Sanskrit: यमान्तक Yamāntaka or Vajrabhairava Tibetan: གཤིན་རྗེ་གཤེད་, རྡོ་རྗེ་འཇིགས་བྱེད།Wylie: gshin rje gshed; rdo rje 'jigs byed; Japanese: 大威徳明王 Daitokumyōō; Chinese: 大威德金剛; pinyin: Dà Wēidé Jīngāng; Mongolian: Эрлэгийн Жаргагчи Erlig-jin Jarghagchi) is the "lord of death" deity of Vajrayana Buddhism.[1] Sometimes he is conceptualized as "conqueror of death".[2] He belongs of the Anuttarayoga Tantra class popular deity within the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism.


Yamāntaka is a wrathful expression of Mañjuśrī, the Samyaksambuddha of wisdom who, in other contexts, also functions as a dharmapala or a Heruka. Yamāntaka manifests in several different forms, one of which (via yogatantra) has six legs, six faces and six arms holding various weapons while sitting or standing on a water buffalo.

Within Buddhism, "terminating death" is a quality of all buddhas as they have stopped the cycle of rebirth, samsara. Yamantaka, then, represents the goal of the Mahayana practitioner's journey to enlightenment, or the journey itself: in awakening, one adopts the practice of Yamāntaka – the practice of terminating death.

Yamantaka in Japanese Buddhism[edit]

In Japanese esoteric teachings, Dai Itoku-Myoo is the wrathful emanation of Amida and is pictured with six faces, legs and arms holding various weapons while sitting on a white ox.[3]


Yamāntaka is a Sanskrit name that can be broken down into two primary elements: Yama, the name of the god of death; and antaka (making an end).[4] Thus, Yamāntaka means “Destroyer of Death” or "Conqueror of Death".[2][5]

See also[edit]

  • Kalantaka (Sanskrit: ender of death and time) is an aspect of the Hindu god Shiva as the Conqueror of Time and Death, itself personified by the god Yama.[6]


  1. ^ John Whalen-Bridge; Gary Storhoff (2009). Emergence of Buddhist American Literature, The. State University of New York Press. p. 170. ISBN 978-1-4384-2659-4. 
  2. ^ a b Buswell, Robert Jr; Lopez, Donald S. Jr., eds. (2013). Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism (Yamantaka). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. p. 1020. ISBN 9780691157863. 
  3. ^ Coulter, Charles Russell; Turner, Patricia (2013). Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities. Routledge. p. 140. ISBN 9781135963903. 
  4. ^ Monier-Williams (1899). A Sanskrit-English dictionary: Etymologically and philologically arranged with special reference to Cognate indo-european languages. Oxford: The Clarendon Press
  5. ^ Getty, Alice (1914). The gods of northern Buddhism], their history, iconography, and progressive evolution through the northern Buddhist countries. Oxford: The Clarendon press. pp. 145–146. 
  6. ^ Dallapiccola, Anna L. (2002). "Kalarimurti; Kalaharamurti or Kalantakamurti". Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd. ISBN 0-500-51088-1. Retrieved 16 May 2011. 


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