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Heruka
Heruka
(Sanskrit; Wylie: khrag 'thung), is the name of a category of wrathful deities, enlightened beings in Vajrayana
Vajrayana
Buddhism
Buddhism
that adopt a fierce countenance to benefit sentient beings. In East Asia, these are called Wisdom Kings. Herukas represent the embodiment of indivisible bliss and emptiness. They appear as Iṣṭha-devatā (Wylie: yi dam) or meditational deities for tantric sādhanā, usually placed in a mandala and often appearing in Yab-Yum.

Contents

1 Derivation and meaning of the term 2 Eight Herukas of the Nyingma
Nyingma
Mahayoga 3 See also 4 Notes 5 References

Derivation and meaning of the term[edit] The name "Heruka" is made up of the prefix "he-" meaning "hey!" and "ruka", a rich term implying many levels of subtle meaning - richness, royalty, etc. It is linked to the Sanskrit
Sanskrit
word "Rc" which is where the name "Rgveda" comes from. The Sanskrit
Sanskrit
term Heruka
Heruka
was translated into both Chinese and Tibetan as "blood drinker," which scholar Ronald Davidson calls "curious," speculating that the nonliteral translation derived from an association the term has with cremation grounds and 'charnel grounds' (Sanskrit: śmāśāna) (which absorb the blood of the dead).[1] Sanskrit
Sanskrit
terms for blood drinker include asrikpa, reflecting a Sanskrit
Sanskrit
word for blood (asrik),[2] and raktapa, raktapayin, or rakshasa, derived from an alternate root term for blood (rakta).[3] Unlike the Chinese and Tibetan (Tratung, wylie: khrag 'thung) terms used to translate it, the Sanskrit
Sanskrit
term heruka does not literally mean blood drinker, although the fact that it was rendered as such into two other languages strongly suggests an according Indian interpretive etymology.[4] Eight Herukas of the Nyingma
Nyingma
Mahayoga[edit]

Yamantaka
Yamantaka
Vajrabhairav, British Museum.

The eight Herukas (Wylie: sgrub pa bka’ brgyad) of the Nyingma mahayoga tradition (and their corresponding sadhanas) are said to have been received by Padmakara
Padmakara
from the Eight Vidyadharas (Tib. Rigdzin), or Eight Great Acharyas: Manjushrimitra, Nagarjuna, Vajrahumkara, Vimalamitra, Prabhahasti, Dhanasamskrita, Shintamgarbha and Guhyachandra.[1] They were proficient in the practices of, respectively, 1) Yamantaka
Yamantaka
(Tib. Jampal Shinje, ’jam dpal sku) the wrathful Manjushri, the deity of body 2) Hayagriva (Tib. Pema Sung, padma gsung) the wrathful Avalokiteśvara, the deity of speech 3) Vishuddha/Sri Samyak (Tib. Yangdak Thuk, Wylie: yang dag thugs) the wrathful Vajrapani
Vajrapani
deity of mind 4) Vajramrita (Tib. Dudtsi Yonten, bdud rtsi yon tan) the wrathful Samantabhadra, the deity of enlightened qualities 5) Vajrakilaya/Vajrakumara (Tib. Dorje Phurba, phur ba ‘phrin las), the wrathful Vajrasattva, the deity of purification 6) Matarah (Tib. Mamo Botong, ma mo rbod gtong) the wrathful Akasagarbha, the deity of calling and dispatching 7) Lokastotrapuja-natha (Tib. Jigten Chotod, ’jig rten mchod bstod) the wrathful Ksitigarbha, the deity of worldly offering and praise 8) Vajramantrabhiru (Tib. Mopa Dragnak, mod pa drag sngags) the wrathful Maitreya, the deity of wrathful mantras Padmasambhava
Padmasambhava
is quoted in the Bardo Thodol
Bardo Thodol
(Antarabhavatantra - "Tibetan Book of the Dead"): "The crucial point is indeed that those who have meditated on the formal description of these Herukakaya ('bodies of Heruka'), and also made offerings and praise to them, or, at the very least, have simply seen their painted and sculpted images, may recognise the forms that arise here and attain moksha (liberation)." See also[edit]

Wrathful deities

Notes[edit]

^ Indian Esoteric Buddhism
Buddhism
by Ronald Davidson. pg 213 ^ A Sanskrit-English dictionary By Monier Monier-Williams, Ernst Leumann, Carl Cappeller. ISBN 81-206-0369-9 pg 121 ^ A Sanskrit-English dictionary By Monier Monier-Williams, Ernst Leumann, Carl Cappeller. ISBN 81-206-0369-9 pg 861 ^ The Cakrasamvara Tantra
Tantra
(The Discourse of Śrī Heruka): A Study and Annotated Translation. by David B. Gray, Columbia University: 2007 pg 40 n. 124

References[edit]

Khenchen Palden Rinpoche. The Dark Red Amulet: Oral Instructions on the Practice of Vajrakilaya. New York: Snow Lion Publications, 2009 ISBN 978-1-55939-311-9.

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