Uṣṇīṣavijaya | Namgyälma

Uṣṇīṣavijaya | Namgyälma
Uṣṇīṣavijaya | Namgyälma

1. Uṣṇīṣavijaya

Uṣṇīṣavijaya ("Victorious One with Uṣṇīṣa"; Tibetan: Tsuktor Namgyälma) is a Buddha of long life in Buddhism in female form. She removes obstacles that shorten one’s life-span.

Uṣṇīṣa is a 3-dimensional oval topknot at the top of the head.

She wears an image of Vairocana in her headdress.

Together with Amitāyus and White Tārā, Uṣṇīṣavijaya constitutes the 3 Buddhas of long life. She is one of the more well-known Buddhist divinities in Nepal, Tibet, and Mongolia.

Since 1571 Namgyälma has been the namesake for Namgyal Monastery – the personal monastery of all the Dalai Lamas since its establishment by the 3rd Dalai Lama, Gyalwa Sonam Gyatso.

Namgyälma / Uṣṇīṣavijaya is a female yidam and long-life deity of the Kriya Tantra class in Tibetan Buddhism.

She is typically depicted as being white in colour, seated, and has 8 arms, holding various symbolic implements in each of her hands.

2. Overview

Buddha Amitāyus (Tsepame) in Tibetan, is the main yidam deity that enables practitioners to live a long life.

In order to fulfil the varying needs of disciples, Amitāyus has 2 helpers who can be meditated on for more specific purposes:

As mentioned, these 2 helpers are Namgyälma (Uṣṇīṣavijaya) and White Tārā.

Namgyälma is a yidam deity. She is never separate from and is always together with Amitāyus and White Tārā.

All 3 yidams are deities for long life (she-ring in Tibetan).

Amitāyus appears as a male deity, and Namgyälma and White Tārā appear as female deities.

Namgyälma is a female deity of Kriya yoga. She belongs to the group of deities that are practiced to have a long life.

Her specific attribute is to remove obstacles that shorten one’s life-span.

Namgyälma has 8 arms and holds different implements in each hand.

Her hands and the implements symbolize her enlightened activities that benefit others. The 4 arms on each side show that she accomplishes 4 activities in helping others.

The 4 activities are:

  1. pacifying,
  2. increasing,
  3. magnetizing,
  4. subjugating.

Namgyälma holds a double-vajra in her upper right hand and a lasso in her upper left hand; both are held to her chest.

She has her 2nd right hand in the mudra of generosity and holds a vase in her 2nd left hand, which is in the meditation position.

She holds an arrow in her 3rd right hand and a bow in her 3rd left hand.

She holds an image of Buddha Amitābha in her 4th right hand. Her 4th left hand is placed in the mudra of protection.

Namgyälma has 3 faces:

  1. Her middle face is white in colour,
  2. her right face is red,
  3. her left face is blue.

Her white face expresses that she is neither peaceful nor wrathful but is fully balanced.

The expression on her white face means that she removes all obstacles that endanger the life-span of sentient beings.

Her red face that faces to her right side symbolizes her pacifying activities.

Her blue face that faces to her left side symbolizes her subjugating activities.

Namgyälma has 3 faces because she deals with a great variety of sentient beings:

Some of them are in need of wrathful methods to relinquish obstacles and thus to tame their mind. Others need peaceful methods to help them tame their mind.

Others do not need the one or the other but a state between the 2, which is why Namgyälma has a smile on her middle face.

Her enlightened activities are represented by 5 colours:

They are seen by visualizing white light streaming from her forehead and dissolving into ones forehead;

red light streaming from her throat and dissolving into ones throat;

blue light streaming from her heart centre and dissolving into ones heart centre;

yellow light streaming from her navel and dissolving into ones navel;

and green light streaming from her secret centre and dissolving into ones secret centre.

By having dissolved into a disciple, each colour removed a specific obstacle.

The white light is merit that has enabled all sicknesses to be overcome and cured.

The yellow light is merit that has enabled obstacles to one’s life-span to be removed.

The red light is merit that has enabled the energy force of one’s life to be condensed.

The green light is merit that has enabled all obstacle-makers, i.e., demons and evil spirits, to be removed.

The blue light is merit that enables one to have all enlightened activities that Namgyälma has.

3. Mantra

Ākāśagarbha Bodhisattva

Uṣṇīṣavijaya | Namgyälma

It is recommended to repeat the Uṣṇīṣavijaya Mantra at least 7 times a day or as much as you can.

Uṣṇīṣavijaya Mantra is:

/ Om Drum Svāhā / Om Amrita Ayur Dade Svāhā //

DRUM is Namgyälma’s seed syllable and represents her mind. It is white.

AMRITA means nectar,

AYUR means life, so AMRITA AYUR means “long-life nectar.” 

If we want to live long, we have to take long-life nectar. Therefore the translation of the mantra is, “Namgyälma, please give me long-life nectar.”

One calls her by speaking the short mantra, OM DRUM SVAHA.

If one calls her and she appears, one has to tell her what one wants. Therefore one says, AMRITA AYUR.

So, OM DRUM SVAHA, “Namgyälma, please come.”

OM AMRITA AYUR DADE SVAHA, “Please bring me long-life nectar.”

Repeating the mantra is very beneficial, especially to remove obstacles that shorten ones life-span.

You need a long life and don’t need obstacles, so you say,

OM DRUM SVAHA, “Hello Namgyälma!”

OM AMRITA AYUR DADE SVAHA, “Please give me long-life nectar.”

Then you dedicate the merit of having received the empowerment for the well-being of everyone else and recite wishing prayers for them.

4. Uṣṇīṣa Vijaya Dhāraṇī Sūtra

Ākāśagarbha Bodhisattva

Uṣṇīṣavijaya | Namgyälma

The Uṣṇīṣa Vijaya Dhāraṇī Sūtra contains another famous Mantra of Uṣṇīṣavijaya, a very important Dhāraṇī in Chinese Buddhism:

The Chinese Emperor (776 AD) and a Japanese Emperor (860 AD) had both enforced all Buddhist monasteries within their countries to facilitate its practice, after it had been believed to have brought rain to end 2 events of droughts in history.

The purpose of this sūtra is said to be to help sentient beings in a troubled and tumultuous world.

According to this sūtra, beings will leave suffering and obtain happiness, increasing in their prosperity and longevity, remove karmic obstacles, eliminate disasters and calamities, remove enmity and hatred, fulfil all wishes, and quickly be led onto the Buddha's way.

The Sūtra text says:

If someone hears this Dhāraṇī even just for a moment, he will not undergo karmic retribution from evil karma and severe hindrances accumulated from thousands of kalpas ago,

that would otherwise cause him to revolve in the cycles of birth and death - in all kinds of life forms in the evil paths - hell, hungry ghost, animal, realm of King Yama, Asuras...ferocious animals, crawling creatures and even ants and other life forms...

he will be reborn in the Buddha Pure Lands, together with all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, or in a distinguished Brahmin or Kṣatriya family, or in some other wealthy and reputable families.

According to the text, major applications of this dhāraṇī include:

  1. Destroy calamities and rescue those in difficulties
  2. Eliminate offenses and create good deeds
  3. Purify all karmic obstructions
  4. Increase blessings and lengthen lifespan
  5. Attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi
  6. Relieve beings in the ghost realm
  7. Benefit birds, animals and all crawling creatures
  8. Increase wisdom
  9. Revert the fixed karma;
  10. Eliminate various illness;
  11. Destroy hells;
  12. Ensure the safety of the households, and having children to inherit the family pride;
  13. Harmonise husbands and wives;
  14. Be able to reborn in Sukhāvatī or other pure lands;
  15. Heal sickness inflicted by pretas;
  16. Request for rain etc.

The Uṣṇīṣavijaya Dhāraṇī text in Sanskrit for recitation is:

namo bhagavate trailokya prativiśiṣṭaya buddhāya bhagavate.
tadyathā, om, viśodhaya viśodhaya, asama-sama
samantāvabhāsa-spharaṇa gati gahana svabhāva viśuddhe,
abhiṣiñcatu mām. sugata vara vacana amṛta abhiṣekai mahā mantra-padai.
āhara āhara āyuḥ saṃ-dhāraṇi. śodhaya śodhaya gagana viśuddhe.
uṣṇīṣa vijaya viśuddhe sahasra-raśmi sam-codite.
sarva tathāgata avalokani ṣaṭ-pāramitā-paripūraṇi.
sarva tathāgata mati daśa-bhūmi prati-ṣṭhite.
sarva tathāgata hṛdaya adhiṣṭhānādhiṣṭhita mahā-mudre.
vajra kāya sam-hatana viśuddhe.
sarva āvaraṇa apāya-durgati pari viśuddhe, prati-nivartaya āyuh śuddhe.
samaya adhiṣṭhite. maṇi maṇi mahā maṇi.
tathatā bhūta-koṭi pariśuddhe. visphuṭa buddhi śuddhe.
jaya jaya, vijaya vijaya. smara smara, sarva buddha adhiṣṭhita śuddhe,
vajri vajragārbhe vajram bhavatu mama śarīram.
sarva sattvānām ca kāya pari viśuddhe. sarva gati pariśuddhe.
sarva tathāgata siñca me samāśvāsayantu.
sarva tathāgata samāśvāsa adhiṣṭhite.
budhya budhya, vibudhya vibudhya,
bodhaya bodhaya, vibodhaya vibodhaya samanta pariśuddhe.
sarva tathāgata hṛdaya adhiṣṭhānādhiṣṭhita mahā-mudre svāhā.

In addition to the long dhāraṇī, there is the much shorter Uṣṇīṣavijaya heart-mantra:

oṁ amṛta tejovati svāhā ||

I will give more details about Uṣṇīṣa Vijaya Dhāraṇī Sūtra in a separate article.