Vajradhara | Dorje Chang

Vajradhara | Dorje Chang
Vajradhara | Dorje Chang

Vajradhara | Dorje Chang

Vajradhara (Sanskrit: वज्रधर; Tibetan: Dorje Chang; English: Diamond-holder) is the ultimate Primordial Buddha, or Ādi Buddha, according to the Sakya, Gelug and Kagyu schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

The name of Vajradhara can also refer to Indra in Vedic cosmology, because Vajra means diamond, as well as the thunderbolt, anything hard more generally.

In the evolution of Indian Buddhism, Buddha Vajradhara gradually displaced Samantabhadra, who is the Primordial Buddha in the Nyingma, or Ancient School.

However, the 2 are metaphysically equivalent:

Achieving the “state of Vajradhara” is synonymous with complete realisation.

According to the Kagyu lineage, Buddha Vajradhara is the primordial Buddha, the Dharmakāya Buddha.

He is depicted as dark blue in colour, expressing the quintessence of Buddhahood itself and representing the essence of the historical Buddha's realization of Enlightenment.

As such, Buddha Vajradhara is thought to be the Supreme Essence of all (male) Buddhas (his name means Ruler of the Vajra Beings);

It is the Tantric form of Śākyamuni which is called Vajradhara.

Tantras are texts specific to Tantrism and are believed to have been originally taught by the Tantric form of Śākyamuni called Buddha Vajradhara.

He is an expression of Buddhahood itself in both single and yab-yum form.

Buddha Vajradhara is considered to be the prime Buddha of the Father Tantras (tib. pha-rgyud) such as Guhyasamāja, Yamantaka, and so on

From the primordial Buddha Vajradhara/Samantabhadra Buddha /Dorje Chang were manifested the 5 Wisdom Buddhas (Dhyāna Buddhas):

Buddha Vajradhara and the Wisdom Buddhas are often subjects of Maṇḍala.

Buddha Vajradhara and Samantabhadra Buddha are cognate deities in Tibetan Buddhist cosmology with different names, attributes, appearances and iconography.

Both are Dharmakāya Buddhas, that is Primordial Buddhas:

Samantabhadra is unadorned, that is depicted without any attributes;

conversely, Buddha Vajradhara is often adorned and bears attributes, which is generally the iconographic representation of a Saṁbhogakāya Buddha.

Both Buddha Vajradhara and Samantabhadra are generally depicted in yab-yum unity with their respective consorts and are primordial Buddhas, embodying void and ultimate emptiness.

Dorje Chang | Vajradhara

Dorje Chang | Vajradhara

Vajradhara is the supreme, Primordial Buddha without beginning or end, lord of all mysteries, master of all secrets.

It is to him the subdued and conquered evil spirits swear allegiance and vow that they will no longer prevent or hinder the propagation of the Buddhist faith.

He is thought to be too elevated Buddha and too much lost in divine quietude to favour man's undertakings and works with his assistance,

and he acts usually through the Bodhisattva Vajrasattva (Dorje Sempa), and would be to him in the relation of a Dhyāna-Buddha to his human Buddha .

Vajradhara is always represented seated, with his legs locked and the soles of his feet apparent, and wears the Bodhisattva crown as well as the dress and ornaments of an Indian prince.

He has the ūrṇā (wisdom eye) and uṣṇīṣa.

His arms are crossed on his breast in the vajra-hum-kāra mudra holding the Vajra (thunderbolt) and Ghanta (bell).

These 2 symbols may, however, be supported by flowering branches on either side, the stems being held in the crossed hands, which is his special mystic gesture.

In Karma Kagyu tradition the Head Lama Karmapa is believed to be an earthly manifestation of Buddha Vajradhara.


'Shining Relics of Enlightened Body' is numbered amongst the '17 Tantras of Menngagde' within Dzogchen discourse and is part of the textual support for the Vima Nyingthig (Seminal Heart of Vimalamitra).

In the Dzogchen tantric text rendered in English as Shining Relics, an enlightened personality entitled Buddha Vajradhara and a Ḍākinī whose name may be rendered into English as Clear mind engage in discourse and dialogue which is a common convention in such esoteric Buddhist literature and tantric literature in general.