original gouache and mineral paints on linen 2013
Here Ushnishavijaya is representing the “Three-Stacked Deity”, a visualization central to the puja, or ceremonial practice, of the “Queen of Great Bliss”, a practice done to promote the health of a spiritual community. She is in the center of a green lotus flanked by two blue flowers, symbols of Green Tara, goddess of compassion, representing the fact that she resides in Green Tara’s heart, and then below that is the red ground symbolizing that they also are both in Vajra Varahi heart, the goddess of energy. The image is flanked by the implements the goddess Vajra Varahi holds: the drum, symbol of many things, among them the rhythm of the heart. It draws people and energies to the practice being done. The other implement is a type of knife used to cut up bodies at “sky burial”. In Tibet corpses were cut up and offered to the vultures as a way to “bury” the dead in a culture where the ground is often frozen and not much wood grows for creating coffins or funeral pyers. It symbolizes the severing of all attachment, or belief of perceptions as real.
According to Buddhist scriptures, soon after attaining enlightenment the Buddha manifested thirty-two major and eight minor characteristics. One of these features was the ushnisha, a cranial protuberance that served as a physical reminder of his heightened intelligence. A feminine deity of Tibetan Buddhism, Ushnishavijaya is the deification of this distinctive mark of the Buddha. Her name means “victorious goddess of the Ushnisha,” and refers to her exceptional intelligence.
Here she is seated in a meditative pose with both legs folded, one leg, like Green Tara’s extended so that she can stand and start to act on our behalf. There are several forms of this goddess, this is the two armed form associated with the Puja practice Queen of Great Bliss. The right hand is shown in the gesture of offering and the left holds a long-life vase.