Original: gouache and 22 carat gold on linen. 2003
Amoghasiddhi is one of the five enlightened Buddha family lords. He is the Buddha of action, lord of the karma family, and guardian of the north. His name means “Unobstructed Success”.
His emblem is the double dorje, which represents energy completely freed, capable of moving in any direction or in all directions at once. It stands for the idea that fearlessness comes from a full and balanced development of all sides of ourselves. It is easy to develop one’s strengths and to use them to get along in life, but to become fully rounded and therefore fully strong one must work on the weakest parts of oneself. Amoghasiddhi helps those who perform his sadna to accomplish this so that they may teach one day.
Amoghasiddhi’s attributes and emblems are redolent of power and energy, yet his activity is subtle and hidden. His hands are in the mudra “fear not”, and his presence is said to remove terror and fear. He is associated with the element of air, and with sound. He is said to transmute the spiritual poisons of disdain and envy into their opposite spiritual gift of equanimity. Amoghasiddi is always depicted in the midnight sky, being pulled along by his mounts the kinnera, half-bird half human (sometimes confused with garuda) clashing symbols as they go (these are present in the original painting).
The classic structure of paintings of the 5 Buddha families includes students at the top who are receiving teachings, and two helpers who disseminate teachings – here, Manjushri and Avalokitesvara, whose hands are posed in the gesture of disseminating wisdom. There is often a bottom register that would include an image of the monk who commissioned the piece and his offerings. This was my first thankga painting and so there was no commissioner – I put my guru, Swami Chetanananda, on bottom right, his guru Swami Rudrananda bottom left, the symbol of Amoghasiddi – the double dorje – in the center, and the offerings and deity that my teacher was working with at the time I was painting this.