A dharmapāla (Tibetan:

ཆོས་སྐྱོང་, Wylie: chos skyong, Chinese: 達磨波羅, 護法神, 護法鬼神, 諸天鬼神, 護法龍天, 諸天善神, Japanese: 達磨波羅, 護法善神, 護法神, 諸天善神, 諸天鬼神, 諸天善神諸大眷屬[1]) is a type of wrathful god in Buddhism. The name means “dharma protector” in Sanskrit, and the dharmapālas are also known as the Defenders of the Justice (Dharma), or the Guardians of the Law. There are two kinds of dharmapala, Worldly Guardians (lokapala) and Wisdom Protectors (jnanapala). Only Wisdom Protectors are enlightened beings.[2]

Guardian gods of Buddhism

This article includes a list of general references, but it remains largely unverified because it lacks sufficient corresponding inline citations. (September 2015)
For other uses, see Dharmapala (disambiguation).
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A protector of Buddhist dharma is called a dharmapala. They are typically wrathful deities, depicted with terrifying iconography in the Mahayana and tantric traditions of Buddhism.[3] The wrathfulness is intended to depict their willingness to defend and guard Buddhist followers from dangers and enemies. The Aṣṭagatyaḥ (the eight kinds of nonhuman beings) is one category of dharmapālas, which includes the Garuda, Deva, Naga, Yaksha, Gandharva, Asura, Kinnara and Mahoraga.[3]

In Vajrayanaiconography and thangka depictions, dharmapala are fearsome beings, often with many heads, many hands, or many feet. Dharmapala often have blue, black or red skin, and a fierce expression with protruding fangs. Although dharmapala have a terrifying appearance, they only act in a wrathful way for the benefit of sentient beings.

The devotional worship of dharmapālas in the Tibetan tradition is traceable to early 8th-century.[3]

Tibetan (Citipati mask depicting Mahākāla

There are many different dharmapalas in Tibetan Buddhism. Each school has its own principle dharmapalas and most monasteries have a dedicated dharmapāla which was originally comparable to a genius loci.[citation needed] The many forms of Mahakala are emanations of Avalokiteshvara.[citation needed] Kalarupa and Yamantaka are considered by practitioners to be emanations of Manjushri[citation needed] the Bodhisattva of Wisdom.

Principal wisdom protector dharmapalas include:[citation needed]

Other dharmapalas include:[citation needed]

The main functions of a dharmapāla are said to be to avert the inner and outer obstacles that prevent spiritual practitioners from attaining spiritual realizations, as well as to foster the necessary conditions for their practice.[4]

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