Chintimani Mahakala: The Jewel of Abundance
40" x 23" FRamed. Painting: 20" x 13"
When you seek prosperity for all humanity, the realm of Chintamani Mahakala opens before you, offering an abundance of wish-granting jewels. When you seek wealth only for yourself, you compete against all other human beings.
Mahakala is an archetype deity who appears as a wrathful deity who guards the Buddhist path of wisdom and compassion. Here Mahakala manifests with a ferocious smile as the guardian of wealth and prosperity, holding at his breast a flaming Chintamani, or wish fulfilling jewel. In Buddhist mythology, Chintamani refers less to the fulfillment of worldly hopes than to the jewel of enlightened consciousness that exists within all beings. In the gallery of liberated vision, the white form of Mahakala arises in a nimbus of fire and rainbow light, impelling us beyond petty notions of accumulation to a recognition of an all-pervading bounty.
Chintamani Mahakala tramples on icons of worldly wealth in the form of the elephant headed Ganesh. These celestial forms dramatize inner processes, as well as the means of transforming them. As a symbol of self-existing abundance, Chintamani Mahakala reveals secrets of Buddhist alchemy: that genuine wealth is achieved through generosity and that compassionate vision frees us from impoverishing attachments. Giving away all that we achieve—mentally, spiritually, and materially- we are born anew in the Buddha field of vast abundance, free of avarice and fear.
Mahakala holds in his lower left hand a skull bowl bearing the golden vase, kalasa, of Kubera, another wealth –bestowing deity. In his upper right hand he holds a curved kartrika, which severs the roots of attachment. In his upper left hand, he holds a ritual trident in place of his iconographically prescribed noose, a further symbol of material entrapment. Whatever riches we accumulate materially are abandoned at the moment of death. Only the wealth that we accrue spiritually will benefit us in the interim world of celestial visions. The emanations of the mind’s deepest dimensions may at first seem horrific, but recognized as reflections of unexplored regions of the psyche, they may offer complete liberation from the slavery to emotional and material attachments. Like the awakened heart of the Buddhas, the universe selflessly gives of itself. If we surrender to its implacable compassion, we are ourselves unwitting inheritors of the world’s abundance. The secret lies in letting go.
By Romio Shrestha & Ian Baker: Celestial Gallery
Handpainted by monks in Nepal