Ink & brush on paper

Original size: 43 x 34 cm

Gompo Bernagchen (Mahākāla)

Traditional Thangka Painting by

Thomas Yeshe Dalarud

Gompo Bernagchen (Sanskrit: Mahākāla) is the two-armed form of the protector Mahākāla. He is dressed in a black cloak —hence the Tibetan name Ber; -cloak, nag; -black, chen; -great. The Tibetan name Gompo is often given (but not exclusively) to the wrathful deities and protectors in Varjayana Buddhism. It is an epithet that stands for ”fearless & powerful protector”. As in the case of the Six-armed Mahākāla Gompo Bernagchen is also a form of Mahākāla that is practiced both as a protector of the Buddha’s Dharma and as a complete Yidam practice that has the potential to bring the practitioner to full enlightenment. Mahākāla, in all its different forms, is the wrathful manifestation of the Boundless Love and Compassion of all the Buddhas that is so often depicted in its peaceful form of Avalokiteśvara (Tib; Chenrezig). Gompo Bernagchen can often be seen depicted riding a mule and in union with his consort Palden Lhamo, —the very fierce manifestation of the female principle of enlightenment, Varja yoginī or Ārya Tārā.

Gompo Bernagchen is the principal protector deity of the Karmapas and Karma Kagyu Lineage.

(For enlargement please click on the main image)

Detail of the face of Gompo


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Detail of the lower part of Gompo Bernagchen

Detail of the curved knife Gompo is holding in his right hand