Yamāntaka is a wrathful expression of Mañjuśrī, the Samyaksambuddha of wisdom who, in other contexts, also functions as a dharmapala or a Heruka.
Here is one story associated with Yamantaka.
There was once a yogi who lived in isolation in a cave in the mountains where he practiced meditation with determination. One day, while sitting in profound samadhi and just about to achieve the Awakened State that is called Enlightenment, two cattle thieves dragging their prize of a dead water buffalo just happened to find the cave. Thinking they were alone, they began to butcher the meat by first removing the head from the rest of the carcase.
When they noticed the ascetic, who would certainly be able to identify them to authorities, they smoothly and swiftly beheaded him, too. The siddha, in a fury that his objective — so near in that lifetime — had been thwarted, reached out and grabbed the closer of the heads lying there, and with a twist of his wrist, installed the missing part. It happened to be that of the bull.
Thus, his prior spiritual attainment combined with his anger, frustration and animal fury to cause him to take on the form of the most ferocious of the devas, Lord Yama, god of Death (Chinese: Yen-Lo-Wang.) Having assumed this form he not only slaughtered the two cattle rustlers, but went on a rampage that threatened the population for miles around.
In desperation, followers of the Buddha-dharma appealed to the Great Bodhisattva, Manjushri, for help. Jampel Yang (as Manjusri is known in Tibetan,) having both wisdom and compassion, as well as superior knowledge, used like to conquer like. He assumed a fierce bull-headed form himself and put an end to the furious and mindless predation of that particular version of Yama, the Lord of Death.
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Yamantaka Brocade Thanka
- Yamantaka Brocade Thanka