vairagya (S): "Dispassion; aversion." Freedom from passion. Distaste or disgust for worldliness because of spiritual awakening. Also, the constant renunciation of obstacles on the path to liberation. Ascetic or monastic life.

Vairocana (S): Tibetan: nam par nang zhe. Emanation of Adibuddha, the primordial buddha who represents the cosmic element of consciousness. He is the primordial wisdom of the sphere of reality. His is in the center of the mandala consisting of the five Transcendental Buddhas, and his rites pacify negative emotions. He is white and his two hands are held against the chest with his thumbs and forefingers touching. He radiates the light of Buddhahood and his consort is Akashadhateshvari, the Sovereign Lady of Infinite Space. The dance of space and awareness is known as the Dharmadhatu. It is this dance that is represented by the sexual imagery depicted in Tantra.

Vairochana Rakshita (circa 728-764 C.E): A disciple of Padmasambhava and Sri Singha; author of the Vajrabhairava Mandalavidhi Prakasa. One of the first seven monks to be ordained in Tibet, and Tibet's greatest translator.

Vaishravana (S): Militant guardian deity of north. See Jambhala.

vajra (S): Tibetan: do. "Lord of Stones." In Hindu symbology, the vajra is an emblem and/or magical weapon thought to produce the lightning flash controlled by the god Indra. It is said to be of indestructible power and has often been compared to the thunderbolt of other Indo-European male deities such as Zeus. Such comparison does not apply to the Tibetan symbolism. A synonym for both vajra and dorje is mani (Skt., "jewel"), and these terms are often used as a code for true nature of mind as well as the lingam, still carrying the associations of power, hardness, and great worth. Mani therefore appears with Padma (Skt. "lotus"; i.e. yoni) in the famous chant "Om Mani Padme Hum;" a celebration of this primordial union as the means to overcome dualism of any kind. The corresponding female equivalent to the male dorje-mani-vajra is ghanta, the bell. Images of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Vajrayana dignitaries often show them with one or both of these attributes in their hands. Dorje/Vajra also represents one of the Five Buddha Families.

Vajracchedika-Prajnaparamita Sutra (S): The Diamond Cutter Sutra. A great dialogue between the Buddha and Subhuti on the true nature of mind, phenomena and designation. One of the first sutras to be widely available in English.

Vajradhara (S): Tibetan: Dorje Chang. "Thunderbolt Bearer." An emanation of the Adi buddha, considered by some to be the highest deity of the Buddhist Pantheon in Vajrayana Buddhism, as well as its spiritual source. He is the central figure in the Refuge Tree of the Kagyupa school. This Tantric form of Shakyamuni and embodies the primordial awakened mind and many Tantric teachings are attributed to him. He is an expression of Buddhahood itself in both single and yabyum form. He is depicted with his arms crossed on his chest, holding a dorje and a bell.. In the Nyingma tradition, he represents the principle of the lama as enlightened holder of the Vajrayana teachings.

Vajrakilaya (S): Tibetan: Dorje Phurba. Diamond Spike. A wrathful form of Padmasambava, Vajrakilaya is one of the most important Nyingma tutelary deities (dharma or vajra protectors, Skt., ishta-devata; Tib., yidam), and is associated with the Phurba, a triangular-blade ritual dagger representing the unity of the three bodies of the Buddha (Skt., tri-kaya; Tib., kusum) brought to a single point to subjugate negative forces. This winged "heruka" (wrathful) deity with three faces and six arms is shown in union with his wisdom consort. Together they represent the union of the feminine aspect of wisdom (Skt., prajna; Tib., sherab) and the male aspect of method (Skt., upaya; Tib., tob). They stand on prostrate human figures to represent triumph over delusion. Vajrakilaya wears shawls fashioned from flayed elephant and human skins, a tiger-skin skirt, dried skull crowns for each of his faces, and a garland of 51 dripping human heads representing the transmutation of the 51 base emotions. His consort Diptachakra has one face and two arms, and is holding a flaying knife (Skt., katari; Tib., dri-guk) in her right hand and a skullcup (Skt., kapala; Tib., todpa) in her left hand, and is wearing a leopard-skin skirt. A powerful sambhogakaya buddha of wrathful demeanor, Vajrakilaya is sporting with his consort Diptachakra, raising a vajra in his right hand while bearing a phurba lowered in his left, his wings raised in the midst of a halo of flames. Blue in body, adorned by snakes and animal skins, Vajrakilaya is of the nature of primordial awareness and emanates across for practitioners of the inner tantras. His main purpose is to help sentient beings remove,deep seated dualistic conceptions. Vajrakilaya practice combines all three of the inner tantras. One of the Vajrakilaya teachings, 'The Dark Red Amulet,' was given by the Buddha Shakyamuni in the form of Vajrakilaya himself and taught to many vidyadharas. This was passed down to several great masters such as Garab Dorje, Shri Singha, Vimalamitra and Guru Padmasambhava. These teachings were later revealed by Tsasum Lingpa, a terton living in eastern Tibet during the 17th century, and through the Khenpo Rinpoches and other great lamas, they continue to be handed down today in an unbroken lineage.

Vajrakilaya Sadhana (S): Tibetan: Pudri Re P'hung, "The Razor That Destroys at Touch." The practice of Vajrakilaya was the heart practice of Yeshe Tsogyal, given to her by Padmasambhava to remove obstacles on her path to enlightenment. In this century, while His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche was in retreat in a cave at Paro Taksang in Bhutan, he had a visionary dream in which Yeshe Tsogyal appeared to him and entrusted the practice to him. She tucked a meteorite phurba into his clothes telling him that Guru Rinpoche himself had manifested as Dorje Drolo in the same cave, and with the same phurba had subdued the eight classes of powerful worldly ones and liberated the male and female kingly demons Before he left Tibet, she said, "he gave me this phurba, and now I give it to you. Keep it as your heart's jewel." Vajrakilaya is the wrathful aspect of Vajrasattva; he fulfills the action of the buddha’s mind in cutting through delusion and the outer and inner obstacles to realization, all of which can be completely dispelled, opening the doors to limitless compassion. With diligence and concentration, one can gain power and victory over negative forces, the reflections of one’s own mind. See Dudjom Rinpoche

Varjrapani: (S): A wrathful Bodhisattva who with Avalokitesvara and Manjusri, is one of the three Vajrayana family protectors. According to Buddhist philosophy, the state of pure and total enlightenment is characterized by three qualities which are of benefit to others: limitless compassion, limitless wisdom, and limitless skillful means. The bodhisattvas Avalokitesvara and Manjushri embody the first two of these characteristics while Vajrapani embodies skillful means. Skillful means is the ability to enter into any situation, no matter how unpromising, and transform it into the path of spiritual fulfillment. Vajrapani is this tantric aspect of the enlightened mind, transforming the energy of negative emotion into active wisdom and magical perfection. He symbolizes the indestructible vajra mind of a Buddha. He stands on a lotus throne surmounted by moon and sun disk. His body color is dark blue-green, with a serpent garland around his neck, adorned with golden bracelets, silk scarves and ornaments of jewels and bone. He stands in the midst of a raging fire. In his right hand he holds a flaming meteorite vajra and his left hand is at his heart in the subjugation mudra. He has three eyes, a rolling tongue and gnashing fangs. Standing upon the negative forces, his right leg is extended and his left slightly bent in the style of wrathful deities. Vajrapani first generated the mind of enlightenment when, as a mendicant, he prepared food for the Tathagata known as King of Patterns. He will become the final Buddha of this time, to be known as Buddha Ma rig mun sel drön ma che, "The Guide of Men". He will take birth in the land called Glorious Brilliance, where he will beof princely descent, and his glory will be measureless. He will be known as "Without Desire and Without Ignorance". His human life span will also be measureless and he will hold a measureless number of extraordinary assemblies. He will accomplish as many perfect actions as were performed by all the previous Buddhas, his relics will be extensive and after his ascension to nirvana, his teachings will remain to benefit sentient beings for further countless thousands of years.

vajra posture: Sanskrit: vajrasana. Tibetan: dorje kyil krung. Meditation posture, cross-legged with the feet resting on the thighs.

Vajra Protector: Fierce deities who are Bodhisattvas or wrathful manifestations of the Buddhas who protect the Dharma. Known as Heruka or Yidam in Tibetan Buddhism.

Vajrasana : (S.) literally, diamond throne. The seat of the Buddha's enlightenment, located under a pipal tree on the west side of the Mahabodhi Temple Compound, Bodhgaya India,

1) The Maha Bodhi Temple is the historical place at which the Enlightenment took place. About 250 years after the Enlightenment, the Buddhist Emperor Ashoka visited the site and is considered the founder of the Mahabodhi Temple. According to the tradition, Ashoka, as well as establishing a monastery, erected a great shrine at this spot with a canopy supported by four pillars over a stone representation of the Vajrasana, the Seat of Enlightenment. While the Vajrasana was the specific site of the enlightenment, the Bodhi tree, closely linked to the Buddha's accomplishment, became a central focus of devotion early in the history of the Sangha and in much later artwork.

2) Also known as the "Thunder Bolt Pose", or "Diamond Seat". This is the well-known meditation pose (Dhyanasana) of utmost concentration requiring that the legs are crossed so that the soles of both feet are visible.

Vajrasattva (S): Tibetan: Dorje Sempa."Diamond Being." The Buddha of primordial purity, representing the original crystalline unity of the mind. He is the essence of the five male Buddhas for meditation and is one manifestation of the Adi-Buddha Kuntuzangpo who is much revered in Vajrayana or Tantric Buddhism. Vajrasattva’s symbolism and iconography are complex, but among other things he represents one's beginningless or ultimate purity, beyond space and time. One of the foundation practices of Tantric Buddhism, which involves the visualization of Vajrasattva and the repetition of his hundred syllable mantra, is highly revered for its role in purifying negative karmas and infractions of vows. Vajrasattva's practice is one of the most important of the Four Preliminary Practices. This is because Vajrasattva eradicates negative hindrances accumulated since time immemorial.

A totally enlightened being who has the special power to remove mental, emotional and physical obscurations, Vajrasattva resides on the level of the Sambogakaya. When one does Vajrasattva practice, one visualizes him above one's head on a one-thousand petalled white lotus. Upon the lotus is a moon disk upon which he sits in vajra posture. Vajrasattva, like all tantric deities, does not appear as if solid, instead he is seen as a wisdom rainbow body, intensely white in color like "a snow covered mountain bathed by full moon light; a very rich, brilliantly white". When reciting his mantra, his blessings rain down in the form of a purifying nectar which descends in a flow of incandenscent light entering your central channel through the crown chakra. Practiced correctly, Vajrasattva's blessing power purifies all obscurations to the realization of enlightened mind. He is typically depicted holding a vajra in his right hand, next to his chest, and a bell in his left hand, next to his left thigh. He is visualized with and without consort.

Vajrasattva Yoga: Purification yoga to remove karmic hindrances created by past negative actions and by breaking one's tantric vows. Vajrasattva, who represents the essential purity, is invoked with his Hundred-Syllable Mantra.

Vajravarahi (S): Tibetan: Dorje Phagmo. "Diamond Sow." Ecstatically fierce Dakini, a a two-armed, red goddess whose head is surmounted by the head of a sow, and whose screech obliterates all concepts and sharply confides the direct meaning or ro-chig — the one taste of Emptiness and Form. She is the consort of Heruka Hayagriva. Her six manifestations include Yeshe Tsogyal (speech incarnation), Mandarava of India (body incarnation), the dakini Prabhadhara (essence incarnation). Stated another way, she is the essence of the five kinds of knowledge and is the embodiment of pleasure. See Dechen Gyalmo, Padmasambhava

Vajrayana (S): Also Vajra Vehicle, syn. Tantric Buddhism. The Tibetan branch of Mahayana Buddhism utilizing a wide variety of sklfull means including mantra and visualization of deities giving great emphasis to the role of the guru. One of the means Tibetan Buddhists use to gain freedom is meditation on sublime thoughts and pictures or mandalas. While Vajrayana springs from the Mahayana traditions, it has become distinctive enough to be regarded now as a separate branch unto itself. The word "vajra" means both "thunderbolt" and "diamond." The texts upon which this branch is based are known as tantras, so this form of Buddhism is also called Tantric Buddhism. Unlike other forms of Buddhism, the Tantrayana is largely esoteric. Tantras are often written in a kind of code so that their meaning is not apparent to non- initiates.  One can neither study nor practice it effectively without a qualified teacher, who offers oral instructions, and confers ritual baptisms (abhisheka) that give people a special grace or power by which they can put the teachings into practice. Tantric Buddhism is the main form of Buddhism in Tibet and Mongolia (via Tibet). There were also tantric forms in China, which in turn transmitted them to Vietnam, Korea and Japan. Even forms of Buddhism that are not nominally tantric have been influenced by tantric thinking and practices. So, for example, Vietnamese Buddhism is now a very interesting and healthy synthesis of Theravada, several limbs of Mahayana such as Zen and Pure Land, and tantric Buddhism. Korean Buddhism is now a synthesis of Zen, Pure Land and various scholastic forms of Mahayana Buddhism, with elements of tantra appearing here and there.

Vajrayogini (S): Tibetan: Dorje Naljor-ma. Female sambhogakaya form of Buddha. A meditation deity of the anuttarayoga tantra wisdom (mother) classification, consort to Cakrasamvara. One of the most important dakinis. She is a yidam of the Highest Tantra and appears in many Tantric practices. She is youthful, naked and passionate for the Dharma. Her body color and eyes are bright red and she has a forked tongue protruding through her teeth. She wears a garland of 51 human skulls signifying mastery of all mental events while dancing on a human corpse. She dances with her right leg bent and left extended as she drinks from a skull cup. A khatvanga rests upon her shoulder.

Varanasi: Located in northern India, the holy city of Varanasi is seated on the western bank of the Ganges River, bordered by two tributaries, Varuna to the north and Asi to the south. There are miles of ghats along the river, all manner of concrete steps leading from the town to the water, much of it for ceremonial bathing. The older sections of town are a maze of narrow streets full of small shops and homes. The ruins of ancient Buddhist monasteries and temples are in nearby Sarnath, where Buddha delivered his first sermon in the 6th century BC. Varanasi, "the city of a thousand temples", is revered as a sacred city by Hindus and each year more than 1 million Hindu pilgrims visit . The Visvanatha Temple, Varanasi's most venerated temple like the city itself, is dedicated to Shiva. Varanasi is probably one of the oldest existing cities in the world. Originally known as Kasi, it was the capital of the kingdom of Kasi during the 6th century BC. It gained prominence as a center of education and artistic activities during the 4th through the 6th century AD. Under Muslim occupation beginning in 1194, Varanasi's prosperity declined, and most of its ancient temples were destroyed. Because of this destruction very few of the shrines left in Varanasi were built earlier than the 18th century. The city was ceded to the British in 1775. In 1910 the British made Varanasi a new Indian state. In 1949, after India's independence, the Varanasi, or Benares state became part of the state of Uttar Pradesh. Since then, Varanasi has once again become a center of arts, crafts, music, and dance, and its musicians and dancers have gained international fame. The major traditional handicraft is weaving silk brocades with gold and silver threadwork. As well,Varanasi still is home to numerous schools and centers imparting traditional religious education. Brahman pandits are responsible for the continuation of traditional learning. Benares Hindu University is one of the most prominent educational institutions in India.

vase empowerment: Tibetan: bum wang. Initial empowerment to purify physical obscurations, enabling the practitioner to meditate on the generation phase.

vata (S): Movement from vayu, "air-ether." One of the three bodily humors, called dosha, vata is known as the air humor. Principle of movement in the body. Vata dosha governs such functions as breathing and movement of the muscles and tissues. See: ayurveda, dosha.

Vatsiputriya: There is controversy over the root of the name of the Vatsiputriya school. Like the Sarvastivadins, they believed that an arhat could fall and that heretics could also attain miraculous powers. Others feel it may be named for Vatsa, a brahmin, who is also called Vatsiputra. He was a leader or a member of the school known as Vatsiputriyas. The Vatsiputriyas advocated the theory of the 'pudgala', the permanent substance of an individual. The pudgala was neither the same as nor different from the skandhas; obviously they had not been exposed to Nagarjuna's reasoning in his Mulamadhyakarikas which clearly refutes the existence of any such agent. However, the Vatsiputriyas provided a transitional link to the Madhyamika. They were aware of the inadequacy of a stream of elements to account for the basic facts of experience, memory, moral responsibility, spiritual life, etc. They believed in a permanent unity. In Kashmir, the sixth Patriarch, Krsna, who was given the Dharma by Dhitika, countered the false view of self being taught by the monk named Vatsa. Krsna was an arhat, who entered nirvana. He was the son of a prominent merchant family, and was known to have guided many disciples to realization. Vasubandhu's Abhidharma Kosa devotes a chapter to the refutation of the atma doctrine of this school, which admitted a quasi-permanent self.

Vesak (P): Occasion that commerates the birth, Enlightenment and Paranirvana, or final Nirvana of the Buddha for the Theravada schools.

Vidyadhara (S): Tibetan: rig-dzin. Knowledge Holder. T. rigpa 'dzin-pa, rig-dzin. One who holds ('dzin-pa) to immediate Awareness (rig-pa). In the Nyingma tradition, there are four levels: Totally Matured (nam-min); Mastering the Duration of One's Life (she-dbang); Mahamudra (chyagpa chenpo); Spontaneously Accomplished (lhun-drub).

Vijnanavada: literally "Doctrine of Consciousness," was a school of Mahayana Buddhism founded by Maitreyanatha (270-350 CE) and developed further by his disciple Asanga (c.375-430 CE) and Asanga's little brother, Master Vasubhandu (c. 400-480.) The name is often used interchangeably with Yogacara or Cittamatra, though the three came to denote different branches. All held that consciousness is essentially real, though the objects of mind and the pervasive division of the world in subject and object are not. The appearance of form and ideas to mind is the result of an inner modification of consciousness itself. In the exploration of this process, the doctrine of the eight consciousnesses, including the alaya vijnana or store-house consciousness evolved. See Yogacara.

Vikramasila: A famous Buddhist university that was a center for scholarship for many centuries. Founded by Dharmapala, the greatest king of Bengal, it rivaled the great center of learning at Nalanda. Among its luminaries were Atisha and Buddhajnanapada. Even though it may have been the last university to be destroyed by the Muslim invaders (early 11th century), it is said that the living spirit of Buddhism was no longer present there during its final days, with the teachings of the Buddha reduced to a single branch of study among the Hindu departments.

Vimalakirti-Nirdesa Sutra (S): The Bodhisattva Vimalakirti was said to be a native of Vaisali, and a highly evolved upasaka (lay practicioner) who assisted Shakyamuni in preaching and crossing realms of existence to aid sentient beings. The Sutra is the record of interesting conversation between Vimalakirti and Manjusri Bodhisattva about the understanding of the One Buddha Vehicle (S. ekayana) . Vimalakirti is said to be the only human being present when Vajrapani revealed the tantras in the human world.

Vimalamitra (S): Tibetan: Drime shenyen. Eighth century Indian adept known as the "Sage of Kashmir," who also traveled and lived in China, Oddiyana and Tibet. He was a student of Sri Singha and Buddhaguhya, and later became an important teacher within the lineages of the Nyingma-Dzogchen traditions. He united two aspects the Nyingtig teachings: the explanatory lineage with scriptures, and the hearing lineage without scriptures - and concealed them to be revealed as the Vima Nyingtig , and also as the Secret Heart Essence of Vimalamitra.

Vinaya (S): One of the major divisions of the scriptures of the Theravada school of Buddhism; the Vinaya Pitaka is concerned with the rules of discipline for the monastic community.

Vipassana (P) / Vipashyana (S): Tibetan: Lhak-tong. "Insight meditation," or meditation that develops insight into the nature of mind. It is sometimes described as analytical meditation. It is one of the two types of meditation found in all Buddhist traditions, the other being tranquillity or "calm-abiding" meditation (Skt., Shamatha; Tib., Zhi-nay).

Virupa (S): One of the 84,000 mahasiddhas of India; source of Sakya tradition teachings. The story of the siddha who fixes the sun in the sky because he cannot pay his tavern bill is attributed to both Virupa and the emanation of Padmasambhava known as Guru Nyima Od’zer. The Khenpo Rinpoches have stated that Virupa was the same person as this emanation of Padmasambhava.

virya (S): Energy; vigor, the vital energy necessary to maintain and progress in spiritual development. The term is associated with heroism and manliness. Also, the fourth paramita, usually translated as Joyful Effort.

visualize (visualization): To imagine, create mental images. Exercising the power of thought to transform the objective referent.

vows: Precepts taken on the basis of refuge at all levels of Buddhist practice. Pratimoksha precepts (vows of individual liberation) are the main vows in the Hinayana tradition and are taken by monks, nuns, and lay people; they are the basis of all other vows. Bodhisattva and tantric precepts are the main vows in the Mahayana tradition. Three types of vows are distinguished : outer, inner and secret. Outer vows involve a form of discipline through which one avoids harming others. They are called the vows of individual liberation and consist of seven or eight subsets of vows, for monks, nuns, lay householders, and so on. The inner vows is the bodhisattva vow. Secret vows are tantric vows of the vajrayana. See also Vinaya.