Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche, the current holder of the Kadampa lineage and founder of the New Kadampa Tradition. “Geshe” means spiritual friend, “Kelsang” means good fortune, and “Gyatso” means ocean. Here he is depicted in the aspect of Je Tsongkhapa, showing his connection with Buddha Amitayus and Buddha Heruka.
Je Tsongkhapa, often refered to as the “Second Conqueror” Je Tsongkhapa was a great Tibetan Buddhist Master (AD 1357-1419), who spread a very pure Buddhadharma showing how to combine the practices of Sutra and Tantra. He was an emanation of the Wisdom Buddha Manjushri, as indicated by the Wisdom Sword to his left and the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra to his right. His tradition later became known as the new Kadampa, Gelug, or Ganden Tradition. He is often depicted with his two spiritual sons—Gyaltsabje on his right and Khedrubje on his left.
Dorje Shugden, a Dharma Protector is a Buddha appearing in a protecting aspect, whose main functions are to avert inner and outer obstacles that prevent practitioners from gaining spiritual realizations, and to arrange all the necessary conditions for their spiritual development. The Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Wisdom Buddha Manjushri, who always helps, guides, and protects sincere practitioners by granting blessings, increasing their wisdom, and fulfilling their virtuous wishes.
Buddha Shakyamuni is the fourth of one thousand founding Buddhas who will appear in this world during this Fortunate Eon, and the founder of Buddhism in this world. He is the principal object of refuge for all Buddhists. He is holding a begging bowl filled with three nectars indicating that he has conquered the "demons" of uncontrolled death, a contaminated body and mind, and delusions, and is touching the ground indicating his power to subdue all negative forces.
4-armed Avalokiteshvara, embodies the universal compassion of all Buddhas. His first two hands pressed together at his heart symbolize respect for his Spiritual Guide, and hold a jewel symbolizing his own enlightenment. His second left hand holds a white lotus flower, symbolizing his complete purity of body, speech and mind; and his second right hand holds a crystal mala, symbolizing that he can free all living beings from samsara.
Vajrapani, the Buddha of spiritual power. He appears in a wrathful aspect, displaying his power to overcome all outer, inner, and secret obstacles to spiritual practice.
Prajnaparamita, the female manifestation of Buddha’s perfection of wisdom. Her four arms indicate that she is the synthesis of all Buddhas of the four directions. She holds a vajra and a scripture of the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra. Her remaining two hands are in the mudra of meditative equipoise. Together her hands teach us that through training in meditation on the perfection of wisdom we can accomplish the higher perfection of wisdom, the union of great bliss and emptiness, through which we can attain enlightenment very quickly.
Manjushri, the Wisdom Buddha. His right hand holds a wisdom sword symbolizing his wisdom cuts through ignorance. His left, the stem of an upala flower that supports the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra, indicating that by relying on Manjushri we can develop the wisdom eye understanding the entire meaning of Buddha’s Perfection of Wisdom Sutras.
Chakrasambara, an enlightened Deity of Highest Yoga Tantra who is the manifestation of the compassion of all Buddhas. He is also the embodiment of the union of the very subtle blissful mind and emptiness, the ultimate nature of all things—the way things actually exist, symbolized by his embracing Vajravarahi. The various aspects of his body reveal the basis we need to abandon, the spiritual path that we need to practice, and the result that we need to accomplish.
Vajrayogini, a female enlightened Deity of Highest Yoga Tantra. She is standing on worldly deities demonstrating that she has destroyed attachment, hatred and ignorance. Her body is in the nature of the perfection of wisdom of all the Buddhas, and her five adornments are the other five perfections of all the Buddhas.
Vajradhara, the founder of Vajrayana Buddhism, or Tantra, and the source of all the Tantric teachings. He is the same mental continuum as Buddha Shakyamuni but displays a different aspect. Buddha Shakyamuni appears in the aspect of an Emanation Body, and Buddha Vajradhara appears in the aspect of an Enjoyment Body.
Thousand Arms Avalokiteshvara, the Compassion Buddha, the embodiment of the universal compassion of all enlightened beings. By relying on Avalokiteshvara we naturally increase our own compassion. In this aspect Avalokiteshvara has eleven faces—the ten faces of his emanations of the ten directions and the face of his root Guru Buddha Amitabha—indicating that he benefits living beings through his countless emanations. His thousand arms indicate that he is the synthesis of the thousand Buddhas of this Fortunate Eon, and the eye in the palm of each hand indicate that he watches over and cares for infinite living beings.
Maitreya, the Buddha of loving-kindness. His hands are in the gesture of teaching Dharma, holding the stems of two lotuses symbolizing his omniscient wisdom. The lotus on his right supports the Wheel of Dharma and the vase on his left is filled with life-giving nectars. On his crown is a stupa symbolizing his Spiritual Guide, Buddha Shakyamuni.
Medicine Buddha, the Healing Buddha. His left hand holds a bowl filled with medicinal nectar and his right hand holds a medicinal plant.
Amitayus, the Buddha of Long Life, Wisdom, and Merit. Amitayus has a red-colored body and sits with his two hands in the gesture of meditative equipoise, holding a vase filled with nectar of immortality. Amitayus is the Enjoyment Body aspect of Buddha Amitabha. He is seated on a throne supported by peacocks indicating his connection with Buddha Amitabha.
Vajrasattva, the Buddha of Purification, the manifestation of the minds of all the Buddhas, appearing specifically to purify the negativities of living beings. He is the same nature as Buddha Vajradhara, differing only in aspect.
White Tara is an enlightened being whose function is to bestow long life, wisdom and good fortune. If we rely upon her with faith, she will protect us from contagious diseases, the dangers of fire, and other disasters, as well as from untimely death. Ultimately she will guide us to the deathless state of Buddhahood.