Mahakala tattoo meaning and symbolism

n Buddhism, Mahakala is a protective deity, one of the ‘Diamond Realm’ or Vajradhara. In Tibet, he is also regarded as a Defender-Shrine Deity who safeguards the Buddhist teachings and practitioners from obstacles and negativities.

Mahakala tattoo meaning

The Mahakala, or Great Black One, is a wrathful deity that embodies the enlightened quality of the primordial forces of reality. He also represents the transmutation and transformation of the three poisons: ignorance (the root cause), attraction/aversion (the dualistic mind), and anger (kleshas).

The three qualities are symbolized by the sword, jewel, and bell respectively.

Mahakala leg tattoo
Mahakala leg tattoo @ tattooingwithlove

The origin of Mahakala is closely linked with Sakya tradition. The Sakyas installed this deity in temples built by them throughout Tibet. It is believed that the central image representing Black Taras transformed into demon form to destroy all delusions during incantations.

Mahakala is often depicted as a dark or black-skinned deity with six hands. Each pair of hands are holding various symbolic implements, which may vary depending on the different sadhana practices and purposes of Mahakala deities.

He has three eyes, long fangs, hair tied up in a topknot, and is wearing the three robes of a monk. Mahakala is depicted on the outside of all Tibetan monasteries for protection.

Mahakala tattoo colors and their meaning

It is common for the deity to have faces of different colors. This is depicted in our version, with golden eyes and blue hair.

Blue color symbolizes wisdom aspect, which embraces all virtuous qualities. Blue-black color (teal) represents his wrathful nature. As a result, he has six hands and three faces: white (harmlessness), blue (wisdom), and red (wrathful).

Mahakala tattoos placements and their meanings

The placement of the Mahakala tattoo is also important. It can be placed on any part of your body, but it’s commonly seen on the back and chest.

The principal idea behind choosing a certain part for a mahakala tattoo is that you should be able to easily see it if necessary – some Tibetans will position the image facing outwards towards the world, which they believe will keep them safe.

On the back of the body, mahakala is believed to protect one from external forces and influences. It’s also good to place it on the throat so that its sound will push negativity down into flames or water where it can be extinguished.

A symmetrical placement of this tattoo is also considered a good omen among Tibetans.

Mahakala tummy tattoo
Mahakala tummy tattoo @ helgacortes__tattoo