Nine demeanours of a wrathful deity

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Nine demeanours (or styles) of a wrathful deity (Skt. navanāṭyarasa; Tib. གར་གྱི་ཉམས་དགུ, gar gyi nyam gu, Wyl. gar gyi nyams dgu) — there are three of the body, three of the speech and three of the mind.[1]. Some lists differ slightly from each other.

Jamgön Kongtrul says in his Treasury of Knowledge

  1. Graceful (Skt. śṛṅgāra; Wyl. sgeg pa) on account of their ornaments and radiance;
  2. Heroic (Skt. vīra; Wyl. dpa' ba) on account of their display of dignity;
  3. Ugly (Skt. bībhatsa; Wyl. mi sdugpa) on account of their menacing stares and frowns;
  4. Jovial (Skt. hāsya; Wyl. dgod pa) on account of their smiles and bursts of laughter (ha ha'i sgra);
  5. Fierce (Skt. raudra; Wyl. drag shul) on account of their thunderous exclamation of hi hi and hūṃ phaṭ;
  6. Fearsome (Skt. bhayānaka; Wyl. 'jigs su rung ba) on account of the gnashing of their teeth, the bowing of their heads, and the brandishing of their weapons;
  7. Compassionate (Skt. karuṇā; Wyl. snying rje) on account of the blinking of their red eyes and their youthfulness;
  8. Awesome (Skt. adbhūta; Wyl. rngam pa) on account of the radiance of their faces and their clicking of the palate; and
  9. Peaceful (Skt. śānta; Wyl. zhi ba) on account of their supple, slender, and gentle eyes that are focused on the tip of the nose.[2]

A slightly different list, as found for example in the Palchen Düpa sadhana is as follows:

The three of the body are:

  1. enticing/seductive/captivating (Wyl. sgeg pa)
  2. heroic (Wyl. dpa' ba)
  3. terrifying/ferocious (Wyl. 'jigs su rung ba)

The three of the speech are:

  1. menacing laughter (Wyl. rgod pa)
  2. harsh and threatening/stern (Wyl. gshe ba)
  3. ferocious/wrathful and thunderous (Wyl. drag shul)

The three of the mind are:

  1. compassion (Wyl. snying rje)
  2. yearning (to tame others)/magnificent power (Wyl. rngams pa)
  3. peace/tranquillity (Wyl. zhi ba)

Alternative translations

  • Dramatic sentiments
  • Dramatic airs (Gyurme Dorje, Treasury of Knowledge book 6)
  • Emotions of drama (Farrow and Menon, Concealed Essence of Hevajra Tantra)
  • Moods of dance
  • Utilizations of dance


  1. One source for these nine demeanours is the Hevajra Tantra, 2nd segment, chapter 5, v. 26. (Tib. སྒེག་ཅིང་དཔའ་བོ་མི་སྡུག་པ། །རྒོད་ཅིང་དྲག་ཤུལ་འཇིགས་རུང་བ། །སྙིང་རྗེ་རྔམ་དང་ཞི་བ་ཡིས། །གར་དགུའི་རོ་དང་ལྡན་པ་ཉིད།)
  2. See Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Taye. The Treasury of Knowledge, Book Six, Parts One and Two: Indo-Tibetan Classical Learning and Buddhist Phenomenology. Edited by Gyurme Dorje. Translated by Gyurme Dorje. Boston, MA: Snow Lion, 2013: page 213