Four Animal-Headed Guardian Dakinis
Tib., sgo ma bzhi: Four Gate Mothers
These 'Guardians of the Four Gates of the Mandala', aka the 'four female gate keepers', appear on
the 6th day of the bardo (not to be confused with the
four Vajra-guardians who appear on the 12th day).
Their names reflect the symbolic tool or weapon they hold in their hands; and all of the deities appear
surrounded by flames and wearing a tiger skin. They symbolize/represent certain methods
and manners of being reborn when emerging from the bardo:
- the Hook: white skinned, horse-headed Ankusha (Tib., rTa-gdong-ma)
appears in the East, carrying a kapala (skull cup) and an
She represents rebirth in a supernatural manner.
- the Noose: yellow skinned, sow-headed Pashadhari
(Tib., Phag-gdong-ma) appears in the South, carrying a
kapala and a pasha.
She represents rebirth by way of a womb.
- the Chain: red skinned, lion-headed Vajrashrinkhala
(Tib., Seng-gdong-ma) appears in the West, carrying
kapala and shrinkhala.
She represents rebirth by way of an egg.
- the Bell: green skinned, serpent-headed Ghanta
(Tib., sBrul-gdong-ma; spyang gdong ma) appears in the North,
carrying a kapala and a
She represents rebirth by warmth.
Evans Wentz gives Kinkinidhari instead of Ghanta.
Thurman gives Spotha (a synonym for the chain shrinkhala)
instead of Vajrasrinkhala, and the short Pasha rather than Pasadhari.