Image 14: Raudracakrin on a Horse

Shambhala and the Prague Thangka: The Myth’s Visual Representation

Image 14: Raudracakrin on a Horse

This is the key motif of the painting, and therefore it is located in the center of the thangka. It shows Raudracakrin as a fighting and ultimately victorious military leader who attacks from a dark horse (unusual, since the animal is normally white) and thrusts his lance into the body of the enemy commander. The similarity between the Buddhist Shambhala myth—the last battle in particular—and the Hindu epic Ramayana is neither accidental nor a formal similarity. Rather, the similarity signifies a deeper relationship: the Ramayana is older than the Buddhist myths, which are directly based on the epic. In the older Sanskrit version of the Kālacakratantra cited in the caption for image 1, Raudracakrin is explicitly referred to as Kalkin (see Newman 1996, 284–289). Therefore, the role and portrayal of Raudracakrin correspond to the Hindu future savior Kalkin, the tenth incarnation or descendant (Skt. avatar) of Vishnu. This future ruler of the golden age has a white horse according to puran mythology, similar to Raudracakrin. Kalkin is to arrive at the end of the “iron age” with a drawn sword and establish the rule of dharma on Earth.

Reference

Newman, John. 1996. “Eschatology in the Wheel of Time Tantra.” In Buddhism in Practice, edited by Donald S. Lopez, Jr., 288–289. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.