Who are Dharmapalas?

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To protect the Buddha Dharma and its institution against adversaries, as well as preserves the integrity of it’s teaching is a task assigned, inaccordance with the precepts common to various Tibetan Buddhism sects, to an important group of deities, known as chos skyong (skt. Dharmapal, dvarapala), “Protectors of he Religious Law”. dam can, “those bound by oath”, is a title given primarily to originally non-buddhist deities who were later subdued and compelled to assume the position of the protector of the Buddhist Religion. According to their duties, the dharmapalas are usually depicted in a fierce aspect, brandishing weapons and crushing human or supernatural enemies of Budhism under their feet. These dharmapalas are divided into two main branches: 1) The powerful, high ranking deities known as ’jig rten las ‘das pa’I srung ma, i.e. deities who have passed beyond the six spheres of existence, “all protective deities of 8th, 9th and 10th rank” and 2) Those who reside within the six spheres of existence and take active part in the religious life inTibet known as the ‘jig rten pa’I srung ma or ‘jig rten ma ‘das pa’isrung ma, also frequently called dregs pa, “The Haughty Ones”.
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