Uncover Dukar: A Path to Enlightenment

Uncover Dukar: A Path to Enlightenment

Dukar, the White Parasol deity, is known for her immense protection and fierce compassion. Her epithets include Sitātapatrā, "White Parasol," Usnisa Sitatapatra, Aparājita, the "Undefeatable,” among the many sects of Buddhism. But her most common name is Sitātapatrā, which means Sita (white) and ātapatrā (parasol or umbrella).

For centuries, devotees and practitioners have worshipped the White Parasol goddess to receive her blessings and be protected against otherworldly menaces, threats, and sorcery. Having emerged from Shakyamuni Buddha’s ushnisha (cranial protuberance), Dukar protected meditating monks from evil and dark adversaries during their path to enlightenment.

Thus, it is believed that her presence escorts a follower to unshakable guardianship and relentless benevolence.

There is a considerable number of Dukar forms, but she is mainly depicted in two primary forms:

  • Two-armed form: A peaceful and graceful form symbolizing purification and pacifying obstacles.
  • 1000-armed form: A potent manifestation of a thousand arms and heads, representing her comprehensive sight and reach.
1000 armed Dukar

The 1000-armed Dukar is a special and revered semblance of the deity. As the name states, Sitātapatrā is a cosmic being with thousands of arms, each holding something significant. For instance, she carries the efficacious parasol in her left hand and a Dharma wheel in her left. Apart from the central hands, her other hands hold a legion of weapons and auspicious items, including lotus flowers.

10,100,000 Eyes: One marvelous fact about the art depiction is that each of the arms consists of an eye, which signifies the deity's omniscient view of her subjects. Radiating such a complex aura, the White Parasol Tara remains an ineffable one.

1000 Faces: A form of White Tara, Aparājita possesses 1000 faces, each with three eyes. The divine third eye encompasses mystical intuition and insight in addition to an abiding protective nature over her adherents. The typical 1000-armed Dukar is rendered with a fierce and wrathful expression, but it is for the evildoers. She is the epitome of motherly protection and compassion for the people who follow the path of Buddha and righteousness.

1000 Legs: One of the iconic parts of her portrayal is the 1000 legs, which stand for power over calamity, suffering, and misery. Dukar tramples over blight and havoc in most of her standing art, showcasing her immense strength. She does so by standing upright on a Moon Disc, which encompasses purity and light. Similarly, Sitatapatra stands on a lotus throne, a common creative symbolism for Bodhisattvas in Tibetan Buddhism art.

As mentioned above, since the compassionate yet formidable deity emerged from the sacred crown of Shakyamuni Buddha, it is requisite to place the latter above Aparajita. It is believed that the 1000-armed White Tara arose into her physical form while Buddha was in a deep meditative state. Thus started the tale of Shitatapatra, who shields the pious beings from negativity.

Dukar

Iconography and Symbolism

Attribute

Symbolism

White Body

Purity

Umbrella

Protection against evil and obstacles

1000 Arms

Immeasurable Protection 

Multiple Heads

Omniscience

Three Eyes

Awareness of all realms 

Lotus Throne

Transcendence of the ordinary world

Moon Disc

Enlightenment and Tranquility

 Dukar Mantras

Devotees of Dukar engage in differing rituals and practices to beseech her blessings and protection. The recitation of the Sitatapatra mantra is believed to bring benefits, including protection from physical and spiritual harm, purification of negative karma, healing from illness, overcoming obstacles, and increasing compassion and wisdom. 

The process includes recitations of her mantra, and there are many:

Om Sita Ta Pa Trey Hum Phet

Om Sita Ta Ta Patre Soha

Hum ma ma hum ni svaha

Among these many variations, Om Sita Ta Pa Trey Hum Phet is the widely known and practiced mantra in Tibetan Buddhism. People use other mantras depending on their specific lineage or tradition.

Given the constant commitment by the followers of Dukar, the practice of her rituals and mantra recitation in both religion and art have brought significant changes in various areas. Her art depictions continue to flourish, while the devotees have preserved the religious practices and passed such precious practices to their future generations.

Masterpiece Dukar Thousand Arms Statue

Masterpiece Dukar Thousand Arms Statue

The thousand-armed Dukar is the most special and complex form of Shitatapatra. Our idol is the finest expression of this powerful and independent deity. 

This marks the peak of timeless Nepali metal craftsmanship in Patan. The skilled artisans across the multigenerational continuum have brought the finest expression of Dukar to physical form.

This sculpture stands 27.5 inches tall on a lotus disc, symbolizing the deity as the personification of purity, wisdom, and enlightenment. A little above, her feet trample on two cubes of animals, birds, and other living beings. This power is an allegory of her dominion over the worldly egocentric existence. She is clad in a tent-like skirt with an emerging, eye-catching patterned border.

The goddess also wears a long and flaunting scarf that flows below her feet. She also wears a sizeable necklace and earrings on her main body. The jewelry set on her neck, ear, and arms features red and turquoise gemstones. She also adorns a jeweled crown that she shares with her other heads. Getting back straight up to her crown, her monumental head balances a stack of seated Buddhas, female deities, and fierce protectors. But the most vital one is Shakyamuni Buddha, who sits at the top, implying her existence from Buddha’s ushnisha.

Dukar Faces

Her two dominant hands are at the center; the left holds a dharma wheel, and the right has the grand parasol. Then comes her marvelous thousand hands arranged and expanded into a six-tiered halo. The halo wholly surrounds the goddess, giving her a majestic look, the ultimate form of her spiritual prowess.

In addition to her regal illustrations of hands, her face captures her wrathful expression despite her compassionate nature for the righteous subjects. Her hands are then circled by another halo of burning flames, conveying her loving yet raging nature for the world’s evil ones.

Such sculptures of Sitatapatra are quite rare due to the difficulty of executing such intricate and elaborate iconography. But this masterful sculpture has become achievable due to the Nepalese artisans' generational hard work in the craft. 

The 1000-armed Dukar sculpture is purely a manifestation of the mighty goddess herself to be kept at home or a shrine to receive her sanctuary.

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