A Pictorial Guide to the 16 Arhats

The monks who portray the Arhats in the annual procession at the Kagyu Monlam are selected for similarity in height and general size. They wear specially-made masks and costumes. Their features and the style of their robes are in the Chinese tradition of the Arhats which was introduced into Tibet at the time of the restoration of Buddhism in the 10th century. This style is reflected in a painting by His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa.

Each of the Arhats can be distinguished by what he is holding and the size of his retinue.

1. The sketch of the 16 Arhats in Chinese style by His Holiness the 17th Karmapa.

 

2. Masks, props and brocade robes.

 

3. The procession led by Arhat Angaja.

 

4. The Arhats on stage left to right: Angaja; Ajita; Vanavasin; Kalika; Vajriputra; Bhadra; Kanakavatsu; Kanaka.

 

5. The Arhats on stage left to right: Bakula; Rahula; Chudapanthaka; Pindola Bharadvaja; Mahapanthaka; Nagasena; Gopaka; Abheda.

 

6. Angaja (Yenlag Chung): retinue 1300; holds a small incense burner and fly whisk.

 

7. Ajita (Ma Phampa) : retinue 100;  his hands rest in the meditation mudra.

 

8. Vanavasin (Nagnané): retinue 1400;  teaching mudra and holds a fly whisk.

 

9. Kalika (Düden Ten): retinue 1,100; holds a golden earring.

 

10. Vajriputra (Dorje Möbu): retinue 1000;  hand gesture and fly whisk.

 

11. Bhadra  (Pal Zangpo): retinue 1200; teaching mudra and meditates.

 

12. Kanakavatsu (Sergyi Be’u): retinue 500; holds a jewel lasso in both hands.

 

13. Kanaka Bharadhvaja (Serchen): retinue 700;  his hands rest in meditation pose.

 

14. Bakula (Bakula): retinue 900;  holds a mongoose in his left hand.

 

15. Rahula the Buddha’s son (Drachen Dzin):retinue 1100; holds a jewelled crown.

 

16. Chudapanthaka (Lamtren Ten): retinue 1600; his hands rest in meditation.

 

17. Pindola Bharadvaja (Dza Sönyom Len): retinue 1000; holds a text and an alms bowl.

 

18. Mahapanthaka (Lamten) : retinue 900; holds a text and teaches Dharma.

 

19. Nagasena (Lüdé): retinue 1200; holds a vase and a staff.

 

20. Gopaka (Bechepa): retinue 1400; holds a text in his hands.

 

21. Abheda (Michepa): retinue 1000; holds a stupa in his hands.

 

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37th Kagyu Monlam Schedule

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Recorded during the 37th Kagyu Monlam, Bodhgaya, India. January 28-30, 2020.