Adorned with a tiara of five skulls, red scarf, elephant skin, bone ornaments, a long snake and fifty freshly severed heads as a necklace…Simhamukha in a mood of great fierceness dwells in the middle of a blazing fire of pristine awareness" (Tibetan Incense Shop 2011).
This quotation is fairly important, as is the reference to the physical aspects of Simhavakatra, since such references are fundamental to the various poses and styles that may be evoked in a form of meditation to summon the presences and the attendant energies of this deity. There are a number of different representations of physical manifestations that can be found with Simhavakatra and, as the preceding quotation suggests, one of them is referred to as the concept of Fear Dakini in which the ferocity of this female energy is used to ward off negativity as the following quotation makes readily apparent. "Iconographic representations tend to show the dakini as a young, naked figure in a dancing posture, often holding a skull cup filled with menstrual blood or the elixir of life in one hand, and a curved knife in the other. She may wear a garland of human skulls, with a trident staff leaning against her shoulder. Her hair is usually wild and hanging down her back, and her face often wrathful in expression, as she dances on top of a corpse, which represents her complete mastery over ego and ignorance" (Kumar 2000). What is most significant about this quotation is that it is highly evocative of the aforementioned description of Simhavakatra in the previous quotation. The similarities may be evinced in the mentioning of the skullcaps of blood, the knifes, the skulls, as well as the wrathful, menacing facial features which adorn this female deity, and which can be used to dispel the presence and various afflictions of evil.
Additionally, it should be noted that in the preceding quotation, the dakini referred to is described as one who "dances." This allusion may be in reference to Simhavakatra as well, since another style of pose which may be used in the act of meditation to commune with her spirit and is benign effects is known as a dancing pose. However, as the following quotation readily indicates, this form of dancing is still highly indicative of the general spirit of defiance that Simhavakatra issues to antithesis forces. "Her two legs are extended and drawn up in the dance position of ardhaparyanka, while she stands amidst the blazing masses of the flames of wisdom" (Tibetan Incense Shop 2011). Ardhaparyanka, of course, is a dancer's pose. It is noteworthy that while engaged in this particular pose Simhavakatra is described about the "blazing masses" of the "flames of wisdom," a quotation that underscores the beneficence of her presence and all of that which she represents.
Other references to Simhavakatra's dancing are decidedly more belligerent and therefore beneficial to those who are able to summon the grace and energy which the goddess represents. Virtually all of the poses in which she may be found are more indicative of a fierce determination to get rid of the pervasive negative elements that may obstruct the path of enlightenment, which the following quotation readily attests to "Simhavaktra or Simhamukha, the 'lion-faced' dakini, is a wrathful aspect of the wisdom goddess Jnanadakini, whose practices are employed within many Vajrayana traditions for removing obstacles and prolonging life. Simhamukha stands in dancing bow-and-arrow posture, with her right leg drawn up and her extended left foot trampling upon two corpses that lay upon the sun disc of her lotus. Her body is dark blue in colour, and her head is that of a roaring white lion with an upward-flowing orange mane" (Tibetan Buddhist Art 2011). The connotations of her dancing pose, which is described as a "dancing bow-and-arrow" posture, are certainly aggressive and suited for the seeking and destruction of chaotic or malefic forces. These connotations coincide nicely with what the author describes as the purpose of this particular deity, which is referred to as the displacing of "obstacles" and as the "prolongation" of life. Given the fact that Simhavakatra was initially created to destroy forces of evil, this particular practice she is engaged in, and the pose with which she manifests, appears to be in accord with this purpose.
Another noteworthy aspect in regards to dakinis is that there does exist a male counterpart for them, known as dakas. Although dakas are primarily the male embodiment of the same sort of trifold of energy that female dakinis encompass, it should be noted that they are far less prevalent in Buddhist art and representation, and have a significantly lower presence in various forms of literature dedicated to the study of Buddhist positions and deities. In part, the decidedly feminine imbalance of representation between these two forms of energy has to do with the nature of the dakini, which encompasses both female and male aspects in their representation as the sacredness of life. In all likelihood, this fact may be intrinsically related to the notion that it is women who bear life into existence, and who can create both men and women. Therefore, it can be seen that in the relationship between dakinis and dakas, the latter are not quite subservient to the former, but are only important in terms of how they may aid or complement the dakinis.
This concept may be observed in the sexual relationship that exists between men and women, in an analogy in which the man is only essential to the woman for the act of procreation by impregnating her. Once that act is completed, there are still nine more months in which the woman bears the burden of the creation and birthing of life. Therefore, in Buddhism, there is more significance emphasized within art and literature on the dakini because she plays a greater responsibility in bringing forth life, which, to completed the aforementioned analogy, would be the protection and aiding of people towards the spiritual path of enlightenment which Buddhism is based upon. So to summarize the relationship between these two entities, it should be understood that the nature of this relationship is largely sexual in both a literal and figurative sense. The figurative level upon which this is based, of course, is related to the path of enlightenment in which a person is recreated or reborn by achieving this state of nirvana. The state of literal and figurative eroticism that exists between the dakini and the daka is alluded to in the following quotation, in which it is stated that "The poetic, metaphorical language of the completion stage is found in songs and chants that express the erotic nature of the relationship between the daka and the dakini" (Preece, 216).
Other characteristics of Dakini include the fact that there are four primary classes of such deities, the stratification of which largely adhere to the esoteric principles found in what is known as the Twilight Language. The hierarchies of these classes are secret, inner, outer, and out-outer classifications for dakinis. The first class, the secret classification, is largely a state of emptiness or void which symbolizes the doctrine of the Mahayana which posits that reality is essentially empty. The next classification of dakinis, known as the inner class, is the mandala dakini which primarily concentrates upon meditation and delivers aid to adherents of Buddhism that are attempting to proceed along the path of enlightenment. The classification known as the outer class refers to a dikini's corporal form, which correlates to the completion stage alluded to in the previous quotation. The final classification is known as the outer-outer dakini, which is the guise of humanity taken on by dakinis, who may be a tantric practitioner or a practitioner of yoga (Simmer-Brown 165).
Other dakinis of note include Kakasya, who is generally thought to be one who walks the skies or who is a messenger throughout space. This purpose of Kakasya's keeps with the tradition of the general purpose of most dakinis, since, these spirits were all known to traverse the compose and the space that inhabits them. Kaksya serves as a protector of the mandala and is manifested physically as a bird of prey. These facets of her character also keep in tune with the traditional roles of dakinis as protectors who allow practitioners of Buddhist space to pursue their paths of enlightenment. She is widely regarded to have a face of a crow.
In conclusion, it has been demonstrated that dakinis are protective, divine sources of female energy that may be best exemplified, in many respects, by Simhavakatra. Her specific purpose for warding off evil and dissolving negativity to make way for positivity which practitioners may utilize during their paths to enlightenment is a fairly vital influence among adherents to this particular religion and…