Hidden Shirt of Mail
Also known as: Begtsejen; Begtse Chen; Jamsing
Begtse once rode with Genghis Khan as Lord of War; now this fierce Mongolian deity protects the Dharma. Begtse, a pre-Buddhist Mongolian guardian spirit associated with Tantric traditions, tried to stop the third Dalai Lama from entering Mongolia in 1575. The Dalai Lama defeated Begtse, converted him to Buddhism, and transformed him into a Dharmapala, a defender of Buddhism. He is Mongolia’s guardian but venerated in Tibet, too. The fifth Dalai Lama appointed Begtse, protector of the Tibetan government. He also serves as personal protector of the Dalai Lamas.
Manifestation: He has three eyes, four fangs, and a perpetually wrathful countenance. He wears a crown of five skulls and a garland of freshly severed heads.
Iconography: Begtse is traditionally depicted standing atop a mountain in the middle of a lake formed from the blood of men and horses. (Mongolia is famed for its traditional horse culture.) Alternatively he tramples the corpses of men and horses, symbolic of victory. He may be portrayed holding an enemy’s heart, which he has personally yanked out.
Attributes: Scorpion-handled flaming sword; bow and arrow; banner featuring an impaled human head
Home: Begtse resides in a palace constructed entirely of bleached human bones atop a red, four-cornered copper mountain rising from a sea of blood.
Spirit allies: Begtse travels with an entourage of spirits. Another name for him is Jamsing, literally “brother-sister” because he is usually accompanied by his sister, Rigpay Lhamo, who may also be his consort. She rides at Begtse’s right side, while his other constant ally, Leken Marpo, rides at his left.
Offerings: Begtse is traditionally offered barley flour mixed with water, intended to represent human sacrifice; his libations are served in skull cups.
See also: Avalokitesvara; Eight Dharma Protectors; Leken Marpo; Rigpay Lhamo
From the Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.
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