CLEAR REALISATION OF THE FIVE-DEITY HAYAGRĪVA (TAMDRIN) from the ‘Five Sets of Five’ of the First Karmapa: An Introduction and translation of short, daily practice text


For ḍākinī day today, I offer a brief research introduction and brand-new translation of a dailt practice text on Hayagrīva (Tamdrin) by the 1st Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa.

On 14th January, HH 17th Gyalwang Karmapa began the Kagyu Guncho teachings, (A Teaching on Vasubandu’s Thirty Verses • Day 1 – YouTube) continuing from last year’s teachings on the Vasabandhu text, The Thirty Verses, considered to be a Mind-Only/Yogacāra text (more on that in another article) At the end of the teaching, the Karmapa briefly explained that the puja they would be performing (4.30pm IST) would that of Hayagrīva, one of the five deities of the set of five (lha nga tshen nga, ལྷ་ལྔ་ཚན་ལྔ) of Dusum Khyenpa, 1st Karmapa.  He explained that this was the first time that it had been performed and that it was a very fortunate thing to be able to do. The Karmapa stated that:

“We did this a couple of times when we were in Gyuto, in our Mahakala room, but there were only a few people there. The first time we did it, Kyabje Tenga Rinpoche led it and we did the puja a few times. This will be the first time we have gathered many sangha members together to do it.

The five sets of five deities of the First Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa is very important for the Karma Kamtsang. So, to be able to practice it together is very fortunate for us. There is nothing wrong with speaking about the history behind it and so on, but this evening I will speak mainly about the mudras. They are not that difficult, but to make sure we are doing them properly it is necessary to explain them a little bit, and to correct it a little bit.”

The Karmapa then gave a teaching on the mūdras to those attending the Karma Guncho and over Zoom.

In this short article, I focus on the Hayagrīva/Tamdrin Five Sets of Five. I received the empowerment and transmission of this form of Hayagrīva from HE 12th Gyeltsab Rinpoche at the Chigshe Kundrol (Knowing One Liberates All) empowerments in Sikkim in 2019, see here. I give:

  • a brief Introduction to the texts on Hayagrīva in the 1st Karmapa’s Collected Works.
  • the lineage of the practice (as stated in the short daily practice text of Hayagrīva by 1st Karmapa). 
  • a brief overview of the visualisation of the main deity Hayagrīva (for details on the other deities see the practice text itself)
  • A new English translation of the daily practice text of Hayagrīva (2 Tibetan pecha pages only), available on request to those with an empowerment and transmission from a qualified lineage lama.

It has been said that one can recite the Hayagrīva mantra without empowerment, but for self-generation of the deity (and of this particular five-deity practice) empowerment is essential.

As the text is only for those with empowerment and transmission from a qualified lineage master, please only request it here if you have that.

The other deities of the ‘five sets of five’ are:

  • Green Tārā

I have written here before about the five sets of five of Dusum Khyenpa, in relation to another one of the five deity Green Tārā of the Acacia Forest, Sengden Naki, in which green Tārā is surrounded by four other deities. 

  • Hevajra
Shri Hevajra – Innate
  • Cakrasaṁvara, and

I also have written about (and translated) the five-deity Chakrasamvara sadhana text by 3rd Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje (here) but not the one contained in 1st Karmapa’s Collected Works.

  • Vajravārahī

Music? Hayagrīva mantraHorses by Patti Smith and Dark Horse by Katy Perry.

Written and translated by Adele Tomlin, 17th January 2023.

The First Karmapa’s Collected Works and Hayagrīva texts
First Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa

In terms of editions of the Collected Works of the First Karmapa online, there is one currently available published by the Dzongsar Chaundra Shedra[i] It is a 2-volume collection. In this collection there are only two texts connected to Tamdrin.

These are:

  1) Introductory ritual for conferring Tamdrin (Tamdrin gi Rig Te རྟ་མགྲིན་གྱི་རིག་གཏད། )[ii]

  2) Indian Root text of Tamdrin (Tamdrin gi Gya Zhung རྟ་མགྲིན་གྱི་རྒྱ་གཞུང་།) [iii]

In another collection, of several Karmapas’ works, there is another text by the 1st Karmapa on Tamdrin called:

3) Clear Realisation of the Five Deity Hayagrīva (Tamdrin Lha Ngai Ngon Tog རྟ་མགྲིན་ལྷ་ལྔʼཨི་མངོན་རྟོགས།) [iv]  

This text is a very short daily practice visualisation of the five deity Hayagrīva practice. I offer the first and new translation of the daily practice text. As it is only to be practiced by those with the empowerment and transmission, please contact me here to request it.

The lineage of the five deity Hayagrīva – from Jowo Atisha
Jowo Atiśa (982-1055)

The five deity Hayagrīva practice text opens by declaring that it is from the tradition of Jowo [Atiśa] and ends with the lineage list as follows:

“The lineage is:

Nagtso Lotsāwa Tsultrim Gyalwa (1011-1064) is said to be the person responsible for bringing Atiśa to Tibet and to have studied under Atiśa for nineteen years, which is not possible if Atiśa’s year of death, 1054 is correct; at that point they would have been in contact for only sixteen years, assuming Naktso’s date of arrival at Vikramaśila to have been 1038. Regardless, around the year 1045 they traveled together to Naktso’s homeland, Mangyul (mang yul), where they stayed together for about a year. Atiśa had intended to return to India from Mangyul, but, prevented from returning to India by a war in the region, he wrote his abbot for permission to remain in Tibet.

Naktso Lotsāwa Tsultrim Gyelwa is credited with around one hundred translations in the Kangyur, including texts in the Prajñāpāramitā and tantra sections, and in the Tengyur, including works by Atiśa. He also authored a biography of Atiśa, the “Extended Biography” (rnam thar rgyas pa).

Five-deity Hayagrīva daily practice text and visualisation by 1st Karmapa

The short practice text in the tradition of the 1st Karmapa, is very short (2 Tibetan pecha pages) and consists mainly of a short, simple visualisation and mantra recitation.

The main deity, whom one visualises oneself as in the practice, is Hayagrīva, red in colour, with three faces, right blue, left white, central one, red. At the top of the head, is a green horse head upright, neighing. The hair is dark-brown flowing upright and he has four arms. In the first right hand, a vajra, first left hand a lotus flower. The bottom two hands are pulling a bow and arrow. Head ornament symbolises the five Buddha families and wearing a necklace of skulls. Around the neck is a poisonous snake. On the lower half of the body, a tiger fur skin. Left leg is outstretched and right leg is bent, pressing down on the four great worldly gods, standing in the centre of a mass of blazing fire.

He is surrounded by four deities, which one can read about in the practice text. The mantras used can also be read in the text. 





[i] Karma pa 01 dus gsum mkhyen pa. gSung ʼbum dus gsum mkhyen pa. Dzongsar Chhentse Labrang, 1980. Buddhist Digital Resource Center (BDRC), [BDRC bdr:W23651]

[ii] Ibid. pp. 437–46. Buddhist Digital Resource Center (BDRC),

[iii] Ibid. pp. 427–36. Buddhist Digital Resource Center (BDRC),

[iv] Karma pa sku phreng rim byon gyi gsung ʼbum phyogs bsgrigs, vol. 1, dPal brtsegs bod yig dpe rnying zhib ʼjug khang, 2013, pp. 369–71. Buddhist Digital Resource Center (BDRC),


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