Parnashavari: Goddess of Natural Healing

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Parnashavari: Goddess of Natural Healing

Parnashavari. From quora.com

Parnashavari (Tib. Loma Gyonma) is a healing goddess who removes contagious and epidemic diseases. Her name means “dressed in leaves” and she embodies our connection with nature and natural methods of healing. She is an example of an Indian folk deity absorbed into Tantric Buddhism, where she is connected with Buddha Amoghasiddhi and the enlightened activities of the buddhas.

According to the Buddhist view, there is a healing power in the universe that can be channeled through the healer’s abilities. The healing power of Parnashavari is invoked through meditation, rituals, or chanting the goddess’s mantra. As an embodiment of one of the Twenty-one Taras, she is known as “Parnashavari in mountain solitude, who removes contagious diseases” (Tib. Rimne Selwe Ri Throd Loma Gyonma).

Most often, the goddess is portrayed in yellow or orange color, with semi-wrathful expression. There are also rarer wrathful forms in blue, black, green, or red color. Her most popular form is with three faces (yellow, white, and red); each of the three faces has three eyes. This form has six hands. In her three right hands she holds a vajra at the heart, an arrow in the manner of striking, and a small ax, and in the left: a vajra lasso, a bow, and a lotus or a tree branch.

It is believed that her lasso attracts the demons of diseases, her axe cuts their hearts, and her bow and arrow siphons their living force. The vajra in her hand symbolizes her indestructible power and her awareness of the illusory nature of phenomena. The true healer, according to the Buddhists beliefs, must be able to recognize the illusory nature of the diseases and eliminate them.

In the Indian tradition, Parnashavari is depicted in lotus posture (padmasana). In Tibetan images, she appears in a completely different posture – her right leg is bent to the body, so her heel presses her pelvis and her knee is leaning against the floor. Her left leg is bent in the knee, with a foot on the floor. The aim of this yogic pose is to direct the vital energy to the pelvic area and from there up through the spine. According to the tradition of Tibetan yoga, this awakens healing powers in the body and leads to a higher state of consciousness.

Parnashavari. Drawing by the author

The clothes and attributes of the goddess express her connection with nature, from where her healing power originated. Her skirt is usually made of leaves, sometimes decorated with flowers or peacock feathers. The peacock symbolizes the transformation of the negative emotions into wisdom. Some of the Parnashavari’s images are depicted with snakes around her neck or woven in her hair. They symbolize the aim of yogic practice to elevate kundalini energy at the base of the spine.

Parnashavari plays an important role in Indian Mahayana Buddhism, which is preserved and further developed in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition where the goddess receives specific status and important ritual function.

To you, Goddess Parnashavari, I prostrate and offer praise
I and all the beings that need protection
By pacifying all the four hundred and one different kinds of diseases
As well as all the epidemic and infectious diseases
At the time of epidemic in this degenerate era.
Please save and protect us all
!*

* Fragment from Parnashavari’s sadhana from the Namcho Cycle, revealed in the 17th century by Terton Migyur Dorje, who primarily received them from Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara and Padmasambhava.

  1. Hello, Jon! Thank you for your comment. If we accept that all the deities are different aspects of the enlightened mind of Buddha, both Medicine Buddha and Parnashavari are related to the power of healing. Medicine Buddha is consider as the “great healer” and his practice is more common and more popular. Parnashavari has more specific roler as healer mainly of contagious and epidemic diseases and she is also related to the natural methods of healing like herbs.

What are your thoughts?