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The Garab Dorje Image

Updated: Aug 5, 2022

In my last post I wrote about the power of Garab Dorje as a mythical being but I also have a personal story with the image of Garab Dorje used in that post. Sometime during the 1980's Chögyal Namkhai Norbu had a vision in which the figure of Garab Dorje appeared to him as a Maha Siddha in just the way the painting portrays him. Prior to this Garab Dorje was always portrayed as a monk holding his hands in the teaching mudra - turning the wheel of the Dharma. But here he pointed his finger directly towards the viewer - a pose readily recognised from the First World War poster "You're Country Needs YOU!".

Norbu Rinpoche explained all this to me and asked that I paint it - which I did. In this entry you will see an example along side the image of Adzom Drugpa, a Dzogchen master Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche is believed to be an incarnation of. I like the painting except for the pointing finger which - if I stayed within the stylistic cannon of Tibetan art, I could not accurately do because it required foreshortening. Something never found in Thangkas. This painting I see has now been copied (badly) many times - put 'Garab Dorje' into Google and you will see an example of this alongside the monkish version and also another painted by the wonderful painter Glen Eddie, who has sadly now died. Painted sometime after my own, Glen grasped the nettle and breaking with tradition foreshortened the pointing finger and hand, thereby portraying Norbu Rinpoche's vision more accurately.

Well done that man - I was impressed. (But I still like my painting!)

NW. 16.7.22

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