Building Kurukulla

A Kurukulla of this size has already been built by internationally renowned sculptor, Peter Griffin. To the right is the beautiful statue that he built in Washington, USA. We are delighted that Peter, and his wife Denise, have agreed to build this statue for Land of Joy. But it is an extraordinary task and will take 12 months to complete.

Read below Peter’s own words about how special and powerful Kurukulla is.

And click here to see an inspiring video of Peter  working on a Chenrezig statue

I was thrilled when Land of Joy asked me to make a Kurukulla statue. I have been making statues for Lama Zopa Rinpoche and FPMT centres for 28 years now, and several have been of Kurukulla. I really like this deity, and between you and me, I think she might just be my favourite statue to make…shhhhh…. To be making such a large statue in my own home country is even more special, and I praPetery that it will be of unbelievable benefit to Land of Joy and all the students!
I was very fortunate to spend a lot of time with Lama Zopa Rinpoche prior to making my first Kurukulla statue. In 1992 I was making a series of stupas for the wonderful Kathy and Stephen Frewen in their home in Hong Kong. During this period Rinpoche stopped by several times in order to do retreat in the appartment. Rinpoche asked me to make a life-size Kurukulla statue for one of the FPMT centres, and during His retreat Rinpoche would come out of his room for an hour or so each day and he would describe various aspects of Kurukulla’s holy form, and how She should be sculpted. As always, when Rinpoche does this I’m quite sure he is conveying how He sees the actual deity in that moment! It’s never a dry explanation from a text, but it seems much more experiential. Later, when I started to try to implement Rinpoche’s instructions and make the statue, it soon became clear just how powerful this wonderful deity is! Kurukulla managed to move me on a deep emotional level, but much more importantly, even before the statue was finished wonderful and amazing things began to happen for the Centre! Anyway, for whatever reason I have become fascinated by Kurukulla and I am always keen to find out as much about her as possible.
Kurukulla was revered long before the time of Buddha Shakyamuni, and even before the earliest Hindu teachings began to spread throughout India. She originated as an ancient Indian tribal deity from Mount Kurukulla in Latadesa (modern-day Gujarat). At that time Kurukulla was known to be a powerful and enchanting goddess who could remove obstacles, and influence situations, particularly in matters relating to love. Her function was very similar to that of the Roman god Cupid or the Greek god Eros and interestingly all three carry a bow & arrow which were ‘tools’ used to magnetise and bewitch an intended suitor.
Kurukulla was later absorbed into Hinduism and then the Buddhist pantheon, where she was recognised a fully enlightened Buddha. Scriptural references to Kurukulla can be seen in Buddhist tantras at leDeniseast as early as the 8th century, where she is included in the Hevajra Tantra, and around that time she was already becoming associated with Tara. Kurukulla is often to referred to as Red Tara. It was Lama Atisha who really popularised her practice in the 11th Century, and it was he who introduced Kurukulla to Tibet when He travelled there by the invitation of Lama Yeshe Ö, the king of Tibet. Kurukulla became immensely popular in all four schools of Tibetan Buddhism and it is said that the Great Fifth Dalai Lama meditated on Kurukulla during His dying hours and passed away with her mantra on his lips.
Kurukulla’s primary function is to remove obstacles and she does so by using her powers of bewitchment and enchantment to first attract and then bring under control the negative energies that might hinder dharma practice or create obstacles to a project. She is known as the ‘overpowering goddess’, and for good reason!
Kurukulla is red in colour and displays a semi-wrathful aspect, with a single face and four arms (symbolising love, compassion, joy and equanimity). She holds a bow, an arrow, a hook and a noose – all four being completely entwined with utpala flowers. Kurukulla has a voluptuous and alluring body and she dances energetically with her right leg drawn up whilst her left leg tramples upon a male human corpse (symbolising the ego). She wears a necklace of fifty freshly severed human heads (symbolising that she vanquishes the fifty negative emotions), and a crown of human skulls (symbolising the five perfections).
I am really looking forward to beginning to make this statue for Land of Joy. I pray that Kurukulla will be of great benefit to the centre and to all the students, particularly those who practice there and throughout the UK. I hope to begin soon and will start making the statue in smaller sections in my own workshop, but a lot of the work will be done on site at Land of Joy, and I am very much looking forward to spending more time in that beautiful centre.