“I prostrate at the feet of Ushnisha Vijaya,
Glorious goddess with the face of the autumn moon,
Having an extremely beautiful and peaceful body with three faces and eight arms,
And who bestows boundless wisdom and the best of lives.”

~ Praise of Ushnisha Vijaya

Ushnisha Vijaya — Victorious Crown Protrusion — is an emanation of Vairochana Buddha and, along with White Tara and Amitayus, one of the three major longevity deities in the Tibetan buddhist pantheon. Her practice is considered to be extremely effective not only for eliminating obstacles to long life but also for purifying the negative results of unwholesome actions of body, speech and mind motivated by the poisonous delusuions.

Ushnisha Vijaya’s ability to purify negativity is illustrated in the following stories. A god residing in the Heaven of the Thirty-three was on the threshold of death and saw with his clairvoyance that he was going to be reborn in a lower realm as a pig. Greatly agitated, he went to Indra, king of the gods, and begged to be protected from this horrbible fate. Indra responded by saying that there was nothing he could do to help him and suggested the consult Shakyamuni Buddha. The Awakened One then taught him to recite the mantra of Ushnisha Vijaya; this ripened his latent good karma sufficiently for him to take rebirths, not as a lowly pig, but as an exalted celestial being again.

The great Indian master Vasubandhu, possessor of peerless scriptural knowledge, was said to have had such a special relationship with Ushnisha Vijaya that she was like a mother to him. According to traditional accounts, Vasubandhu wanted to achieve a direct vision of Maitreya, the Future Buddha, just as his half-brother Asanga had done. But because he had been skeptical of the validity of the Mahayana teachings and had denigrated them when he was younger, Vasubandhu was told by Asanga — who was in direct communication with Maitreya — that he would not be able to see this buddha until his next lifetime. “Then whom should I rely upon now?” asked Vasubandhu. After consulting Maitreya, Asanga answered, “You have a close connection with Ushnisha Vijaya; you should rely upon her.” Vasubandhu did so and had a direct vision of her from then on.

From “Images of Enlightenment: Tibetan Art in Practice” by Jonathan Landaw and Andy Weber.