In Tibetan Tantric Buddhism, meditation on wrathful deities is one of the highest yoga Tantras. Confused by many to be demonic figures, wrathful deities are in fact some of the most potent transformative images with which one can transmute negative emotions such as anger and hatred. By meditating on and assuming the form of the deity, one can embody the traits needed to overcome difficulties that are not easily subdued by more gentle bodied practices.
Yamantaka, also known as Vajrabhairava — the death destroyer, is one of these deities that is said to be a form of Shiva and a duality of his benevolent aspect Manjushri (Boddhisatva of wisdom). He is considered an Istadevata, a preferred personal deity, and in various contexts, one of eight ‘dharmapalas,’ protectors of the dharma (religion).
The wrathful deities are fiercely compassionate and embrace vicious strength and terrorizing power to overcome the obstacles of ignorance and evil.
This might seem quite contrary to the Christ-like concept of turning the other cheek, however even within the Bible there are verses which state that He who may dwell in the Lord’s sacred tent is He ‘who despises a vile person’ (Psalm 15). This does not preach a form of unforgiveness, but rather a willingness to stand up to the face of evil and use equivalent and opposing methods to subdue it (within ourselves).