Wrathful Buddhas vs gods
Someone asked me why Buddhist temples have statues of people being trampled and “angry gods”. For some reason my iPhone won’t let me reply directly, so I’m making a general post and hoping they see it.
This is a very good question, and one that confuses and probably disturbs many people. First, I want to make the distinction between Buddhas and gods in Buddhism. Buddhas are fully enlightened beings who are no longer trapped in the cycle of Samsara and who have nothing but universal compassion for all sentient beings. Gods are not enlightened and are trapped in Samsara just like humans and animals; they generally don’t have other sentient beings’ best interests at heart, but their own. These statues of “angry gods” trampling “people” are actually Buddhas in wrathful form trampling worldly gods that symbolize all the delusions that keep us trapped in Samsara.
Wrathful Buddhas never harm sentient beings. They are fierce and utterly ruthless towards our delusions and they do everything they can to help us destroy our delusions so that we too can become bodhisattvas and Buddhas in the future. They are the removers of obstacles and thus, they are our best friends we could ever have.