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Dakinis - Who are they and What they Represent?

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Here is an interesting Dakini... she shoots flowers and is another form of TARA :)

Kurukulla, the "Enchantress"

A diety exists in Hindu and Buddhist Tantra who is often invoked in works of subjugation, enchantment and magnetising people to you.  Her name is Kurukulla (pronounced "Koo-roo-koo-lay" according to Jason Miller).  In Buddhism she is an aspect of Tara who is often called the "Red Tara" and is considered the heart of Tara herself.  In Hindu Tantra she is said to contain the energies and presence of the Mahavidyas Tara, Tripura Sundari (in her maiden form as "Bala Tripura Sundari") and Matangi.  She is the combined energy of these three goddesses.  Many Tantriks also believe that she is an aspect of the Mahavidya Chinnamasta.  The *Lalita Sahasranama Stotram* mentions her name as one of the many names of the goddess Lalita Tripurasundari and in the Sri Vidya Tradition she is associated with the energies of the Full Moon. The Tantraraja Tantra gives a theory of 15 Lalita Nityas which are energy rays of the goddess Lalita connected with the lunar phases and Tara Kurukulla is said to be the mother of these energies.  In the Shaktisamgana Tantra she is the fourth Nitya and a mantra is given for her.

"Kuru means "harsh sound," and kulla means "family." Her name derives from her place of residence, Kurukulla Mountain. She was originally an Indian tribal deity, and was also assimilated into the Hindu religion as well. She is a voluptuous sixteen year old girl who is often depicted as having red skin and two pairs of arms. She carries a bow and arrow similar to Cupid's and wears a necklace made from the fifty severed heads of the fifty negative emotions she vanquished. And she is always dancing."
Kurukulla is also popular with those who are seeking a job as she can make you stand out during an interview process and create conditions wherein you are likely to get hired or promoted.

[ "The goddess is usually shown in her usual four-armed form, dancing in ardhaparyankasana and adorned with crown of skulls, necklace of severed human heads, and the bone ornaments. Her upper left hand bears her standard attributes of the drawn bow and arrow, with the bow in her left, or wisdom hand. The right hand counterpart of method is shown pulling back the bowstring. Her one right hand holds a summoning arrow or hook and flower noose or string in her left hand. Iconographically the bow and arrow are key symbolic implements referencing the goddess's subjugating qualities. When shown preparing to shoot, they are understood to be combining wisdom and method to aim the power of that union straight into the enemy's heart. The arrow serves to transfix false views, while the bow shows mastery over the three realms. When bow and arrow are adorned with or created from flowers, as found in Kurukulla's standard iconography, it alludes to the destruction of Kamadeva, the Hindu god of passion, who after shooting arrows at the meditating figure of Shiva was burnt to ashes by his wrath-filled gaze." ]

[ Quoted from: ]

      I first learned of Kurukulla years ago in India from a Tibetan Buddhist Tantrika of the Sakya lineage who had made an altar to her in her home.  She told me about Kurukulla and explained that she had worked with her for over 30 years and had been blessed and protected by her through these years.  She was in her late sixties but was very charming and I would even dare to go so far as to say she was alittle "sexy".  She had something about her that was captivating and a youthful appearance and demeanor despite her elderly years.  I enjoyed her company immensely and we would have wonderful conversations over tea.  Sometimes I would even forget I was speaking to an old lady and it felt like I was spending time with a high school sweetheart.  Nothing untoward happened between us, but she had truly captivated me with her presence.

     Years later I read some references to Kurukulla in some Hindu Tantras wherein I learned that she was also a Hindu goddess.  At the time I was not as interested in the arts of enchantment, feeling to myself that women were probably more suited to exploring those arts.  Later on I learned that there were just as many men as women who practiced these arts and they were in high demand by those who were seekers in Tantra.  There were several Tantrik sadhana texts specifically dedicated to her, and some Buddhist masters specialized in her practices and empowerments.  A couple of years back or so I read a wonderful article by Vajranatha (John Myrdhin Reynolds) which explained about the Tantrik magical traditions surrounding Kurukulla and I was captivated by it.  You can find the article on this site:

      I also learned from Jason Miller's book  *The Sorceror's Secrets* of a simple method to work with her and I started doing so at the time.  I have found Kurukulla to be a very useful goddess in many respects.  She has helped me to perform all types of workings involving enchantment and subjugation.  I have learned that not only can she create passion she can also help you subjugate it so you can control your emotions and lusts.  She is not only a goddess of passion but can also guide you to enlightenment and liberation.  Afew months back I received her empowerment from a Buddhist Lama to work with her as well as guidance from my Guru about her practice in Hindu Tantra.  Recently a ritual text called the *Arya Tara Kurukulla Kalpa* was translated by the 84,000 project which is working on translating many Tantrik texts.  I have been awaiting this translation for some time as this ritual manual gives many of the magical practices of Kurukulla.  You can find it on this site:

Kurukulla Mantras:

1st Buddhist Mantra:  OM KURUKULLAY HRI SVAHA


1st Hindu Mantra:  OM KURUKULLAY SVAHA


3rd  Hindu Mantra (for Kurukulla as Kali Nitya) :  Krim Om Kurukulle Krim Hrim Mama Sarva-Jana-Vasamanya Krim Kurukulle Hrim Svaha.

Found another lovely description about Kurukulle.... written in a very fictional like take

Kurukulle, Archetype of Compassionate Activity
Falling in Love with the Dharma

Where can I go between the pleasure and the pain of it – between sentiment and horror-shock, indifference and anxiety? When I see you suffer, should I suffer? Would that help? Or would it help if I felt nothing, and just got on with life?

No, and no; but then what would help? If I also vibrate with what you feel, I know it helps, but still it hurts. Can anything be done about pain - beyond having sympathy, or maybe living differently?
I don’t think so, unfortunately. But understanding this does change the space where the great mass of dissatisfaction happens. Suddenly there isn’t anything to stop me giving whatever I have, and that’s all anyone can ever do.

Suffering is in everything. No experience, no deed is ever totally satisfactory. What we all need is a creative response to all this suffering – our own, and others’. We can all be overwhelmed by it. Being overwhelmed by suffering is generally very far from being an insight experience. Yet it could induce transformative insight if we could be overwhelmed in a different way – as was Avalokitesvara who fell apart like Humpty Dumpty when he saw how impossible it is to save all beings from suffering. Yet from the shattered remains arose a thousand arms tooled, equipped with wisdom eyes, and ready to go into action.

Kurukulle is another archetypal image that represents insight springing from great compassion. Like the whole great gang of Bodhisattva forms, like Avalokitesvara, Vajrapani and Manjusri, she is a pop cartoon image, carrying a powerful message about how we could all be if we were enlightened. On a mega scale, Kurukulle embodies positive response to suffering. She is a dancer. She dances wild in a cremation ground, wearing bones. She is young and gorgeous and draws all beings to her irresistible allure. In Tantric Buddhism there are four ritual forms: the yellow prospering or maturing rite, the white pacifying and calming rite, the black destroying rite, and the red rite of fascination. Kurukulle is about the fourth of these. She is red, very red and her beauty hypnotises and magnetises all beings. She holds flowery weapons, especially a flowery bow with which she fires love arrows into all beings’ hearts, causing them to fall in love with Dharma.

Yes, this is another Buddhist fantasy. Yet it represents a truth: the life of full awareness is profoundly joyful, and suffering can be overcome! You really can dance in the midst of death and darkness! These fantastic images represent a spirit we can partake of if we take them into our hearts. We can meditate upon them. They represent the innate Buddha nature that can be brought to life in us.

The question for us, of course, is how we can even approach such an extraordinary place. We need to fall apart and be put back together differently.
The two main avenues of practice, roughly covering 'falling apart' and 'total renewal' are that of wisdom and that of compassion. The path of Wisdom explores non-self. You see that ‘self’ is a fantasy based on a fundamental misreading of experience. Our experience of self is there all the time as normal. Even a Buddha has one, but he or she doesn’t think it has some kind of special existence. Non-Buddhas like us take it very seriously indeed – as something fixed, real and so important that our whole life is geared around it. But self is just one frame of the movie of our lives. It is just a snapshot reading, a bundle of ephemeral memories, wants and fears happening at the moment. And the view that it is fixed (as me, mine, myself) is the root condition for all our worst suffering. By that I mean all the suffering we add on to the circumstances we cannot avoid. It is usually the worst suffering by far.

Wisdom practice sees this in meditation and lets it go. Wisdom can be there in action too: try giving up a few preferences and being less me, me, me –  it is liberating. Well, it is liberating if one does it clean and straightforwardly. It is not if one does it out of duty or to please the group. That is just me, me, me in another form.

Compassion practice is demonstrated through the Bodhisattva’s life and the four Immeasurables of Love, Joy, Compassion and Equanimity.

Maitri (metta, Pali), ie love – better expressed as friendliness, kindness and wellwishing – is the basic and very Buddhist quality. Buddhists may sometimes be weird but they are usually very friendly. This is the ritual of attraction. Maitri or metta (the actual terms in Sanskrit and Pali) is not sentimental, or just fancying someone. It is ‘disinterested’ in the sense that it is not for ‘me’, but responds to how the actual person is – however attractive or otherwise they may seem at the time.
Karuna, or Compassion is what happens when this so-well-grounded friendliness meets with suffering. It is not pity, not a kind of frozen anxiety, but just a direct, helpful and friendly response. In other words it is less self referenced.

Mudita or (sympathetic) Joy is that grounded friendliness when it meets happiness and is joyful at it – rather than feeling resentful or wanting to undermine it, which unfortunately is a common response.
Upeksha (upekkha, Pali) comes out of insight into the non-self nature of all things, the understanding that all beings are already free of self, yet they grasp on to an idea of a self, and therefore suffer. The response of upeksha meets that reality, by understanding, through experiential insight, how much of that suffering is self-caused. You may be born into terrible conditions, but self-grasping makes that suffering far worse. So you meditate on that and it gives you more power to help – frees you from more levels of self-grasping – and makes you more like Kurukulle!

Positive Change:
Five Wisdom Dakinis

The designation Wisdom Dakinis refers to five major Dakinis who appear in the Bardo Thödol during the first five days in the bardo, one on each successive day and each in inseparable union with one of the five Sambhogakaya Buddhas. Just who appears in union with who varies in different accounts.

Sometimes, with the Tibetan ye-shes translated as 'awareness' rather than 'wisdom', these goddesses are called Awareness Dakinis. They are regarded as emanations of Vajravarahi, who in turn is an aspect of the Vajrayogini.

On a human level, these dakinis are believed to have manifested as the five women who practiced the teachings together with Padmasambhava, including the most secret exercises. Erroneously and unfortunately, both these major goddesses and their human incarnations are often reduced in importance by simply calling them the Five Consorts.

The Buddha-Dakini Akashadhatvishvari appears on the 1st day at the Center, in union with Vairocana. Her color is white and her element ether; she represents the Wisdom of Universal Law. (or with either Ratnasambhava or Akshobhya).

The Vajra-Dakini Locana appears on the 2nd day in the East, in union with Aksobhya. Her color is blue and her element water; she represents the Wisdom of the Mirror. (or with Vairocana in the East).

The Ratna-Dakini Mamaki appears on the 3rd day in the South, in union with Ratnasambhava. Her color is yellow and her element earth; she represents the Wisdom of Equality. (or with Akshobhya in the Center).

The Padma-Dakini Pandaravasini [Pandara] appears on the 4th day in the West, in union with Amitabha. Her color is red and her element fire; she represents the Wisdom of Distinction & Discernment.

The Karma-Dakini Samayatara [Samaya Tara] appears on the 5th day in the North, in union with Amoghasiddhi. Her color is green and her element air; she represents the Wisdom of Action & Accomplishment.

More interesting trivia (in point form)[/b[/color]]

1. Generic Sanskrit name for a type/group of female deities the number of which is said to be 100.000 myriad's. They appear in both Hindu and Buddhist myths, iconography and scriptures; usually sky-clad - i.e. bare.

2. In popular Indian folklore, a dakini are regarded as semi-divine beings and is often seen as a malignant spirit, demoness or witch-like hag.

3. In Buddhist Ladakh, dakinis enjoy a much better reputation than in India. Here, for example, 500.000 of them are invited to a celebration of marriage in order to bestow their blessings and good fortune on the young couple; a custom still alive today.

4. In some cases, Dakini is the personal name of an individual goddess, as in the case of an attendant of Chinnamasta, as well as in case of the goddess ruling the Muladhara Chakra.

5. In Vajrayana, it is a designation for the wrathful and semi-wrathful female deities among the yidam. Although most of the translated literature uses the Sanskrit term - even in Tibetan texts - the Tibetan khadroma (khandro) is much more woman-positive; indicating these deities/women as females who move on the highest level of reality. Their nudity is said to symbolize the diamond-like clarity of the truth they unveil. In the Bardo Thödol, a dakini is defined as the feminine energy principle, associated with knowledge and intelligence, which may be either destructive or creative.

6. In yet other instances, dakini is used as an honorary title for an enlightened woman, a living incarnation of a goddess; and for female initiates practicing ritual sexuality. These "Female Buddhas", as research has shown, have been very instrumental in defining and spreading the Vajrayana teachings, although the credit for this has often gone to male practitioners and/or masters.

7. In Tibet, Dakini is also a personal name.

We must certainly not be misled by those authors who simply call a dakini an 'emanation' or 'consort' of Buddha So-and-so. Although Buddhist Tantra ascribes a less energetic dynamism to the female pole than does Indian Tantra, the dakinis are certainly equal - if not superior - to the male deities. In the context of the Tantric teaching that enlightenment, wisdom and liberation are achieved through a fusion of method and goal, it is the goal that is seen as the female aspect (the dakini) and the method/path as the male (see Inner Tantras).

I have found a story of Sukhasiddhi, one from of Vajrayogini but in reality she was a very accomplished practitioner who achieved the level of a dakini in her very lifetime. She is of the Shangpa Kagyu lineage. Below is her story.

--- Quote ---the story of the wisdom dakini sukhasiddhi

also known as dewai ngödro

Sukhasiddhi, an eleventh century female meditation master, was a contemporary of Niguma and also a teacher of Khyungpo Naljor, who considered her to be his kindest guru. Her life demonstrates to us that age is not a factor when it comes to attaining enlightenment: she met her guru at age 61 and attained enlightenment soon thereafter. Both she and Niguma's teachings form the heart of the Shangba lineage instructions. Her story was translated from a collection of stories of the lives of Shangba masters

This is the story of the woman known by the name Sukhasiddhi in Sanskrit or Dewai Ngödrup in Tibetan. I pay homage to the glorious wisdom dakini. At one time, in the Moslem part of India [Kashmir], there were 38,000,000 cities. In one of these--in the one called the Western Moslem City--there lived a couple with three sons and three daughters. At one time, they became so extremely impoverished and destitute that they had only one jar full of rice left as their food supply. They agreed they should not eat this last provision and stored it in a hidden place. Then, the three sons went south in search of food. The three daughters went north. The father went west. While they were gone, a very poor beggar came to the door asking for food. The mother, who had stayed home, opened the jar of rice and gave it to the beggar.

The father, unable to find food in the west, became weak with hunger. Remembering the vase full of rice, he turned back with the thought that they must use that as their food. The three sons also had no luck and turned back. The three daughters also were compelled to come back empty-handed. All three parties returned from their search at about the same time. When they convened at home, they said, "Mother, open the container of rice and give us some. Already we were weak with hunger, and we have new become completely exhausted from our journey." The mother replied, "Thinking you would return with food, I gave the rice to an extremely poor and weary beggar who came asking for alms. So now we have nothing."

The father, sons and daughters replied in unison, "Even had you done something like this previously, it would not have been with our consent. Not only did you not go with us in search of food; you robbed us of our earnings at the same time!" Saying this, they threw her out of the house.

From Kashmir, the old woman traveled west to Persia [Orgyen]. In Orgyen, all males were dakas and all females were dakinis. Therefore, it was said that by merely traveling there, a person's awareness would naturally become clear. It happened to be harvest time, so the woman gathered some grains together and loaded them onto her back. She carried this into a city and established herself as a beer seller.

At that time the master Birwapa, also known as Avadhutipa, was living in a nearby forest of Orgyen, where he practiced secret conduct with his consort yogini Avadhutima, who frequently went to the town to buy him beer. Most often, she purchased beer from the old woman beer vendor, because the beer she sold was far more delicious than that sold by the other vendors. One day, the old woman asked, "Yogini, after you buy my beer, who do you take it to?" The yogini replied, "In the forest of Yaki lives an excellent yogin. I bring it to him." The old woman said, "Well, in that case, you do not need to pay for the beer", and gave her the very best portion of beer to take with her.

When the yogini returned to the forest, Birwapa said, "How is it that you were able to acquire this beer for free?" She replied, "There is a new beer seller with devotion; she is unlike the other vendors we used to buy from. I told her that my excellent lama lives in the forest and that I bring beer to him. The beer seller was moved to devotion and gave me this beer to bring." Birwapa said, "At all costs, I must deliver that old woman from the three realms of samsara." So the yogini returned to the market and asked the old woman, "Will you come?" The old woman felt very inclined to go, so she accompanied the girl to meet him, bringing with her a jug of beer and some pork. During that very meeting, Birwapa bestowed upon her fully the secret practice, the four empowerments of the nirmanakaya chakra at the navel. He also taught her the generation phase, completion phase and secret practices, along with instructions in the magnetizing activity. She transformed into a wisdom dakini right at that time.

At the time that she was thrown out of the house by her husband and children in Kashmir, she was 59 years old. When she came to Orgyen and established herself as a beer seller, she was 60. When she met Birwapa and requested empowerment, she was 61. Then, in the course of that one night, her 61 year old physical body purified itself and transformed into a youthful, attractive, very white rainbow body. Her silken hair flowed down her back. She became as beautiful as a sixteen year old maiden, ravishing to behold, and sat up in the sky for seven days. Thus, she became known as the miraculous dakini known as Sukhasiddhi. She then actually transformed into the Bhagavati Dakmema and became the secret consort of Birwapa.

Since even as of now she has not passed away, her wisdom eyes see sentient beings in the three realms throughout the six times. Especially, she teaches the Dharma to those who have pure view. She directly blesses those engaged in the secret practice and those who supplicate her, and she confers upon them supreme and ordinary siddhi. Those who read the life story of the wisdom dakini or merely hear her name will develop devotion. [Upon first hearing of her] I, Kyungpo Naljorpa, felt the seed of faith stir deep within my heart. I traveled all over India in search of her. I finally encountered her in the middle of the Sandalwood Medicine Forest in front and above a Tala tree. I saw her from afar, floating up in space in the midst of swirling rainbow light surrounded by countless dakinis. I offered her five hundred sang of gold and requested complete instruction. She fully bestowed upon me the four empowerments of the extraordinary secret practice. She gave me oral instructions in the generation and completion phase aspects of the secret practice, the six yogas and the three gatherings. In particular, she conferred the special point of attaining Buddhahood in a just a few years or months... From among my four root lamas Niguma, Rahula, the Hidden Yogin and Sukhasiddhi, Sukhasiddhi showed me the most exceptional kindness. Her first kindness was in conferring many prophesies. Her second kindness was that she became my secret consort and bestowed all initiations without exception. Her third kindness was in bestowing empowerments, practices and instructions. She was also very kind to say, "I will never be separate from you all throughout India and Tibet." She also said, "Good practitioners in the future who engage in this secret practice will accomplish it."

Mokchokpa said, "Once, when I was deeply engaged in intense practice, Sukhasiddhi came and gave many prophesies. From that time forward, she was never separate from me." Lama Kyergangpa said, "When I went to Lhasa to see the emanation, Sukhasiddhi taught me Dharma, including the completion phase exercises, and bestowed the four empowerments. Now she is not separate from me for even a moment. Sangye Nyentön said, "Once, when I was staying for awhile with the one known as Kyergangpa, I saw Sukhasiddi face to face. She repeated these words to me three times, "Rest in non-referential awareness". From that time onwards, I have continuously seen her face before me. I requested from her the four extraordinary empowerments. She made many prophesies such as, "You will become a yogin who masters the three doors to complete liberation." And "If you and your students wish to attain Buddhahood in a matter of years or months, go to an isolated place and engage in this secret practice and you will accomplish the goal." May there be auspiciousness.

--- End quote ---

I read something interesting about Dakini Gurus in relations to Mahasiddhas and thought I post it here:

"Many siddhas had incarnate Dakini Gurus, and many more had no human Guru at all. The root-tantras can be classified as father, mother or non-dual tantras: father-tantras stress the creative mode of meditation and skillful means; mother-tantras emphasize fulfillment meditation and perfect insight; and non-dual tantras treat both equally.

Mother- or yogini-tantra was very popular amongst the siddhas - the names of Cakrasamvara and Hevajra appear most often in the legends - and thus the Dakini, generally in the form of Vajra Varahi, Cakrasamvara's consort, appears frequently in their mindscape.

Sometimes a Wisdom Dakini appears in the realm of visionary enjoyment (sambhogakaya) to initiate a yogin at the propitious moment. If his capacity for creative imagination is sufficiently developed he sees her in a vision before him, otherwise he may hear a voice or simply see her and hear her in his mind's eye - the result is the same. Sometimes the Dakini is embodied; the mundane or worldly Dakini often appears as a whore or a dancing girl to the itinerant yogin - in Tibet and Nepal, and perhaps India, drinking establishments and brothels were identical, and the hostess would be the madam.

This identification of woman with the Dakini shows the thorough-going non-duality of Tantra - every woman was the Dakini; even though she may lack experiential recognition of it and never have heard the name, still she is the tantrika's Dakini: even without beauty and intelligence, every woman is an immaculate, entrancing Dakini, the embodiment of wisdom.

For one siddha the Dakini was his mother, and for another she was a young girl. The Dakini Guru is clearly most capable of empowering a yogin to practice the fulfillment mode of meditation by uniting with him as insight to his skillful means, and this happens frequently.

Other siddhas were initiated by Bodhisattvas - Manjusri, Lokesvara or Tara - some appearing in divine form in the sphere of visionary enjoyment (sambhogakaya) and others as incarnate emanations (nirmanakaya)."

From: Masters of Mahamudra: Songs and Histories of the Eighty-Four Buddhist Siddhas by Keith Downman


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