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Dakinis - Who are they and What they Represent?

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What a beautiful praise and in a nut shell on Dakinis...

"In the profound sutra system, the Dakini is called the Great Mother.
Indescribable, unimaginable Perfection of Wisdom,
Unborn, unobstructed essence of sky,
She is sustained by self-awareness alone:
I bow down before the Great Mother of the Victorious Ones, past, present, and future.

Thus it is written in the Great Paramita Sutra. In the precious tantric tradition, 'desireless, blissful wisdom is the essence of all desirable qualities, unobstuructedly going and coming in endless space'. This wisdom is called 'the Sky Dancer', feminine wisdom, the Dakini.

In the tantra system, the Three Jewels of the sutras are contained in the Three Roots -- Guru, Deva, Dakini. One in essence, these three aspects are the three objects of refuge. Guru is the aspect that bestows blessing; Deva is the aspect that transmits siddhi; and Dakini is the aspect that accomplishes the Buddha's karma."

Trinley Norbu Rinpoche from his Foreward to
Sky Dancer: The Secret Life and Songs of the Lady Yeshe Tsogyel
translated by Keith Dowman, ARKANA (Penguin Group), London, 1989

here is a dakini that is the synthesis of 3 great dakinis: Vajrayogini, Prajnaparimita and Tara. She also founded the practice of Chod, the most effective way to cut off the ego. She is none other than Machig Lhabdron, a married woman who became a dakini in her very lifetime. It is inspiring to read about dakinis who became enlightened in just one lifetime because they put in effort to ripen their imprints rapidly.

--- Quote ---The especially well-known profound practice of Chöd was brought from India to Tibet by the great mahasiddha Dampa Sangye . . . The Chöd teachings and practice were transmitted in Tibet by Machig Labdrön, who thus played a very important role in the Chöd lineage. Here, therefore, we will give a brief history of the wisdom dakini Machig Labdrön.

First, she manifested from Dharmata in the form of Prajiiaparamita. From that, she emanated as the great pandit and mahasiddha Dandrub Zangpo in India. He was a very well-known scholar and accomplished yogi. At that time, he received many prophecies from divine beings and his own teacher that he must go to Tibet to benefit many beings in the snowy regions. He quickly accomplished complete realization in the cave of Potari, and while he was practicing and experiencing clear realization, a dakini appeared and told him he needed to go to Tibet to benefit many beings in the snowy regions, and must transmute his consciousness into her heart.

As the dakini requested, he transmuted his consciousness into her heart and took birth in Tibet in the town of Labchi Kangra as the daughter of a couple who had great devotion to the Dharma. Her father and mother, Chakyi Dawa and Bumcham, were patrons of the Buddhadharma and lords of that town.

After entering her mother’s womb, during the pregnancy many special and divine signs appeared, such as her reciting the Mani and Ga-Te and other different mantras and even speaking to her mother from the womb. All these unusual indications were heard by the mother. During the pregnancy the mother had many omens, dreams, and blissful and joyful experiences. Many neighbors and villagers also had incredibly unusual omens, dreams, and experiences. Machig was born without any kind of difficulty to the mother and immediately stood in a mass of rainbow light and manifested many divine signs, such as a third eye and being able to speak right away to her mother. Her wisdom and compassion naturally caused people to be devoted to her as an emanation of Buddha and to bow, pray, and receive blessing from her without any doubt.
She followed her mother in her daily practice in the shrine room, reciting, bowing, and saying prayers, expressing devotion at an early age. She also showed unimaginable intelligence in reading, matched by no other; even her own teacher could not equal her intelligence.

Her special ability and unusual qualities became known throughout the kingdom; even the king heard of her, and extended an invitation to her and her family to meet with him. He offered them gifts and prayers, and gave her the name of “Labdrön,” as the one born in the village of Labchi Kangra and already called Dranma by her mother.

She was an extremely fast reader and mastered all aspects of Buddhist science, including logic, etc., without effort. When she was thirteen her mother died; afterward she followed her sister as a disciple of Lama Drapa Nganshe and stayed for four years with him, learning the teachings and practice of the sutra and tantra traditions, and reading the sutras for that lama. Afterward she met Kyoton Sonam Lama, who bestowed on her the empowerments of all traditions. She received teachings, and both Lama Drapa Nganshe and Kyoton Sonam Lama foretold that she must unite with the Indian mahasiddha Sangye Tanpa, who had come to Tibet to benefit sentient beings; that she had the karma to unite method and wisdom and benefit beings with him.

She met and practiced tantric union with the great mahasiddha [Sangye Tonpa] and again returned to her two gurus, telling them what she had done and requesting more teaching. Finally they sent her back to the yogi to continue with him, even saying that to start a family lineage with him would greatly benefit sentient beings. So she followed her gurus’ instructions, went back to him, and had two sons and a daughter. After having the daughter, she completely renounced worldly life and practiced in isolated places. After that, she met Dampa Sangye and requested all the teachings directly from him. He foretold that she would greatly benefit beings and should go practice at the mountain of Zangri Kamar; that many disciples would be gathered there, and that it would greatly benefit sentient beings.

According to her gurus’ instructions, she meditated there and began to teach many beings – humans, nonhumans, spirits, and nagas. She composed her own tradition, Pungpo Sengyurma, “Offering the Body as Food for Demons.” She developed this and taught it to many beings; then her tradition flourished all over Tibet. She had many disciples; abbots, learned pandits, and many yogis and yoginis became her students.

Her doctrine of Pungpo Sengyurma became popular all over Tibet, and rumor of it even spread to India. Then pandits and mahasiddhas were sent to verify that an emanation of Prajnaparamita had appeared in human form, had developed a specific tradition, and was benefiting beings. Two accomplished siddhas, both pandits and great beings, were sent to Tibet to meet Machig, question her, and check her teachings. When they first spoke to her, Machig replied in the Indian tongue. They asked her how she learned the language, and she replied that she had no need to learn it; she had been born in India before her present birth in Tibet, and had never forgotten it. This impressed the two pandits; here was a great being who could change lives and yet not forget the language.

They stayed and debated with her for many days concerning the Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana points of view. The two great scholars could not defeat her; she won the debate, and her teaching became popular not only in Tibet but in Nepal and India as well. While the teachings of the Buddha had been faithfully carried from India to Tibet and elsewhere, never before had any tradition been transmitted from Tibet to India. Machig’s Chöd of Mahamudra transmission was the first time in history that a valid source of Dharma went from Tibet to India. Thus, such a great being, Machig Labdrön, was the first lineage holder, and this unbroken lineage continues until today

--- End quote ---


The female Buddha Simhamukha has the face of a lioness and the body of a woman. Her leonine visage shines with the startling awakeness of enlightened awareness. Her mouth is drawn in a perpetual roar of untamable fury and exultant laughter. her vibrant body surges with waves of pure, primal power.

Simhamukha manigests the elemental vitality of a lioness on the prowl or racing toward her prey. She embodies a torrent of energy that is unstoppable by an external force and can level anything in its path. Her fiery, ferral persona conveys the intensity required of those who would experience ultimate reality. Her supernal rage is not a seelfish drive to protect or destroy but rather a ruthless inteolerance of anything that would block the flow of spiritual growth and awakening. The lion-faced female Buddha is accompanied by two attendants with animal heads, proclaiming that she communes with every living being an is kin to all that is soverign, wild, and free.

Simhamukha, whose name means "Lion-Faced Lady," is a fully enlightened being. She has attained Buddhahood, the state of ultimate wisdom and supreme bliss. Her mind flows in a pure, nonconceptual stream, free from distortion and conceptual overlay. Thus she is said to be a "wisdom dakini,""wisdom-bestowing female,""great victorious mother,", "female who elights in highest knowldge," and "enlightened being whose nature is primordial wisdom and ultimate reality."Because her mind is completely purified, every experience arising in her mental stream has the quintessential "taste" (rasa) of supernal joy, and she enjoys a continuous flow of "spontaneoisly arising supreme bliss." Her bliss is spontaneous because it is not dependent on external bjects; it is supreme because it can never be diminished or destroyed. It is the primordial nature of the mind, an intrinsic quality of being that naturally arises when all the attachments that cause suffering have been severed.

One who has attained this realisation is said to dwell in the realm of bliss. This “realm” is not an otherworldly paradise or afterlife destination, but rather the very world we live in, experienced with enlightened awareness. In Tantric parlance, the world itself becomes a mandala mansion – a palatial abode of shimmering perfection – for one who beholds it with pure vision. Simhamukha’s joyous demeanor and zestful dance bespeak this sublime enjoyment. Because her mind dwells in absolute freedom and her experiential stream is a river of bliss, her mode of being in the world is one of transcendent playfulness:

In the center of an ocean of blood and fat
Is the spontaneously wise dakini,
Playfully dancing amidst appearances and emptiness,
Here in her pure mansion, the world of ordinary appearances.

Simhamukha displays many of the attributes common to wrathful deities, such as an angry visage, tiger-skin skirt, and bone ornaments. Her dancing pose, curved knife, and skull bowl are characteristic of female Tantric Buddhas.

On one level of interpretation, these accoutrements connote overcoming negativity. Following this line of analysis, Simhamukha dances in triumph on negatie forces and opposition she has overcome, personified by the prostrate corpse beneath her feet. Her knife “shatters the hearts and heads of those with horrible karma,” sending them quickly to a higher state, and from her skull bowl she drinks “the heart-blood of the worst evildoers.” Her roaring laughter terrifies and repels those who approach to do harm.

The Dakini is also called the "Great Mother". In the mandala of Lord Dorje Shugden there are the nine Great Mothers. They comprise the four mothers representing the four elements and the five goddesses representing the five object sources, that is, forms, sounds, smells, tastes and tactile objects. Their names are as follows:

The Four Mothers:
1. Lochana (earth)
2. Mamaki (water)
3. Benzarahi (fire)
4. Tara (wind)

The Five goddesses:
5. Rupavajra (forms)
6. Shaptavajra (sounds)
7. Gandhavajra (smells)
8. Rasavajra (tastes)
9. Parshavajra (tactile objects)

I read what is written in this thread, but I need to ask a few basic questions - if you guys don't mind.

There are 2 types of dakinis: Wisdom Dakini and Worldly Dakini. The Wisdom Dakini are enlightened, like Vajra Yogini, Samantabhadri, Prajnaparimita and Tara. The worldly Dakinis are unenlightened and trapped in the cyclic existence - found in the human and celestial realms.

From this, I deduce that there are many levels of Dakinis, just as how there are many levels of Buddhist practitioners in this world.

Do Wordly Dakinis continue their practice in the celestial realm? Can they degenerate in their practice and still fall back into the 3 lower realms?

If I am aspiring to enter the mandala of Vajrayogini as a dakini, is that a proper aspiration? Am I protected in Vajrayogini's mandala, what happens when I ascend in my practice and become an enlightened being?

When my mind becomes ONE with Vajrayogini, do I cease to exist? My mind becomes one with Vajrayogini, so I am her and she is me - so does my consciousness cease to exist?


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