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Dakinis - Who are they and What they Represent?

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Big Uncle:
As far as memory permits, Dakinis to my knowledge are emanations of the Yidam's wisdom and so, they appear in female aspect and are invoked from special physical places on earth to come and bestow spiritual realization upon the Tantric practitioner.

Many awakened masters often have the ability to perceive their presence and sometimes hear their haunting melodies from which they convey songs of realization. The great Panchen Lama Chokyi Gyeltsen composed the liturgical chant melody of the Tsog offering of the Lama Chopa based upon the sacred chants he heard from the Dakinis.

On top of that, i found a rather interesting explanation and distinction of the 4 different classes of Dakinis....

Classes of Dakini
Judith Simmer-Brown, based on teachings she received from Tibetan lamas, identifies four main classes of dakini. These follow the Twilight Language tradition of esotericism in referring to secret, inner, outer and outer-outer classes of dakinis. The secret class of dakini is Prajnaparamita (Tibetan yum chenmo) or voidness, the empty nature of reality according to Mahayana doctrine. The inner class of dakini is the dakini of the mandala, a meditational deity (Tibetan:yidam) and fully enlightened Buddha who helps the practitioner recognise their own Buddhahood. The outer dakini is the physical form of the dakini, attained through Completion Stage Tantra practices such as the Six Yogas of Naropa that work with the subtle winds of the subtle body so that the practitioner's body is compatible with an enlightened mind. The outer-outer dakini is a dakini in human form. She is a yogini, or Tantric practitioner in her own right but may also be a kamamudra, or consort, of a yogi or mahasiddha.

Dakinis can also be classified according to the Trikaya, or three bodies of a Buddha. The Dharmakaya dakini, which is Samantabhadri, represents the Dharmadhatu where all phenomena appear. The Sambhogakaya dakinis are the yidams used as meditational deities for tantric practice. The Nirmanakaya dakinis are human women born with special potentialities; these are realized yogini, the consorts of the gurus, or even all women in general as they may be classified into the Five Buddha Families.

One of my favourite beautiful Dakini of all time... and she was human before too...

Tara, the Savioress

Tara once was a virtuous human being, a woman on the path of awakening. In response to the prejudice against women that she encountered she made a powerful intention: she prayed that in the future she might manifest in female form for the rest of eternity to fulfill all the wishes and needs of beings who were suffering.

Another story tells of the time when Tara first appeared in her full compassionate transcendent form: the great Bodhisattva Chenrezi, the Hero of Compassion, was gazing at the universe and witnessing the continuous throes of suffering in the numerous realms of beings. As he considered everyone's pain and the ignorance that prevented each being from seeing the ways they were perpetuating their own suffering, a tear fell from his eye. That tear manifested as Tara; so it seems she has a definite relationship with water in general and "the water of compassion" in particular.

Tara has many different forms; Martin Willson's book, In Praise of Tara: Songs of the Savioress, there is a translation of "The Praise in 21 Homages," a tantra spoken by Buddha Vairochana, the central male buddha of the five-fold mandala. The tantra details twenty-one different aspects of her wisdom activity. Some are fierce, some are serene and some are joyful. She is apparently unable to ignore anyone's request for help, even requests for the smallest assistance.

In Willson's book, there is a Praise of Arya Tara composed by a student of the Dzogchen master Manjusrimitra named Akshobya-vajra. His praise is specifically noteworthy in that it focuses on Tara's five-fold aspects in relation to the mandala of the elements. It also gives a glimpse of the transcendent aim of the view of Dzogchen in that it is a praise that aspires to go beyond striving directly into the experience of recognizing the truth of inherent buddha nature, uncovering the ineffable perfection within...

Homage to the Venerable Arya-Tara!

Homage to Tara, the Dharmakaya,
resting in the Realm born of Knowledge,
Great Bliss, simple and free of concepts,
quite pure, Ultimate Bodhicitta!

Homage to Tara, the Sambhogakaya,
the beautiful Body of youthful exuberence
and radiant face of the finest color
resting amidst a mandala of goddesses!

Homage to Tara, the Nirmanakaya,
sending out, from Her secret heart mandala
forms of perfect Knowledge,
saving beings from the six realms of confusion!

Homage to Tara who is Buddha!
Whose supreme Mind,
free of wrong concepts and sleep of unknowing,
appears as anything knowable;
homage to Her
who receives the praise of perfect Buddhas!

Homage to Tara who is true Dharma,
showing Great Bliss, Nirvana's peace
the highest of holy Dharmas,
the ten Wisdom-Knowings and Ten Perfections!

Homage to Tara who is Sangha,
Who has realized the body speech and mind
of all Enlightened Ones of the past present and future,
the Dakini of Total Wisdom!

Homage to Tara the Desirous,
who, wanting to calm the sorrow of wandering beings,
devotes herself to the three realms
in the form of a Goddess who loves
like a mother!

Homage to Tara free of desire,
who, knowing samsara's nature is pure,
has no attachment to the three realms--
the form of the Mother who births the

Homage to Tara, the Non-abiding,
who, by uniting Method and Wisdom
abides in neither samsara nor nirvana,
neither desirous nor free of desire!

Homage to You, O Buddha Tara,
body of all the Buddhas' Gnosis,
dispeller of the darkness of ignorance
from sentient beings blinded
by delusion!

Homage to You, O Jewel Tara,
collection of all the Buddha's virtues
subduer of the mountain of pride
of sentient beings overpowered
by arrogance!

Homage to You, O Lotus Tara,
immaculate Speech of all the Buddhas,
dispeller of samsara's thirsts
for sentient beings pained
by desire!

Homage to You, O Karma Tara,
supreme Activities of all the Buddhas,
extractor of the thorn of envy
from sentient beings overcome by jealousy!

Homage to You, O Vajra Tara,
vajra-body of all the Buddhas,
annihilator of weapons of hate
in sentient beings oppressed
by anger!

Homage and praise to Your Vajra Body,
you whose form is like a reflection,
free of gross or subtle matter
and bearing Marks and Signs of Perfection!

Homage and praise to Your Vajra Speech,
you who utter sounds like an echo,
abandoning syllables and phrases,
transcending the ways of words
and language!

Homage and praise to Your Vajra Mind,
you whose mind is like a dream,
whose experience is not real, unreal
or something else,
not knowing existence or nothingness!

To Tara, immaculate and all-pervasive
I give praise with speechless vajra words,
free of sound and utterance,
beyond the fixation of praise
or object of praise.

To Tara free of both experiencer
and experience
I bow down with vajra mind,
beyond knower or knowing,
beyond observer and observed.

White Tara is connected specifically with longevity and the source of all life. She will become the elixir of life that is enjoyed by all at the tea ceremony.

There is no conflict between the color relationships of the mandala of the elements and the fact that White Tara is in the center. "White Tara" is only like a general name. According to the conditons, there are a blue, green, red, yellow and white aspect of White Tara, reflecting her responsiveness to the needs of beings in different circumstances.

There are women who practice the Praise to the 21 Taras and dance as these aspects of Feminine Wisdom in places around the earth for the sake of peace.

More information about the five dakinis, they are consort of Buddha Heruka.   

Herukas in tantric union with their five dakinis. Their purpose is to annihilate the five principal failings of human behavior (ignorance, hatred, pride, passion, and envy) while the five dakinis enlighten the five elemental realms (earth, water, fire, air, ether). All of them have three heads, six arms, and four legs and are adorned with crowns of skulls and skull-necklaces. They are usually depicted in paintings with wings of the garuda bird, a mythical bird that symbolizes the power to overcome evil.

1. Buddha-Heruka - appears in the center with his smoky-white dakini Krodhesvari. This wrathful Heruka is an emanation of Buddha Vairocana, manifesting himself in a terrifying flaming form. In his right hands he carries a long-handled axe, a flaming sword, and the wheel of the teachings; in his left, a kapala, a ploughshare, and a bell.

2. Vajra- Heruka (dark blue ) – appears in the east with his dakini Vajra-Krodhesvari

3. Ratna-Heruka (yellow) –appears in the south with his dakini Ratna-Krodhesvari

4. Padma-Heruka (red) – appears in the west his dakini Padma-Krodhesvari

5. Karma-Heruka (green) – appears in the north with his dakini Karma-KrodhesVari

As mentioned by dsiluvu, here is samantabhadri, a consort of Samantabhadra.

Guru figure and yidam - Primordial Mother of all the Buddhas

Samantabhadri (Kuntuzangmo in Tibetan) is the consort and female counterpart of Samantabhadra (Kuntuzangpo in Tibetan), the primordial Buddha of the older schools of Tibetan Buddhism. They are usually shown in sexual union (yab/yum in Tibetan), the blue male figure and white female figure embracing each other in lotus position.

Samantabhadri is sometimes shown alone, in which case she is seated in lotus posture with her hands in meditation posture in her lap.

Samantabhadri is always shown naked (as is her consort) to demonstrate the unadorned nature of Absolute Truth, the emptiness of all phenomena. She is in some senses an analogue of Prajnaparamita.

Yeshe Tsogyal was known as an emanation of Samantabhadri, according to Judith Simmer-Brown in her subtlest form Yeshe Tsogyal was known as "expanse of mah?sukha Küntusangmo [Samantabhadr?], the all-good queen"

Jessie Fong:
In general, the Buddhist term “Dakini” can be taken to mean goddess. In the Tibetan language this Sanskrit term is translated as Khandroma (mkha’-‘gro-ma) meaning “she who traverses the sky” or “she who moves in space.” Dakinis are active manifestations of energy. Therefore, they are usually depicted as dancing, this also indicating that they actively participate in the world, or in the spiritual perspective, in both Samsara and Nirvana. In the Tantric Buddhist tradition of Tibet, Dakinis basically represent manifestations of energy in female form, the movement of energy in space. In this context, the sky or space indicates Shunyata, the insubstantiality of all phenomena, which is, at the same time, the pure potentiality for all possible manifestations. And the movements of their dance signify the movements of thoughts and the energy spontaneously emerging from the nature of mind. Being linked to energy in all its functions, the Dakinis are much associated with the revelation of the Anuttara Tantras or Higher Tantras, which represent the path of transformation. What is transformed here is energy. This method is quite reminiscent of alchemy, the transmutation of base metal into pure precious gold. In this case, the energy of the negative emotions or kleshas, called poisons, are transformed into the luminous energy of enlightened awareness or gnosis (jnana).

One Buddhist Dakini originating from the country of Uddiyana is the goddess Kurukulla. The name Kurukulla is translated into Tibetan as Rigjyedma (rig-byed-ma), “she who is the cause knowledge.” She is associated with a king of Uddiyana named Indrabhuti. But there were at least three Indrabhutis and this is most likely the second one. Moreover, there exists a sadhana text attributed to him for the red Kurukulla in her eight-armed form. [7] But whether she had eight arms or four arms, she is generally known as the Uddiyana Kurukulla. Most modern scholars believe this indicates that Kurukulla was originally a tribal goddess, much like the Hindu goddess Durga had been in India, who later, because of her popularity, became associated with the Buddhist great goddess Tara. For this reason, Kurukulla is often called the Red Tara (sgrol-ma dmar-po) or Tarodbhava Kurukulla, “the Kurukulla who arises from Tara.”


Generally they are called sky travellers - sounds like space travel in this modern age is not something new.


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