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Yeshe Tsogyal

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Yeshe Tsogyal (Tib. ཡེ་ཤེས་མཚོ་རྒྱལ་, Wyl. ye shes mtsho rgyal) — the principal consort of Guru Padmasambhava. She was Vajravarahi in human form and also an emanation of Tara and Buddhalochana.


She was born as a princess in the clan of Kharchen. According to some accounts her father was called Namkha Yeshe and her mother was Gewa Bum.[1] In other histories, such as the Zanglingma and the biography revealed by Taksham Nüden Dorje, her father is named as Kharchen Palgyi Wangchuk, who is otherwise said to have been her brother. Yet another version names her father as Tökar Lek and her mother as Gyalmo Tso.

She became the consort of King Trisong Detsen before being offered to Guru Rinpoche as a mandala offering during an empowerment. She specialized in the practice of Vajrakilaya and experienced visions of the deity and gained accomplishment.

In Nepal, she paid a ransom for Acharya Salé and took him as her spiritual consort. Through the power of her unfailing memory, she collected all the teachings given by Guru Rinpoche in Tibet and concealed them as terma. At the end of her life, it is said, she flew through the air and went directly to Zangdokpalri.


  1. See for example Tulku Thondup (1996) page 93

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RigpaWiki:Yeshe Tsogyal

Yeshe tsogyal.jpg

Yeshe Tsogyal (757–817), was the consort of the great Indian tantric teacher Padmasambhava, the founder-figure of The Nyingma Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Nyingma tradition considers her equal in realization to Padmasambhava himself. The meditational practices related to her, stress her enlightened aspect, and are similar in Form to tantric deity practices in general. She is variously equated with Vajravārāhī, Tārā or Sarasvatī.

Yeshe Tsogyal, born in eighth century Tibet, is the founding Mother of Tibetan Buddhism, foremost female master of Tibetan Tantra.

It is believed she was an incarnation of Dorje Phagmo and that she was chosen by Guru Padmasambhava to help establish the Buddhist teachings in Tibet. Thus she is considered an enlightened figure who intentionally took birth to benefit beings. She is also viewed as a role model for those seeking enlightenment, especially through the tantric path.

Her life story recounts her very tangible struggles on the path and her ultimate victory—overcoming dualistic thought and compassionately benefiting countless beings. As a teacher, she uses her own life story to instruct and nurture her disciples so they can learn how to attain their own enlightenment.

Yeshe Tsogyal (ye shes mtsho rgyal).

Brief Biogragraphies

The different versions of her biography give varying details about her place of birth, the names of her parents and so forth.

In his Ocean of Wondrous Sayings to Delight the Learned Ones, Guru Tashi Tobgyal states that her father's name was Namkha Yeshe of the Kharchen clan and that she was born in Drongmochey of Drak. At first she was one of King Trisong Deutsen's queens but later was given to Padmasambhava to be his spiritual consort.

During the [[empowerment] of Assemblage of Sugatas]], her initiation flower fell on the mandala of Kilaya. Through this practice she became able to tame evil spirits and revive the dead.

She was the chief compiler of all the inconceivable teachings given by the great master Padmasambhava. Having remained in Tibet for two hundred years, she departed for the celestial realm of the Glorious Copper Colored Mountain, without leaving a corpse behind.

In The Precious Garland of Lapis Lazuli, Jamgön Kongtrül says, "Yeshe Tsogyal was a direct incarnation of Dhatvishvari Vajra Yogini in the form of a woman.

She served Padmasambhava perfectly in that life, engaged in sadhana practice with incredible perseverance and attained a level equal to Padmasambhava himself, the 'continuity adorned with inexhaustible body, speech, mind, qualities, and activities.' Her kindness to the land of Tibet surpasses the imagination and her compassionate activity which is no different from Padmasambhava's continues unceasingly."

Yeshe Tsogyal means 'Victorious Ocean of Wisdom.' RY

The dakini, Yeshe Tsogyal, wrote down and hid many of Padmasambhava’s teachings, including the Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo.

In his Ocean of Blessings, Jamgön Kongtrül says, "Yeshe Tsogyal appeared as an emanation of Dhatvishvari Vajra Yogini and was in essence not different from the consorts of the five buddhas.

In the dharmakaya aspect she is known as Samantabhadri or Prajnaparamita; in the sambhogakaya level she manifests in the form of the great consort Dhatvishvari; and therefrom she displays an inconceivable number of nirmanakayas, appearing in whichever way is necessary to influence whoever needs.

In the pure lands she appears in the form of Sarasvati, the noble Goddess of Eloquence, and shows the skillful means for generating the light of wisdom in all aspects of knowledge, both the outer and inner levels of philosophy.

In the presence of Buddha Shakyamuni, she emanated in the form of Ganga Devi and acted as the custodian of the treasury of the Mahayana teachings.

In this snowy land (of Tibet) she took rebirth as a qualified dakini into the family line of the Kharchen clan and became a consort accepted by Guru Rinpoche.

By the power of her immense training, she accomplished perfect recall. Traversing the secret path of Vajrayana, right to the letter, she achieved the supreme vajra abode of the twelfth bhumi.

Perfecting the great power of realization of the natural Great Perfection, she arrived at the stage at the end of the four visions.

Acting as the compiler of all Guru Rinpoche’s words, she visited everywhere in the central and surrounding lands of Tibet and concealed innumerable major and minor termas.

At present she resides in the indestructible form of the rainbow body in the Palace of Lotus Light on (the continent of) Chamara where she is indivisible from the ‘never-ending adornment wheels’ of Guru Rinpoche’s body, speech, mind, qualities, and activities, pervading as far as the reaches of space to benefit beings for as long as samsara exists." RY

On an abstract level, Yeshe Tsogyal represents the enlightened feminine. Her archetype is that of the heroine who fuses the absolute and the relative into a seamless enlightened existence.

In the Mother Essence Lineage, Yeshe Tsogyal and her incarnations and emanations are of primary importance, because she is the Mother of Vision, and therefore the Mother of non-dual experience.

Although Yeshe Tsogyal is often referred to as Guru Rinpoche’s consort, the two are in fact simultaneous manifestations of the integrated principles of skillful means and sublime knowing.

Both the Nyingma and Karma Kagyu schools of Tibetan Buddhism recognize Yeshe Tsogyal as a female Buddha. The translators of Lady of the Lotus-Born, the namthar or spiritual biography that Yeshe Tsogyal left as a Terma observe:

As Dodrup Tenpai Nyima makes clear, beings able to reveal Termas must have at least the realization of the Perfection Stage practices. On the other hand, the one who originates the Treasures must have the supreme attainment of Buddhahood. Lady of the Lotus-Born is thus a testimony of Yeshe Tsogyal's Enlightenment.

More detail

From the mouth of a Lotus was born
The swift goddess, heroic liberator
Who went forth in human Form
Amid the snowy mountains of Tibet.

Among lay Tibetans she is seen as a Buddha who takes the Form of an ordinary woman so as to be accessible to the average person, "who, for the time being, do not see her Vajravarahi Form as a fully perfected deity." In fact,

She displays whatever emanation Form will tame
Any given person, just as, for example, the full moon in the sky
Emerges as [various] reflections in different water vessels.

According to legend she was born in the same manner as The Buddha, a Sanskrit Mantra sounding as her mother gave birth painlessly, and she is considered a Reincarnation of The Buddha's own mother, Maya Devi.

Her name ("Primordial (ye) Wisdom (shes) Queen (rgyal mo) of the Lake (tso)") derives from her birth causing a nearby lake to double in size.

As a young girl, she is said to have prayed for the Happiness of all Sentient beings. At the age of sixteen, she was initiated into Buddhism by Guru Padmasambhava.

Although she was originally one of the Queen consorts of Trisong Detsen, she was given to Padmasambhava and became his main spiritual consort.

After many years of diligent study she achieved a level of Enlightenment equal to his. Yeshe Tsogyal was the main compiler of Padmasambhava's teachings, and it was she who concealed most of the termas.

Tsogyel, though fairly obviously a transformation of an older Bön figure, Bönmo Tso female Bön practitioner of the lake), whom she Debates in her "autobiography", also preserves the Great Completeness traditions shared by Bön with Tibet's earliest Buddhist tradition.

As the wife of Tri-song-day-tsen and the consort of Padmasambhava, given to him at her request by the king, she also stands historically at the beginning of Buddhism's eclipse of Bön in Tibet.

She is also considered a manifestation of Sarasvati and sometimes identified with the Bodhisattva Tara.

In the '“Life of Yeshe Tsogyel,” Padma Sambhava predicted that Yeshe Tsogyel would be reborn as Machig Lapdron;

her consort, Atsara Sale, would become Topabhadra, Machig’s husband;

her assistant and Padma Sambhava’s secondary consort, Tashi Khyidren, would be reborn as Machig’s only daughter, and so on.

All of the important figures in Tsogyel’s Life were to be reborn in the Life of Machig Lapdron, including Padma Sambhava himself, who would become Phadampa Sangye.

According to Karmapa lineage Tsogyel had attained Buddhahood in that very Life. On the Gyalwa Karmapa website it is said that she -some thirty years before transcending worldly existence- finally emerged from an isolated Meditation Retreat (796-805) as "a fully Enlightened Buddha " (samyak-saṃ Buddha)


Gyatso (2006) relates the background to how the Zhitro (also spelled: Shitro, Xitro) was received by the wang of a Vidyadhara through the Bardo of trance:

After succeeding in a variety of feats, including beheading a tiger, she gains access to an elaborate palace where she receives esoteric initiations from several vidyādharas and buddhas. She returns to Chingpu and after a year is robbed by seven bandits whom she then converts to Buddhist practice. She proceeds with the bandits on a magic carpet to the place Oḍḍiyāna where they all receive peaceful and wrathful deity practice (zhitro) initiations from a vidyādhara, who gives her the secret name Kharchen Za and cavorts in bliss with her.

Citing Padmasambhava

Padmasambhava is supposed to have said to her: "The basis for realizing enlightenment is a human body. Male or female, there is no great difference. But if she develops the mind bent on enlightenment the woman’s body is better" (quoted by Stevens, 1990, p. 71).


Wikipedia:Yeshe Tsogyal