For Ḍākinī’ day today, my sixth short instalment on the Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo transmissions in January 2020 given by HE Schechen Rabjam Rinpoche, is about the ‘Gathering of Vārāhīs‘ empowerment (given on the 11th day of the event) from a Tibetan text revealed by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (and a female treasure-revealer, Jomo Menmo) called the ‘Gathering of all the Ḍākinī’s Secrets (Khandro Sangwa Kundu). First, I will write a little about that text itself and its origin. The photos below are from the empowerment this year.
The ‘Lady demoness’, Jomo Menmo
The lifestory of Ayu Khandro (Tsewang Dorje Paldron 1839-1953) refers to the teachings of Gathering of all the Ḍākinī’s Secrets, or its abbreviated form Khadro Sangdu (mKha’ ‘gro gSang ‘dus), declared to be a mind-treasure (dgong gter) of Jamyang Khentse Wangpo, and is explained to be the teaching given to female master, Jomo Menmo (1248–83) by Varjavarahi (Dorje Phagmo) herself in the cave of Padmasambhava. This text was lost and in the nineteenth century Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo claimed to rediscover Jomo Menmo’s treasures, based on his identification as the reincarnation of Guru Chowang (her former teacher and spiritual consort). Jamgon Kongtrul thus included the Gathering of all the Ḍākinī’s Secrets in the Rinchen Terdzod (rin chen gter mdzod), for which he composed his hagiography of her. It is a series of teachings on Vajravarahi associated with the four actions or trinlay (‘phrin las): pacifying, enriching, subjugating, and wrathful.
Jomo Menmo Pema Tsokyi (Jom-mo sMan-mo Padma mTsho-sKyid) was born in the Earth Male monkey year (1248 CE) and passed into the sky-dimension in 1283 CE. Yeshe Tsogyel is reported to have said about her: “An activity emanation of my speech will appear in Tsang and she will be known as Jomo Menmo.” The story of how Jomo Menmo got her name the Lady Demoness and was given the teaching of the Gathering of all the Ḍākinī’s Secrets is detailed here:
Jomo Menmo Pema Tsokyi (Jom-mo sMan-mo Padma mTsho-sKyid) the incarnation of Ma-gÇig Labdrön was born in the Earth Male monkey year (1248) and passed into the sky-dimension in 1283. She was born in Zarmolung , in the vicinity of the cave in which both Padmasambhava and Yeshé Tsogyel once stayed. Zarmolung is located in an area of Tibet called É-yül, which means ‘primordial-awareness country’. Her father, Dorje Gyalpo, was an accomplished Tantric practitioner. Her mother was a dakini named Padma Paltsum. Her parents named her Pema Tsokyi which means ‘Lotus of the Ocean’.
At the onset of puberty (in the Spring of 1261), whilst she was grazing the yaks and dris in the high pasture lands, she fell asleep in a meadow. The alpine meadow was overlooked by the Déwachen Puk – the cave of great ecstasy, in which Padmasambhava and Yeshé Tsogyel had demonstrated attainment. The place was known as Khyungchen-ling – the place of the great garuda. The garuda is the ‘space-eagle’, which demonstrates, in its being: the unborn, unceasing, ever present state of enlightenment that is the fundamental ground of the Dzogchen teachings and practices. It was from the name of this place that her incarnation Khyungchen Aro Lingma received her name as a gTértön from Yeshé Tsogyel in pure vision in the 19th century.
Whilst asleep, she had a dream of clarity in which she experienced a profound vision. A sonorous voice awoke her from her dream state into a state of pure and total presence. She found herself standing in front of the entrance to a secret cave in the mountainside. She entered the cave immediately and with a sense of keen enthusiasm; she did not know what she would find there, but she was consumed with a sense of immanence without hope or fear. Once inside the cave a vision of a charnel ground unfolded, in which Yeshé Tsogyel manifested in a phantasmagorical variety of guises. These visions melted into each other until they coalesced into the form of Yeshé Tsogyel as Dorje Phagmo. Dorje Phagmo means ‘indestructible sow’ or ‘thunderbolt sow’. Dorje Phagmo is the ecstatically fierce dakini, whose head is surmounted by the head of a sow whose screech shatters illusion. The sound of the screech obliterates all concepts and sharply confides the direct meaning or ro-gÇig – the one taste of Emptiness and Form. Dorje Phagmo was surrounded by many other dakinis; they were making a Tsog offering. At the moment in which she apprehended Yeshé Tsogyel as Dorje Phagmo, a complete body of teaching was revealed to her; this teaching named itself as ‘The Gathered Secrets of Sky Dancers’. She understood its meaning in the instant of its appearance. She realised this teaching was something that she should practise in complete secrecy until its results were obtained. She knew immediately that there would be no obstacle to her fulfilment of these practices. With the arising of this knowledge the vision of Dorje Phagmo dissolved into chö-nyi (chos nyid – Dharmata, the space of reality).
Pema Tsokyi awoke from the vision and went about her daily life. But wherever she went she gave teachings as the spontaneous expression of her Mind, Voice and Body. She gave Mind-to-Mind teaching as the natural expression of her presence. She sang teaching-songs as the natural expression of her conversation, and performed vajra-dance as the natural expression of her deportment. She could leave footprints and handprints in stone – which had both fortunate and unfortunate consequences. Many ordinary people were astounded by her and recognised that she was a realised yogini, but the ecclesiastics made people afraid of her. She was slandered as a madwoman who had been possessed by a demon. Once fear had been stirred up by the ecclesiastics, people became nervous of Pema Tsokyi. The ordinary people lost their natural faith in Pema Tsokyi. The found themselves unable to have confidence in their own spontaneous devotion, in opposition to the ecclesiastical conservatism that styled her as a demoness. The people then began to make accusations against her as well; saying that she had gone to sleep in the mountains and been possessed by a Menmo. It was then that she became known as Jomo Menmo.
Because of the ill feeling that the narrow-minded ecclesiastics showed toward her, she decided to leave her home and family and never return. After a period of wandering, she reached La-yak-pang-drong in the western part of Lho-drak, where she met a great Nyingma visionary – the gTértön Chö-kyi Wang-chuk (guru rin po che chos kyi dBang phyug). Guru Chöwang was one of the five sovereign Nyingma Visionaries, and one of the three major emanations of Padmasambhava. As soon as Guru Chöwang saw Jomo Menmo he knew that she was the perfect sang-yum with whom he could bring his realisation to fulfillment. He was then able to translate The Innermost Secret Heart Essence Tantra of the Eight Wrathful Awareness-beings (bKa’a brGyad gSang-ba yong rDzogs man-ngak-gi rGyud chen po.)
There is also a biography in English at Treasury of Lives which states that:
Jomo Menmo remained with Guru Chowang for a brief period, during which he gave her essential instruction on maturation and liberation (smin grol). Guru Chowang then advised her, saying:
“The time has not yet come for you to propagate the profound treasure, the Khandro Lekbam (mkha’ ‘gro’i glegs bam) that you received during your previous incarnation as Yeshe Tsogyel; better that you should practice it yourself in utmost secrecy. Roam the regions of U and Tsang, and benefit beings, employing a secret method of establishing all you meet in great bliss. Ultimately you will attain the accomplishment of the ḍākinī without relinquishing your body.”
Jomo Menmo then set out with two female companions, making her way to Dingri in Lato, practicing the “secret method of benefiting beings” (sbas tshul gyi ‘gro don) until she reached the age of thirty-six.
Gathering of all the Ḍākinī’s Secrets (Khandro Sangwa Kundu)
This treasure/terma cycle revealed by Jomo Menmo/Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, has been very helpfully uploaded online here at the Tsadra Foundation site of ‘Rinchen Terdzo’. There are thirty-eight texts in the cycle and they were authored/written down by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro, Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, 15th Karmapa and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.
The empowerment given at the Siliguri transmissions on the 20th January 2020, was the empowerment of the root of the Gathering of Vārāhīs (phag mo ‘dus pa’i dbang bskur) written down by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo. The Tibetan text can be read here. As far as am aware, this text and others in the cycle have not yet been translated into English, a potential translation project for those of us who have the transmission of it for sure!
Here are some lovely photos from the Tsagli and mandalas, available on the Tsadra Foundation website.
Written and compiled by Adele Tomlin, 17th February 2020.