LION-FACED DAKINI (Siṃhamukhā): Barī Lotsawa, Vanaratna, and Terma revealed by 1st Karmapa: ‘Aspirations to End Adversity’ with 17th Karmapa (Day VIII: part 2)

For ḍākinī day today I am delighted to offer this short post on Lion-Faced Ḍākinī (Siṃhamukhā). On the eighth day of the ‘Aspirations to End Adversity’ with 17th Karmapa, Orgyen Trinley Dorje, one of the texts recited was that of Lion-Faced Ḍākinī by the 8th Karmapa, Mikyo Dorje. This text (with the official English translation) is reproduced in full here (see below).

In addition, in this post I have added some textual references and information regarding the other traditions of Lion-Faced Ḍākinī (including a terma revealed by the 1st Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa) which the 17th Karmapa referred to in his brief teaching. May it be of benefit and may all harms and obstacles be swiftly repelled!

17th Karmapa’s teaching/transcript

The 17th Karmapa explained that:

“Regarding Siṃhamukhā, I have not seen anything specifically about her in the Kangyur, but the Nyingma tradition has a large cycle of teachings on her. In the Sarma, there are quite a few Siṃhamukhā practices. The most common include the one by Bari Lotsawa passed down among the Sakyas, the one passed down from Panchen Nakkyi Rinchen, and the terma hidden by Ngulchu Vairo and revealed by the glorious Dusum Khyenpa (dus gsum mkhyen pa, 1110–1193).

The one we will recite today is the repulsion by Mikyö Dorje that is included in Karma Kagyu prayer books. It is the one we always recite. It is said that Siṃhamukhā is supreme for repulsing sorcery, curses, inauspiciousness, bad omens, and obstacles. In the Geluk tradition, at the beginning of teachings on the stages of the path, they recite the Heart Sutra and Siṃhamukhā to quell any obstacles to teaching and listening to the dharma. In brief, White Parasol, the Heart Sutra, and Siṃhamukhā are well known in all dharma lineages.”

The 17th Karmapa refers to three specific lineages of the practice in the Sarma (New Translation) tradition, rather than the Nyingma tradition. These are considered below in more detail here.

Bari Lotsawa Lion-Faced Ḍākinī
This Ushnishavijaya Stupa which is believed to have survived the destruction of the North Monastery was discovered under the rubble of the roof and walls. It is the stupa in which the mortal remains of Bari Lotsawa were placed after his death and considered one of the four precious and sacred sights of Sakya Town.

I have written about the Bari Lotsāwa tradition of Lion-Faced Ḍākinī here, and translated a brief daily sadhana text of Bari Lotsāwa’s Lion-faced Ḍākinī by Karma Chagme, published and available for free download on the same page.  The empowerment and transmission for this text was given by HE 12th Gyaltsab Rinpoche in Sikkim, 2019 (for more information about that event, see here).

The revelation of the root mantra for Lion-Faced Ḍākinī is associated with the name of a famous translator and Sakya master, Bari Lotsāwa (ba ri lo tsA) (aka Rinchen Drak (rin chen grags)) (1040-1111) — the second throne holder of Sakya school (Sakya Trizin). At the age of 63, he retained the seat of Sakya for a period of eight years (1102-1110). Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo wrote a history of the hearing lineage of  Siṃhamukhā, which has been translated and published in English online here, in which he talks about the history of this lineage and revelation of the mantra.

The Lion-Faced Dakini of the Bari Lotsawa tradition
Vanaratna/ Panchen Nakkyi Rinchen – ‘The last Pandita’ tantric master and translator
Vanaratna receiving an initiation from Tara

Vanaratna (nags kyi rin chen) (1384-1468) was an important master and translator from Bengal, and one of the last great Indian scholars to visit Tibet in the 15th Century. In fact, according to the Blue Annals, he was referred to as ‘the last pandita’. He traveled in Tibet three times in the first half of the 15th century. A master of the Kālacakra, he was a preceptor to some of the last heads of Pakmodru family, and enjoyed patronage from the members of the Rinpung family in Shigatse. Among his disciples were Rongton Sheja Kunrik, Go Lotsawa Zhonnu Pel, and Trimkhang Lotsāwa Sonam Gyatso; the second of these students composed a biography, which was completed by the third[i].  I was unable to find online the Lion-faced Ḍākinī text the Karmapa spoke about in his teaching.

Photo of Vanaratna life-story by his student Lotsawa Zhonu Pal (see bibliography below for details). Both men are featured in this first folio page.

According to one biography:

“With Buddhism in decline on the Indian subcontinent, soon after ordination he went to the island of Laṅkā (modern Sri Lanka) for six years to study from Buddhist masters there, including one named Dharmakīrti, from whom he received instructions on the Vinaya. On leaving the island he traveled across southern India, meeting Buddhist masters and receiving teachings, and practicing the Six-branch Yoga of the Kālacakra tradition. The Blue Annals records a verse of praise that a master in Kaliṅga named Narāditya (mi’i nyi ma) composed in Vanaratna’s honor, suggesting that his religious accomplishments were already remarkable:

“Great sthavira Vanaratna, Who has realized the freedom from worldly attachment Having cleansed the turbid defilement produced of the world, O beings! Follow on him with devotion, in order to pacify saṃsāra.”

At a stūpa known as the Śrī Dhānyakaṭaka-mahācaitya Vanaratna studied with a master named Nāgabodhi. According to legend, it was here that Vanaratna had a vision of the Mahāsiddha Śabarapāda, also known as Śavaripa, who gave him a transmission of the Six Branch Yoga teaching of the Kālacakra.[ii]

“Vanaratna died at the age of eighty-five, in 1468, having given a great feast to beggars and announcing: “I shall now hold the feast of going to the Tuṣita Heaven.” He was cremated at the Rāmādoli grounds near Swayambhūnath. His reincarnation was identified and enthroned at Govicandra by his Nepali disciples.

Some twenty-three texts are preserved in Tibetan translation in the Tengyur, the majority of which are tantric liturgies, while five devotional praises: those to the Mahāsiddha Śabarapāda, Mahākaruṇika, Ganapati, and two to Śākyamuṇi Buddha. According to Punya Prasad Parajuli, three of Vanaratna’s tantric compositions are also extant in Sanskrit.”


Contribution of Vanaratna (Dubthob Nagkyi Rinchen) in Himalayan Region – YouTube

I was unable to find any text by Vanaratna on Lion-Faced Ḍākinī available online on the TBRC. This is clearly an area of further research.

The Karmapas and Karma Kagyu on Lion-Faced Ḍākinī
18th Cantury Tibetan thangka from the Karma Kagyu tradition. The Karmapa is seated above (r).

The 17th Karmapa also referred to a treasure (terma) hidden by Ngulchu Vairo and revealed by the 1st Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa (dus gsum mkhyen pa, 1110–1193). This is very interesting yet I could not find any reference to such a terma text online. I have requested this information from the Karmapa’s translator.

There do not seem to be many other texts by the Karmapas or Karma Kagyu masters on Lion-Faced Dakini, other than the one by Karma Chagme and the one recited during the Aspirations by the 8th Karmapa, Mikyo Dorje. That short ritual is not included in the online editions of the 8th Karmapa’s Collected Works. It is reproduced in full below.

I myself have received several Lion-Faced Ḍākinī empowerment and transmissions, including twice from HE 12th Gyaltsab Rinpoche (at Bokar Monastery, 2018 and Ralang Monastery, 2019). I have also received the transmission of the Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo sadhanas and texts on Lion-Faced Ḍākinī during the transmissions of his Collected Works by HE Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche, Siliguri India, 2020.

  1. Lion-Faced Ḍākinī sadhana by Karma Chagme. Translated and edited by Adele Tomlin. Dakini Publications 2018. Free download here.
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  1. Lion-Faced Ḍākinī sadhana by Jetsun Tāranātha. Translated and edited by Adele Tomlin. Dakini Publications 2018. Free download here.
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  1. Shower of Vajras: the Bari Tradition Blue Lion-Faced Ḍākinī and Retinue sadhana by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo. Translated and edited by Adele Tomlin. Forthcoming Dakini Publications 2021.
  2. The Inner, Outer and Secret Sadhanas of Lion-Faced Ḍākinī from Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo’s ‘The Excellent Vase of Precious Jewels. Translated and edited by Adele Tomlin. Forthcoming Dakini Publications 2021.
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By 8th Karmapa Mikyo Dorje

༄༅། །དཔལ་ལྡན་རྡོོ་རྗེེའིི་ལྷ་མོོ་ནིི། །

pal den dor jéy lha mo ni

Wrathful with a lion’s face,

དྲག་མོོ་སེེང་གེེའིི་གདོོང་པ་ཅན། །

drak mo seng gey dong pa chen

The glorious vajra goddess

ཡེེ་ཤེེས་མེེ་ཡིི་འོོད་ཟེེར་འཕྲོོ། །

ye she me yi ö ser tro

Emits light rays of wisdom fire.

སེེང་གེེའིི་གདོོང་ཅན་ལྷ་མོོར་འདུད། །

seng gey dong chen lha mor dü

I bow to devi Simhamukha

ཨཿཿ ཀཿཿ སཿཿ མཿཿ རཿཿ ཙཿཿ ཤཿཿ དཿཿ རཿཿ སཿཿ མཿཿ རཿཿ ཡཿཿཕཊཿཿ།




Recite as many times as possible. Then:


khandro ma seng gey dong pa chen khyö kyi rik ngak dé

Lion-faced dakini, by the force and power


pay tu dang nü pa la ten né dak chak pön lop khor dang ché

of our reciting your awareness mantra,


pa nam la dang war je pay dra

may the hostile enemies,


nö par je pay gek

harmful obstructors,


bar du chö pay kyen

obstructing conditions,


ཅིིག །

dor na tra mi shi pay chok ri ngen pa tam che chir dok par gyur chik

and, in brief, all that is malign and inauspicious for us master,

disciples, and retinue be repulsed.

ཁྲོོ་མོོ་འབར་བའིི་ཚོོགས་རྣམས་ཀྱིིས། །

tro mo bar way tsok nam kyi

O hosts of blazing wrathful devis,

དགྲ་བགེེགས་དག་ནིི་ཐམས་ཅད་ཀྱིི། །

dra gek dak ni tam che kyi

Grind to dust the bodies and voices

ལུས་ངག་ཐལ་བའིི་རྡུལ་དུ་རློོག །

lü ngak tal way dül du lok

Of every enemy and obstructor.

རྣམ་ཤེེས་ཆོོས་ཀྱིི་དབྱིིངས་སུ་སྒྲོོལ། །

nam she chö kyi ying su dröl

Free their minds into the dharma expanse!

ཁྱོོད་ཀྱིི་རིིག་སྔགས་བཟླས་པའིི་མཐུས། །

khyö kyi rik ngak dé pay tü

By the power of our reciting your awareness mantra,

གནོོད་བྱེེད་མ་ལུས་ཞིི་བ་དང༌། །

nö je ma lü shi wa dang

May all aggressors be pacified,

ཅིི་བསམ་ཡིིད་བཞིིན་འགྲུབ་པ་དང༌། །

chi sam yi shin drup pa dang

May all that we wish for be accomplished,

བཤད་སྒྲུབ་བསྟན་པ་རྒྱས་པར་མཛོོད། །

she drup ten pa gyé par dzö

And may the teachings of study and practice flourish!


By Lord Mikyö Dorje


[i] Biography of Vanaratna by Gos Lotsawa Zhonu Pel. Also included astrology text. gzhon nu dpal; 1 volume; 150 p.. TBRC W8LS37367. dbu med script. Also, a copy in National library of Bhutan, Thimphu, Bhutan, 1985., TBRC W23938.

[ii]  From Treasury of Lives (Vanaratna – The Treasury of Lives: A Biographical Encyclopedia of Tibet, Inner Asia and the Himalayan Region). Later. he received a second transmission of Kalacakra in Swayambunath, Nepal: “Unable to connect with the Pakmodru regime, Vanaratna decided to return to Nepal. The Blue Annals has him at this point receiving Kālacakra and Cakrasaṃvara transmissions from Buddhagoṣa and a Śrī Shawari Wangchuk (shrI sha ba ri dbang phyug) at the Śāntapurī Vihāra at Swayambhūnath. This was the second Kālacakra transmission Vanaratna received; its lineage is traced in the Blue Annals as follows: Avalokiteśvara, Ācārya Anupamarakṣita, Śrīdharanandana, Bhāskaradeva, Sūryaśrījñāna, Dharmākaraśānti, Ratnarakṣita, Narendrabhodhi, Muktipakṣa, Śākyarakṣita, Sujata, Buddhagoṣa.”

[iii] The only textual source online for this short recitation is seng gdong ma’i bzlog bsgyur/ W25185, pp.151-2, in bka’ brgyud zhal ‘don phyogs bsgrigs/.

Further Reading and Sources

2 thoughts on “LION-FACED DAKINI (Siṃhamukhā): Barī Lotsawa, Vanaratna, and Terma revealed by 1st Karmapa: ‘Aspirations to End Adversity’ with 17th Karmapa (Day VIII: part 2)

  1. Hi Lotsawa, you will find 1st Karmapa´s Simhamukha in a collection of permission empowerments and sadhanas called gcig shes kun grol.

  2. 😀 please disregard my previous coment, I have checked in gcig shes kun grol, but there is no mention of the 1st Karmapa of Simhamukha. It was a wrong information that I got from one person.

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