CHOD LINEAGES AND MACHIG LABDRON: Indic-Tibetan Sources, Contemporary Works, The Karmapas and ‘The Long Lineage Supplication to Machig” by Bengar Jampel Zangpo

 Girl, expose your hidden faults,
Trample down grudges,
Lift up the powerless,
Sever obscurations,
Behold craving,
Wander in scary places!
Knowing that all beings are like space,
In dangerous places, seek the Buddha within yourself.
In the future, your teachings will be as bright as the sun rising in the sky!

བུ་མོ་ཁྱོད་མཚང་ཡུལ་ནས་འདོན་། མི་ཕོད་པ་རྫིས་་མི་ནུབ་པ་བསྐུར་། འཁྲིབ་ཆོད་།་ཞེན་པ་མཐོང་། གཉནས་འགྲིམ་།སེམས་ཅན་ནམ་མཁའ་ལྟར་ཤེས་པར་གྱིས་ལ་། གཉན་ཁྲོད་དུ་སངས་རྒྱས་རང་ལ་ཚོལ་དང་།་ཁྱོད་ཀྱིབསྟན་པ་མཁའ་་ཉི་མ་ཤར་པ་བཞིན་དུ་འོང་བ་ཡིན་གསུངས་ནས་ལུང་བསྟན་གནང་པ་མཛད་དེ

—Padampa Sangye’s advice to a young, Machig Labdron[1]

“There is no satisfactory evidence that there was a Buddhist Chod lineage of transmissions identified as such until Machik started to describe and categorize her own teachings.”

—-Dr. Michelle Sorensen (2013)



In the Secret Mantra Chod lineage, Green Tārā is listed as having bestowed the Chod transmission directly to Machig Labdron [2].  Thus today for Tārā Day, I share a new article on the Chod lineages and Machig Labdron, including the first published translation of The Long Lineage Supplication of the Deeds of Machig by Bengar Jamphel Zangpo (1427-1489) (that could be entitled the Karmapa Chod Lineage supplications, as it includes several Karmapas and senior Karma Kagyu masters)[3].

machig labdron

In 2012, I received the Chod empowerment, transmission and instruction on an 8th Karmapa text, from HH 17th Karmapa at Dorzong Monastery, India (see here). The event, which was the first time the 17th Karmapa gave the Chod empowerment, was requested by renowned Chod practitioner and writer, Tsultrim Allione (considered to be a direct emanation of Machig Labdron, see photo below).  In attendance were several members of Allione’s predominantly female Tārā Mandala community and the revered British nun, Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, founder and head of the Dongyu Gatsal Ling nunnery in Himachal Pradesh, India.

Since then, as part of my research for a forthcoming translation project on the Karmapas and Chod, I have been looking into the origins of Chod and source texts on the lineages. Here is an overview of that, together with the first published translation of a lineage supplication composed in the 15th Century by Bengar Jampel Zangpo (ban sgar ba ‘jam dpal bzang po), student of the 6th Karmapa, Thongwa Donden (Mthong ba don ldan) and teacher of the 7th Karmapa, Chodrag Gyatso.  For an English-language biography, of Bengar Zangpo, see here.[4]

The first half of this article will give a brief overview of the Indic-Tibetan sources of Chod lineages and practice, followed by an overview of contemporary works on the subject. The second half will be an introduction and  full translation of the Chod Lineage Supplication by Bengar Zangpo with some information about the historical figures cited in it.

May it be of benefit in severing obscurations, beholding craving directly and abandoning fears of ‘scary places’ and ‘demons’!

Written, compiled and translated by Adele Tomlin, 18th June 2021.

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Root Indic/Tibetan Source Texts on Chod

chodpa (1)

Dr. Michelle Sorensen’s PhD study, Making the Old New Again and Again: Legitimation and Innovation in the Tibetan Buddhist Chod Tradition (Columbia University, 2013) is the most recent, in-depth and extensive academic work on Chod and Machig Labdron (2013)[5] [6]. In particular, her translation and discussion of the texts of the Third Karmapa Rangjung Dorjé (1284-1339), including the earliest extant commentary on a text of Machik Labdron’s, focuses on new ways to appreciate the transmission and institutionalization of Chod.[7] I refer to her work extensively in this article.

In Chapter Two of her study, Sorensen (2013: 47-48) helpfully lists Indic sources of Chod,via Tibetan texts such as Karma Chagme (Karma chags med), in his 17th century text, Concise and Confident Explanation of Chod (Gcod kyi gdengs bshad nyung nyur bsdus pa bzhugs pa’i dbu phyogs), who identifies four different Indic sources of Chod that might be considered lineage, or perhaps proto-lineage, sources. These are Āryadeva the Brahmin’s The Great Poem; Naropa’s One Taste (Ro snyoms); the Khrul gcod terma (gter ma) cycles of Orgyan Rinpoche; and Padampa Sangye’s Zhije[8].

Āryadeva, 3rd Century Indian Mahasiddhaand disciple of Nagarjuna. His ‘Great Poem’, translated by Padampa Sangye, is listed as an original source text for Chod.

Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye (1813-1899) has a similar list in his Treasury of Knowledge[9].   In his Treasury of Instructions, Kongtrul includes the Great Speech Chapter by Machig Labdron and other Chod “root texts (gzhung rtsa ba)” such as:

  • The Great Poem by Aryadeva, translated by Padampa Sangye and revised by Zhama Lotsawa (Zhwa ma Lo tswa ba)[10];
  • The Great Speech/Explanation Chapter by Machik Labdron (Shes rab kyi pha rol ty phyin pa gcod kyi gzhung dang man ngag mtha’ dag gi yang bcud zab don thugs kyi snying po);
  • Shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa’i man ngag gcod yul gyi gzhung ‘grel zag med sbrang rtsi, by Drung pa Ru pa;
  • A Commentary on The Great Speech Chapter by 3rd Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje (Shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa’i man ngag gcod kyi gzhung shes rab skra rtse’i sa gzhung spel ba rin po che’i gter mdzod); and The Supplementary Chapter of Oral Instructions of the Prajnaparamita.

.Chod is also considered to be one of the “Eight Great Chariots, Lineages of Spiritual Accomplishment” (sgrub brgyud shing rta chen po brgyad)[11] [12].

machig 58523
12th Century Tibetan thangka of Machig Labdron. See

According to Sorensen (2013:)

“The earliest discussion of Machig and Chod for which we can approximate a date is contained in The Blue Annals (Deb ther sngon po) by Go Lotsawa Zhonnupel (‘Gos lo tswa ba Gzhon nu dpal, 1392-1481), a Dharma History (chos ‘byung) composed in the late fifteenth century . In the section on Chod, Zhijé is not foregrounded (in contrast to other sources which characterize Chod as a branch of Zhijé). ”

In various texts. several lineages and categorisations have been identified and listed for Chod, such as Sutra, Mantra, Long, Short, Male, Female, Father, Mother, Union and Instruction. The majority of these tend to go through Buddha Shakyamuni, to Green Tārā, Sukhasiddhi, Aryadeva, and Dampa Sangye.[13] However, others go directly to Machig Labdron from Vajravārahi[14] or Green Tārā (see note above).

padampa sangye

Sorensen (2013: Chapter 2) explains that in Namkha Gyaltsen’s appendix to the life-story (rnam thar) in The Great Explanation collection, the transmission lineages of Chod are described along three different paths:

  1. One lineage of the Sūtra tradition of Prajñāpāramitā, or Yum Chen mo.
  2. A second lineage from Śākyamuni, runs through Mañjuśrī, Nāgārjuna, and the Brahmin Āryadeva to Padampa Sangyé and finally to Machik.
  3. A third lineage of Tantra runs from Vajradhara through Tārā to Machik.

The Bengar Zangpo/Karma Kamtsang lineage seems to belong to the second type.

Allione, in this short video below about Machig Labdron, categorises her three main lineages as:

  1. The Father lineage from Prajñāpāramitā and her teachers, such as Padampa Sangye.
  2. The Mother lineage based on her visions of Tara and other dakinis and deities.
  3. The Experience Lineage based on her experience in practice.
Machig Labdron – Life-Stories and  Lineages
Machig Labdron. Source HAR 619.

“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 secondaxy 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.” —Allione (2000).

There are several brief life-stories of Machig Labdron (c. 11th Century) in the English language available online, and in the contemporary sources listed below. For example, here at Treasury of Lives and here on the Tara Mandala website.

As is the norm in the lives of great practitioners, there were many challenges for Machig, especially as a woman and mother:

“Following a series of visions and prophesies from her lamas, Machig encountered Töpa Bhadra, an Indian yogin who became the father of her children. In their first union, radiant rainbow light is seen streaming from their room as though the house had caught on fire. At the age of 24, Machig gave birth to her first son, and in the ensuing few years to another son and daughter. Having accrued fame and renown for her spiritual accomplishments, Machig was now shunned in her new role as partner and mother. She and their small family entered a time of extreme poverty, wandering through various parts of Tibet.

Machig statue at Druk Zangri Khamar, Bhutan, the seat of Machig Labdron. Photo credit: Josh Brownlee

“At 35, Machig decided to leave her children and Topa  Bhadra, and within a few years established Zangri Khangmar, the Red House of Copper Mountain, the primary seat of her teachings and activities until the end of her life. From here her teachings and reputation grew once more, spreading throughout the provinces of Tibet. Learned practitioners came to meet and debate with Machig, and she continually proved herself as a profound and realized teacher.”

In terms of the original sources, the life story of Machig has been told in several different Tibetan biographies (rnam thar), including two complementary versions in The Explanation of Casting Off the Psycho-Physical Aggregates: Clarifying the Meaning of Chod, often referred to as The Great Explanation and attributed to Machik (Phung po gzan skyur gyi rnam bshad gcod kyi don gsal byed, or the Rnam bshad chen mo), a version in The Blue Annals (Deb ther sngon po) by Gö Lotsawa Zhonnupel (‘Gos lo tswa ba Gzhon nu dpal), and a version in Dharmasenggé’s Zhijé and Chod Dharma History (Zhi byed dang gcod yul gyi chos ‘byung rin po che’i phreng ba thar pa’i rgyan).[15]

Padampa Sangye, Indian Mahasiddha and teacher of Machig and founder of Zhije lineage.

Sorensen (2013) explains how it has become standard to attribute the transmission of Chod from Dampa Sangye to Machig although there is little material evidence that such a transmission took place. Frequently invoked in support of this argument is the prose work by Āryadeva the Brahmin, Padampa’s maternal uncle, The Great Poem on the Prajñāpāramitā[16] or such root texts:

“However, such claims are at odds with another traditional claim, namely that Machig’s system of Chod was the only Buddhist teaching transmitted from Tibet to India, rather than from India to Tibet.” (2013: 5)

For example in Lodro Rinpoche’s Introduction to the Chod commentary by Jamgon Kongtrul (2007: 13) he states that Machig’s Chod was unusual in being not only headed by a female lineage holder but also the first time that a practice was transmitted from Tibet into India.[17]

Of the extant texts directly attributable to Machig Labdron, The Great Explanation/Speech Chapter is the only one that can presently be historically situated through the existence of an annotated outline and a commentary ascribed to the Third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorjé[18] (for more on the Karmapas and Chod, see below).

After an extensive overview of the original sources of Chod, Sorensen (2013: 50) concludes that, despite claims that Dampa Sangye was the founder of Chod:

“There is no satisfactory evidence that there was a Buddhist Chod lineage of transmissions identified as such until Machik started to describe and categorize her own teachings.” [19]

Contemporary Research on Chod and Machig Labdron
Alexander David-Neel (1868-1969) in 1933 Tibet with Chod Kangling at her hip.

In terms of research on Chod after the 19th Century, Sorensen (2013: 8-9) remarks that:

“Although the 18th and 19th centuries were a time of increased Tibetan interest in Chod, with texts being recovered, authored and edited, Europeans and North Americans did not begin to write on Chod until the late 19th and early 20th centuries with a lengthier first-hand description of a Chod practice provided by Alexandra David-Neel in her 1929 writing, Mystiques et magiciens du Tibet:

In the early 20th century, English-reading audiences were exposed to the details of one particular form of Chod practice [The Wisdom Dakini] attributed to the Nyingma scholar, Longchenpa (Klong chen Rab ‘byams pa, 1308-1363). This teaching was recovered by Jigmé Lingpa (‘Jigs med gling pa, 1729/30-1798) and was translated and published in 1935 by Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup. Dawa-Samdup was a Sikkimese translator for the British government and a teacher of and translator for David-Neel. This was the first Chod practice text that was widely available in the English language.[20]

Interestingly, the most important works published in last few decades on Chod and Machig Labdron, are all by women such as Janet Gyatso’s important study in 1985, “The Development of the gCod Tradition,” which describes various source texts and contributes a preliminary historicization of Chod. Giacomella Orofino has published several Italian translations of Chod texts[21], as well as an abridged English-language translation of The Great Speech Chapter (Bka’ tshoms chen mo) in “The Great Wisdom Mother and the Chod Tradition” (2000). There is also a short section on Machig Labdron in ‘Women of Wisdom’ (1984, 2000) by Lama Tsultrim Allione, and Machig’s Complete Explanation (2003, 2013) by Lama Sarah Harding. Karenina Kollmar-Paulenz and Adelheid Hermann-Pfandt (see Bibliography) have also written articles on Machig’s life and contributions. Machik’s biography has been translated at least three times—by Ani Zimpa (1975), Tsultrim Allione (1984), and Jerome Edou (1996).

women of wisdom cover

However, Sorensen (2013) critiques several contemporary publications:

“It is often the case that teachers are transmitting a teaching—usually based in a practice text—as they have received it; rarely have teachers or students engaged in the critical and comparative study of the variations of Chod. In my experience, teachers and practitioners alike often resort to ahistorical generalizations of Chod and its transmission histories, thus neglecting issues of the sources of the discrete transmissions, their location in time, their development and the ways in which they reflect textual sources.”[22]

One of her examples of such ahistorical generalizations is the recent full translation of The Condensed Daily Practice of Offering the Body by the Fourteenth Karmapa, Thekchok Dorje  and Commentary to the Chod Practice: The Garden of All Joy by Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye (tr. Lama Lodro Rinpoche) (2007), which contains a brief oral commentary of the life of Machig Labdron and Chod Lineages in the Introduction (pp.11-23)[23].

Sorensen further asserts:

“In addition to the limitations of current scholarship on Chod, there has been little sustained critical study of the philosophy, praxis and contributions of Machik to the male-dominated Prajñāpāramitā commentarial tradition. The reception and canonization of Machik is symptomatic of the production and reproduction of woman through and in Buddhist Tantric traditions.”

Folio from Prajnaparamita Sutra. Machig was renowned for her ability to read the Prajnaparamita Sutras and her knowledge of them and is considered an emanation of the Great Mother.

Clearly, there is still a lot of research to be done in this area.

3rd Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje

Turning now to the Machig lineage supplication by Bengar Zangpo. The Long Lineage Supplication to Machig by Bengar Zangpo (Ring brgyud kyi gsol ‘debs ma gcig gis mdzad par ban sgar ‘jam dpal bzang pos kha bskang ba ldeb- in Jamgon Kongtrul’s Treasury of Precious Instructions) is a practice text invoking the recipients of a transmission of Chod teachings. tracing a Chod lineage that is transmitted through several Karmapas and Karma Kagyu masters and establishes a Chod connection between Machig and 3rd Karmapa, Rangjung Dorjé.

The Karmapas and several Karma Kagyu masters are important  holders of the Chod lineages. Most of the lineages mention the 3rd Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje.  Dharma Sengge’s Dharma History situates Rangjung Dorje as an important inheritor of Chod, explaining that he is responsible for having clarified previous erroneous ideas about Chod. Sorensen (2013: 100-1) also explains why Rangjung Dorje is a pivotal figure in the development of the Chod tradition[24]. Tsultrim Allione (in the video on Machig Labdron above) also states that she follows mainly the 3rd Karmapa lineage.

The ‘Long Lineage Supplication of Machig Deeds’ by Bengar Jampal Sangpo
559 Jampel Zangpo
Bengar Jampel Zangpo (15th Century)

Bengar Jampel Zangpo (15th Century) was a student of the 6th Karmapa and a teacher to the 7th Karmapa and 1st Gyaltsab Rinpoche. The lineage supplication by Bengar Jampel Zangpo could be called the Chod lineage of the Karmapas and Karma Kamtsang[25]. Sorensen (2013: 82-86) is the only contemporary source to consider this Bengar supplication (although she does not provide a word-for-word translation of the text as written), she says:

“This is one of the earliest instances of a text making a direct connection between Padampa Sangyé and Machig Labdrön in the context of Chod transmissions; as we have seen, texts such as The Blue Annals are more ambiguous about the direct receipt of Chod teachings by Machik from Padampa Sangyé.”[26]

Unlike texts in the Life-Liberation stories and The Blue Annals, the supplication does not classify its lineage according to a particular category such as “Male lineage,” “Union lineage,” or one of the other popular categories of Chod lineages. In addition, it identifies the locations for many of the transmissions and contains several Karmapas [3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 13th 15th], the 2nd and 8th Zharmarpa and Tai Situpas (8th, 9th and 11th) [2] and Jamgon Kongtrul 1st and 2nd.”[27] There is another lineage, called the Lineage of Chod Explanation, which also contains several Karmapas who pass it on to Bengar Zangpo who passes it down to the 1st Sangye Nyenpa and 8th Karmapa[28]. The 17th Karmapa recently taught a Chod commentary by the 8th Karmapa, which I am in the process of translating for publication.

8th Karmapa, Mikyo Dorje with teacher 1st Sangye Nyenpa (both of whom were holders of the Chod Lineage)

According to Sorensen (2013):

“Machig’s principal male disciples included Gyalwa Dondrub (Rgyal ba Don grub, also known as Rgyal ba Grub che), who would become a principal lineage holder of her teachings. His grandson was Tönyon Samdrub (Thod smyon Bsam grub), known as the “snowman (gangs pa) residing on Sham po gangs”; the tradition of black-hat-wearing Chod practitioners known as “Gangs pa” originated with him[29]. A second student, Khugom Chokyisenggé (Khu sgom Chos kyi seng ge), would also become renowned for his transmission of Chod teachings.”

However,  the Bengar Zangpo lineage supplication, is similar to others only up to Machig  herself. It then branches off to Machig’s grandson Khambuyale rather than coming through Machig’s son Dondrub. Then it goes through a long list of Karma Kamtsang lamas, including the purported author Bengar Jampal Zangpo, right up to Situ Pema Nyinje (1774–1853):

“This is where the lineage ends in this text as found in the Kundeling edition of the Palpung prints. However, at this point in the Shechen printing sponsored by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (1910–1991), it continues from Pema Nyinje to Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Taye (1813–1900), then to the Fifteenth Karmapa, Khakhyap Dorje (1871–1922), then to Kongtrul’s disciple, Tashi Ozer (1836–1910), then to Khyentse Ozer (1896–1945), and ends in “my root guru.”

Thus, although it is attributed to a 15th-century author, the lineage list continues several centuries beyond Bengar Zangpo[30]. This text provides important information about how the transmission of Chod has travelled down through figures from schools including the Kagyu and Gelug.

Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, Rime and Karma Kagyu master and Chod lineage holder.

There is much research and work to still be done on the Chod lineages, and the connection/works of the Karmapas and Karma Kagyu masters on Chod, as well as the shorter lineages handed down directly to  Machig Labdron by female deities like Vajrayogini, Green Tārā and Sukhasiddhi.




སྤྱི་གཙུག་ཉི་ཟླའི་གདན་སྟེང་ན། །       རྩ་བའི་བླ་མ་བྱིན་རླབས་ཅན། །  བྱིན་རླབས་ཅན་ལ་གསོལ་བ་འདེབས། །

Above the crown, on sun and moon seat are the blessings of the root guru, supplicate the blessed one!

བླ་མ་ལ་གསོལ་བ་འདེབས།          ཡུམ་ཆེན་མོས་བྱིན་གྱིས་རློབས། །

I supplicate the guru, may the Great Mother bless us!

འོག་མིན་ཆོས་དབྱིངས་ཀྱི་ཕོ་བྲང་ན། ། ཡུམ་ཆེན་ཤེར་ཕྱིན་བྱིན་རླབས་ཅན། ། བྱིན་རླབས་ཅན་ལ་གསོལ་བ་འདེབས། །

In the Palace of the Dharmadhatu,  Akanishtha, are the blessings of Great Mother Prajnaparamita, supplicate the blessed one!

བྱ་རྒོད་ཕུང་པོའི་རི་བོ་ན། །              བཅོམ་ལྡན་ཤཱཀ་ཐུབ་བྱིན་རླབས་ཅན།  བྱིན་རླབས་ཅན་ལ་གསོལ་བ་འདེབས། །

At Mount Vulture’s Peak are the blessings of Bhagavan Śākyamuni, supplicate the blessed one!

སེང་ཆེན་བསྣོལ་བའི་ཁྲི་སྟེང་ན། །    འཇམ་དཔལ་སྨྲ་སེང༴ །

On the Great Lion Throne are the blessings of Lion’s Roar Mañjuśrī, supplicate the blessed one!

རྒྱ་གར་འཇག་མའི་སྤྱིལ་པོ་ན། །          ཨཱརྻ་དེ་བ༴ །

In the Indian grass hut are the blessings of Āryadeva[31], supplicate the blessed one!

ལ་སྟོད་དིང་རིའི་གླང་འཁོར་ན། །                   དམ་པ་སངས་རྒྱས་བྱིན་རླབས༴

At Langkhor Dingri[32] in Latö (La stod) are the blessings of Padampa Sangyé, supplicate the blessed one!

།ཟངས་རི་མཁར་དམར་དགོན་པ་ན། །              མ་གཅིག་ལབ་སྒྲོན༴ །

At Zangri Kharmar Monastery[33] are the blessings of Machik Labdrön, supplicate the blessed one!

གཉེན་ས་དུར་ཁྲོད་དགོན་པ་ན། །                   ཁམ་བུ་ལ་ཡེ༴ །

At a Neighbouring Cremation Ground are the blessings of Khambu Laye,[34] supplicate the blessed one!

གཡུ་ལོ་བཀོད་པའི་ཞིང་ཁམས་ན། །                ཛྙཱ་ན་ཛྭ་ལ༴ །

In the Turquoise-leaf display pure realm[35] are the blessings of Jñānadzala[36], supplicate the blessed one!

མཚོ་དོ་ཡི་ཕོ་བྲང་ན། །                                གནམ་མཚོ་ཆེན་པོ༴ །

On an island in Sky Lake are the blessings of Great Sky Lake[37], supplicate the blessed one!

མཚུར་མདོ་བོ་ལུང་གི་གནས་མཆོག་ན། །           རང་བྱུང་རྡོ་རྗེ༴ །

In the pilgrimage place of Tsurphu Valley are the blessings of Rangjung Dorjé (3rd Karmapa)[38], supplicate the blessed one!

རང་བྱུང་མཉམ་ཉིད་རོལ་པ་ན། །                   གཡུང་སྟོན་ཆེན་པོ༴ །

In the Display of Self-Arisen Equanimity are the blessings of Yungton Chenpo[39], supplicate the blessed one!

ཆོས་དབྱིངས་སྤྲོས་བྲལ་ཕོ་བྲང་ན། །                 རོལ་པའི་རྡོ་རྗེ༴ །

In the Palace of Unelaborated Dharmadhatu are the blessings of Rolpai Dorje, (4th Karmapa) [40], supplicate the blessed one!

གནས་ནང་རྒྱལ་བའི་རི་ཁྲོད་ན། །                   རི་ཁྲོད་དབང་ཕྱུག༴ །

At the Victorious Inner Abode Retreat are the blessings of Rithro Wangchug[41], supplicate the blessed one!

སྣང་སྲིད་རྒྱལ་བའི་དཀྱིལ་འཁོར་ན། །              མཁའ་སྤྱོད་དབང་པོ༴ །

In the Maṇḍala of Victory over Appearance-Existence are the blessings of Khacho Wangpo (2nd Zhamarpa)[42], supplicate the blessed one!

འཁོར་འདས་གཉིས་མེད་ཕོ་བྲང་ན། །              དེ་བཞིན་གཤེགས་པ༴ །

In the Palace of Non-dual Saṃsāra and Nirvāṇa are the blessings of Dezhin Shegpa (5th Karmapa)[43], supplicate the blessed one!

སྟོང་ཉིད་ཟབ་མོའི་དཀྱིལ་འཁོར་ན། །              རིན་ཆེན་བཟང་པོ༴ །

In the Maṇḍala of Profound Emptiness are the blessings of Rinchen Zangpo[44], supplicate the blessed one!

བདེ་སྟོང་དབྱེར་མེད་ཕོ་བྲང་ན། །                   མཐོང་བ་དོན་ལྡན༴ །

In the Palace of Indivisible Bliss-Emptiness are the blessings of Thongwa Donden (6th Karmapa)[45] , supplicate the blessed one!

གར་བཞུགས་ཆོས་སྐུའི་ཕོ་བྲང་ན། །                 འཇམ་དཔལ་བཟང་པོ༴ །

In the Palace of the residing Dharmakaya residing are the blessings of Jamphel Zangpo[46] , supplicate the blessed one!

ཁམས་གསུམ་ཡོངས་སྒྲོལ་ཕོ་བྲང་ན། །              ཆོས་གྲགས་རྒྱ་མཚོ༴ །

In the Palace of Complete Liberation of the Three Realms is Chodrag Gyatso, 7th Karmapa[47], supplicate the blessed one!

གང་ཤར་ཆོས་དབྱིངས་ཕོ་བྲང་ན། །                 འཇམ་དཔལ་རྒྱ་མཚོ༴ །

In the Palace of the Dharmadhatu expanse of Whatever Arises is Jamphel Gyatso[48], supplicate the blessed one!

ཕྱོགས་མེད་གཉན་ས་རི་ཁྲོད་ན། །                   ཆོས་ཀྱི་རྒྱ་མཚོ༴ །

In the Non-Sectarian wilderness retreat is Choki Gyatso[49] supplicate the blessed one!

ཕྱོགས་མེད་ཡངས་པའི་དཀྱིལ་འཁོར་ན། །         ཡངས་པ་བློ་བདེ༴

In the Boundless Expanse Maṇḍala are the blessings of Yangshog Lhepa Lode[50], supplicate the blessed one!

།འགྱུར་མེད་ཆོས་སྐུའི་ཕོ་བྲང་ན། །                  དཔག་བསམ་དབང་པོ༴ །

In the Palace of the Unchanging Dharmakāya are the blessings of Pagsam Wangpo[51], supplicate the blessed one!

བསླབ་གསུམ་རིག་གྲོལ་ལྡན་པ་ཡི། །                ཕུན་ཚོགས་བསྟན་འཛིན༴།

Visual Liberation of the Three Trainings holds the blessings Phuntshog Tenzin[52] supplicate the blessed one!

བསྐྱེད་རྫོགས་འཇུག་ལྡན་པ་ཡི། །                    བསྟན་འཛིན་དར་རྒྱས༴ །

Application of Creation and Completion holds the blessings of Tenzin Dargye[53] supplicate the blessed one!

རིག་གནས་ཀུན་ལ་མཁས་པ་ཡི། །                   རིན་ཆེན་དབང་པོ༴ །

Expertise in all the fields of knowledge is the blessing of Rinchen Wangpo[54] supplicate the blessed one!

རྣམ་ཐར་སྒོ་གསུམ་ལྡན་པ་ཡི། །                     ཆོས་ཀྱི་དབང་པོ༴ །

The life-story of the ‘three doors’ hold the blessings of Chokyi Wangpo[55] (8th Zhamarpa) supplicate the blessed one!

མི་ཤིགས་ཐིག་ལེའི་དཀྱིལ་འཁོར་ན། །              ཆོས་ཀྱི་དོན་གྲུབ༴ །

in the Maṇḍala of the Indestructible Drop are the blessings of Chokyi Dondrub[56] supplicate the blessed one!

དོན་དམ་ཆོས་དབྱིངས་ཕོ་བྲང་ན༴ །                ཆོས་ཀྱི་འབྱུང་གནས༴ །

In the Dharmadhātu Mansion of Ultimate Truth are the blessings of Choki Jungne (Eighth Situ Panchen),[57] supplicate the blessed one!

བདུད་བཞིའི་གཡུལ་ལས་རྣམ་རྒྱལ་བ། །           བདུད་འདུལ་རྡོ་རྗེ༴ །

In the Victorious from the Land of Four ‘Demons’ are the blessings of Dudul Dorje, (13th Karmapa)[58] supplicate the blessed one!

ཕྱག་རྒྱ་ཆེན་པོའི་གནས་མཆོག་ན། །                 པདྨ་ཉིན་བྱེད༴ །

In the Supreme Mahāmudrā Pilgrimage Abode are the blessings of Pema Nyingje (9th Situpa)[59] supplicate the blessed one!

རིས་མེད་མཁས་གྲུབ་ཚོགས་དབུས་ན། །            བློ་གྲོས་མཐའ་ཡས༴ །

In the centre of the Non-Sectarian Community of Accomplished Experts are the blessings of Lodro Thaye (1st Jamgon Kongtrul)[60] supplicate the blessed one!

བདེ་སྟོང་འགྱུར་མེད་ཕོ་བྲང་ན། །                   མཁའ་ཁྱབ་རྡོ་རྗེ༴ །

In the Palace of Unwavering Bliss-Emptiness are the blessings of Khakyab Dorje, (Fifteenth Karmapa)[61] supplicate the blessed one!

སྟོང་ཉིད་སྙིང་རྗེའི་གཞལ་ཡས་ན། །                བཀྲ་ཤིས་འོད་ཟེར༴ །

In the Celestial Mansion of Emptiness -Compassion are the blessings of Tashi Ozer[62], supplicate the blessed one!

སྣང་སྲིད་དབང་སྡུད་ཕོ་བྲང་ན། །                   པདྨ་དབང་མཆོག༴ །

In the Palace of Magnetizing Appearances and Existents are the blessings of Pema Wanchog (Eleventh Situ Panchen) [63],  supplicate the blessed one!

འགྲོ་དོན་ཕྱོགས་མེད་ཕོ་བྲང་ན། །                   མཁྱེན་བརྩེའི་འོད་ཟེར༴ །

In the Mansion of Unbiased Benefit to Wanderers, are the blessings of Jamgon Kongtrul[64](2nd), supplicate the blessed one!

བཀའ་དྲིན་སུམ་ལྡན་གཞལ་ཡས་ན། །  རྩ་བའི་བླ་མ༴ །

In the mansion of the three seats of kindness are the blessings of the  root guru, supplicate the blessed one!

དག་སྣང་ཕྱོགས་མེད་རི་ཁྲོད་ན།        མཆེད་གྲོགས་ཆོས་མཛད༴ །

In the pure vision, unbiased retreats are the blessings of Dharma friends, supplicate the blessed ones!

ཐུགས་རྗེ་རྒྱུན་ཆད་མེད་པ་ཡི༴ །         ཡི་དམ་ལྷ་ཚོགས༴ །

Continuous, unceasing compassion is the blessing of the yidam deities, supplicate the blessed ones!

ཕྲིན་ལས་མུ་མཐར་ཁྱབ་པ་ཡི། །         དཔའ་བོ་མཁའ་འགྲོ༴ །

Boundless, pervasive activities are the blessings of the heroes and ḍākinīs, supplicate the blessed ones!

བར་ཆད་དགྲ་དཔུང་ཟློག་པ་ཡི། །       ཆོས་སྐྱོང་སྲུང་མ་བྱིན་རླབས་ཅན། །     བྱིན་རླབས་ཅན་ལ་གསོལ་བ་འདེབས། །

Repelling hostile armies of obstacles is the blessing of the dharma protectors and guardians, supplicate the blessed ones!

མ་གཅིག་ལ་གསོལ་བ་འདེབས། །                    ཡུམ་ཆེན་མོས་བྱིན་གྱིས་རློབས། །

I supplicate Machig, may the Great Mother bless us!

ཁྱེད་ལ་གསོལ་བ་བཏབ་པའི་མཐུས། །              བདག་སོགས་མ་རྒན་སེམས་ཅན་རྣམས། །

By the power of this supplication, may myself and all mother beings,

བདག་འཛིན་བློ་ཡིས་ཐེངས་པ་དང༌། །             སྙེམ་ཐག་ཆོད་པར་བྱིན་གྱིས་རློབས། །

abandon the self-clinging mind! Bless us to resolve all conceit!

སྙེམ་དང་བྲལ་བར་བྱིན་གྱིས་རློབས། །              ཆོས་ཉིད་རྟོགས་པར་བྱིན་གྱིས་རློབས། །

Bless us to be free from arrogance! Bless us to realise reality-itself, Dharmata!

Translated and edited by Adele Tomlin, 18th June 2021. Copyright.

གཅོད་ཡུལ་མཁའ་འགྲོའི་གད་རྒྱངས། Chöd of Dakini’s Laughter:

Bibliography/Further Reading

Āryadeva the Brahmin. 1974. Shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa’i tshigs su bcad pa chen mo. InGcod kyi chos skor. Delhi: Tibet House. 1-9.

Allione, Tsultrim. 1984 and 2000 (2nd edition). Women of Wisdom. London: Routledge &c Kegan Paul.

Aziz, Barbara Nimri. 1980. “The Work o f Pha-dam-pa Sangs-rgyas as revealed in Ding-ri Folklore.” In Tibetan Studies in Honour of Hugh Richardson. Edited by

Azzato, Michael Andrew. 1981. “Mother of Tibetan Buddhism: An Introduction to the Life and Teaching of Ma-cig Lab-kyi Sgron-ma.” Masters thesis, University of Saskatchewan, Canada.

Bengar Jampel Zangpo. The Long Lineage Supplication to Machig by Bengar Zangpo (Ring brgyud kyi gsol ‘debs ma gcig gis mdzad par ban sgar ‘jam dpal bzang pos kha bskang ba ldeb. Damngak Dzö Volume 14 (ཕ་) / Pages 335-336 / Folios 1a1 to 1b7. See:

Edou, Jérôme. 1996. Machig Labdrón and the Foundations of Chod. Ithaca, N.Y.: Snow Lion Publications.

David-Neel, Alexandra. 1993 (1958). Magic and Mystery in Tibet. New York: HarperCollins. (Mystiques et magiciens du Tibet. Paris: Plon, 1929.)

Dharma seng ge, aka Chos kyi seng ge. 1974. Zhi byed dang Gcod yul gyi chos ‘byung rin po che’i phreng ba thar pa’i rgyan. In Gcod kyi chos skor. New Delhi: Tibet House. 411-597.

Dorje, Thekchok and Jamgön Kongtrül Lodö Taye. 2007. Chod Practice Manual and Commentary. Trans. Lodö Rinpoche. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion.

‘Gos lo tswa ba Gzhon nu dpal. 1976. The Blue Annals. Trans. George N. Roerich and Gendun Choephel. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.

Gyatso, Janet. “The Development of the Gcod tradition”. In Aziz and Kapstein, eds., Soundings in Tibetan Civilization, pp. 320-341. Delhi: Manohar, 1985.

Harding, Sarah. Did Machik Lapdrön Really Teach Chod? A Survey of the Early Sources by Sarah Harding.

Hermann-Pfandt, Adelheid. 1990. Ḍākinīs: Zur Stellung und Symbolik des Weiblichen im tantrischen Buddhismus. Bonn: Indica et Tibetica Verlag.

—. 1998. Review of Machig Labdrön and the Foundations of Chod. Tibet Journal 23.3: 93-102.

—. 2000. “On a Previous Birth Story of Ma gCig Lab sgron ma.” Tibet Journal 25.3: 19-31.

‘Jigs med gling pa. 2010.  Longchen Nyingthig Chod Practice “Sound of the Dakini Laughter.” Trans. Tony Duff. Kathmandu, Nepal: Padma Karpo Translation Committee.

Kollmar-Paulenz, Karénina. 1993. ‘Der Schmuck der Befreiung’: Die Geschichte der Zhi byedund gCod-Schule des tibetischen Buddhismus. Wiesbaden: Harrowitz Verlag. 299

—. 1998. “Ma gcig lab sgron ma – The Life of a Tibetan Woman Mystic Between Adaption and Rebellion.” Tibet Journal 23.2: 11-32.

—. 2005. “Khros ma nag mo, the ‘Wrathful Black one’ and the Deities Summoned to the Ritual Feast in the gCod-tradition of Tibetan

Orofmo, Giacomella. 2000. “The Great Wisdom Mother and the Gcod Tradition.” In Tantra in Practice. Edited by David Gordon White . Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Sorensen, Michelle. 2013. ‘Making the Old New Again and Again: Legitimation and Innovation in the Tibetan Buddhist Chod Tradition‘. PhD diss., Columbia University.

—–2010. The Body Extraordinary: Embodied Praxis, Vajrayoginī, and Buddhist Gcod.” In Tibetan Studies: an Anthology. Eds. Saadet Arslan and Peter Schwieger. Halle: International Institute for Tibetan and Buddhist Studies, 2010. 439-456.


[1] Ma chig Labdron (Lab sgron 1974. Phung po gzan skyur gyi rnam bshad gcod gyi don gsal byed. In Gcod kyi chos skor. New Delhi: Tibet House. 32.

[2] For example: 1) Mother Lineage of Wisdom (ma gyü): Prajñaparamita, Green Tara, Sukhasiddhi, Dampa Sangye, Machig Labdrön. 2)  Lineage of Absolute Meaning  (dön gyi gyü) Buddha Shakyamuni, Mañjushri, Green Tara, Machig Labdrön. 3) Close Lineage of the Mantra Tradition (ngag lug nye gyü): Vajradhara, Green Tara, Machig Labdrön, Thönyön Samdrub (Machig’s younger blood son). Green Tara is also in the Long Sutra Lineage.

[3] Damngak Dzö Volume 14 (ཕ་) / Pages 335-336 / Folios 1a1 to 1b7. See:

[4] “He received teachings from Rongton Sheja Kunrik (rong ston shes bya kun rig, 1367-1449) and Lhapuwa (lha phu ba, d.u.). Je Donden Zhab (rje don ldan zhabs, d.u.) gave him teachings on the Naro Chodruk (na ro chos brug) over a period of four years. Jampel Zangpo was also a close disciple of Tongwa Donden, the Sixth Karmapa (karma pa 06 mthong ba don ldan, 1416-1453).”

[5] Michelle Janet Sorensen. ‘Making the Old New Again and Again: Legitimation and Innovation in the Tibetan Buddhist Chöd Tradition’. PhD diss., Columbia University (2013).

[6] In 2018, Sorensen recently gave a talk at the University of Virginia on how notions of the “feminine” as it characterizes humans and suprahuman beings may have (and may have not) contributed to the historical development and contemporary practice of Chod in Asian and in Euro-American contexts, see:

[7] Sorensen argues not only that Chod praxis has been an ongoing project of innovation and renewal, but also that we can properly understand modern incarnations of Chod only through a nuanced appreciation of its historical and philosophical developments.

[8] “It appears that there were teachings in circulation explicitly using the trope of “Chod” as a technical term in practice from at least the time of Padampa Sangye’s maternal uncle, Aryadeva the Brahmin, and his verse teaching entitled The Great Poem on the Prajnaparamita. This text is frequently associated with Chod by later authors, including Karma Chagme and Jamgon Kongtrul, as a precursor to Machik’s Chod teachings, or as a (or even the) “root text” for Chod.

This piece of philosophical prose was transmitted to Tibet by Aryadeva’s nephew, Padampa Sangye, who traversed the area giving his teachings on Zhije. The recitation of this text to Machik by Padampa Sangye may have been the transmission of the teaching that became the basis of the Chod tradition. Padampa Sangye is famous for his development of the Zhije teachings, which are sometimes discussed in complement with Chod, whereas Machik is always spoken of as the female teacher of Chod. Both Zhije and Chod teachings are associated with Prajnaparamita teachings, with Zhije emphasizing practices which pacify suffering and negativities, while Chod emphasizes cutting through the root of mind as a means for eradicating clinging.” (Sorensen, 2013).

[9] “differing only in the substitution of an unknown lineage or text referred to as the Kagyu Meaning of Chod (Bka’ brgyud don gcod) for Aryadeva’s The Great Poem. “However, Kongtrul is not consistent in which texts he includes as relevant precursors to the Chod system. For example, he does not include the Bka’ brgyud don gcod in his collection of Chod texts in the Treasury of Instructions, but he does include Aryadeva’s The Great Poem.” (Sorensen (2013: 47).

[10] “This text [the Great Poem] is frequently associated with Chod by later authors, including Karma chags med and Jamgön Kongtrül, as a precursor to Machik’s Chod teachings, or as a (or even the) “root text” for Chöd. This piece of philosophical prose was transmitted to Tibet by Āryadeva’s nephew, Padampa Sangyé, who traversed the area giving his teachings on Zhijé. The recitation of this text to Machik by Padampa Sangyé may have been the transmission of the teaching that became the basis of the Chöd tradition.” (Sorensen: 2013: 47).

[11] Sorensen explains that:  “‘Threngwo Terton Sherab Ozer (Phreng bo gter ston Shes rab ‘od zer) (1517-1584) classified Chod as one of the “Eight Great Chariots, Lineages of Spiritual Accomplishment” (sgrub brgyud shing rta chen po brgyad), independent transmissions that have historically flourished in Tibet. This classification was later picked up by Jamgon Kongtrul (‘Jam mgon kong sprul lo gros mtha’ yas, 1813-1899) and provided a guiding principle for his Treasury of Instructions. Unlike several of the others, most notably the tenet systems (chos lugs) of Nyingma (Rnying ma), Kagyü (Bka’ brgyud), Sakya (Sa skya), and Kadam (Bka’ gdams), Chod did not retain its independent status.”

[12] “It is often claimed that Chod is found in all four of the dominant tenet systems, i.e. the Geluk, Sakya, Nyingma and Kagyu; however, unless one wants to draw parallels between Sakya Ku sa li’i tshogs bsags practice and the Chod offering of the aggregates, there is little evidence of Chod praxis in the Sakya tradition. Chod may not have survived as an independent tradition because it never developed an institutional apparatus; rather, it became assimilated into the prevailing tenet systems. One could argue that the development of an institutional apparatus is anathema to the internal logic of Chod, which, like other yoga or practice traditions, does not lend itself to regimented organization. Yet Chod does have a kind of independent status when one considers the existence of Chodpas—practitioners of Chod—for whom Chod is their principal practice.” (Sorensen, 2013).

[13] These lineages are listed in Lodro Rinpoche (2007: 15-21): Lineage of the Sutra Tradition (do lug gyü pa) Buddha Shakyamuni Maitripa Asanga Vasubandhu Aryadeva Dampa Sangye etc.

Long Sutra Lineage ( ring gyü) Prajñaparamita Buddha Shakyamuni Mañjushri (Mer.seng, “Lion of Speech”) Green Tara Sukhasiddhi Aryadeva Dampa Sangye Kyotön Sönam Lama Machig Labdrön  PJetsün Zilnan Gyalwa Döndrub (Machig’s elder blood son) Khugom Chökyi Senge bKa’ bab bu chen bcu drug—the Sixteen Great Sons of the Lineage of Descended Word— and the 108 Lineage Holders Labdül Dorje Drölma Penchen Dönyö Dorje Second Karmapa, Drubchen Karma Pakshi Kyedrub Urgyenpa Third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje Künga Namgyal Karma Chagme

Long Lineage of the Mantra Tradition (ngag lug ring gyü) Prajñaparamita Vajradhara Buddha Shakyamuni Mañjushri Sukhasiddhi Aryadeva Dampa Sangye

Father Lineage of Skillful Means  (pha gyü) Buddha Shakyamuni Rabjor Kungao (Arhat Ananda) Nagarjuna Aryadeva

Mother Lineage of Wisdom (ma gyü) Prajñaparamita, Green Tara, Sukhasiddhi, Dampa Sangye, Machig Labdrön,

Lineage of Absolute Meaning  (dön gyi gyü) Buddha Shakyamuni, Mañjushri, Green Tara Machig Labdrön…

Close Lineage of the Mantra Tradition (ngag lug nye gyü) Vajradhara Green Tara Machig Labdrön Thönyön Samdrub (Machig’s younger blood son)

Close Lineage of Lamas (nye gyü la ma) Vajrayogini, Machig Labdrön, Kambu Yale, Drubchen Yeshe Barwa.

Close Lineage of the Sutra Tradition  (do lug nye gyü) Gyalwa Döndrub (Machig’s elder blood son) Nyenjung Lotsawa Drapa Harten Kambu Yale

Lineage of Chöd Explanation (chö thri gyü pa) Togden Yeshe Barwa, Rangjung Dorje (3rd Karmapa), Yungtönpa, Rolpei Dorje (4th Karmapa), Togden Kacho Wangpo, Dezhin Shekpa (5th Karmapa), Ratnabhadra, Tongwa Dönden (6th Karmapa), Jampal Zangpo, Sangye Nyenpa (1st), Mikyö Dorje (8th Karmapa) Künchog Yenlag, Wangchug Dorje (9th Karmapa), Chökyi Wangchug, Künga Namgyal, Karma Chagme (and continuing through the general Kagyü and Nyingma lineages until the present guru).

[14] This is called the ‘Close Lineage of Lamas’ (nye gyü la ma): Vajrayogini, Machig Labdrön, Kambu Yale, Drubchen Yeshe Barwa (in Lodro Rinpoche (2007)). For an interesting and extensive discussion on the connection between Machig and Varjayogini, see Sorensen (2013: 107-125). This subject is worthy of a separate post in its own right.

[15] For an extensive overview of the namthar/life-story sources on Machig Labdron, see Sorensen (2013:62-66).

[16] “According to several traditional sources, at some point fairly early in her career Machig met and received teachings from the Indian yogi Padampa Sangyé (Pha Dam pa Sangs rgyas, d. 1117), the well-known teacher of Zhijé, a Buddhist tradition of teachings focused on the pacification of suffering. It has become standard to attribute the transmission of the Chöd lineage from Dampa to Machig, although there is little material evidence that such a transmission took place. Frequently invoked in support of this argument is a prose work by Āryadeva the Brahmin, Dampa’s maternal uncle, The Great Poem on the Prajñāpāramitā (Shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa tshigs su bcad pa chen mo or the Shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa man ngag), and considered to be a “root text” (gzhung rtsa) for several Chod lineages that would develop later. Alternate versions of the Chod transmission history suggest that the teachings were passed from Dampa to Machig’s teacher, Sönam Lama, and then to her.” (Sorensen (2013)).

[17] This is stated in the oral biography of Machig Labdron by Lodro Rinpoche (2007: 13): “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 Chod 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 Labdron, was the first lineage holder, and this unbroken lineage continues until the present guru.”

[18] Sorensen (2013:5-6 ): “Extant texts that are traditionally directly associated with Machig include The Great Speech Chapter, the textual tradition of the oral instructions of the profound Chöd of the Prajñāpāramitā (Shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa zab mo gcod kyi man ngag gi gzhung bka’ tshoms chen mo, or the Bka’ tshoms chen mo), The Supplementary Chapter of Oral Instructions of the Prajñāpāramitā (Shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa’i man ngag yang tshoms zhus lan ma, or the Yang tshoms), The Quintessential Chapter of the Chöd System of Negative Forces, The Instructions of the Prajñāpāramitā (Shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa’i man ngag [s]nying tshoms chos kyi rtsa ba, or the Snying tshoms), The Common Eightfold Supplementary Section (Thun mong gi le lag brgyad), The Uncommon Eightfold Supplementary Section (Thun mong ma yin pa’i le’u lag brgyad pa), and The Distinctive Eightfold Supplementary Section (Khyad par gyi le lag brgyad pa). Of these, The Great Speech Chapter is the only one that can presently be historically situated through the existence of an annotated outline and a commentary ascribed to the Third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorjé (Rang byung rdo rje). In Rangjung Dorjé’s Commentary on the Great Speech Chapter (Bka’ tshoms chen mo tikka), he mentions texts by Machig which may no longer be extant, including the Gnad thems, Khong rgol, Gsang ba’i brda’ chos, as well as a Nang ngo sprod. Rdza rong bla ma also mentions the Gnad thems, Gsang ba’i brda’ chos and Nang ngo sprod, adding the Gzhi lam slong in his study entitled Gcod yul nyon mongs zhi byed kyi bka’ gter bla ma brgyud pa’i ram thar byin rlabs gter mtsho.”

[19] “In his Zhije and Chod History, Dharma Senge (Dharma sengge), a near contemporary with Jamgon Kongtrul, mentions teachings by others which bear similarities to Machig’s Chod teachings: the Khrul gcod gter ma cycles of Orgyan Rinpoche (n.d.); the pure visions received by Thang stong rgyal po (1361-1485); a Chod teaching on offering the aggregates articulated by Rgod tshang pa mgon po rdo rje (1189-1258);59 and the Ro snyoms teachings by Naropa (70a).”

[20]The Wisdom Dakini (Ye shes mkha’ ‘gro ma), by Kunkhyen Jigme Lingpa (Kun mkhyen ‘Jigs med gling pa), translated by Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup and included Evans-Wentz, 1958 (1935), 276-341. See also Hermann-Pfandt 1990, which contains a discussion of this practice by Jigme Lingpa.” (Sorensen (2013: 8: fn. 5).

[21] Including Contributo allo studio dell’insegnamento di Ma gcig lab sgron (1987) and Ma gcig: Canti Spirituali (1995).

[22] Sorensen (2013) says:  “Examples of this ahistoricism may be drawn from two recently published texts. The first is a 2006 publication of Kyabje Zong Rinpoche’s teachings on Chöd in the Ganden (dga’ ldan) tradition of the Gelukpa school. This text does distinguish the particular Chöd lineage that it follows, as well as its origination with Je Tsongkhapa (Rje Tsong kha pa Blo bzang Grags pa); however, other than a biography of Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, it provides little historical discussion of the tradition. David Molk, the editor of Zong Rinpoche’s text, writes that “[f]rom Khedrup Chöje (also known as Khedrub Chenpo Zhönu Drub), Je Tsongkhapa received the Chöd lineages that can be traced back through Machig Labdrön and Padampa Sangyé to Buddha Shakyamuni. Je Tsongkhapa also received teachings on Chöd directly from Manjushri. This visionary lineage is known as the Ganden Oral Lineage of Chöd. A ‘Dakini’ oral lineage is also practiced in Gelug. Je Tsongkhapa passed the Chöd [sic] to only one of his disciples, Togden Jampel Gyatso, who was the principal holder of his Tantric Mahamudra lineage as well” (2006, 28). This discussion of “the Chöd” suggests that the Ganden tradition is the preeminent, or even singular, transmission of Chöd.  Unfortunately, such obscuration of Chöd’s history is common to many such practice texts.” The second text is that of Lodro Rinpoche (2007), see footnote below.

[23] Sorensen (2013:14-15): “Unfortunately, Lodrö Rinpoche does not explain why these texts are qualified as “Mahāmudrā” (rather than, for example, Prajñāpāramitā). Given that the text does not provide a teaching lineage originating with either Padampa Sangyé or Machik in narrative (although one can use the supplied tables to piece together an unbroken lineage), the characterization of Machik’s teaching as specifically “Mahāmudrā” appears to be somewhat partisan. Lodö Rinpoche later repeats the ubiquitous claim that “(w)hile 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. Machik’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, Machik Labdrön, was the first lineage holder, and this unbroken lineage continues until the present guru” (2007, 13). As I discuss later in this study, the identification of Chöd with Mahāmudrā does not originate with Machik herself, but is a historical development of the transmission of her teachings.”

[24] “The importance of Rangjung Dorjé in the Chöd tradition is attested to by his appearance in a range of lineage texts. In the colophon for Rangjung Dorjé’s Zab mo bdud kyi gcod yul khyi khrid yig, which the author alternatively refers to as the Gcod kyi don bsdus ba’i tshigs su bcad pa rdzogs, the transmission lineage provided begins with the Buddha and continues with Mañjughosa (Mañjuśrī), through to Aryadeva, Padampa Sangyé, Machik Labdrön, Kham bu ya le, Dznya na dzwa la, Nam mtsho and finally to Rangjung Dorjé. This transmission lineage from the Buddha to Rangjung Dorjé is the same as the one given in the Ring brgyud gsol ‘debs. However, it differs from that included in The Blue Annals, which suggests that the lineage through Kham bu ya le is then transmitted into the Gangspa line—to Tönyon Samdrub (aka Sham po Gangspa, the first Gangspa), to Gangspa Rmug sang and Gangspa Dmu yan, and then to Gangspa Lhun grub. A number of other lineage texts position Rangjung Dorjé as an important inheritor of the Chöd tradition.” (Sorensen (2013:100).

[25] “Lineage supplications are so informative—and so confusing. This one is not mentioned in Kongtrul’s Catalog, except perhaps as one of the branches (yan lag rnams bcas) of Source of All Qualities, leading the editor of the table of contents of the Kundeling printing to assume that it belongs with the Zurmang feast activities. While that may be the case, it does not represent the Zurmang long lineage. That supplication can be found in Source of All Qualities, where it is attributed to Samten Rinchen of Lhapu. And the same one is used as the basis for the whole story of the lineage in the history of Zurmang, where it is also called the “supplication of the Severance lineage gurus by Bengar Jampal Zangpo.” That version and the one in Source of All Qualities are identical, despite the differing author identification. The version here may have been added to that liturgy to ensure that all relevant lineages were duly honored.” From Tsadra Foundation website:

[26] The Bengar Zangpo long lineage is as follows: Bhagavan Śākyamuni, Mañjuśrī, Āryadeva,  Padampa Sangyé, Machik Labdrön,  Kham bu ya le, (Jñāna) dzwa,  Great One (chen po) of Sky Lake,  3rd Karmapa, Rangjung Dorjé, G-yung ston chen po,  Fourth Karmapa, Rol pa rdo rje,  Ri khrod dbang phyug,  2nd Zhamarpa, Mkha’ spyod dbang po,  Fifth Karmapa, De bzhin gshegs pa, Rin chen bzang po, Sixth Karmapa, Mthong ba don ldan, ‘Jam dpal bzang po, Seventh Karmapa, Chos grags rgya mtsho, ‘Jam dpal rgya mtsho, Chos kyi rgya mtsho, Yangs shog lhe pa blo bdeDpag bsam dbang po, Phun tshogs bstan ‘dzin, Bstan ‘dzin dar rgyas, Rin chen dbang po, Chos kyi dbang po, Eight Zhwa dmar, Chos kyi don grub, Eighth Si tu Pan chen, Chos kyi ‘byung gnas,  Eighth Karmapa, Ninth Si tu Pan chen, Padma nyin byed dbang po , ‘Jam mgon kon sprul Blo gros mtha’ yas ,Fifteenth Karmapa, Mkha’ khyab rdo rje, Bkra’ shis ‘od zer, Eleventh Si tu Pan chen, Padma dbang mchog,  Jamgön Kongtrül, Mkhyen brtse’i ‘od zer, root guru.

[27] It is also similar yet different from the lineage supplication by Taranatha in The Required Liturgies on the Occasion of Master Tāranātha’s Severance Empowerment of Opening the Door to the Sky in the Gyaltang Tradition . This has been translated by Sarah Harding and published on the Jonang Foundation website here: Harding has not included any reference to textual sources nor the original Tibetan in this translation though.

[28] See Lodro Rinpoche (2007: 20) Lineage of Chöd Explanation: (chö thri gyü pa): Togden Yeshe Barwa, Rangjung Dorje (Karmapa), Yungtönpa, Rolpei Dorje (Karmapa), Togden, Kacho Wangpo, Dezhin Shekpa (Karmapa), Ratnabhadra, Tongwa Dönden (Karmapa), Jampal Zangpo, Sangye Nyenpa, Mikyö Dorje (Karmapa), Künchog Yenlag, Wangchug Dorje (Karmapa), Chökyi Wangchug, Künga Namgyal, Karma Chagme (and continuing through the general Kagyü and Nyingma lineages until the present guru)

[29] According to Rossi-Filibeck states that “The Karma pa masters received the gCod teaching from the Gaṅs pa masters, so named from the Śam po or Śam bu’i gaṅs hermitage, and they in their turn had received it from Thod smyon bsam grub, a Gcod master” (1983, 48).

[30] “How could Bengar Jampal Zangpo, who lived in the fifteenth century, have written such a contemporary addendum, let alone Machik Lapdrön? One scenario is that Machik uttered a prayer to her lineage using the place-and-name format, beginning with, “In the palace of dharmadhātu in Akaniṣhṭa, the Great Mother Perfection of Wisdom has blessings” and ending with her teacher Kyotön Sönam Lama (who is in fact skipped over here, although he is named in the Zurmang version). Then the well-known author Bengar Jampal Zangpo picked up the trope and continued it up through his guru, the Sixth Karmapa, Tongwa Dönden (1416–1453). After that, the prayer in all its various forms came to be known simply as Bengar’s supplication. Jamgön Kongtrul himself must have continued the supplication style through to his teacher Pema Nyinje before the blocks were printed at Palpung. From Kongtrul on, the last stretch may have been added for the Shechen printing of the Treasury. Variations of this style can also be found in the Kagyu Feast Liturgy and Kongtrul’s supplication Essence of Auspicious Renown in this volume, as well as in the popular Severance compilation known as Precious Garland (Rin chen phreng ba).” From Tsadra Foundation website:

[31] Āryadeva (fl. 3rd century CE) (Tibetan འཕགས་པ་ལྷ་, ‘Phags-pa-lha), was a disciple of Nagarjuna and author of several important Mahayana Madhyamaka Buddhist texts. He is also known as Kanadeva, recognized as the 15th patriarch in Chan Buddhism, and as “Bodhisattva Deva” in Sri Lanka. He is known for his association with the Nalanda monastery in modern-day Bihar, India

[32]  Dingri Langkhor (Ding ri Glang ‘khor) was founded by Padampa Sanggye in 1097. It was the site where he is said to have first taught Machig Labdron.

[33] Zangri Khangmar; The Red Citadel (Khangmar) is thus called because is was built upon a red rock, at the southern extremity of the Copper Mountain (Zangri), overlooking the northern banks of the Tsangpo river. On the cliff-face to the west of the temple (which was destroyed by the Chinese) is Machik Labdron’s meditation cave.

[34] Kham bu la ye (P3315), a student of ‘Jam dbyang mgon po and teacher of Thod smyon la ston.

[35] This is a pure realm of Noble Tara.

[36] TBRC P10180 lists a Lam ‘bras master, (Mi nyag) Pra dznyA dzwa la, b. 12th c. TBRC P5293 is for (Khri thang) DznyA na, 11th c.

[37] Sorensen (2013: 83) states she cannot identify this person with certainty. However, it could be a famous Drigung Kagyu master, Chennga Namtsowa (spyan snga gnam mtsho ba) who was born in Drigung and received teachings from the founder of Drigung Kagyu, Jigten Gonpo: “After he finished his main period of studies, Jikten Gonpo instructed him to meditate near Namtso Lake (gnam mtsho). While there, he was said to have left footprints on a rock near a cave called Chonzhi (cong bzhi phug). It was from this activity that he earned the title “Namtsowa” (gnam mtsho ba), or “the one from Namtso Lake,” by which he is known to history. “ See:

[38] 3rd Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje (1284-1339) This is the point that Chod enters the Karma Kamtsang lineage.

[39] G-yung ston chen po. P1454, 1296-1376 , was a student of 3rd Karmapa, Rangjung Dorjé and teacher of 4th Karmapa, Rolpai Dorje and “received all the key instructions and transmissions of the lineage in full and attained highest realization. He practiced in Tibet and also in Paro, Bhutan for years. He composed a text differentiating the views of buddhahood in Sutra and Tantra and impressed and outshined many great scholars of the time, such as Yakde Panchen, who became his students. He manifested as a hidden yogi and benefited many sentient beings. At the age of eighty-two, in the Wood Snake Year, he passed into parinirvana with many great signs of realization. Among countless students, his main disciple and lineage holder was the Fourth Karmapa Rolpe Dorje. It is said that: “Before travelling to Central Tibet in 1352, at the age of 12, Rölpe Dorje met Yungtönpa, who was now approximately 56 years old. The young man told him many events from his former life as the Third Karmapa, which convinced Yungtönpa that Rölpe Dorje was the authentic reincarnation of his most revered Root Guru. Having told Yungtönpa that he himself would be his teacher and Guru in this life, Gyalwa Yungtönpa imparted all the teachings and gave Rölpe Dorje the entire empowerments and transmissions of the Kagyü Oral Practice and Whispering Lineages. The next Lineage-holder, Rölpe Dorje, the Fourth Gyalwa Karmapa, was 36 years old when his Guru, Yungtönchenpo, passed into Parinirvana at the age of 82.”

[40] 4th Karmapa, Rolpe Dorje (1340-83) Rol pa rdo rje P1456.

[41] Sorensen is not able to identify this person, but it is possible that he is a Drigung Kagyu master, Palden Rithro Wangchug (dPal-ldan Ri-khrod-dbang-phyug), who was a disciple of Jigten Gonpo (rJig-rten mGon-po), the founder of the Drigungpa (‘Brigung-pa) sect. P7850. Sorensen (2013): “The next figure in this transmission lineage is an individual about whom little is known, Ri khrod dbang phyug; we are told that he received the teachings while at the Victorious Inner Abode Charnel Grounds,which might be a reference to Gnas nang ri khrod, one of the ten charnel grounds at the Geluk Sera Je (Se ra byes) institution.”

[42] 2nd Zhamarpa,  Mkha’ spyod dbang po,  (1350-1405) P1413,.

[43] 5th Karmapa, Dezhin Shegpa, De bzhin gshegs pa.  (1384 – 1415). P1410.

[44] Rin chen bzang po. Ratnabhadra/Rin chen dpal (TBRC P1416); ca. 15th c  Student of 5th Karmapa, Dezhin Shegpa.. He was a teacher of 6th Karmapa.

[45] 6th Karmapa,  Mthong ba don ldan (1416-1453), P1006.

[46] Bengar Jampel Zangpo. Jam dpal bzang po P467; b. 15th c.

[47] 7th Karmapa, Chodrag Gyatso (Chos grags rgya mtsho) (1454-1506) P821.

[48] Jampel Gyatso (1356-1428) P2077. ‘Jam dpal rgya mtsho was an early Geluk master and a close disciple of Rje Tsong kha pa. It would appear that the transmission lineage then enters the Geluk tradition.’ (Sorensen: 2013).

[49] Chos kyi rgya mtsho. Unidentified.

[50] Yangs shog lhe pa blo bde. Unidentified.

[51] Dpag bsam dbang po. Possibly P877, 1593-1641. Sorensen (2013): “Pagsam Wangpo (Dpag bsam dbang po) might be the same figure as the Fifth ‘Brug chen and thus an incarnation of Pema Karpo (Padma dkar po); however, I am not confident with this identification, since the figures immediately preceding and following him in this lineage list are unknown to me at this time.”

[52] Phun tshogs bstan ‘dzin.  Unidentified.

[53] Tenzin Dargye (Bstan ‘dzin dar rgyas) Sorensen (2013): “this Bstan ‘dzin dar rgyas may be one of the Tre ho incarnations of Shangs, although more research is required to authenticate this identity.”

[54] Rin chen dbang po. Unidentified.

[55] Chos kyi dbang po. Unidentified.

[56] The 8th Zhamarpa, Chokyi Dondrub (Dpal chen Chos kyi don grub). P955, (1695-1732).

[57] The 8th Situ Panchen. Chokyi Jungne (Chos kyi ‘byung gnas). P956, (1700-1774).

[58] 13th Karmapa, Dudul Dorje (Bdud ‘dul rdo rje). Sorensen (2013:85) identifies Dudul Dorje as the 8th Karmapa, Mikyo Dorje (1507-1554), however, this is incorrect. It is the 13th Karmapa P828, (1733/4-1797/8).

[59] 10th Situpa, Padma nyin byed. P559, 1774-1853.

[60] 1st Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, Blo gros mtha’ ya.  P264, 1813-1899/90. By collecting the works of minor lineages such as Chöd, ‘Jam mgon kon sprul Blo gros mtha’ yas was instrumental in keeping the tradition in scholarly memory.

[61] 15th Karmapa, Mkha’ khyab rdo rje.  P563, 1870/1-1921/2.

[62] Bkra’ shis ‘od zer. P1373, 1836-1910: student of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and 14th Karmapa, and a teacher of 15th Karmapa.

[63] 11th Situpa, Padma dbang mchog. P925, 1886-1952.

[64] 2nd Jamgon Kongtrul, Mkhyen brtse’i ‘od zer. P937, 1904-1953/4.

2 thoughts on “CHOD LINEAGES AND MACHIG LABDRON: Indic-Tibetan Sources, Contemporary Works, The Karmapas and ‘The Long Lineage Supplication to Machig” by Bengar Jampel Zangpo

  1. The story of Sati and Lord Shiva in Shiva Purana is the Chod practice described symbolically.

  2. Story Sati and dismemberment of her body — In the meantime, a totally grief-stricken Shiva, carried Sati’s charred body on his shoulder and roamed all around the world with it. According to one legend, Vishnu dismembered Sati’s body, cutting it into 51 pieces, with his Sudarshan Chakra (discus). He named each one of them Shakti Peethas. As Vishnu continued cutting them, they fell onto the earth, scattering across different parts of India. Each of these body parts was a manifestation of the Supreme Deity, Adi Parashakti. Shiva, who later regained his equanimity, incarnated as Lord Bhairava, in order to complete the huge task of protecting and preserving each one of these Peethas.
    Several of these holy Shakti Peethas have now become major places of pilgrimage, pulling in scores of devotees all the year through. These centers are considered particularly sacred by the Shaktas (sects who consider Goddess Sakthi as the Supreme Godhead). Some other minor Shakti Peethas too, such as Bindudham, have become famous, as they are supposed to have emerged in the places where the Devi’s blood drops fell onto the earth.

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