GODDESS QUEEN OF SPACE: ACHI CHOKYI DROLMA. Life-Story, Texts, Depictions, ‘Praise to Achi’ by Jigten Sumgon and Teaching by 8th Garchen Rinpoche

“The Chief of the activity ḍākinīs will come to the area of Tidro cave in Drigung. This will be a nirmanakāya manifestation of Vajrayogini.”
–Cakrasaṃvara root tantra

“I, Achi Chokyi Dolma, wrote this sadhana of myself. By this, for 15 generations, this woman (I) will take care of you.    If it is important, call me.  I am more tenacious than other women.  By all means it is my task to ensure that there will not be breakage in the continuity of (your) lineage. These are the words of Achi. “
–from Achi sadhana composed by Achi Chokyi Drolma

“There are as many ḍākinīs as there are stars in the night sky, but there is only one brilliant, shining full moon.”
–Achi Chokyi Drolma

“The fact that Achi said OM TĀRĀ at her birth was proof for everyone that she was an emanation of Tārā. Tārā appears in so many different ways not just one way. Tārā has always appeared in the past and she will always appear in the future, there are innumerable manifestations always appearing of Tārā.”
—8th Garchen RInpoche (Achi teaching in 2021)


For the Dharma Protector Day today, am happy to offer the first research post on this website about female protector Achi Chokyi Drolma  (A phyi chos kyi sgrol ma), often referred to as the Glorious Goddess of Space[1] (Ying Wangchug Pelden: dyings dbang phyug dpal ldan) considered to be a manifestation of Vajrayogini, the Drikung Kagyu tradition’s protector and the great-great grandmother of Je Jigten Sumgon (’Jig rten gsum mgon) founder of Drikung Kagyu: and, as such the three kāyas of Dharmakāya, Sambhogakāya and Nirmanakāya[2]. She is one of the few female Dharma protectors but is considered to be an enlightened, not worldly, protector (for more on that see below). 

This article gives:

  1. a brief overview of Achi’s life-story,
  2. English language research and texts about her,
  3. visual depictions/iconography of her and her role as both protector and deity.
  4. a new translation of a Praise to Achi by Je Jigten Sumgon (published below)
  5. A brief catalogue of texts by Jigten Sumgon on Achi Chokyi Drolma, and
  6. a full transcript of a teaching on Achi given in 2021, by 8th Garchen Rinpoche. 

This whole article (with Praise and transcript) can be freely downloaded as a 30-page pdf booklet here. The Praises alone can be downloaded here: PRAISE TO ACHI CHOKYI DROLMA BY JIGTEN SUMGON.

Music? Beautiful rendition with images of the Achi Drolma mantra or  Wild Horses by the Sundays or ‘The Power of Love‘: ‘I’ll protect you from the hooded claw, keep the vampires from your door, when the chips are down I’ll be around, with my undying, death-defying love for you. Envy will hurt itself, let yourself be beautiful…make love your goal.’

May this research, translation and transcript inspire beings to practice and attain the siddhis and protection of Achi and do more research on her life and practices! 

Written and compiled by Adele Tomlin, 3rd December 2021.

Achi Chokyi Drolma’s Life-Story
Photograph of the hermitages of Drikung Terdrom, courtesy of Bryan J. Cuevas, 2006 (Muldowney (2011)

There are several texts containing the life-story of Achi. Garchen Rinpoche also speaks about her life in his teaching. To summarise Achi’s life-story in brief, it is said her birth and role as Drikung Kagyu protectress, and emanation of Vajrayogini, was prophesised by Guru Padmasambhava[3]. This popular account states that the Wisdom Ḍākiṇī Vajrayoginī decided to be reborn in Central Tibet, specifically in an area called Zhoto, (Gzho stod) [4], in the  Drikung Valley, within the prestigious Nanam (Sna nam) clan. She was born as the daughter of the Nyingma yogin, Nanam Jowo Pal (Sna nam pa Jo bo pal) and his wife Driza Dardzom (’Bri za dar ’dzoms) sometime in the early 11th century.

After refusing to get married as a young woman, she went to Kham and while there requested to marry an old yogin, Ame Trinley Gyatso, to maintain the rare Khyura bloodline. Reluctantly he agreed and she performed various miracles for their marriage ceremony. After practicing together, she gave birth to four sons. When her sons were older, she initiated her sons in the Vajrayoginī practice and continued to perform miraculous acts, such as binding pernicious spirits under oath. Numerous sacred sites in the area bear her mark to this day.

Achi was over 70 years old when she passed away. One of her sons, Peka Wanggyel (Dpe ka dbang rgyal), likewise had four sons, and one of their sons was Jigten Sumgon, the founder of ’Bri gung mthil Monastery.  Before passing away, Achi is said to have conducted a Chöd offering transforming a human corpse into a sacred offering and vowed to be a protector of Buddhism, composing a liturgy for invoking herself as a protector deity. Having composed her own sādhana practices, she promised to protect those who would continue to perform them after her death. Upon completion of the verses, she flew into the air on the back of a blue horse, accompanied by a small dog, and departed for the Pure Lands.  She then manifested to Je Jigten Sumgon and others on several occasions.  It is also reported that she helped prevent a Mongolian invasion of the Drikung Thil monastery in the 13th Century[5]. For more details on her life-story, see Muldowney (2011) and Garchen Rinpoche (2021) below.

‘Outward Beauty, Hidden Wrath’ – Research and texts by and about Achi Chokyi Drolma
Image from Garchen Buddhist Institute website

Despite Achi’s importance to the history of the Drikung Kagyu tradition, and as one of the few female Dharma protectors, little English-language research has been done on her. The most comprehensive English-language source available on Achi and texts about her, is within an interesting, yet relatively unknown MA thesis (Florida State University) written in 2011 by Kristen Kail Muldowney:  ‘Outward Beauty, Hidden Wrath: An Exploration of the Drikung Kagyü Dharma Protectress Achi Chökyi Drölma’ [6], which is worth reading in full, if one has time.  In her research, Muldowney has helpfully provided:

  • A translation of the complete catalogue of the contents of volumes one and two of The Sadhana handbook of the Teaching Guardian Achi: Collected Texts Concerned with the Rites of Propitiation of the Special Protective Deity of the Drikung[7].
  • A  translation of a short sadhana of Achi from the collected works of the Khampa Gelug master , Rongta Lozang Damchoe Gyatso (1865-1917).
  • A translation of the third chapter of the Abridged Life- story of Achi Chokyi Drolma (Bri gung a phyi chos kyi sgrol ma’i rnam thar mdor bsdus) and Konchog Gyeltsen’s summary of the texts and rituals related to the dharma protectress, Achi (2011:123-127)[8].

Also, a whole chapter of David P. Jackson’s book Painting Traditions of the Drikung Kagyu School (2015) is written by Muldowney called The Elusive Lady of Nanam: An Introduction to the Protectress A chi Chokyi Drolma. Muldowney (2011) also references a life-story (composed by Kunga Rinchen (1475-1527), the 15th successor of Kyobpa Jigten Sumgon) and several sadhanas of Achi, translated by Tashi T. Jamyangling in 2010, which are all available for free download, here[9]

There are five works by Je Jigten Sumgon I saw listed in his online Collected Works[10], one of which is the Sadhana that Achi wrote herself. I have listed them below for reference purposes (they are also referenced by Muldowney in the translations listed above). The one practiced at Garchen Buddhist Institute is written by Jigten Sumgon.  The practice and secret supplication taught by Rinpoche is currently not available on their website but  I have requested it.

As part of this article, I have newly translated and published a Praise to Achi, composed by Jigten Sumgon Gonpo (with Tibetan and phonetics)[11].

Enlightened, barefoot protector and yidam deity emanation of Vajrayogini

There are different forms of Achi, in some depictions she is presented standing and peaceful, with a mirror and jewel. As she is seen as a manifestation of Vajrayogini she is also depicted with that deity goddess (see image below).

Achi depicted with Vajrayogini above

In others, she is depicted riding a blue horse, with damaru drum and kapala, and a semi-wrathful expression. She is certainly seen as a protector capable of great wrath and power when it comes to protecting the Drikung Kagyu teachings and monasteries during invasions and threats.

In an interesting chapter on categories and clothing of protectors and deities, Muldowney (2011:53-54) explains the distinction between mundane (unenlightened, worldly) and supra-mundane (enlightened) protectors:

“On one side are supramundane protectors, the fully-enlightened ‘guardians who have passed beyond a ra’ (‘jig rten las ‘das pa’i srung ma) and on the other are the worldly guardians or ‘guardians who have not yet passed beyond a ra’ (‘jig rten pa’i srung ma / ‘jig rten ma ‘das pa’i srung ma). While much of the first group are only approachable by ritual specialists and yogic practitioners, the second group commonly resides in the world and can take an active role in the lives of Tibetans, some even taking possession of mediums or intervening in times of trouble.”

Muldowney concludes that according to Achi’s short biography and other sources, it is clear that Achi is not worldly protector (wearing boots) but an enlightened, barefoot, protector[12], as well as yidam deity (for some):

The Abridged Life-story contains more than just a hagiography, although Achi’s life and death take up a substantial portion of the chapter. After beginning with a prayer to the deity, the author provides a detailed description of the category of dharma protectors in Tibet, including an extensive list of examples, showing how Achi stands apart from them…

Accordingly, she herself is not the type of guardian who is bound under oath, because she is a Wisdom  ḍākinī who deliberately came in order to protect the teachings. The unanimous glorification from the words of the authentic scholar-adepts of Tibet explains below how [this is so].

Achi revealed herself to people, such as Jigten Sumgon, and it is said some even wondered if Achi was a demonness[13]. For example, in Konchog Gyamtso’s biography, it also says that Achi revealed herself to the 1st Karmapa, while he was debating with Jigten Sumgon[14].  Muldowney (2011: 38) explains that:

“Departing from the behavior of many of Tibet’s mundane, oath-bound protectors, however, Achi takes multiple roles, making her an interesting point of departure in this category. According to at least one sadhana, besides being taken as one’s dharma protector, she can be taken as one’s inner-most secret lama (gsang bla ma), one’s inner yidam (nang ltar yi dam), or one’s secret  ḍākinī consort[15].”

However, 8th Garchen Rinpoche (2021) advises against making divisions of protectors in his teaching that:

If one possesses wisdom then one will not make a division between the worldly and the wisdom beings and so on. Everything becomes non-dual or indivisible. Therefore, now if we make divisions on the other hand, in the practice and think that this is this, and this is that protector, we might achieve some happiness or  some benefit from that in this life, but then if the motivation is not so pure then it will still become a cause of falling into the three lower realms.  However, if we stay away from that division and we see their indivisible nature, then their practice will really become beneficial in this life and all future lifetimes. Then they will really become a companion on our path to liberation.

8th Garchen Rinpoche’s Teaching on Achi Chokyi Drolma – April 2021

 I also offer a full transcript of a teaching on Achi Chokyi Drolma, given by HE 8th Garchen Rinpoche in April 2021 (for video see here). I received the online empowerment on Achi from Garchen Rinpoche, given in October 2020 (see here). The transmission and chanting of the Achi mantra, is given by Garchen Rinpoche in this video here. There is also an 8th Garchen Rinpoche Achi Chokyi Drolma teaching and practice (2018) here.  Another Drikung Kagyu teacher, 11th Choeze Kuchen Rinpoche, offers a live teaching and practice on  ḍākinī Day of Achi Chokyi Drolma, see here for most recent one

Garchen Rinpoche’s teaching first gives some background and life story of Achi, including how she got her three names and the meaning of them, her marriage in order to maintain the ancient Khyura lineage in Tibet, which was in danger of dying out, and her great, great grandson, Lord Jigten Sumgon who was from this Khyura clan[16].  Rinpoche explained that the cave where Achi passed away is called the Khacho Phug (I have been unable to find any photos of this cave, so if anyone has any, please let me know):

“That was the point where Achi departed to the  ḍākinī pure lands in space. She left this world without leaving her physical body behind. Nowadays, this cave from where they departed is called the Khacho Phug,  which is the  ḍākinī Pure Land  cave from where she departed from this world. It is considered a very holy pilgrimage place now. It is still there and be seen there in Kyuradrag in Kham. Also, in that area, close to that cave is another rock, and after she departed, on that rock a  self arisen HUM syllable appeared. This HUM syllable actually then became the original form of the Drikung Kagyu logo. It became like the original logo.”  

It includes a description of her qualities, the meaning of her mantra and how she is a manifestation of Tārā. The longer mantra is OM MAMA CHAKRA SVAHA YAR DU SARWA DU RADZA RADZA DU MAMA DU HUNG PHAT SVAHA:

“You can just also recite the short Achi mantra which is OM DHARMA TARE SVAHA. Basically, that means ‘may I accomplish Dharma Tārā (Chokyi Drolma)’ and that is what you can recite. 

This is followed by an explanation of the ultimate meaning  and qualities of Tārā [17. Rinpoche states that one can practice any of the Achi sadhanas available and recite the short of longer form of her mantra.  The secret supplication and practice of Achi, referred to by Garchen Rinpoche in his teaching, are not currently available online on the Garchen Buddhist Institute website and so I have asked them to send me a copy.

ཨ་ཕྱི་ཆོས་ཀྱིས་སྒྲོལ་མའི་བསྟོད་པ། འཇིག་རྟེན་གསུམ་མགོན།


ཧཱུྃ HUM

བཞིན་བཟང་དཔལ་ལྡན་ལྷ་མོ་ཆོས་ཀྱི་སྒྲོན། །                  སྐུ་མདོག་དཀར་དམར་འགྱུར་མེད་འགྱིངས་བག་ལྡན། །

zhin zang pelden lhamo chökyi drön/   ku dok kar mar gyur mé gying bak den/

Excellent, Glorious Goddess [Palden Lhamo], Lamp of Dharma [Chokyi Dron],

Rosy-white body of unchanging, graceful stance.


འཁོར་བའི་ལོག་ལྟ་སྐེམ་བྱེད་འོད་མངའ་མ། །                  བདེ་ཆེན་དགའ་སྟེར་རབ་དགྱེས་དཔའ་མོ་སྟེ། །

khorwé lok ta kem jé ö nga ma/    dé chen ga ter rap gyé pamo té/

Mistress over demons and wrong views of samsara,

Giver of great bliss, intensely delightful heroine.


ཞལ་གཅིག་ཕྱག་གཉིས་བཞིན་བཟང་འཛུམ་པའི་ཉམས། །                                       གཡས་པ་མི་ཐོད་ཌཱ་རུ་དྲག་ཏུ་འཁྲོལ། །

zhel chik chak nyi zhin zang dzum pé nyam/           yé pa mi tö da ru drak tu trol/

One face, two hands, beautiful smiling expression,

Right [hand[ strongly beating a human-skull damaru,


གཡོན་པས་དམ་ཉམས་སྙིང་ཁྲག་དྲོན་མོ་འཐུང༌། །                                            ཟ་འོག་སྣ་ལྔའི་ན་བཟའ་སྐུ་ལ་གསོལ། །

yön pé dam nyam nying trak drön mo thung/     za og na ngé na za ku la söl/

Left [hand] drinking warm heart-blood of samaya-breakers.

Form clothed with five types of brocade silken garments,


རིན་ཆེན་བརྒྱན་དང་དར་གྱི་ཅོད་པན་འཕུར། །                ཆིབས་སུ་སྤྲིན་གསེབ་ཆུ་རྟ་སྔོ་ནག་བཅིབས། །

rinchen gyen dang dar gyi chö pen pHur/                chib su trin sep chu ta ngo nak chib/

Adorned with precious ornaments and billowing silk ribbon tiara,

Riding amidst the clouds on a blue-water horse,


རིན་ཆེན་གོང་སྨེད་མུ་མེན་ཡོབ་ཆེན་འཁྲོལ། །                                                 གསེར་སྲབ་གཡུ་མཐུར་དར་སྣ་ལྔ་ཡིས་བརྒྱན། །

rinchen gong mé mu men yop chen tröl/                 ser sap yu thur dar na nga yi gyen/

Priceless, lapis-lazuli jeweled stirrups clicking,

Golden harness and turquoise stone reins, adorned with five types of silks,


ཟ་འོག་དར་སྟན་གསེར་སྒའི་སྒ་སྟེང་དུ། །                                             དབྱིངས་ཕྱུག་དཔལ་ལྡན་ལྷ་མོ་བཞད་ཆོད་ཚུལ། །

za oG dar ten ser gé ga teng du/                    ying chuk pelden lhamo zhé chö tsül/

Atop a silk cushion on a golden saddle,

Rides the laughing glorious, goddess queen of space, [Yingchug Palden Lhamo]!


གར་དགུའི་ཉམས་ལྡན་ཕོ་ཉ་ཆོ་འཕྲུལ་འགྱེད། །                           ལྷ་མིན་གནོད་སྦྱིན་མཁའ་འགྲོའི་ཚོགས་ཀྱིས་བསྐོར། །

gar gü nyam den po nya chotrül gyé/  lha min nöjin khandrö tsoG kyi kor/

With nine-fold dancing moods and miraculous display of retinue,

Surrounded by masses of asuras, yakṣas and ḍākinīs.


འཕྲིན་ལས་བཞི་ལྡན་སྤྲོས་མེད་ངང་ཚུལ་ཅན། །                                     བར་ཀུན་སེལ་འདོད་དགུའི་དངོས་གྲུབ་སྩོལ། །      

trinlé zhi den trö mé ngang tsül chen/     bar kün sel dö gü ngö drup tsöl/

Endowed with the four activities and within the way of non-elaboration,

Removing all obstacles, granting siddhis and all that is desired!


ཕུན་སུམ་ཚོགས་གནས་དཔལ་གྱི་འབྲི་གུང་འདིར། །                                    ལོངས་སྤྱོད་སྤེལ་ཕྱིར་བཀའ་སྲུང་ཀུན་མཛད་མ། །

pün sum tsok né pel gyi drigung dir/          long chö pel chir ka sung kün dzé ma/

Here in the glorious Drigung place of abundant excellence

In order to increase prosperity, she who protects the whole doctrine,


བསྟན་པ་བསྲུང་ཕྱིར་གཏོར་མ་འདི་བཞེས་ལ། །                            ཚོགས་གཉིས་རྫོགས་པའི་འཕྲིན་ལས་མཛད་དུ་གསོལ།

ten pa sung chir tor ma di zhé la/  tsok nyi dzok pé trin lé dzé du söl/

Please accept this torma to protect the teachings , and

May the activities of completing the two accumulations be done!

Translated by Adele Tomlin, 3rd December 2021.

Sources/Further Reading

Muldowney, K. K. (2011).  MA thesis, Florida State University, ‘Outward Beauty, Hidden Wrath: An Exploration of the Drikung Kagyü Dharma Protectress Achi Chökyi Drölma’. See: https://diginole.lib.fsu.edu/islandora/object/fsu:254364/datastream/PDF/view

Muldowney, K. K.  (2015).  The Elusive Lady of Nanam: An Introduction to the Protectress A chi Chokyi Drolma in David P. Jackson  Painting Traditions of the Drikung Kagyu School (Rubin Museum of Art, 2015).

Collected texts concerned with the rites of propiation of the special protective deity of the ‘Bri gung Dkar bryud pa tradition A phyi Chos kyi sgrol ma. (Bstan bsrung A phyi’i sgrub thabs be’u bum). New Delhi: Tsering Dorma Gelek, 1975.

Jamyangling, Tashi (2010). Various texts and sadhanas on Achi (Tara Foundation, Germany).

Konchog Gyatso (2004). The Abridged Life-story of Drikung Achi Chokyi Drolma.  ‘Bri gung Dkon mchog rgya mtsho. ‘Bri gung a phyi chos kyi sgrol ma’i rnam thar mdor bsdus). Lhasa: Tibet’s People Publishing House.  Translated by Muldowney (2011).

8th Garchen Rinpoche Achi Drolma teaching (April 2021) here.

8th Garchen Rinpoche Achi Drolma empowerment (October 2020) here.

8th Garchen Rinpoche Achi Drolma mantra transmission here.

8th Garchen Rinpoche Achi Chokyi Drolma teaching and practice (2018) here

11th Choeze Kuchen Rinpoche musical rendition of Achi mantra here.


Great Drikung Dharma Treasure – TBRC W00JW501203 (Lhasa, 2004)[i].

a phyi’i sgrub thabs rang gis mdzad pa/ – 23: 315-  321

a phyi chos kyi sgrol ma’i sgrub skor rin po che’i cod paN las le’u bco lnga ma/ – 23: 321-  355

a phyi’i sgrub thabs ‘khyer bde ba bsdus pa/ – 23: 355- 360.

a phyi’i sgrub thabs snyan brgyud byin rlabs shin tu che ba/ – 23: 360-  370.

a phyi’i bskang ba nor bu’i ‘phreng ba/ – 23: 370-  385.

Collected Works of Jigten Sumgon – TBRC W23743[ii]

bstan srung a phyi chos kyi sgrol ma’i sgrubs thabs/ 9: 564-578   

bstan srung a phyi chos kyi sgrol ma’i bskang ba nor bu’i phreng ba/ 9: 578-597. 

bstan srung a phyi chos kyi sgrol ma’i sgrub thabs bsdus pa/ 9: 597-604. 

Endnotes for the Catalogue

[i] The Drikung Kagyu Great Treasure is a massive collection of texts from the Drikung Kagyu, as well as some texts from other Kagyu orders. Edited by Agon Rinpoche and Rase Kunchok Gyatso. ‘bri gung bka’ brgyud chos mdzod chen mo/. TBRC W00JW501203. 23: 315 – 321. Published in Lhasa by Drikung Thilgon [‘bri gung mthil dgon/], 2004.

[ii] In the Collected Works of Jigten Sumgon (gsung ‘bum/ ‘jig rten mgon po) TBRC W23743. 9: 564 – 578. Delhi: Drikung Kagyu Ratna Shri Sungrab Nyamso Khang, 2001.


Endnotes for the article

[1] Here most previous translators have translated the Tibetan term ying (dbyings) as ‘space’ which is normally ‘namkha’ in Tibetan. The term ying has more the sense of ‘expanse’ than ‘space’ . I have kept the commonly translated version here.

[2] Achi also appears as a protector in the Karma Kagyu refuge tree as Achi Chodron and is a dharmapāla protector and  ḍākinī in the life story of the Nyingma terton Tsasum Lingpa (rtsa gsum gling pa).

[3] “In Uddiyana, the country from which Vajrayana came, there is a divine palace where Vajrayogini appeared in the form of Vajraḍākinī and promised to defend the teachings of the Buddha. She gave this promise to the five Wisdom  ḍākinīs. Later, in the eighth century, when Guru Padmasambhava was invited to Tibet to spread the teachings of Dharma, he blessed many parts of Tibet and meditated in many caves. Among them was the Tidro cave near Drikung, where Guru Rinpoche spent seven years – the largest time he spent in any place in Tibet. During this period, Vajrayogini appeared before Chief Karmaḍākinī and promised to defend the teachings of Vajrayana. Through manifestations in the jnanakaya (body of wisdom) it protects precious teachings and brings good to all living beings.”–prophecy about Drikung Kagyu protector, Achi Chokyi Drolma

[4]  Zhoto Terdrom, north of the Drikung Til complex,  the birthplace of Achi which literally means “Box of Treasures.” Is alternatively known as Tidro in early sources, and it contains some of the oldest and most sacred sites of the region with legends dating back as early as the eighth century. A cave there was said to have been practiced in by Yeshe Tsogyel during various points of her life with Padmasambhava, alone and with her male consort, one time for seven years and she returned there to do solitary retreat for the rest of her life. For more detail on that see: Muldowney (2011: 93-96).

[5] “Around this same time [1239], another raiding party, led by the commander Miliji (Mi li byi) reached Drikung Til, but upon seeing the face of the Fourth Drikung Hierarch (Spyan nga grags pa ‘byung gnas, 1175-1255), “faith was born in him,” and the party left without harming the monastery or its inhabitants. Around a month later, Dorda Darkhan arrived in Drikung to do the job himself, but again the miraculous powers of the abbot is said to have thwarted his attacks. While the Blue Annals reports that this miracle came in the sudden magical showering of stones from the sky, local legends claim that Achi, now regarded as the deified protectress of the monastery, was responsible for the defeat, having imprisoned many of the invaders in her lhakhang located below the monastery and incinerating them inside.” (Muldowney (2011: 90).

[6] MA thesis by Muldowney, K. K. (2011). ‘Outward Beauty, Hidden Wrath: An Exploration of the Drikung Kagyü Dharma Protectress Achi Chökyi Drölma’. See:  http://purl.flvc.org/fsu/fd/FSU_migr_etd-4677

[7] Bstan bsrung A phyi’i sgrub thabs be’u bum: Collected Texts Concerned with the Rites of Propitiation of the Special Protective Deity of the ‘Bri gung (New Delhi: Tersing Dorma Gelek, 1975).

[8] See Muldowney (2011: 123): this short biography by Konchog Gyamtso is published in a text called: Dpal ldan lha mo dbyings phyug a phyi chos kyi sgrol ma dang ‘brel ba’  (Lhasa: Tibet’s People Publishing House, 2004). ” According to the colophon of the Abridged Life- Story of Drikung Achi Drolma, (Bri gung a phyi chos kyi sgrol ma’i rnam thar mdor bsdus) this small, three-chapter booklet was commissioned by one of the two current leaders of the Drikung Kagyu, Chungtsang Tenzin Chokyi Nangwa Rinpoche (Chung tshang bstan ‘dzin chos kyi snang ba rin po che, 1942- present) himself, and written at Lhasa’s Norbulingka palace in the year 2000.(2011: 13).

[9] These texts are: A phyi’i Gsang sgrub (  dhana); A phyi’i ‘Khrung rabs ( Life story of Dharma Tara or Achi Chokyi Drolma); A phyi’i Sgrub skor Bstod pa’i Rim pa (Praise from the Cycle of Achi Liturgy. All published by the Tara Foundation of Germany, 2010, Tashi T. Jamyangling. They are all available for free download here: http://www.drigung.com/translations.html

[10] In the Great Treasure of Drikung Kagyu Dharma: ‘bri gung bka’ brgyud chos mdzod chen mo/. TBRC W00JW501203. Lhasa ‘bri gung mthil dgon/, 2004.

[11]  The Praise is in The Garland of Profound Dharma Jewels (khams gsum chos kyi rgyal po thub dbang rat+na shrI’i thun mong ma yin pa nang gi zab chos nor bu’i phreng ba bzhugs so/) Volume 9:2-3  in the Collected Works of Jigten Sumgon (‘jig rten mgon po’i gsung skor/ ) published by Songsten Library, Dehra Dun in 2008. TBRC W3JT13348.

[12] To back up this conclusion, Muldowney (2011) discusses the clothing, acoutrements and footwear of worldly Dharma protectors who normally wear boots, whereas enlightened protectors are normally barefoot.

[13] “Regarding the Goddess Queen of Space (Dbying phyug lha mo) herself: Even though, as explained, she is fundamentally not a type [of dharma protector] who is bound under oath because she is a genuine wisdom  ḍākinī who intentionally undertook worldly existence [as a] teaching method, some [people], because of a measure of ignorance, wonder if she is a female demon (‘dre mo ]. She is not. Lord Jigten Sumgon from the Introduction to Vajrayana (Rdor rje theg pa’i lde mig),  praises [her, saying],

“I am known as the Lord of Dakinis. The Mother Queen of Space is a Vajradakini. [Mundane] sky-goers were vicious [and were] subjugated. Yogins [who have] not transcended are protected [only] because of their oaths. Not only [that], love has been nurtured, [and the sky-goers] grew affectionate. Today, the minds [of] the mistress [sky-goers] have become [loving] like one’s own children. As for this Vajradakini, a great grandmother is a low woman, but a maternal grandmother is very low.”

The entire assembly having entrusted [themselves] to her, including the hermits, [Achi] is known in all directions.” (2011:30-31). 

[14] The abridged biography says that Drubthob Khampa Gyagar (Grub thob khams pa rgya gar, 1110-1193) [which Muldowney explains is a common name for the 1st Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa] were debating in Drikung Changchupling (‘Bri gung byang chub gling), the sound of a damaru [resounded] from the sky and the melodious voice of a  ḍākinī arose. Druptop asked the Lord of the Dharma (Chos rje) how this could be, [and] he replied, “The voice which arises is a Wisdom  ḍākinī, my Grandmother.”

Druptop insisted, “What is her sadhana like? How is [her] practice done?” ] Because of that [Jigten Sumgon] bestowed many extensive sadhana and the fifteen chapters [of] the Precious Diadem in the Sadhana Cycle (Sgrub skor rin chen cod pan le’u). Druptop said, “Having reviewed the oral transmission with earnest, the essence [of the] goddess (hri ma) rose up from the sphere of reality, [and I] perceived [her] with divine sight from the sphere of wisdom.

Is that like a vicious demoness? Moreover, that method [of practice is] not only [in] the Precious Five Ornaments (Rin chen gyi rgyan can lnga), [but] the empowerment of this Protectress Deity is also said to be like [those among] the Highest Mother Tantras (Bla med ma rgyud). This itself is able to indicate the truth [that she is] a mother who is born a Wisdom dakini Victorious One, because an empowerment [which] entrusts the life-force to a kind of mundane demon is not a true [empowerment].

When some say [she] is like the Sakya witches (Sa skya’i ‘bag mo), [she] is not. As for that, the hateful beings teach [that she] is a demoness of an arrogant lineage, but she herself is actually the mother of the Victorious Ones.” (from 2011:31-32).

[15] Meghan Howard, trans., The Unelaborated, Easy to Implement Sadhana of the Sole Mother Chokyi Drolma, Lady of Nanam (Frederick: Tibetan Meditation Center, 2005), see Muldowney (2011).

[16] ‘Khyura is ‘an illustrious clan from Tsungu (tsu ngu) in Kham that claims descent from King Relpachen. It was Jikten Gonpo Rinchen Pel from this clan who founded Drigung Til Monastery in central Tibet in 1179 and established the Drigung Kagyu tradition. With the rise of Drigung as a center of political power in the thirteenth century, the Kyura clan became one of the rivals to Sakya rule in the period of the Mongol Yuan dynasty. Kyura control of Drigung ended in the seventeenth century, replaced by two incarnation lines, the Drigung Chetsang and the Drigung Chungtsang’. (See: https://treasuryoflives.org/en/institution/Kyura).

[17] Mantra of Achi Chokyi Drolma: OM MAMA CHAKRA SVAHA YAR DU SARWA DU RADZA RADZA DU MAMA DU HUNG PHAT SVAHA  OM MAMA means “to me”. CHAKRA is a Sanskrit word, it means a wheel that symbolizes all kinds of activities and excellent qualities.  SVAHA means “may it be so.” OM MAMA CHAKRA SVAHA is a very short version of the Achi mantra. YAR DU is a peaceful activity. SARWA DU is increasing activity. RADZA RADZA DU is magnetizing activity. MAMA DU is wrathful activity. By those activities, Achi can destroy external and internal maras – all mental delusions and defilements with her great compassion and wisdom. HUM means getting these qualities. PHET means the removal of all obstacles. SVAHA here means “may it be so”.

3 thoughts on “GODDESS QUEEN OF SPACE: ACHI CHOKYI DROLMA. Life-Story, Texts, Depictions, ‘Praise to Achi’ by Jigten Sumgon and Teaching by 8th Garchen Rinpoche

  1. Thanks for this work, please send a copy of the pdf version as mentioned in your tremendous article

    Kind regard


    Sent from Mail for Windows


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