Perfect in the moment of recollection,
I am Vajrayoginī in the form of Yeshe Tsogyal
-From the Concentrated Essence: A Sādhana of Yeshe Tsogyal by Dudjom Rinpoche
The mother of all the Buddhas, Vajrayoginī;
Queen of the ocean of melodies, Sarasvatī;
The liberator of all beings with compassion, Arya Tārā;
The ḍākinī who is kind to Tibet.
-from Supplication to Yeshe Tsogyel: Longing Melody of Faith by Mipham Rinpoche
“It is essential to practice a yidam deity because through that you will attain siddhis, your obstacles will be removed, you will obtain powers, receive blessings, and give rise to realization. Since all these qualities result from practicing the yidam deity, then without the yidam deity you will just be an ordinary person. By practicing the yidam deity you attain the siddhis, so the yidam deity is essential.”
—Guru Padmasambhava’s Advice to Yeshe Tsogyel from Dākinī Teachings
For Guru Rinpoche Day today, I offer a brief research post on the 8th Century realised yogini, Yeshe Tsogyel (one of the main consorts of Guru Padmasambhava) and her connection to Vajrayoginī, as well as a new translation of a supplication to her by a twentieth century yogini emanation of Tsogyel, called Tare Lhamo, where she refers to Tsogyel as Vajravārāhī. For more on the life story of Yeshe Tsogyel, see here.
Vajrayoginī appears in many forms, as I wrote about recently here, she can be any woman, wrathful, peaceful, old or young. As a yidam deity, she is often depicted with a scarlet red, semi-wrathful form (Vajrayoginī/varahi/Dorje Phagmo) and a black, wrathful form (Troma Nagmo).In particular, there are certain well-known female practitioners, such as Machig Labdron, Achi Chokyi Drolma and currently the female tulku Vajrayoginī, based in Bhutan who are considered to be her emanations.
It is said that in The Precious Garland of Lapis Lazuli, Jamgön Kongtrul says:
“Yeshe Tsogyal was a direct incarnation of Dhatvishvari Vajrayoginī in the form of a woman. She served Padmasambhava perfectly in that life, engaged in sadhana practice with incredible perseverance and attained a level equal to Padmasambhava himself, the ‘continuity adorned with inexhaustible body, speech, mind, qualities, and activities.’ Her kindness to the land of Tibet surpasses the imagination and her compassionate activity which is no different from Padmasambhava’s continues unceasingly.”
Although it is well-known that Yeshe Tsogyel practiced and accomplished the yidam deity, Vajrakilaya, not so much has been written about her connection to Vajrayoginī. A follower of my work and website, sent me a brief sadhana, said to have been written by Jnana, also the name for Dudjom Rinpoche. They wanted to know if there are any other sadhanas that refer to Tsogyel as Vajrayoginī? The answer is ‘yes’, many Nyingma masters, such as Dudjom Rinpoche, have composed praises, supplications and sadhanas for Tsogyel that refer to her as a manifestation of Vajrayoginī.
For example, there is the Supplication to Yeshe Tsogyel: Longing Melody of Faith by Mipham Rinpoche quoted at the beginning of this post. This is produced (in English only) in a Cascade of Waterfall Nectar by Thinley Norbu (2009: 171-172). The Tibetan text is in the Collected Works of Mipham Rinpoche published in Bhutan and available online at TBRC W23468. Also, in the Dudjom Tersar Volume 6, there are several texts to the Yumkha Yeshe Tsogyel, from the pure visions of the 5th Dalai Lama in the Longsel Sky Dharma cycle. Yeshe Tsogyel is said to be the nirmanakāya, outer form; Vajrayoginī is the Sambhogakāya, inner form; and Wrathful Black One (Troma Nagmo) as the Dharmakāya, innermost secret form.
Below is a small intro to the twentieth-century yogini and treasure-revealer, Tare Lhamo, an emanation of Yeshe Tsogyel recognised by Dudjom Rinpoche, followed by the first translation of a supplication she wrote to Yeshe Tsogyel where she is referred to as Vajrayoginī. This whole post and translation, can be freely downloaded as .pdf Yeshe Tsogyel and Vajrayogini.
Music? Yeshe Tsogyel mantra. Superwoman, by Alicia Keys: ‘Say yes I will. yes I can. Cause I am a Superwoman, yes I am.’ Queen by Jessie J: ‘Let’s get naked, start meditating and say: ‘I love my body, I love my skin, I am a goddess, I am a Queen.’
May this new translation be of benefit and may we all realize the qualities of Yeshe Tsogyel and Vajrayoginī! Dedicated to the Queens, Jetsunmas, Khandros, Yoginis and the superwomen heroine mothers. Special thanks to Kate for being the inspiration for this post.
Written and translated by Adele Tomlin, 13th December 2021.
Tare Lhamo – emanation of Yeshe Tsogyel and Vajravārāhī
I was looking at the Collected Works of Tare Lhamo, Tare Lhamo (ta re lha mo nam mkha’i bu mo) or Tare Dechen Gyalmo (1938-2003) who was one of the most active contemporary women tertöns and masters of Tibet. Volume Four of those works is full of sadhanas, praises and texts about Yeshe Tsogyel. It is a treasure trove of short sadhanas on many female deities in fact.
Within her Collected Works, there are short supplications and sadhanas to Yeshe Tsogyel in both white and red form. Although they do not all explicitly state that she is Vajrayoginī in them, where she is red in colour, the connection in terms of colour and implements is striking nonetheless. More on that in another post.
However, there are not many of these texts translated into English for practice (see Sources below), or that are bestowed as empowerments and transmissions by qualified teachers. For this post, I have also translated a short supplication composed by Tare Lhamo to Yeshe Tsogyel that refers to her in the Vajravārāhī form.
Incarnation of Yeshe Tsogyal
In terms of her life-story, Lhamo was born as the daughter of Apang Tertön, a miraculous son of Dudjom Lingpa, she was recognized as a reincarnation of several key figures including Tra Gelong Tsultrim Dargyé, a master from Golok, and Sera Khandro, the consort of Tulku Trimé Özer, a son of Dudjom Lingpa. With her husband Namtrul Rinpoche she played a vital role of inspiration and protection during the Cultural Revolution, and of revival of the practice of Dharma in Tibet since the 1980’s. Her collection of termas with Namtrul Rinpoche is in twelve volumes. She was the first to recognise Dudjom Sangye Pema Zhepa Rinpoche as an incarnation of Dudjom Rinpoche.
When she was one year old, Khandro Tare Lhamo travelled to Lhasa in Central Tibet with her father and mother. There, they met several realized lamas including Dudjom Rinpoche who immediately recognized her as an emanation of Khandro Yeshe Tsogyal.
It is said that in the Jokhang Temple, these masters offered many prayers so that her activity would greatly flourish the Dharma. Dudjom Rinpoche took the baby in his arm and in front of the Jowo Yeshin Norbu statue, made a strong aspiration that she would bring vast benefits to beings. Dudjom Rinpoche wrote the following prayer:
‘Emanation of Yeshe Tsogyal and Vajravārāhī, mother of all the Victorious Ones,
The ḍākinīs from Kham who hold the name of Sukha,
Will manifest again as Tare, born from mantras.
Her activity will cover India, Tibet and China.
She will then bring all those connected to her to the pure realms of Khechara.
Khandro Tare Lhamo was also recognized as an emanation of several others deities or masters, including Vajravārāhī, Machik Labdrön, Nechung Yuyi Drolma (ne’u chung g yu yi sgrol ma) and Lushul Khenpo Könchok Drönme.
Stone with Yeshe Tshogyel’s red syllable BAM – first terma discovery
Around the age of 18, around the year 1956, Khandro Tare Lhamo left with her mother to Dodrupchen Monastery. According to Tulku Orgyen Zangpo Rinpoche:
“On their way, while they were walking, they were attacked by a pack of wild dogs. They were just two women by themselves in the middle of nowhere and didn’t know how to protect themselves. All they could do was picking up some stones and throwing them at dogs. In the panic and confusion that ensures, Khandro Tare Lhamo wasn’t sure what was happening, but they did get away from the dogs. Later that night, when Khandro went to bed, she took off her jacket and discovered some stones inside with the mantric syllable of Yeshe Tsogyal — a red BAM. So right away, her mother once again understood that Khandro Tare Lhamo was an emanation of Yeshe Tsogyal. She told her daughter, ‘This stone is very important and you must wear it next to your body’. She put the stone inside a gau [a locket] and Khandro Tare Lhamo began to wear this gau all the time. This rock was actually a terma. And based on the principle of interdependence, through her connection with this special treasure rock, her life changed. Her consciousness and realization expanded. She began having visionary experiences. She acquired extrasensory powers and great compassion swelled within her heart. All of these transformative experiences came from her connection with this very special rock.”
Since then, Khandro Tare Lhamo began to discover termas, often in the form of caskets orned with syllables and mantras.
Her love relationship after that with fellow terton, Namtrul Rinpoche is detailed by Holly Gayley in Love Letters from Golok: A Tantric Couple in Modern Tibet (2016).
Interestingly her biography also mentions that in 1978 In 1978, Khandro Tare Lhamo revealed and transcribed a long life practice, the tshe bsgrup rdo rje’i rgya mdud can, in order to prolong the life of Khenpo Lobsang Dorje and other masters including Khenpo Munsel, one of the main teachers of Garchen RInpoche (while they were both imprisoned in a Chinese communist prison and when they were released), for more on Khenpo Munsel, told by 8th Garchen Rinpoche, see here.
It is said that toward the end of her life, Tare Lhamo had visions of Vajravārāhī who assured her they were inseparable. When she passed away she was reported to have shown the signs of a great Dzogchen practitioner such as a major shrinking of the body. Born on January 2nd, 2007 as a granddaughter of Sakya Trizin, Jetsunma Kunga Trinley Palter Sakya was recognized by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama as an incarnation of Tare Lhamo, a recent interview with her in 2020 can be seen here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wRIlOcjXxM).
For more information on Tare Lhamo, her life and works, see here and Sources below. There is an English translation of the outline of her collected works, helpfully provided by Lama Dechen Yeshe Wangmo here.
Supplication for Self-Liberation from Clinging [Dzinpa Rangdrol]
from the Secret Deeds of the Wisdom Dākinīs
by Tare Lhamo
Homage to Vajravārāhī!
chöku yumchen sherab parol chin long ku gakmé dorjé naljorma
tulku gato dul yeshe dakini la solwa deb so dzinpa rangdrol shok
To the Dharmakāya, Great Mother Prajñāpāramitā
Nirmanakāya, tamer of beings, wisdom Dākinī
I supplicate, may self-liberation from clinging come!
orgyen dhumatala’i podrang né tsang yang yenlak drukchü sung ngawa
sherab gojé ngawang yangchenmar solwa deb so gongdön tokpar shok
From the Mansion of Orgyen Dhumatha la
Mistress of the sixty-branch speech of divine melody
Powerful melody that opens the wisdom door, Saraswati [Yangchenma]
I supplicate, may realization of the ultimate meaning come!
rang nang gyu lo köpé shyingkham né dü sum gyalwé yum chik pak ma sok
ying zhuk pawo pamo ma tsok la solwa deb so tul zhuk tarchin shok
From the naturally-arisen Turquoise Pure Realm [Yuloko]
Noble woman, single mother of Victors of the three times,
To the masses of heroines and heroes abiding in the expanse
I supplicate, may the perfection of uncontrived conduct come!
dorna kyé shying tserab tam ché du sang sum gyutrul rolwé dzö changwa
kabab gyüpé lama tamché dang kechik dralmé jé sub sung du sol
In brief, in all births and lifetimes,
From the upholder of the playful display of the three secrets
from the oral transmissions of all the lineage lamas
Please accept us without separation for an instant!
ཕྱི་ནང་གསང་བའི་བར་ཆད་ཞི་བ་དང༎ ཆོས་སྐྱོང་སྲུང་མས་མགོན་སྐྱོབས་ གཡེལ་བ་མེད༎
chi nang sangwé barché zhiwa dang chökyong sungmé gön kyob yelwa mé
chö tün sampé dön nam ma lu kün gekmé nyurdu drubpar jingyi lob
Bless us that outer, inner and secret obstacles be pacified
Dharma protectors and guardians tirelessly give refuge.
All thoughts and intentions, without exception, be in accordance with Dharma, and
Absence of hindrances quickly be accomplished!
ཞེས་སྒོ་གསུམ་ཐ་མལ་དུ་མི་འཆོར་བར་གསོལ་བ་རྩེ་གཅིག་ཏུ་འདེབས་པ་ལ༎ བྱིན་རླབས་མྱུར་བར་ཐེ་ཚོམ་མེད་དོ༎ ས་མ་ཡ༎ རྒྱ་རྒྱ་རྒྱ༎ རིག་དགོངས་ངོར་ཀ་ལ་སིདྡྷཱིས་སོ༎
One-pointedly supplicating without falling into distraction of the ordinary three doors [body, speech and mind], blessings will quickly come to those without doubts. SAMAYA GYA GYA GYA. The face of awareness mind KALASIDDHI!
Translated by Adele Tomlin, December 2021. All rights reserved.
- Chime Drolma, The Life and Visions of Yeshe Tsogyal: The Autobiography of the Great Wisdom Queen. by Drime Kunga. (Shambhala Publications, 2017).
- Elizabeth Angowski (2013). Literature_and_the_Moral_Life_Reading_the_Early_Biography_of_the_Tibetan_Queen_Yeshe_Tsogyal
- Holly Gayley, “Khandro Tāre Lhamo,” Treasury of Lives, http://treasuryoflives.org/biographies/view/Tare-Lhamo/8651.
- Holly Gayley, Love Letters from Golok: A Tantric Couple in Modern Tibet (Columbia University Press, 2017)
- Holly Gayley, Inseparable Across Lifetimes: The Lives and Love Letters of Namtrul Rinpoche and Khandro Tare Lhamo (Shambhala Publications, 2019)
- Tulkou Péma Osel Thayé, Hagiographies de Taré Lhamo et Namtrul Rinpoché, « Nuées d’offrandes pour réjouir les ḍākinī s et vidyadharas », translated by Jean-Francois Bulliard (Editions Yogi Ling, 2005)
- ‘Life of Khandro Tare Lhamo’, interview of Tulku Orgyen Zangpo Rinpoche, by produced by Jnanasukha for Rolmo, see jnanasukha.org.
- Tare Lhamo website https://www.tarelhamo.com.
- Dākinī Teachings: A Collection of Padmasambhava’s Advice to the Dakini Yeshe Tsogyal (Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2004).
- NEW TRANSLATION: ‘Yeshe Tsogyel Guru Yoga’ by 15th Karmapa
Jue Liang, Conceiving the Mother of Tibet: The Life, Lives, and Afterlife of the Buddhist Saint Yeshe Tsogyel. Ph.D, University of Virginia, Department of Religious Studies, Buddhist Studies (May 2020, expected).
Lady of the Lotus-Born The Life and Enlightenment of Yeshe Tsogyal By Gyalwa Changchub, Namkhai Nyingpo, and Yeshe Tsogyal. Translated by Padmakara Translation Group (Shambhala Publications (2002).
 This has been translated into English, here: Concentrated Essence: A Sādhana of Yeshe Tsogyal. It was also translated and published by Eric Fry-Miller in 2015, by Buddha Visions Press. I have not been able to find this sadhana in the Collected Works of Dudjom Rinpoche though, and neither translation cites the source/edition of the Tibetan text.
 The complete prayer has not been translated or published. Part of this prayer is produced (English only) in a Cascade of Waterfall Nectar by Thinley Norbu (2009: 171-172). The Tibetan text is in the Collected Works of Mipham Rinpoche published in Bhutan and available online at TBRC W23468 (mi pham rgya mtsho. “mkha’ ‘gro’i rgyal mo ye shes mtsho rgyal la gsol ‘debs dad pa’i gdung dbyangs.” In gsung ‘bum/_mi pham rgya mtsho. TBRC W23468. 27: 515 – 524. paro, bhutan: lama ngodrup and sherab drimey, 1984-1993).
 In the Dharma Treasure of Dudjom Drangag Lingpa ( bdud ‘joms drag sngags gling pa’i gter chos/. TBRC W21576. 6: TBRC W21576, Volume 6, tulku pema lodoe, bir, distt. kangra,. 1983-1985).
 The Treasure Dharma of Tare Lhamo and Namtrul Jigme Phuntsog was published in Tibetan in 2012 by Sithron Mirig Publishers and is available online on TBRC (tA re lha mo dang nam sprul ‘jigs med phun tshogs kyi gter chos/si khron tang deb tshogs pa/ si khron mi rigs dpe skrun khang / khreng tu’u/ 2012).
 There are three translated texts from these Collected Works, published on the www.tarelhamo.com website by Lama Yeshe Dechen Wangmo. One of these is the first supplication to Yeshe Togyel in Volume Four of the Collection.
 Ye shes mkha’ ‘gro’I gsang mdzod las gsol ‘debs ‘dzin pa rang grol
 “Just after the discovery of this terma stone, Dodrupchen Rigdzin Tenpé Gyaltsen asked her: ‘Did you extract, from the site of Dzong, a terma which should have been mine?” Khandro Tare Lhamo answered: “Is it the locket wear now by my mother which I discovered on the rock Kyabchen Thang?”. “Oh yes, it is this one!” answered Dodrupchen Rigdzin Tenpé Gyaltsen, who, based on this, revealed the Khandro Gongdu cycle.”
 “Tāre Lhamo died on March 26, 2002, in a Chengdu hospital. She had been healthy and strong throughout her life. However, according to Tulku Orgyen Zangpo Rinpoche, in 2000, she started feeling that she would soon die. With Namtrul Rinpoche, they consulted with Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok. Everyone agreed that the indications of her forthcoming death were undeniable. They arranged for medical tests, but nothing helped. When they prayed to extend her life, hopeful signs did not arise. It was clear that the ḍākinī s would soon escort her from this world. After that, one day, Tāre Lhamo donned her best robes and ornamented her hair. She gathered her disciples and offered her heart advice. They begged her to take rebirth quickly and to return to them. Shortly after, Tāre Lhamo laid down on her side in the dying position and passed away. As soon as she had passed, her skin turned white. She glowed and was beautiful. Her body became fragrant. These were some signs of her realization. Her body was taken to Nyenlung Monastery and displayed. According to the practice of Dzogchen, her body began to shrink. Finally, it was the length from your fingerprints to your elbow. It was placed on a plate and offered up at the cremation. During the cremation, there were still more signs that she had attained the realization of a Dzogchen master, such as rainbows in the sky and flowers raining down. After her passing, Namtrul Rinpoche vigorously continued their activities until he passed way in 2011.” From biography written and compiled by Jnanasukha Publications, 2020. https://www.tarelhamo.com
 The Tibetan here says tshangs dbyang, which literally means ‘Brahma’s melody’.
 This is the pure realm of Noble Tārā, pronounced Yuloko in Tibetan. An aspiration to be re-born in this pure land, was revealed by female Treasure-Revealer, Sera Khandro, called “Burgeoning Benefit and Happiness: An Aspiration to be Reborn in the Land of Turquoise Leaves” (g.yu lo bkod du skye ba’i smon lam phan bde’i myu gu bzhugs/). It can be found in the Collected Works of Kunzang Dekyong Wangmo (kun bzang bde skyong dbang mo; gsung ‘bum/ W1PD108254, pp. 75-77. si khron mi rigs dpe skrun khang, khreng tu’u. 2009). The aspiration contains vivid descriptions of the realm. It has been translated into English by Adam Pearcey, see here (https://www.lotsawahouse.org/tibetan-masters/sera-khandro/tara-pureland-aspiration).
 The Tibetan term is btul zhugs is often translated as ‘uncontrived’ or ‘unconventional conduct’. It means a tantric practitioner who has abandoned worldly, conventional modes of conduct.