THE YOGA OF LADY NIGUMA AS COMPILED BY JETSUN TARANATHA AND PRESENTED BY 2ND KALU RINPOCHE: Niguma Yoga presentations in Bhutan and India by 2nd Kalu Rinpoche; and textual and historical background

“When one realizes that our many thoughts of anger and desire,
which churn the ocean of Samsara,
are devoid of any self-nature,
everything becomes a land of gold, my child.–A Song of Niguma

“When he requested these vajra verses [from Niguma], the learned and accomplished Kyungpo Naljor offered five hundred measures of gold to the wisdom dakini. He placed this text like a heart in an amulet box he always wore at his neck.”

“The elusiveness of Niguma is typical of the lore of the dakini, the very embodiment of liminal spiritual experience. Additionally, the difficulty of pinpointing historical information may well be due to the lack of ancient sources from India and the lack of concern about such mundane matters by the Tibetan masters who encountered her in dreams and visions and maybe in person. After all, when confronted with the blazing apparition of the resplendent and daunting dark dakini bestowing cryptic advice, a background check would be rendered irrelevant.”—Sarah Harding, Niguma: Lady of Illusion (2010)

“Seeing that this practice was on the verge of disappearing, and to prevent its bright light from ever waning, and that its radiance can spread, this one who has developed a little devotion to the Glorious Shangpa Kagyu, named Taranatha has composed this in a clear open way without hiding anything.” –colophon of Tāranātha’s Niguma Yoga text used by 2nd Kalu Rinpoche

I have just returned back to India after an amazing ten days in the Dragon Land (Bhutan, Drug Yul), stunning home to many amazing pilgrimage sites of Guru Padmasambhava and Yeshe Tsogyel and more. I visited Bhutan this time (my previous visit there was in 2019) as a speaker on the ‘Women in Vajrayana’ main panel at the 4th Vajrayana conference in Thimphu, Bhutan, hosted by the Centre for Bhutan and GNH Studies, see here. My paper was on the Vinaya, monasticism, female teachers and consorts in Vajrayana and whether they mix well or not, particularly in the 21st Century (see video here and update below about that). I will be writing a short series of posts on Bhutan in connection with the conference and pilgrimage sites I visited there soon.

First, for the full moon today, I offer this post on the remarkable and inspiring teachings and presentations on Niguma Yoga by HE 2nd Kalu Rinpoche, both at the Vajrayana conference in Bhutan and now, here in New Delhi for three days (7th to 8th October).

I wrote about Niguma, Tāranātha, Jonang and Shangpa Kagyu lineage before here in 2019. This new post first gives a general overview of the history and textual background (some of which is taken from my previous article) on Niguma’s life story, her connections with Marpa the Translator and Khyungpo Neljor, who became the lineage holder of her teachings on Niguma Yoga. Then I offer a write-up and some photos of the Niguma Yoga events and presentations in both Bhutan and India.  Previously, in 2015 (see video here) Kalu Rinpoche spoke about the importance of doing the preliminaries before doing Niguma Yoga. although he did not mention that during these teachings.

Kalu Rinpoche stated at both events that there was nothing magical in the techniques he was showing, it was simply the product of hard work, dedication and discipline.  He  concluded the New Delhi event with a full, non-stop presentation of the whole series of Niguma Yoga postures. Breathtaking and moving indeed. Like watching Niguma in action, spontaneous joy, devotion, laughter and tears bubbled up through the chakras at the sheer mastery and liberation of it all. 

May this post enable us all to accomplish the Niguma Yoga and go to the Pure Land of the Dakinis!

Music? Indian vibes Inner Sounds ; for the Dark Lady, Niguma: Grace Jones, Pull Up to the Bumper , Woman by Doja Cat; and for Kalu Rinpoche’s gravity-defying yoga presentation Levitating by Dua Lipa.

Written and compiled by Adele Tomlin, 9th October 2022. Copyright.

UPDATE FEBRUARY 2023: After writing this article , I decided to re-record my Bhutanese conference presentation, as the conference organisers have not published or released the video recording of my talk, despite publishing all the other three speakers on the same panel ‘Women in Vajrayana’. They have not provided me with any explanation as to why it has not been published either. Here is the new video recording: 

Additionally, in hindsight, (and no disrespect intended) after writing this article about Niguma, I personally no longer see much benefit or purpose in attending or going to such short, public courses on the Niguma Yogas, especially when there is no real support or encouragement provided to participants afterwards to continue the practice. A couple of days teaching is not sufficient, or safe at all.

Niguma herself did not teach these yogas to anyone and everyone public, and they were given to highly qualified and devoted students in a strict one-on-one environment.  They were also not taught for health reasons only either but for full enlightenment for the benefit of others.

In addition, the hostile reaction and verbal attacks that a couple of Kalu Rinpoche’s FB page admins/followers subjected me to online after I wrote this article, for merely writing that Niguma may have been the consort of Naropa (not the sister, as Kalu R teaches) as being ‘disrespectful’ to him (their words) was a cause for concern. They later deleted this article from their FB page too. This was then followed by more hostility from the same people at my correcting their incorrect rendering of the phonetics of the publicly available mantras in my article here. I realised that neither Kalu Rinpoche, nor these people following him and managing his FB pages, were interested in authentic scholarship, translation or my support/interest unless they strictly controlled it and it did not contradict anything ‘their lama’ said.

Later, I also discovered that Kalu RInpoche has an ex-wife (Mingyur Paldron, daughter of a well-known Chogling Rinpoche, and sister of Phagchog Rinpoche and Dilgo Khyentse yangsi, whom he married in 2012, see photos here) and a daughter, and was reliably informed that he actively chooses not to meet or have any significant contact with his daughter at all after he re-married in 2017.  If this is true, then it needs to be explained as it is important that a teacher practices what they preach, and their private life and conduct matches their public lectures/teachings. Love and compassion for all beings are essential qualities of a teacher after all, and the respect and treatment of women, mothers and children is very important too.

In addition, as I am a devoted follower of the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, for some unknown reason, Kalu Rinpoche rarely if ever mentions him, nor attends any of the Kagyu Monlams in Bodh Gaya, as he used to do with the young Jamgon Kongtrul 4th.  Another matter it is important to examine and understand the reasons for. I did ask Rinpoche some of these questions privately via whatsapp and FB but never received any response.

So, although I certainly enjoyed attending the courses in Bhutan and India (as you can read below), I no longer have any contact with Kalu Rinpoche or these people, and do not plan to attend any more Niguma Yoga courses conducted by him (or his associates) either. However, I wish them all well with their practice, activities and life. 

Spectacular view of the mountains from the Druk Air plane going from Paro, Bhutan to Delhi, India. Photo: Adele Tomlin (7th October 2022)


Niguma’s life-story and connections to Naropa, Marpa and Khyungpo Naljor
Lady Niguma

Currently, the only scholarly book on Niguma’s life in the English language is by lama-scholar, Sarah Harding’s  Niguma: Lady of Illusion. According to this recent article on Niguma:

“In the tenth and eleventh centuries, Niguma was one of the most important Buddhist teachers and yoginis in India. While there are only brief glimpses of her life from sources and texts, Sarah Harding’s Niguma: Lady of Illusion surveys what little literature there is surrounding “the heiress of unimaginable qualities.” Niguma developed esoteric instructions, treatises, and practice manuals. Within the collection of commentaries in the Tibetan Buddhist canon, called the Tengyur — part of the core of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition — seventeen texts are attributed to Niguma, though they were likely written by her student Khyungpo Naljor. 

Although it is difficult to identify the woman behind the mystery of Niguma’s dakini image, Tibetan master Tāranātha (1575-1634) (for more on his connection with Niguma’s yoga and transmissions, see below) wrote a short biography that helps shine light on her story: 

The dakini Niguma’s place of birth was the Kashmiri city called “Incomparable.” Her father was the brahmin Santivarman. Her mother was Shrimati. Her real name was Srijnana. She had previously gathered the accumulations for three incalculable eons. Thus, in this life, based on the teachings of the instructions by the adept Lavapa and some others, she manifested the signs of progress in the secret mantra Vajrayana, and attained the body of union. So her body became a rainbow-like form. She had the ability to really hear teachings from the great Vajradhara. Having become a great bodhisattva, her emanations pervaded everywhere and accomplished the welfare of beings.

Harding points out that Niguma’s life story consists of only six folios, while that of her student Khyungpo Naljor consists of forty-three. “

According to research by Harding, Niguma was known by several names both during her lifetime and afterwards. She was called Yogini Vimalashri, or Vajradhara Niguma, or Jñana (wisdom) Dakini Adorned with Bone (ornaments), or The Sister referring to her purported relationship to the great Buddhist teacher and adept Naropa. She was also sometimes called Nigupta, which is explained by the historical Buddhist scholar Tāranātha as follows: “The name Nigu accords with the Indian language, which is Nigupta, and is said to mean ‘truly secret’ or ‘truly hidden.’ In fact, it is the code-language of the dakinis of timeless awareness (Harding (2010): p7).

Although not much is known about Niguma’s life, her teachings had a significant impact on Buddhism. Harding (2010) says this:

“Indian Buddhist hagiographies are virtually unknown, whether of men or women. In Tibet, where hagiography became a prolific genre in its own right, those of women are extremely rare, for all the usual reasons. It is in the experience of those heroes who encountered the dakini that one finds the most information, and these experiences are invested with the value of spiritual meaning.”

Harding (2010: 15) concludes in her Introduction however that historically locating Niguma is not an easy task: 

“As much as I have searched for this dakini named Niguma and hoped to find her as an actual person and the subject of her own story, it may have been in vain. The more I dig, the more elusive she becomes. No doubt I am looking in all the wrong places, in old books and dusty corners. Still, I hope that this might be more than another case of the female as a vehicle of meaning for men, or that, as one post-Buddhist feminist puts it, “the place of the male as subject is unconsciously protected, whilst creating a notion of fluidity around the concept of the female body.”” I might have to admit, however, that she is primarily an important event in the lives of the men who saw her, rather than a historically locatable person. Those men, in any case, are really the only sources of information about her. Her own story, if it ever existed, is not to be found apart from the few details that I have explored here.”

According to the Shangpa Kagyu website:

“The wisdom Dakini Niguma was born in Peme in Kashmir, India. At that time her father was the Brahmin Shantasamnaha and her brother was the Great Sage Naropa. In Niguma’s past lives she practiced the path for three immeasurable eons. In this life she came to realization just by meeting a realized lama and receiving a few teachings. Her impure illusory body then arose as perfect body.

She dwelt in the three pure states and saw the face of Vajradhara himself. She received the four complete empowerments from the emanated Mandala of Tantric Mahayana. She developed omniscient wisdom in the sutras, tantras, oral instructions and teachings.

She saw all phenomena as they are and as they appear.She herself attained Cloud of Dharma, the tenth level of a bodhisattva. Niguma released even the subtlest veil to the knowable and became in essence the three bodies of enlightenment, indistinguishable from the Buddha. For her own benefit, she brought to completion abandonment and cultivation. For the benefit of others, she manifested the two form bodies and will continue to do so until Samsara is completely empty. Her foremost disciple was the Mahasiddha Khyungpo Naljor, who was born in Tibet and traveled to India to receive the full transmission from her. In granting him the empowerments, Niguma also confirmed that not only he, but also all his successors and followers would in the future have the good fortune to receive the blessing of Dakinis, encounter enlightened beings, and attain perfect Liberation. Niguma granted the four complete empowerments to the adept Khyungpo Naljor in the emanated Mandala and transmitted the most profound tantras, intimate advice, and oral and written teachings.

Niguma gave him the essential pith instructions that would enable worthy disciples to attain enlightenment in one lifetime. She promised Khyungpo Naljor that all disciples and Shangpa lineage holders would go to the Pure Land of the Dakini, because this lineage was special above all others. Niguma commanded that for seven generations, these ear-whispered teachings should be only passed on in a one to one guru to disciple transmission. From her lifetime to this present day, she continues to manifest whatever subtle or more material form is necessary to benefit beings over limitless time. In particular, through her activity and blessings, she gazes with impartial compassion on all the holders of the Shangpa Kagyu Lineage.”

When I asked Harding in an email yesterday about Niguma’s collected works, she replied that:

“Everything attributed to Niguma that is in the Peking Tengyur was translated in Niguma, Lady of Illusion. Some of those plus a few more that are in the Dam Ngag Dzo (gdams ngag mdzod) were translated in The Treasury of Precious Instructions, Volume 11: Shangpa Kagyu. There is no Niguma Collected Works (gsung ‘bum) per se. everything was reported and written by Khyungpo Naljor and translated by him and Lendarma Lodro, and some others centuries later from visions and dreams.”

It is also not clear whether Niguma was Naropa’s sister or consort, although Harding concludes that she was his sister. For an interview with Sarah Harding about Niguma and Naropa, see here.

Niguma and Marpa Lotsawa

It is said that the great meditation master and translator, Marpa Lotsawa received teachings from Niguma on at least two occasions. Marpa is said to have visited Niguma each time he traveled to India. Sources say that he sought out Niguma on the advice of Naropa. The story is told thus, in The Life of Marpa:

Naropa said, “On the shores of the poison lake in the South, in the charnel ground of Sosadvipa, is Jnanadakini Adorned with Bone Ornaments. Whoever encounters her is liberated. Go before her and request the Catuhpitha. You can also request of the kusulus there whatever teachings you desire.” Having arrived in the charnel grounds at Sosadvipa, Marpa met this yogini, who was living in a woven grass dome. offering her a mandala of gold, he supplicated her. She joyfully gave him the full abhiseka and oral instructions on Catuhpitha.

Another source says that Marpa’s first visit to Niguma was suggested by Naropa and that a later visit to Niguma was suggested by Shantibhadra. During the first meeting, Marpa received the Catuhpitha empowerment and instructions. During his second visit with Niguma, he received prophecy about meeting Naropa again, even though Naropa had already died.” (Harding (2010) 

Holder of the Niguma and Shangpa Kagyu lineage – Khyungpo Neljor
Khyungpo Neljor (1050-1127)
According to various sources, Niguma transmitted the yogas to Khyungpo Naljor (1050-1127) who became the founder of the Shangpa Kagyu lineage.  According to Sarah Harding (2010):

“Khyungpo Naljor traveled to Nepal and India seeking teachings and transmissions from a variety of teachers, including Niguma. Some of Niguma’s realization, and teaching style, can be seen in the description of Khyungpo Naljor meeting Niguma for the first time. While in India studying with various teachers, Khyungpo Naljor asked those he met if there were any teachers who had met the Buddha Vajradhara. He was told that Niguma had. So, he sought out Niguma in order to receive even higher levels of teaching from her. He found the dakini Niguma in the Sosa charnal ground of eastern India. It is traditional for a student to request teachings and transmissions three times before they are bestowed. When Khyungpo Naljor first requested transmissions, Niguma is said to have replied in the code-language of the dakinis: “I am a flesh-eating dakini!” One source says that she claimed to be the queen of the cannibals. Finally, when Khyungpo Naljor again asked for transmissions, Niguma demanded gold from him. He had been traveling with great amounts of gold in order to make offerings to any teacher he met. When he offered the gold to Niguma, she threw it up into the air and it scattered throughout the forest. Then,

. . . her retinue of ḍākinī formed a maṇḍala, bestowing on Khyungpo Naljor the initiation of the Illusory Body (sgyu lus) and Dream Yoga, two sections that make up the Nigu Chodruk (ni gu chos drug), or Six Yogas of Niguma. Niguma then transported him to a golden mountain summit where she bestowed the complete Six Yogas, the Dorje Tsikang (rdo rje tshig rkang) and the Gyuma Lamrim (sgyu ma lam rim).

Khyungpo Naljor then returned to Tibet, and established a monastery at Zhangzhong in the Shang region in western Tsang. This was his main seat, and he became known as the Lama of Shang. Although he was reputed to have founded hundreds of monasteries and had thousands of students, he passed the teachings of Niguma to only one of his students, Mochok Rinchen Tsondru. 

In his presentations, the 2nd Kalu Rinpoche repeated that Niguma had said the yogas should only be taught privately for seven generations, but that after that they could be taught publicly.  

Another source says that Marpa’s first visit to Niguma was suggested by Naropa and that a later visit to Niguma was suggested by Shantibhadra. During the first meeting, Marpa received the Catuhpitha empowerment and instructions. During his second visit with Niguma, he received prophecy about meeting Naropa again, even though Naropa had already died.

The Jonang lineage master holders of Niguma’s Yogic Techniques (Trulkhor), Kunga Drolchog and Jetsun Tāranātha’s commentary and root on the Niguma Yoga
Jetsun Tāranātha (1575-1635)

The Niguma yoga postures are not just physical exercises or skills but ancient profound inner yoga and tsa-lung internally working with the breath and channels in order to lead to full liberation.  The text produced and used for the event with Kalu Rinpoche in Delhi was in both Tibetan and English, and said to be taken from Tāranātha’s text re-written about the Niguma Yoga. When I asked Kalu Rinpoche about the text, he told me it is a secret one and the images are also from the Tibetan text. The preface was written by Rinpoche.

As many of you know, I am a major fan and researcher of Tāranātha , ever since I did my postgraduate degree on Tāranātha’s Commentary of the Heart Sutra (published as a book by the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, 2017). Also, see articles I have written on or about Tāranātha here. Jetsun Tāranātha was not only a Jonang lineage holder but also an accomplished Shangpa Kagyu lineage holder.

Harding (2010:25) explains that:

“In the Jonang tradition, Kunga Drolchok (I507-I566) is said to have received the long lineage many times and the direct lineage twice from Niguma in pure visions. Since he also received guidance more than a hundred times in twenty-five lineages, his very diverse collection is called Hundred Guides of Jonang and is supplemented by sources and histories. His immediate incarnation, the great Tāranātha (I575-I635), minces no words in describing his own mastery of these teachings. He made important contributions to the body of Shangpa literature that can be found among his Collected Works. These include both histories of the lineage and probably the most widely used practice guides.”

Tāranātha was born 500 years after Niguma and was of crucial importance in preserving and disseminating the lineage because although the teachings existed at that time, it is said that few understood them as they had become corrupted and confused. One of the main commentaries on the practice of the Yogas by Tāranātha is called the Trulkhor of Niguma (Body Machinations). It was through Tāranātha ‘s dedication and commitment to the teachings, that they were preserved. I asked Kalu Rinpoche how Tāranātha had received the transmission, he told me from the Shangpa Kagyu lineage and also from Niguma herself.

In the colophon to the Tāranātha text that the 2nd Kalu Rinpoche used for the New Delhi event, it explains that:

“These exercises were taught by the Wisdom Dakini, Niguma herself. These 18 exercises are essential instructions for the supreme accomplishment of the path of liberation. They utilise our bodies as a method to cause the ‘Prana Mind’ to enter the Central Channel and untie the knots of the channels.

Seeing that this practice was on the verge of disappearing, and to prevent its bright light from ever waning, and that its radiance can spread, this one who has developed a little devotion to the Glorious Shangpa Kagyu, named Tāranātha has composed this in a clear open way without hiding anything.” 

Harding (2010: 183-184) refers to the same words and text by Tāranātha saying that:

“The five brief personal or oral instructions (zhal gdams) that are attributed to Niguma in the Peking Tengyur may be the source of the yogic techniques that are used in conjunction with Niguma’s Six Dharmas, and particularly that of inner heat (gtum mo ). Niguma’s instructions here are particularly cryptic, and practitioners in this tradition have long relied on other sources for clarification…

Lineage holders of the past culled from the original sources a system of eighteen or twenty-five specific techniques (though, as noted, there are some issues with enumeration). Perhaps the most central such text is, again, by the great Taranatha: Nigu’s Yogic Exercises, Root and Commentary. “Root” in this case refers to a section quoted by Tāranātha that appears to be the jumbled remains of what was once Niguma’s outline of these practices. The commentary is Tāranātha’s own attempt to make sense of them.

Apart from Niguma’s text entitled Mahamudra as Spontaneous Liberation, the school’s teaching and practice is centered around the so-called Five Tantras (Mahakala-, Chakrasamvara-, Hevajra-, Mahamaya-, and Guhyasamaja Tantra), and the five golden dharmas of the Shangpas (Tshangs pa gser chos lnga); a group of teachings envisioned as forming a tree:

  1. root: Niguma’s Six Yogas, Nigu Chosdrug (rtsa ba ni gu chos drug)
  2. trunk: Amulet-box Precept of Mahamudra (phyag chen ga’u ma)
  3. branches: Three Ways of Carrying Realisation on the Path (yal kha lam khyer rnam gsum)
  4. flowers: Red and White Khechari (me tog mkha’ spyod dkar dmar)
  5. fruit: Deathlessness and Non-deviation (‘bras bu ‘chi med chugs med)

For a catalogue of texts I compiled from Tāranātha’s Collected Works see below.


A) HE 2nd Kalu Rinpoche (1990 – )

HE 2nd Kalu Rinpoche gave a presentation on Niguma yoga at the fourth Vajrayana conference in Bhutan. In March 1992, Rinpoche was recognised as the reincarnation of the former Kalu Rinpoche (1905 – 1989), by HE 12th Tai Situ Rinpoche, and HH 14th Dalai Lama.  

2nd Kalu Rinpoche with the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje in Tibet (1993)
2nd Kalu Rinpoche with the 12th Tai Situpa Rinpoche
2nd Kalu Rinpoche with HH 14th Dalai Lama

Biographical sources state that when Kalu Rinpoche was seven years old he journeyed with his parents to attend the annual ten-day Kagyu Monlam prayer gathering in Bodhgaya. Shortly after their return to Droden Kunchab Chodey Tashi Gomang Stupa in Salugara, Rinoche’s father passed away. After this sudden and sad event Rinpoche asked that he be allowed to go to Bokar Monastery to begin his formal studies. With this move he entered fully into his inheritance as the Second Kalu Rinpoche and received the complete empowerments of the Shangpa Kagyu lineage from the Venerable Bokar Rinpoche. In 2005 he entered into the traditional Shangpa Kagyu three-year retreat at Bokar Monastery which he completed in September of 2008.

2nd Kalu Rinpoche with HE Bokar Rinpoche

(Images and information from

In this Dharma Chats clip below, the 2nd Kalu Rinpoche talks about the unique aspects of practice in the Shangpa Kagyu tradition and how they relate and intersect with other schools of Tibetan Buddhism, the full interview can be listed to at

For a talk on Shangpa Kagyu by translator/scholar Lama Sarah Harding (one of the main biographers of Niguma), see this video here.

B) 2nd Kalu Rinpoche on Niguma Yoga at the Fourth Vajrayana conference, Bhutan (2022)

The 2nd Kalu Rinpoche gave a presentation of Niguma’s Yoga at the 4th Vajrayana conference in Bhutan. His talk about that can be seen here.

HE 2nd Kalu Rinpoche with a gau/amulet of the Buddha, from the Jowo temple, Tibet. Rinpoche blessed all the attendees of his presentation in Bhutan with the amulet.

On the first day of the 4th Vajrayana conference, Kalu Rinpoche presented the Niguma Yoga. In addition, fortunately for us all, Rinpoche gave two evening sessions on the 18 exercises of Niguma’s Yoga with practical demonstrations, which I also attended. Rinpoche explained how there was nothing magical about what he was doing but how hard work and discipline pay off, not divine intervention.

During this event, Rinpoche explained why he was teaching these poses publicly now. Here is an interview with him conducted during the conference event (cracked up at the opening question):

C) 2nd Kalu Rinpoche on Niguma Yoga in New Delhi, India (7th-9th October 2022) 

Following the Fourth Vajrayana conference, Kalu Rinpoche hosted and organised a three day teaching given on Niguma Yoga in New Delhi from 7th to 9th October,.

I went straight to the event after getting the 7am flight from Paro to Delhi and was very glad I did.  The venue for the event was at the stunning art gallery and space called 1AQ near Qutab Minar in South Delhi. Set in lovely gardens with art installations and a café, the presentation and teachings were given outside in the warm breezy climes of Delhi, although the last two days it was raining! So, we all moved inside the art gallery and fortunately for us, we got to be seated nearer to Rinpoche and felt the blissful blessings! Sitting in front of the huge, sublime Banyan tree in the gardens, was a big photo of HH 14th Dalai Lama laughing, and then Rinpoche himself.

A lovely and interesting book with diagrams of Tāranātha’s Niguma Yoga text (in Tibetan and English) was produced for the event, with a pad and badge too. Tasty, healthy lunch and refreshments were provided all free of charge. Incredible kindness and generosity indeed! 

Kalu Rinpoche carefully and clearly showed all the 18 postures in detail and personally helped adjust people physically, with the aid of some of his lama assistants. Spontaneous laughter bubbled up through the chakras on several occasions and the bliss of the central channel was ever present. I even had the extra blessing of sitting on Rinpoche’s worn yoga mat, on the first day, and felt the bliss encapsulate my whole body.

2nd Kalu Rinpoche with some of the course participants in Delhi, 7th October, I am the blissed-out blonde on the right 🙂 Photographer unknown.
First day of Kalu Rinpoche’s Niguma Yoga teaching in New Delhi, India (7th October 2022)
A photo posted online of Kalu Rinpoche speaking with some participants and surreptitiously caught me experiencing the blissful blessings on Kalu Rinpoche’s yoga mat 🙂


2nd Kalu Rinpoche with Tara Gandhi underneath the spectacular Banyan tree at 1 AQ gallery, New Delhi , India
Final day group photo with Rinpoche, participants and volunteers! Emaho!
Kalu Rinpoche demonstrating the ‘fall’ in Niguma’s Yogic Techniques, final day of the New Delhi teaching (9th October 2022). Photo: Ted Kunchok

Rinpoche finished the event inside the art gallery, with a full, non-stop presentation of the whole series of postures. Breathtaking and moving indeed. Like watching Niguma in action, I felt tears of spontaneous joy and laughter bubble up, at the sheer mastery and dedication of it all. 

  • Dung dkar blo bzang ‘phrin las. 2002.Dung dkar tshig mdzod chen mo. Beijing: Krung go’i bod rig pa dpe skrun khang, pp. 433-434.
  • Gtsug lag ‘phreng ba. 1986. Chos ‘byung mkhas pa’i dga’ ston. Beijing: Mi rigs dpe skrun khang, vol. 2, pp 546.4 ff.
  • Ni gu’i chos drug grub pa’i dgongs rgyan, jo nang brtse chen mtho slob rtag brtan lnga rig dar rgyas gling, TBRC W1KG5786. ‘Ornament of the Enlightened Intention of the Practice of the Six-yogas of Niguma’, an anthology of Shangpa instructions and poems on the Six Dharmas of Niguma by various Jonang authors (2010).
  • Sarah Harding Niguma, Lady of Illusion. Ithaca, New York, USA, 2011
  • Kalu Rinpoche. 1970. Shangs pa gser ‘phreng. Leh: Sonam W. Tashigangpa.
  • Matthew Kapstein, “The Shangs-pa bKa’-brgyud: an unknown school of Tibetan Buddhism”. In Studies in Honor of Hugh Richardson, ed. Michael Aris and Aung San Suu Kyi. Warminster: Aris and Phillips, 1980 pp. 138-144.
  • Kapstein, Matthew T. 2005. “Chronological Conundrums in the Life of Khyung po rnal ‘byor: Hagiography and Historical Time.” Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies, vol. 1, no. 1.
  • Roerich, George, trans. 1996.The Blue Annals. 2nd ed. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas, pp. 728-
  • Smith, Gene. 2001. “The Shangs pa Bka’ brgyud Tradition.” InAmong Tibetan Texts. Boston: Wisdom Publications, pp. 53-57..
  • Riggs,Nicole,  Like an Illusion: Lives of the Shangpa Kagyu Masters, Dharma Cloud Pr, 2001.
  • Sheehy, Michal, On the Shangpa and Jonangpa, Jonang Foundation website, 2009.
  • Timeless Rapture: Inspired Verse of the Shangpa Masters, compiled by Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, translated and introduced by Ngawang Zangpo, Snow Lion, 2003.
  • 2nd Dalai Lama. Tantric Yogas of Sister Niguma, Snow Lion Publications, 1st ed. U. edition (May 1985)

From the Collected Works of Tāranātha (Tagten Phuntshog Ling edition)[v]

  • A practice text on the 5 deity mandala of the Cakrasamvara according to the system of ni gu ma and the shangs pa bka’ brgyud pa. ni gu lugs kyi bde mchog lha lnga’i mngon rtogs. TBRC W22277. 11: 355 – 366.
  • An empowerment text on the abhiseka of the 5 deity mandala of cakrasamvara according to the system of ni gu ma and the shangs pa bka’ brgyud pa. ni gu lugs kyi bde mchog lha lnga’i dbang chog. TBRC W22277. 11: 367 – 397.
  • Instructions on the 6-fold teachings of ni gu ma according to the shangs pa bka’ brgyud pa. zab lam ni gu chos drug gi ‘khrid yig zab don thad mar brdal ba zhes bya ba bklags chog ma. TBRC W22277. 11: 399 – 506.  ·
  • Condensed instructions on the 6-fold teachings of ni gu ma. ni gu’i ‘khrid yig bsdus pa TBRC W22277. 11: 507 – 520.  ·
  • Supplement to the instructions on the 6-fold teachings of ni gu ma; zab lam ni gu chos drug gi gzhung ‘khrid ma mo’i lhan thabs kha skong. TBRC W22277. 11: 521 – 554. ·
  • Instructions on the yogic practices associated with the 6-fold teachings of ni gu ma.  ni gu’i ‘khrul ‘khor rtsa ‘grel. TBRC W22277. 11: 555 – 568.·
  • Sadhana of hayagriva according to the shangs pa bka’ brgyud. dpal khro bo’i rgyal po rta mchog rol pa’i las byang dregs pa kun ‘dul. TBRC W22277. 7: 889 – 912.       

From the Collected Works of Tāranātha (Peking edition)[vi]:·

  •  Compilation of essential biographical and historical works from the shangs pa bka’ brgyud tradition. dPal ldan shangs pa’i chos skor gyi ‘byung khungs yid kyi mun sel/ rgyal ba’i bstan pa rin po che spyi’i rnam bzhag las ‘phros pa’i dpal ldan shangs pa’i chos skor gyi ‘byung khungs yid kyi mun sel. TBRC W1PD45495. 34: 226 – 317.·
  • Collection of various instructions from the shangs pa bka’ rgyud lineage. Grub thob shangs pa bka’ rgyud kyi thabs lam gser gyi phung po. TBRC W1PD45495. 38: 279-303.·
  • Instructions from the indian yogini ni gu ma. phyag rgya chen po ga’u ma’i rang babs rnam gsum zhes bya ba’i khrid yig. TBRC W1PD45495. 39: 213-225.·
  • Instructions on the preliminary practices according to the lineage of the indian yogini ni gu ma, and a supplication to the Kālacakra  lineage.  ye shes mkha’ ‘gro ni gu’i dbang bka’ che chung rnams kyi sngon du ‘gro ba’i chos bcu dang lngar dbye ba’i khyad par. TBRC W1PD45495. 39: 226-235.·
  • Supplication to the lineage of the indian yogini ni gu ma. nai gus brgyud ‘debs a yig chos ‘byung ma. TBRC W1PD45495. 39: 236-241. ·
  • Work on the practice associated with the deities of the mandala of mayakaya-mahesvara, a teaching of the shangs pa bka’ brgyud. sGyu lus dbang mo che bskur tshul gyi lag len. TBRC W1PD45495. 39: 243-259.·
  • Essential instructions on the mahamudra of the indian yogini ni gu ma. gser chos phyi ma bzhi’i snying po. TBRC W1PD45495. 39: 260-262.
  • Instructions on practices associated with a dakini during the sampannakrama according to the shangs pa bka’ brgyud. mkha’ ‘gro rnam gsum gyi gdams pa. TBRC W1PD45495. 39: 308-317.
  • Advice and explanation on practices associated with a dakini during the sampannakrama according to the shangs pa bka’ brgyud. mkha’ ‘gro rnam gsum gyi zhal gdams gung bsgrigs te nyams su len bde ba. W1PD45495. 39: 318-324.
  • Song to Niguma. ni gu’i mgur in Ni gu’i chos drug grub pa’i dgongs rgyan, jo nang brtse chen mtho slob rtag brtan lnga rig dar rgyas gling, TBRC W1KG5786: 184.


8 thoughts on “THE YOGA OF LADY NIGUMA AS COMPILED BY JETSUN TARANATHA AND PRESENTED BY 2ND KALU RINPOCHE: Niguma Yoga presentations in Bhutan and India by 2nd Kalu Rinpoche; and textual and historical background

  1. Great to read this indepth article full of beautiful explanation of the Niguma yoga and the whole event experience, i was there part of this rare event , namaste from new delhi

  2. It is a great blessing that you share this article. Thank you for your generosity in propagating dharma rare article .May the vajrayana teaching continue to flow for the
    benefit of all sentient beings.

  3. Thank you. Could you please share the PDF text that Rinpoche used for teaching in Buthan and India?

    1. Hello, there was no pdf text provided of it at those events. Hard copy only. In any case, if there were a pdf text it is not mine to share or publish, so please contact Kalu Rinpoche (he seems active on social media) and request it from him personally.

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