The first Tibetan ever to attain complete enlightenment was in all probability the woman Yeshe Tsogyal, closest disciple of Padmasambhava, the master who introduced the Buddhist teachings to Tibet in the eighth century. The first three books below are not just biographies—and very different from each other both in emphasis as well as some of the events accounted for—but inspiring examples of how Buddha’s teaching may be practiced. Although these texts are of great antiquity, they nevertheless expresses a tradition that is still alive today and is an archetypal description of the teacher-disciple relationship. Yeshe Tsogyal follows the complete Buddhist path, including the Dzogchen teachings, and herself becomes a Guru of great power and wisdom. Passages of profound teachings are offset by episodes of exploit and adventure, spiritual endeavor, court intrigue, and personal encounter. Hers is a dramatic story, full of beauty and song, and offers an intimate glimpse of Tsogyal’s feelings, aspirations, hardships, and triumphs.
By Yeshe Tsogyal, Namkhai Nyingpo, and Gyalwa Changchub
Foreword by Jigme Khyentse Rinpoche
Translated by The Padmakara Translation Group
Lady of the Lotus-Born is a terma, or Dharma Treasure, written and concealed in the eighth century for future generations by the accomplished masters Namkhai Nyingpo and Gyalwa Changchub, the disciples of Padmasambhava and Yeshe Tsogyal. The text was discovered nearly a thousand years later in the seventeenth century by the Tertön (Dharma Treasure finder) Taksham Samten Lingpa, who, by interpreting the symbolic script of the dakinis (reproduced at the beginning of each chapter), revealed the text in its entirety as it has been handed down to us.
The many layers of the heroic life of Yeshé Tsogyal, Tibet’s best-known dakini and female master, are revealed in this inspiring work. Translated here for the first time, this terma, or “hidden treasure,” presents an outer narrative of her birth, family, and struggles in a traditional male-dominated society; an inner account of her meetings with the great master Padmasambhava; and a secret chronicle of her retreat at Chimpu and her visionary journey to Oddiyana. This accomplished translation is enriched by the refreshing insights of six contemporary scholars and teachers of Tibetan Buddhism, making this invaluable guide to the life of Yeshé Tsogyal a treasure for practitioners, scholars, and anyone intent on the possibility of awakening.
You can read a piece from the book Judith Simmer-Brown wrote here.
By Taksham Nuden Dorje, translated by Keith Dowman
Foreword by Thinley Norbu Rinpoche
Another terma text is this extraordinary work, discovered by Taksham Nuden Dorje n the seventeenth century.
An Thinley Norbu Rinpoche says in the foreword,
Those who read the biography of the supreme tantric master, Padma Sambhava, and his Consort, Yeshe Tsogyal, have the chance to identify with them, and those who cultivate the inner wisdom Dakini:, the root Dakini:, progress towards becoming the supreme Sky Dancer, incomprehensible feminine wisdom,
the lover without motive.
In the dharmakaya's stainless space Yeshe Tsogyel is Kuntuzangmo, infinite and noble femininity itself. These names and qualities are no more than
indications of the nature of the dharmakaya which can never be contained in, or identified by, concepts. Sambhogakaya is the
glowing awareness of the dharmakaya, where the Five Buddhas and their Consorts appear as unobstructed luminous space-form. As the feminine aspect in the sambhogakaya, Yeshe Tsogyal is the Five Wisdom-Consorts.
Books Related to Khandro Yeshe Tsogyal
by Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche
Translated and introduced by David Christiansen
Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche was one of the most important teachers of the 20th century - an important teacher to some of the best living teachers. In the pages of this book, Yeshe Tsogyal appears throughout. Here is one section:
At present we are practicing the meditation deity in the form of the dakini, from the terma treasure teachings of the second Dudjom Rinpoche, Jigdral Yeshe Dorje (1904–87). It is a teaching that has been revealed specifically for the benefit of beings in this dark age. This practice stems from the compassion of the three jewels and the blessings and aspirations of the buddhas and is an actual method to accomplish Guru Padmasambhava’s consort Yeshe Tsogyal. The dakini Yeshe Tsogyal is the nirmanakaya emanation of dharmadhatu Samantabhadri, the consort of the dharmakaya buddha Samantabhadra, who is the female aspect of the ultimate deity (don gyi lha).
In order to help us realize this state for ourselves, through the power, blessings, and aspirations of Buddha Samantabhadra and consort, the dakini Yeshe Tsogyal arises as their actual manifestation and is born into this world. Yeshe Tsogyal was blessed and taught by Guru Padmasambhava and as part of her various enlightened activities, she wrote down and transmitted a method to follow her and accomplish the essence of her awareness wisdom (rig pa’i ye shes kyi ngo bo). Thus we have the practice of Yeshe Tsogyal as a yidam or meditation deity.
To call Cascading Waterfall a book on the preliminary practices is a bit like calling the Mt. Everest a hill. Coming from the vast wisdom mind of Longchenpa's emanation in our age, it is an indespensible guide to the path. And Yeshe Tsogyal, who Rinpoche describes as Kuntuzangmo appearing in form, appears throughout.
Rinpoche includes a translation of Mipham Rinpoche's prayer to Yeshe Tsogyal, The Longing Melody of Faith.
And the second part of the book is a commentary on the meaning of “The Continuously Blossoming Rosary of the Lotus Assembly Palace” called The Light Rays of the Youthful Sun and Rinpoche offers us many teachings on the Great Exaltation Queen Yeshe Tsogyal who features in the prayer.
Inseparable across Lifetimes: The Lives and Love Letters of the Tibetan Visionaries Namtrul Rinpoche and Khandro Tāre Lhamo
By Namtrul Jigme Phuntsok and Khandro Tare Lhamo
Introduced and translated by Holly Gayley
Namtrul Jigme Phuntsok and Khandro Tare Lhamo were an extraordinary 20th century terton visionaries as the translations of love letters. Tare Lhamo is widely considered an emanation of Yeshe Tsogyal and this connection appears throughout Gayley's introduction as well as the letters themselves.
The letters are poetic, affectionate, and prophetic, articulating a hopeful vision of renewal that drew on their past lives together and led to their twenty-year partnership. This couple played a significant role in restoring Buddhism in the region of Golok once China’s revolutionary fervor gave way to reform.
By Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal
This biography of Dudjom Rinpoche references Yeshe Tsogyal throughout. It includes the Seventh Heap of Lightbeams which a brief explanation of Kyabje Rinpoche’s enthronement as a great tertön and regent of Guru Padmasambhava and of how Guru Rinpoche and wisdom dakini Yeshe Tsogyal entrusted him with terma. Kenpo Tsewang also shares how in some terms teachings terma teachings it says that Guru Padmasambhava and Yeshe Tsogyal reincarnated together in the form of His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche, so that he was their actual presence—only the body was different.
This is a classic of scholarship on the Dakini principle from the point of view of a practitioner. Yeshe Togyal is discussed and referenced throughout. Here is a sample:
As for her inner dimension, Yeshe Tsogyal was remarkable because she was not merely a mortal; in her dynamic nature she was a tantric Buddhist meditational deity. She is called Sarasvati (Yangchenma), the great female bodhisattva of learning, culture, and music, the peaceful consort of Manjusri, who carries a lute that serves as her symbol. Sarasvati is also called Vakisvari, (Ngawang Lhamo) or ‘‘lady of speech’’ for her connection with seed syllables, music, utterance, and poetry. She is the dakini of the mirrorlike wisdom, and the ‘‘white-cloaked lady’’ (Ko Karmo) who is dakini of inner heat in the yogic practice of tummo. It is said that Yeshe Tsogyal was Sarasvati in her previous life.
Yeshe Tsogyal in her visionary dimension was the radiant White Tara (Drolma Karmo) the savior who, with her compassionate seven eyes, attends to the health and welfare of beings in all quarters. In another manifestation, she was Vajrayogini or Vajravarahi, who are two aspects of the most important dakini in the Tibetan tantric system. Vajrayogini is a semiwrathful deity, depicted as red and dancing, wearing bone ornaments; she is the most expressive of the qualities of wakefulness, the personification
of the widsom-mind itself. In her alternate identity as Vajravarahi she is the ‘‘Vajra Sow,’’ the manifestation of the nonconceptual quality of the mind, who severs thought with her hooked knife