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Vajrayogini Dakini (Tibetan Carving)

A dakini ( Sanskrit डाकिनी ḍākinī "sky dancer "; also Khandro , Tibetan མཁའ་ འགྲོ ། Wylie mkha " large " air "or" skywalker ") is a tantric spiritual being of ancient India and Iran , which according to mythology is the souls of the dead takes to heaven. This being continues to exist as a Buddhist figure in Tibetan Buddhism . The Dakinis are female beings with a very changeable, sometimes wild temperament, who act as inspiration for spiritual practice. They can appear as peaceful, wrathful and mixed peaceful-wrathful figures. They represent the encouragement and inspiration for the spiritual path and at the same time check the spiritual progress of Dharma practitioners. The Pure Land of the Dakinis is called Khechara.

The male counterpart is called Daka in Sanskrit and Pawo in Tibetan .

Pronunciation and meaning of khandro

It is usually pronounced kandro , but in the Tibetan liturgy it is pronounced kha'dro . The syllable mkha ' means heaven, but also ether or space. With the space is meant the Buddhist space of emptiness . The second syllable 'gro' means move or walk; where the meaning in the Buddhist context means going with complete understanding . An additional suffix ma indicates that it is feminine.


According to a legend , in earlier times the members of the Indian ruling caste and noble families brought their deceased far north to a Dakini shrine. This was located at the foot of the Himalayas . Other legends from Tibet refer to a myth after the Dakinis first appeared in distant and deserted areas.

There are also suspicions, however, after the Dakinis and Dakas in earlier times shamans were and shamans who, with the help of ecstatic dances entranced and could take in this way to travel to other worlds. The term “heaven dancer” may also refer to these journeys through heaven or into the heavenly spheres undertaken during the dance.


"Vajravarahi Mandala" (Tibet, 19th century)

Dakinis are traditionally not tied to time, they are both incorporeal and very long-lived, are non-human beings, and have existed with spiritual energy from the beginning. In " New Age " belief systems, they are often equated with angels . However, this assumption is in contradiction to the Judeo-Christian faith, since the Dakinis, unlike angels, are not “servants of God ”. Nevertheless, despite the differences, the angels could be viewed as the western equivalent of the Dakinis. The behavior of the Dakinis is always revealing and mysterious and they react to the status of the spiritual energy of the respective individuals. Their usual place of residence is the spiritual form of love - this could also be taken as an explanation for why dakinis (and angels) are believed to live in heavenly spheres . Dakinis also manifest in human form, they can supposedly appear in any form.

In Tibetan Buddhism and other schools that are closely related to Yogacara and Vajrayana , a dakini is viewed as a supernatural being or heavenly but unredeemed deity ( Deva ) who examines a practitioner's abilities and intentions. Many stories about the Mahasiddhas in Tibet include episodes in which a Dakini appears to test a budding Mahasiddha.

If the test of a dakini is passed, the practitioner is mostly recognized as a mahasiddha and ascends to the paradise of the dakinis, a place of bliss and enlightenment. Although Dakinis are often portrayed naked and beautiful, they are not actually sexual symbols, but symbols of nature and truth. There are cases when a dakini also tests control over a practitioner's sexual desire, but they are free from any passions themselves.

Tantric association

In the tantric association, a "human dakini" can be included as a practice companion. It is mostly practiced in Tantra Yoga and at the same time represents the embodiment of a real Dakini, since in these practices the specific tantric pure view of the practitioner is of great importance. The practice partners increase the intensity of the energies flowing in the physical energy channels through the sexual union. Dakas and Dakinis help to concentrate on the spiritual joy experiences and at the same time on working with the energies awakened by the union. Sexual pleasure experiences are integrated into the tantric path. These practices are therefore always to be seen in connection with the tantric path of a Vajrayana practitioner and are not an end in themselves that is merely aimed at sexual enjoyment. Empowerment and oral instruction on these practices from a skilled tantric master are essential, as working with the physical energies awakened by tantric practice can be dangerous.

The three classes of Dakinis

According to their level of spiritual development, three different classes of dakinis can be distinguished:

  1. The lowest class of Dakinis is not yet enlightened and is either hostile or friendly towards people.
  2. The middle class of the Dakinis is associated with 24 holy places in India and Tibet and can only be perceived by spiritually developed people. The 24 places are also related to aspects of the subtle body and are visualized in certain tantric meditations.
  3. The highest class of Dakinis are spontaneously enlightened beings and emanations of the Dharmakaya .

The Dakini in the inner experience

One can understand the Dakinis not only as mythological beings, but also as symbols for the inner, psychological processes of the individual. Thus they symbolize all inspirations that stimulate further progress on the path of the Buddha- Dharma . These are not always only benevolent, they can also suddenly and in a frightening way turn the respective worldview upside down and smash the bounding fetters and walls. How these "blows of liberation" are then felt depends on the respective willingness to accept and integrate them. Since the Dakinis are free from any convention, they are not afraid to tread even the most unusual ways to shake up and help. Certain tantric meditations ( sadhanas ) connect the practitioners with the inspiring energies of the respective Dakini through visualization.

The Dakini in external experience

In order to experience a Dakini, one does not have to look for the appearance of these supersensible beings. It can also simply mean to find a person, regardless of gender, who supports us in everyday life like a Dakini on our spiritual path and guides us.

Well-known Dakinis

Sambhogakaya -Dakinis

  • Vajrayogini - (Tib .: Dorje Khandro), this Dakini, originally venerated in the Sakya School, later also in other schools of Tibetan Buddhism, is depicted in its most famous form with red skin, as attributes she wears a Vajra cleaver and a blood-filled skull bowl . On her head she wears a crown of skull and holds a Kathvanga crowned with a vajra .
  • Vajravarahi - (Tib .: Dorje Phagmo), a special form of the Vajrayogini, which is important in the Kagyü school, is usually represented like Vajrayogini with red skin and the same attributes. But she wears the head of a sow on her crown adorned with skulls as a symbol for overcoming the delusion. Thus it stands for the all-conquering wisdom.
  • Simhamukha - (Sanskrit: lion face), (Tib .: seng ge'i gdong can ma ) The Dakini manifestation of Padmasambhava , equipped with a lion's head, is of great importance in the Terma tradition of the Nyingma school.
  • Troma Nakmo - the black Dakini has great importance in the Chöd tradition, based on Machik Labdrön.
  • Salgye Du Dalma - (Tib .: who works beyond conceptual thinking) - this Dakini, which comes from the mother tantra of the Tibetan Bon , is depicted holding a white skin, a knife, a skull and a Kathvanga. She is of great importance as the guardian of sleep during the exercises for so-called sleep and dream yoga .

The following five Dakinis form a special group within the framework of Tibetan Buddhism and are related to the five original wisdoms, which are mostly represented by the five transcendent Buddhas ( Adibuddhas ). They often appear in a mandala in iconography . They are each awarded special skills.

  • Buddha-Dakini - bluish skin color. It gives longevity and enables rebirth in Dakini paradise.
  • Vajra Dakini - (Diamond Dakini) red skin tone. It prevents the fall into the lower levels of existence.
  • Ratna-Dakini - (Jewels Dakini) skin of gold. It gives worldly prosperity and prevents rebirth in the hell world.
  • Padma-Dakini - (Lotus Dakini) pink skin. It can prevent rebirth in lower planes.
  • Karma-Dakini - radiant white skin color. It gives worldly success and enables rebirth in the human realm.

Nirmanakaya- Dakinis

  • Princess Mandarava of Zahor was the main Indian consort of Padmasambhava. Together they realized the siddhi of immortality.
  • Yeshe Tsogyal (8th / 9th century) (Tib. Queen of the Lake of Wisdom ) - The Tibetan main student of Padmasambhava, was instrumental in the dissemination of Padmasambhava's Terma texts in Tibet.
  • Niguma (8th / 9th century), companion or relative of Naropa , important master for the development of the Shangpa- Kagyu school.
  • Machig Labdrön (11th century) (Tib. Licht von Lab (province) ) - Developed perfect wisdom by reading Prajnaparamita texts for business. She later developed a new form of chöd , the practice of cutting off the ego, which became widespread.
  • Machik Ongyo, (12th century), this tantric master continued the Rechungpa lineage .
  • Jomo Menmo, (13th century) is considered to be the incarnation of the Dakini Yeshe Tsogyal .

Nirmanakaya Dakinis are not only recognized as embodiments of historical personalities, masters who are considered Dakini embodiments also live today, including

  • Khandro Rinpoche, a master of the Kagyu school
  • Jetsun Kushog Chimey Luding Dölkar, a master of the Sakya school, who is regarded as the embodiment of Prajnaparamitas , Taras and Vajrayogini .
  • Mayum Tsering Wangmo, the mother of Sogyal Rinpoche and Dzogchen Rinpoche : She is considered a great Dakini and the charisma of Ushnishavijaya.


Dakini early nineteenth century in Tibet.

Iconographic equivalents tend to depict the Dakini as a young and naked figure in a dancing pose, often holding a skull bowl filled with menstrual blood or the elixir of life in one hand while wielding a cleaver ( kartrika ) in the other. The hourglass drum ( damaru ) and the thunderbolt (Tibetan: rod-rje, Sanskrit: vajra ) also belong to the attributes . Sometimes she wears a chain made of human skulls around her neck, while a trident ( trishula ) leans on her shoulder. Usually their hair is long and shaggy and hangs over their backs. Her face has an angry expression and she stamps her feet on a lying body, representing the conquering of greed, hatred and delusion. With the third eye on her forehead, she is able to see higher truths. Often, as a sign of their great energy, flames blaze around their bodies. Practitioners often claim to hear the clatter of their bone jewelry when the dakinis perform their ecstatic dances. Then these unrestrained females appear to celebrate complete freedom from all conditions.


  • Machig Labdrön (Ma-gcig Lab-sgron), Giacomella Orofino (Hrsg.): Chants of wisdom . Garuda Verlag, Dietikon 1998, ISBN 3-906139-10-7
  • Miranda Shaw: Enlightenment Through Ecstasy - Women in Tantric Buddhism . Krüger Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1997, ISBN 3-8105-1878-6
  • Vessantara: Flames of Transformation. An introduction to the tantric world of images . Do Evolution, Essen 2003, ISBN 3-929447-17-7
  • Keith Dowman: Sky Dancer - The Secret Life and Songs of the Lady Yeshe Tsogyel . Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca NY 1996, ISBN 1-55939-065-4
  • Tsultrim Allione: Tibet's wise women - testimonies of female awakening . Theseus Verlag, Berlin 2001, ISBN 3-89620-162-X
  • Geshe Kelsang Gyatso: Guide to Dakini Land: The Supreme Yoga Tantra Practice of Buddha Vajrayogini /. [Translator: Gabriela Keller], Zurich; Berlin: Tharpa-Verl., 2005, (Original title: Guide to Dakini land), ISBN 3-908543-23-1
  • Angelika Prenzel (Ed.): Dakinis: Life stories of female Buddhas , Buddhist Verlag, 2007, ISBN 978-3-937160-13-9

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Cornelia Morper: The Buddhist deity "Marishi-sonten" - A contribution to the interpretation of Siebold's 'Nippon'. In: Tempora mutantur et nos? Festschrift for Walter M. Brod on his 95th birthday. With contributions from friends, companions and contemporaries. Edited by Andreas Mettenleiter , Akamedon, Pfaffenhofen 2007 (= From Würzburg's City and University History , 2), ISBN 3-940072-01-X , pp. 141–145, here: pp. 142 f.
  2. Brief information about Her Eminence Jetsun Kushok Chimey Luding at the bottom of the page
  3. Information from Sakyadhita Europe ( Memento of the original from November 21, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.sakyadhita-europe.org