YESHE TSOGYEL – the woman who attained the condition of Buddha

Yeshe Tsogyel, also known in the Nyingma tradition as the Great Queen of Ecstasy, was a legendary woman considered a mythical goddess or dakini of enlightenment within Tibetan Buddhism. She lived, according to all the data we have, between 757 and 817 AD, and is identified with the spiritual consort of the great tantric master Padmashambhava (“Born-of-Lotus”), invited to Tibet by the emperor of that country, Trisong Detsen.

Although she was Padmashambhava’s consort, Yeshe Tsogyel was herself a tantric master. Both Tibetan schools of Buddhism, Nyingma and Kagyu karma, recognize Yeshe as the master who attained Buddhahood in that life. The translators of the poem “The Lady Born of Lotus” consider this text, dedicated to Yeshe Tsogyel, to be proof of her enlightenment:

“From the center of a lotus flower was born
The gentle goddess, the liberating heroine
Who proceeded in human form
Through the snowy mountains of Tibet.”

Tibetans consider it a representation of the Buddha, who assumed an ordinary feminine form in order to become accessible to any common man, “who does not yet see Yeshe Tsogyel in the appearance of Vajravarahi, a perfect deity”. Actually

“It assumes whatever form of emanation is necessary
For any being (person), as, for example, the full moon in the sky
It shows itself in the form of different reflections in vessels filled with water.”

According to legend, Yeshe Tsogyel was born in the same way as Buddha; At her birth, a Sanskrit mantra was heard as her mother delivered her painlessly; the little girl was considered a reincarnation of the Buddha’s mother herself, Maya Devi. Her name (“Queen (rgyal mo) of Primordial (Ye) Wisdom (shes), of Lake (tso)”) derives from the fact that, at the birth of the little girl, the lake in the immediate vicinity of their dwelling doubled in size.

In his early youth, Yeshe Tsogyel is said to have prayed for the happiness of all sentient beings. At the age of 16, she was initiated into Buddhist doctrine by guru Padmashambhava. Although she was already among the queen consorts of Trisong Detsen, Emperor of Tibet, Yeshe was offered to Padmashambhava and became his chief spiritual consort.
After many years of unswerving practice, Yeshe reached the enlightening level of her master and consort. She became the main transmitter of his teachings, conceiving most of the verses in the texts describing his doctrine.

As the wife of Trisong Detsen and mystical consort of Padmashambhava, offered to him by the emperor at the master’s request, Yeshe can consider that Yeshe was contemporary with the phenomenon of the eclipse of the local Tibetan religion of Bon by Buddhism. Yeshe Tsogyel was also considered a manifestation of the goddess Sarasvati, and was sometimes identified with Boddhisattva Tara.

According to the Karmapa lineage, Yeshe Tsogyel attained the status of Buddha in that life. It is said that about 30 years before leaving this world, she emerged from a retreat meditation (dated approximately 796-805) with “the state of a fully enlightened Buddha.” Padmashambhava is said to have told him, “The basis of the attainment of enlightenment is the physical body. Male or female, this is of too much importance. If she develops her mind, reaching the realm of enlightenment, a woman’s body is more suitable.”

Recommended texts:

Yeshe Tsogyel, Princess of Karchen (Yeshe Tsogyel, Princess of Karchen)
Sky Dancer: The Secret Life and Songs of the Lady Yeshe Tsogyel” by Keith Dowman

An article by psych. Aida Surubaru
Abheda Yoga Academy
12-05-2010, Bucharest

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