Yeshe Tsogyal is a literary character of terma, an emanation of Vajrayogini that is said to appear to tertons in visionary encounters and a focus of Tibetan Buddhist practice. In terma she is described as a consort of Padmasambhava.
Both the Nyingma and Karma Kagyu schools of Tibetan Buddhism recognize Yeshe Tsogyal as a female Buddha. The translators of Lady of the Lotus-Born, the namthar or spiritual biography that Yeshe Tsogyal left as a terma, observe:
As Dodrup Tenpai Nyima makes clear, beings able to reveal Termas must have at least the realization of the Perfection Stage practices. On the other hand, the one who originates the Treasures must have the supreme attainment of Buddhahood. Lady of the Lotus-Born is thus a testimony of Yeshe Tsogyal's enlightenment.
- From the mouth of a lotus was born
- The swift goddess, heroic liberator
- Who went forth in human form
- Amid the snowy mountains of Tibet.
According to legend, Yeshe Tsogyal was born in the same manner as the Buddha, a mantra sounding as her mother gave birth painlessly. She is considered a reincarnation of the Buddha's own mother, Maya. Her name, "Wisdom Lake Queen" (Wylie: ye shes mtsho rgyal), derives from her birth causing a nearby lake to double in size.
Padmasambhava advised Yeshe Tsogyal that far from being a hindrance to enlightenment, as was generally accepted, a woman's body is an asset: "The basis for realizing enlightenment is a human body. Male or female, there is no great difference. But if she develops the mind bent on enlightenment the woman’s body is better" (quoted by Stevens, 1990, p. 71).
After succeeding in a variety of feats, including beheading a tiger, she gains access to an elaborate palace where she receives esoteric initiations from several vidyādharas and buddhas. She returns to Chingpu and after a year is robbed by seven bandits whom she then converts to Buddhist practice. She proceeds with the bandits on a magic carpet to the place Oḍḍiyāna where they all receive peaceful and wrathful deity practice (zhitro) initiations from a vidyādhara, who gives her the secret name Kharchen Za and cavorts in bliss with her.
Among lay Tibetans she is seen as a Buddha who takes the form of an ordinary woman so as to be accessible to the average person, "who, for the time being, do not see her Vajravarahi form as a fully perfected deity." In fact,
- She displays whatever emanation form will tame
- Any given [person], just as, for example, the full moon in the sky
- Emerges as [various] reflections in different water vessels.
Yeshe Tsogyal is also considered a manifestation of Sarasvati and sometimes identified with the Bodhisattva Tara. In the '“Life of Yeshe Tsogyel,” Padma Sambhava predicted that Yeshe Tsogyel would be reborn as Machig Lapdron; her consort, Atsara Sale, would become Topabhadra, Machig’s husband; her assistant and Padma Sambhava’s secondary consort, Tashi Khyidren, would be reborn as Machig’s only daughter, and so on. All of the important figures in Tsogyel’s life were to be reborn in the life of Machig Lapdron, including Padma Sambhava himself, who would become Phadampa Sangye.
- Changchub, Gyalwa; Namkhai Nyingpo (2002). Padmakara Translation Group, ed. Lady of the Lotus-Born: The Life and Enlightenment of Yeshe Tsogyal. Shambhala Publications, Inc. p. xxxvii. ISBN 1-57062-544-1.
- (Jigme Lingpa quoted by Dro-drup-chen III in Gantok (1975), cited in Klein)
- (Klein 1995, p.15-17)
- Gyatso, Janet (2006). A Partial Genealogy of the Lifestory of Yeshé Tsogyel. Harvard University. JIATS, no. 2 (August 2006), THDL #T2719, 27 pp. Source:  (accessed: November 16, 2007)
- (Ngawang Denzin Dorje (1972), cited in Klein)
- 'Guru Rinpoche' and 'Yeshe Tsogyal' in: Forbes, Andrew ; Henley, David (2013). The Illustrated Tibetan Book of the Dead. Chiang Mai: Cognoscenti Books. B00BCRLONM
- some information on Atsara Sahle from Nepal
- citation from Women of Wisdom, Extract :MACHIG LAPDRON by Tsültrim Allione
- Klein, Anne Carolyn (1995). Meeting the Great Bliss Queen: Buddhists, Feminists, and the Art of the Self. Beacon Press: Boston. ISBN 0-8070-7306-7.
- Gyatso, Janet (2006). A Partial Genealogy of the Lifestory of Yeshé Tsogyal. Harvard University. JIATS, no. 2 (August 2006), THDL #T2719, 27 pp. Source:  (accessed: November 16, 2007)
- Dowman, Keith. (1984). Sky Dancer: The Secret Life and Songs of the Lady Yeshe Tsogyel. Routledge & Kegan Paul, Boston, Mass. ISBN 0-7100-9576-7.
- Gyalwa Changchub, and Namkhai Nyingpo. (1999) Lady of the Lotus-born: The Life and Enlightenment of Yeshe Tsogyal. Translated by the Padmakara Translation Group. Shambhala, Boston & London. ISBN 1-57062-384-8.
- Allione, Tsültrim. (2000) Women of Wisdom, Publisher : Snow Lion Publications, ISBN 1-55939-141-3, EAN 9781559391412
- Vajra Love—Essays from the Sites of Keith Dowman