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Nāroḍākinī (Sanskrit, Standard Tibetan: Naro Khachö Wylie: nā ro mkha' spyod[1]) is a deity in Vajrayana Buddhism[2] similar to Vajrayogini[3][4] (red, striding, bearing a vajra) who no longer appears in the active pantheon despite her importance in late Indian Buddhism.

In the Sādhanamālā, she is said to be a transformation or emanation of Vajrayogini.[5] Nārodākinī is readily recognizable by her lunging posture and kapala. Her head is uptilted, poised to imbibe the blood that overflows her kapala, and her right hand brandishes a curved kartika. Nārodākinī's physical attributes are interpreted with reference to long-standing Buddhist principles as well as distinctively tantric concepts. For example, her freely flowing hair is, in the Indic setting, a mark of a yogic practitioner, especially one who cultivates tummo,[6] whereas Buddhist exegetes interpret the unbound tresses as a sign that her mind, free from grasping, is a flowing stream of nonconceptuality.[7][8][9][10] Her crown of five skulls represents her transformation of the five aspects of selfhood into the five transcendental insights of a Buddha. Her garland of fifty severed heads symbolizes her purification of the fifty primary units of language and thought. Her bone ornaments represent five of the six perfections of a bodhisattva. Her body itself represents the sixth perfection, wisdom, which all female deities implicitly personify.

Nārodākinī carries a mystical khaṭvāṅga[11][12]), supported by her left arm or balanced across her left shoulder. The staff indicates that she is not celibate and has integrated[13] eroticism into her spiritual path, mastering the art of transmuting pleasure into transcendent bliss.[14]

She manifested herself in an initiatory vision to the great Indian mahasiddha and teacher Naropa, (956-1040) who received teachings from her. She is patroness of the Sakya school and an acolyte of Vajravārāhī. She is a sarvabuddhaḍākinī, having access to all the Buddhas and thus is more powerful. This form of Vajrayogini is the preeminent form of yogini in the Cakrasaṃvara and Vajravārāhī tantras.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ A Saint in Seattle: The Life of the Tibetan Mystic Dezhung Rinpoche by David P. Jackson (2004)
  2. ^ The World of Tibetan Buddhism: An Overview of Its Philosophy and Practice by Dalai Lama (1995) p.113
  3. ^ Vajrayogini: Her Visualizations, Rituals, and Forms (Studies in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism) by Elizabeth English (2002)
  4. ^ Guide to Dakini Land: The Highest Yoga Tantra Practice of Buddha Vajrayogini by Kelsang Gyatso (1996)
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ The Encyclopedia of Tibetan Symbols and Motifs by Robert Beer (1999) p.23
  7. ^ Buddhist Wisdom: The Diamond Sutra and The Heart Sutra by Edward Conze, John F. Thornton, Susan Varenne, and Judith Simmer-Brown (2001)
  8. ^ Mahamudra: The Moonlight -- Quintessence of Mind and Meditation by Dakpo Tashi Namgyal, The Dalai Lama, and Lobsang P. Lhalungpa (2006) p.88
  9. ^ Mind at Ease: Self-Liberation through Mahamudra Meditation by Traleg Kyabgon (2004) p.18
  10. ^ Essence of Buddhism (Shambhala Dragon Editions) by Traleg Kyabgon (2001) p.146
  11. ^ The Encyclopedia of Tibetan Symbols and Motifs by Robert Beer (1999) p.110
  12. ^ The Tibetan Book of the Dead (Mystical Classics of the World) by Robert Thurman and Huston Smith (1993) p.163
  13. ^ Dancing in the Flames by Marion Woodman (1997) p.43
  14. ^ Introduction to Tantra : The Transformation of Desire by Lama Yeshe, Jonathan Landaw, and Philip Glass (2001)
  15. ^ Sarvabuddhadakini (Naro Dakini): The First Feminist