A Fresh Perspective on Yeshe Tsogyal

9781611804348_1Yeshe Tsogyal is the foremost Tibetan woman associated with the advent of Buddhism in Tibet. This was a time of imperial power, when Tibet controlled vast tracts of Central Asia between the seventh and ninth centuries. A princess-turned-yogini in the lore of that period, Yeshe Tsogyal is remembered as the disciple and consort to the great Indian tantric master, Padmasambhava, and later a teacher in her own right. She has remained central to Tibetan art and ritual and continues to be a living presence for Tibetans amid pilgrimage sites associated with her, in the visions of realized masters, and through her emanations in each generation.

Until now, English readers have only had access to one version of Yeshe Tsogyal’s life story, revealed by Taksham Nuden Dorje in the seventeenth century. This August, a new translation came out from Shambhala Publications, translated by Chonyi Drolma, of a lesser known version of her life revealed by the fourteenth-century master, Drime Kunga.  The Life and Visions of Yeshe Tsogyal: The Autobiography of the Great Wisdom Queen also contains photographs of sites associated with Yeshe Tsogyal in central Tibet and a series of introductory essays:

  • “Inspirations from Yeshe Tsogyal’s Namthar” by Khandro Trinlay Chodron
  • “Our Incalcuable Debt to Yeshe Tsogyal” by Anam Thubten Rinpoche
  • “Yeshe Tsogyal, the Guiding Light” by Chagdud Khadro
  • “Mother of the Victorious Ones” by Judith Simmer-Brown
  • “In the Company of Angels and Saints” by Ngawang Zangpo
  • “Yeshe Tsogyal as Female Exemplar” by Holly Gayley

Auspiciously, this fall there will be a program celebrating Yeshe Tsogyal, hosted by Khandro Tseyang, the Sakyong Wangmo of Shambhala, at the Boulder Shambhala Center. I will deliver the opening talk on “The Life and Liberation of Yeshe Tsogyal” when it is rescheduled.

See an article I wrote on the “Many Lives of Yeshe Tsogyal” many years ago for the magazine, Buddhadharma.

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