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Yeshe Tsogyal - Tibetan Woman Buddhist Master
Yeshe Tsogyal was a Tibetan princess who through her relationship with Padmasambhava, the Indian master who brought Buddhism to Tibet, became an enlightened Buddhist teacher and the most revered female figure in Tibetan Buddhism. She is also considered a dakini, or female deity of enlightenment. The Nyingma and Kagyu lineages of Tibetan Buddhism revere her as a female Buddha, and in fact she is often considered a reincarnation of the Buddha’s birth mother Maya. She is also sometimes referred to as the 'Great Bliss Queen.'
Most of what we know about Yeshe Tsogyal comes from her spiritual autobiography Lady of the Lotus Born. She was born in the eighth century, and many traditional Buddhist legends are associated with her birth, including that she was born painlessly, and that a sacred spring and pond burst forth near her birth site. As a young adult, she became one of the 'queen consorts' of the Tibetan king Trisong Detsen. This king had an interest in Buddhism, and invited Padmasambhava to come to Tibet and teach Buddhism.
Yeshe had spiritual leanings from birth, and begged to be allowed to study with Padmasambhava. The king agreed and released her from his kingdom, and she became a spiritual consort to Padmasambhava. Consortship is a formal teacher/student relationship practiced within some
Tantric Buddhist and Tantric Hindu sects in which the student's spiritual progress is accelerated through many occult forms of empowerment, including sexual practices. Although Padmasambhava is reported to have had many such consorts, Yeshe is his most famous. She made tremendously fast progress on the path Padmasambhava set forth for her, which included long solitary retreats and intense meditations. She eventually became a revered teacher and master in her own right.
Yeshe had a magical memory, and thus Padmasambhava entrusted her with secret teachings and empowerments, referred to as 'termas.' She hid these termas around Tibet to be found by later generations. She is thus revered as one of the great Buddhist teachers of Tibet, and regarded as still active today in her guidance and wisdom.
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