Himalayan Goddesses

The Bardo, Ladies Who Guide

gLu-maa Ghirdhima, Lady of Music and Song

Khahdoma, Ladies Occult

Prajnaparamita, Lady of Wisdom

rDo-rje-rnal-hbyor-ma, Lady Truth

Tara, The Star Who Leads Across

Tibet is a land of high plateaus, snow-peaked mountains and brilliant rainbows. It is rightly called The Roof of the World. Here, it is cold and the air is thin. Roaring, cold rivers rush down mountain sides, forming lakes, then rushing away again; here, the Yangtze, Mekong, Indus, and Brahmaputra are born. It is bounded in all directions by mountain ranges with few passes, and so the land and people remained isolated for centuries. The land continues to rise, as India slides into Asia.

The native faith of Tibet is Bon, but that has largely disappeared. Buddhism came to Tibet by way of India in the seventh century of the common era. It was vigorously opposed by Bon, and it was not until the following century, when missionary Padmasambhava combined elements of the two faiths, that Buddhism became the dominant faith, in the form of Vajrayana Buddhism (or Lamaism). Over the course of the next centuries, the warring tribes of Tibet were pacified. Great monasteries were established in isolated valleys and atop high peaks, centers of learning and art and spirituality. Great colorful wall paintings and banners, sculptures of wood and ivory and stone and metal were created, and tombs and stupas were produced by anonymous craftsmen.

Goddesses, or, more correctly, Bodhisattvas, fill a vital role in Tibetan Buddhism. As in Buddhism in general, all Bodhisattvas are considered enlightened beings who aid humans in their release of ego and journey towards union with the Ultimate. Female Bodhisattvas in Tibet are far more popualr than Their male counterparts. One Bodhisattva in particular lies close to the heart of the Tibetan people; the mere utterance of Her name is said to alleviate pain and suffering; She is Tara. Other Bodhisattvas aid in learning and magic, or lead the deceased through the Bardo, the in-between world where it is determined if a soul will go on to Union with the Ultimate or return to earth.

Women themselves also play a vital role in Tibetan Buddhism. One aspect of the faith is called Tantrism, or Tantric Yoga, or Tantric Buddhism. In Tantrism, sexuality is used as a tool, a spiritual exercise, a means of attaining Union and completion. Sexuality is not seen as sinful, or as carnal, or as a reproductive tool; rather, it is energizing and mystical, and women are the source and means of experiencing this mystical energy.  

In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries of the common era, reforms were introduced by Tsong Kha Pa (1357-1419), and the secular-spiritual office of Dalai Lama was created (hence, Lamaism). The Dalai Lama is regarded by the faithful as the earthly incarnation of the spirit of compassion and mercy. This spirit is called Avalokiteshavara in India, Kuan Yin in China, Kwannon in Japan. The names vary throughout Asia, but everywhere the spirit is regarded as a Bodhisattva; that is, an enlightened being who has elected to remain on earth to aid others towards enlightenment, rather than ascend to the final bliss/annihilation of Nirvana. And so the Dalai Lama is a spirit of wisdom, compassion, peace and mercy in human form.

Within some six centuries of the introduction of Buddhism, Tibet was prosperous and entirely at peace. Then the Chinese came, in 1959. Many Western nations, despite China's protests and economic clout, have refused to remove Tibet from their maps; it remains an independent nation, not a Chinese province, though its leader is in exile, its people oppressed and beaten, its language dying. In response to the invasion and oppression, many Tibetan monks have moved to the United States and established monasteries. Tibetan Buddhism is growing in popularity in the United States, particularly along the West Coast. Freedom for Tibet has become a cause celebre among the Hollywood elite and Americans in general.

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The Bardo, Ladies Who Guide

The Bardo is the after-death state of transition which precedes rebirth. Tibetan Buddhists believe that the deceased must pass certain tests to leave the Bardo and enter the next realm; those who fail are reborn on earth or return as ghosts. The Bardo Goddesses both test and aid the deceased.

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gLu-maa Ghirdhima, Lady of Music and Song

This Goddess of Music and Song is one of the Eight Mothers of Buddhism. She is peaceful and benevolent in nature. She also appears in the Bardo.

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Khahdoma, Ladies Occult

The Khahdoma are Tantric Deities Who can impart occult powers to Their followers when asked. Some maintain that the Khahdoma are malevolent demons. Others say that there are two kinds of Khahdoma, the "Wisdom Khahdoma" Who reside in another world, and the Khahdoma of our world Who incarnate in women.

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Prajnaparamita, Lady of Wisdom

This Goddess of Transcendental Wisdom is believed by Tibetan Buddhists to be the incarnation of the perfected wisdom of Yoga. She is called the Mother of the Bodhisattvas.

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rDo-rje-rnal-hbyor-ma, Lady Truth

She is the Goddess of Truth, Spiritual Energy and Knowledge. She dispels ignorance. She is the Guardian of the practices of Tibetan Tantric Yoga.

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Tara, the Star Who Leads Across

A Savior Goddess much loved by the people, Tara protects humans from dangers both physical and spiritual. The mere utterance of Her name is believed to bring peace and dissipate all danger. Many myths in Hinduism, Jainism and Tantric Buddhism recount Her intercession in the lives of supplicants.

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